I just read an article by Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald about detox. Fitzgerald has written a book called The Detox Solution, and her article is a pretty sensible piece.
I agree with much of the article (haven't yet seen the book) and I'll throw in my two cents:
1) With all the toxins around us -- largely due to the thousands of synthetic chemicals of varying toxicity added over the last century to our food, water and air -- we all carry toxins in our tissues. It's true that our bodies detox naturally as we breathe, sweat, and excrete. But since that probably doesn't keep up with current toxin levels, it helps to increase your outflow of toxins as you take steps to reduce your exposure. The goal is to keep your outflow higher than your exposure on an ongoing basis, thus reducing the toxin quantity in your body.
2) To do this effectively, we need to reduce the level of toxins out in the world at large, and that means cutting way back on the use of synthetic chemicals. There are easy ways for individuals to do this in their own lives, which helps personal detox as well as the health of others. A few of my favorite approaches:
• As much as possible, eat fresh whole food instead of processed and packaged items. Processed foods contain chemicals that may be food grade but often have long-term deleterious effects on the body. Packaging manufacture creates toxic pollution as well as landfill waste, both of which can ultimately add to toxin loads in our bodies.
• Use simple, cheap non-toxic cleaners such as baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and unscented plant-based laundry detergent instead of commercial cleaning products which contain petroleum derivatives and solvents. Don't use dryer sheets.
• Go unscented. "Air fresheners" and perfumes contain synthetics and solvents which add to your body's toxin load as you smell them. If you really need scent, use a small quantity of essential oil in a diffuser -- but make sure the oil is pure and unadulterated.
• Be careful with candles. Standard candles are made of paraffin, a petroleum product; they are often scented with synthetic chemicals; and candle wicks often contain a metal core which can release tiny quantities of metal as the wick burns, exposing you to heavy metal contamination. The good news is you can get beeswax or plant-based candles (often soy) with metal-free wicks. We like the beeswax candles you can get at our local Keweenaw Coop, made with solar power by Sunbeam Candles - a better choice all around!