Why your detox is making you sick: The dangers of aggressive detoxing.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me that a “detox” protocol made them feel extremely ill. They take detox supplements, pills or tinctures, and within a few hours they suffer dizziness, diarrhea, chills, outbreaks or even vomiting. These symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the person and what they’ve taken. Such is the legacy of what I’m calling “extreme detox supplements” that seem to be designed to cause as much suffering as possible while framing it all as a “healing crisis.”

I’ve always had a problem with the idea that such symptoms are routinely explained away as a healing crisis; as if you must suffer before you can heal. In this must-read article, I’m going to blow away detox myths and reveal why many people suffer such extreme illness during a detox. I’m also going to teach you how to detox safely and get away from the serious health risks found in extreme detoxing protocols.

Also, I urge anyone reading this who is considering a liver detox, kidney detox or heavy metals detox to pursue such activities only under the supervision of a licensed naturopath or integrative medicine M.D. who can guide you with a personalized protocol that’s right for you. Don’t “wing it” when it comes to the serious business of an aggressive detox.

Detox basics: Your liver dumps toxins into your small intestine

To understand why an extreme detox can make people feel so sick, you first have to understand how detox really works. This is an oversimplified explanation, but the fundamentals are correct: Your liver filters toxins out of your blood, including pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, ammonia and chemicals.

Your liver then dumps these toxins into your upper GI tract as part of a bile mixture used for digestion. Importantly, this reintroduces these toxins into your digestive system, where they can be quickly reabsorbed through intestinal walls and cause acute toxicity where you are essentially being “re-poisoned” with the same exact toxins your liver just pulled out of yo
ur blood.

(Note: Your kidneys also remove many toxins and flush them out of your body through urine. This is why kidney function is so crucial to your health. The heavy metals cadmium and mercury cause severe kidney damage, by the way.)

If you are eating a holistic, whole-food diet at the same time your liver is dumping toxins into your GI tract, then food fibers will tend to capture those toxins and trap them, ultimately transporting them out of your body through bowel movements. But if you aren’t eating any fiber — for example, you’re on a “juice fast” or a “juice cleanse” — then you have a potentially huge problem: You have no fibers to trap the toxins your liver is dumping into your small intestines! So those toxins get reabsorbed right back through your intestinal walls and into your blood.

I’ve also done pioneering food science research on identifying which natural foods can absorb dietary heavy metals.

Click here to read my article on how strawberries naturally bind with dietary mercury.

All this helps explain why drinking nothing but fiber-less juice (i.e. “jucing detox”) during an aggressive supplement detox can be disastrous. If you aren’t eating fiber during your detox, what you are really doing is:

1) Collecting all the heavy metals, toxins and poisons from your body’s cells, tissues and organs.

2) Concentrating them in your liver (and bile).

3) Dumping them back into your small intestine all at once where they can now cause acute toxicity and poisoning.

This is all made even worse when the detox supplements you’re taking are more effective at pulling toxins out of your body’s tissues because then your liver is concentrating more heavy metals into bile and dumping them into your intestines. In effect, your body is concentrating the toxins, making them even more dangerous than they were before.

Fiber-less juice fasting while taking detox supplements may be a really bad idea

What makes all this worse is the fact that many detox protocols demand that you drink only fiber-less juice such as wheat grass juice, celery juice, carrot juice, etc. at the same time you are taking aggressive detox supplements. The lack of fiber in these juices means that many of toxins pulled out of the blood by the liver will be reabsorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, possibly at acutely dangerous concentrations.

After the diarrhea and cramping finally stops, people will often say, “I feel SO much better now! The detox worked!” Except for the fact that everybody feels better after diarrhea stops. Feeling better after making yourself sick is not exactly my definition of getting healthier.

As part of a daily diet, of course, juicing can be incredibly healing. I’m a long-time advocate of daily juicing or even short-term juice fasts, but juicing is by definition a fiber-less diet, and as a result it should never be used in conjunction with aggressive supplements that are going to increase the toxin load in the GI tract.

In other words:

* If you are juicing, don’t take aggressive detox supplements at the same time.
* If you are taking detox supplements, make sure you are eating whole foods with plenty of natural fiber.

Sometimes feeling like you’re poisoned means you are actually being poisoned
I believe it is extremely unfortunate that detox participants who suffer extreme symptoms are always told those symptoms are, in effect, “GOOD!”

Sometimes that’s simply not true. Many participants in James Arthur Ray’s sweat lodge spirit journeys were also told that their extreme dehydration and hallucinations were “good” as well, but it turned out they were on the verge of death. Indeed, three people died in his sweat lodge experiences, and James Ray was convicted of negligent homicide. (He was released from prison last year.)

Even as they were on the verge of death, these people were told that their symptoms were all part of the “spiritual journey” from which they would emerge as stronger people. This is nearly identical to the extreme detox message told to many consumers, in which even serious illness is excused away as part of the healing journey.

As I’ve examined this issue more closely over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the detox supplement industry is in a worrisome state of denial about the safety of its more aggressive products. This is probably why the FDA banned cascara sagrada in 2002 for use in laxative products (but it’s still legal to use in herbal supplements).

Although it sounds bizarre, customers of extreme detox supplements made with cascara sagrada are actually taught that diarrhea is a sign of healing and is therefore something to be sought after when taking detox supplements.

I strongly disagree with this: diarrhea is never a sign of good health, and removing toxins from the body should never need to involve extreme suffering, nutrient loss or the kind of dehydration and cramping that comes with diarrhea.

Anyone who tells you a detox has to hurt to be effective should not be trusted.

Skip the extreme supplements and detox with real food

The longer I’ve examined the detox industry, the more confident I have become in the fundamental idea that your everyday diet is the only detox you really need.

Every food item you eat every single day, in other words, should be part of a cleansing and toxin elimination lifestyle. My view on this has evolved over the years, of course, and today I no longer believe we need to suffer through “detox” regimes to experience lasting health. A healthy, whole foods diet that’s rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and plenty of clean water is, all by itself, a “daily detox.”

Truth be told, your daily diet is either helping you eliminate toxins or accumulate toxins depending on what you eat. A diet of processed foods and contaminated supplements will increase your toxic burden, but a diet of fresh whole foods will naturally and automatically eliminate toxins.

Engaging in regular exercise that causes you to sweat will greatly magnify your body’s detox capabilities, by the way. Many toxins are released in your sweat, and that explains why people who exercise regularly (or who use saunas as therapy) tend to be far healthier and less toxic than those who never sweat.

People who drink plenty of fluids also tend to be healthier: water helps your kidneys eliminate toxins with high efficiency.

Bottom line: Detox should never be a crisis

My bottom line in all this? As one of the most widely-read voices in the natural health industry, I want to encourage us all to think in a more clear-headed manner about detox supplements and detox experiences. I have become increasingly convinced that extreme detox supplements may actually be causing more harm than good. Diarrhea is not healing, and the explanation that you need to suffer through a “healing crisis” just doesn’t hold water.

In truth, every glass of clean water you drink is a “detox” elixir. Every stalk of celery you chew and swallow is a detox food. Every glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice you drink is a detox beverage. Every algae superfood you eat is a “detox” superfood. Every exercise that produces sweat is a detox exercise, and every hike into nature where you are surrounded by trees is a detox hike.

Your body is already programmed to detox itself automatically (which is why you have a liver and kidneys), so if you embrace a healthful lifestyle, your body will automatically detox itself with every breath, every heartbeat and every bowel movement.

Learn more: https://www.naturalnews.com/044788_detox_myths_feeling_sick_healing_crisis.html#ixzz2zYnk8O00

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

Editor of Natural News.com

45 thoughts on “Why your detox is making you sick: The dangers of aggressive detoxing.”

  1. What can I take supplement wise ,over the counter or food wise that will capture and take heavy metals out of the small intestines when they are dumped there

  2. As mentioned in the article, this is a very delicate process that is best done with the guidance of a professional. You need to use cilantro-gen or a form of a greens product that will act like a sponge and prevent the toxins from being reabsorbed.

  3. Hello

    I was taking a liver supplement with various herbs and vitamins as well as molybdenum from 150mcg to 500mcg a day for 4 to 6 weeks following a disastrous sugar detox followed by probiotics which landed me in bed very sick with physical and mental symptoms, anxiety depression, spaced out, drugged up feeling, derealisation etc

    I stopped the probiotics a month ago but continued with the liver supplements and the molybdenum as I assumed my symptoms were “dead yeast” and whilst I made a VERY slow recovery physically the anxiety and depression was not going anywhere.

    I have now stopped ALL supplements as I believe I was still detoxing just by taking the liver supplements and instead of cleaning up toxins they were just releasing them from my liver into my blood.

    What adds another layer of concern is I am taking prescribed antidepressants and anxiety meds (and progesterone via a patch) which I have taken with no issues for 2 years. I can only speculate that the liver supplements may well have interfered with the enzymes needed to metabolise these drugs and I am possibly dealing with accidental withdrawal symptoms.

    I have read a lot of scholarly studies about how benzodiazepines need a certain enzyme in the liver to be absorbed and I wonder just how much these liver detox supplements have affected how much of the drugs are absorbed. Apparently molybdenum will chelate a % of pharma drugs out of our body keeping only what we need (?)

    Bottom line I have had to stop everything as in a bid to improve my health has made me very sick anxious and depressed. I am female and 49 and whilst I had some menopause symptoms they were nothing like what I have experienced these last weeks. I am not sure exactly what has happened but I can only hope in time things settle back to how I was prior to this nightmare.

    I warning for ALL I think.

  4. Sorry the ingredients of the liver supplement were

    Black Aged Garlic Extract
    Turmeric Powder
    Dandelion Root Extract
    Ginger Root Extract
    Choline Bitartrate
    L Glutamine
    L-acetyl – L Carnitine
    Vitamin C
    Artichoke (2.5% Cynarin)
    Vit D
    Vit B1
    Folic Acid

  5. This is exactly why it is important to work with a trained professional when embarking on this type of a cleanse!

  6. Thanks so much for this article, as it is true you hear that if you get sick it is normal but now I am starting to hear how not normal it is. I was drinking “dirt” water like DE is supposed to detoxing. Anyway, I do not garden nor have the time to go to whole foods or money. Is food from HEB or walmart going to be ok ? I mean like vegetables and fruits that are fresh or frozen? also I stink when I sweat and do not want to sweat…. EVER. so. anyway.. I will stick to salads for now.

  7. Does this still apply to a 7 day cleanse like Magic Detox?

    Ultra THC Detox pills mention it is all natural and not too aggressive.

  8. I have been contemplating joining “The Healthy Phatt Living programme for quite some time. There are three stages to this diet which is taken over a course of three months. There are a range of supplements to be taken, but because I have Genetic Haemochromotosis and have asked whether there is iron added to these supplements, which apparently there isn’t. I am wanting to lose about six kilos. Should I just stick to going to the gym and progress onto gluten free eating/cooking?
    Kind regards
    Alison Evans

  9. I started the wild rose herbal d-tox yesterday as I cannot seem to eat much food without being seriously bloated and ill.
    During the night I was awakened by profound dizziness and then the diahhrea started. I am not feeling well this morning and wonder if it would be unwise to continue.

  10. How does this apply to a parasite detox?
    I am in agreement about detoxing naturally through diet but this does not address parasites.
    I also read recently that the detox pathways needed to be opened and that Methylated B14 and methylated Folate suppliment should be taken for a few weeks before detoxing. What are you views on detox preperation?

  11. Hi ,I used fresh wheat grass juice for a month ,which caused me severe dizziness,fatigue and mild nausea ..then I had to stop using it still after two weeks these weird symptoms are still there ..I had fatty liver and new blood test showed liver function back to normal..I m wondering how long these systems can last ..plz give some advice on it thx

  12. Do you have sdvice for someone living a very low, fixed income? I’m desling with lyme, heavy metals, and mold. I experience detox almost constantly. I don’t use detox products, just juicing, coffee enemas. The sweating is hard to accomplish without a sauna. Thanks!

  13. I want to reply to Paula. In the article it says not to juice fast because there are no food particles to attach toxins to. The toxins get reabsorbed. As for cost, fresh vegetables are very inexpensive. You might consider joining a coop garden and grow your own. I am on day 3 of a 7 day detox from a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. It’s been intense. I’m 62 and this is my first detox. Most of my meals are vegetable based. The only animal protein is 5 oz of chicken breast or wild samon. Remaining food sources are beans, grains and legumes. Fruit is only apple or berries. Really affordable way to eat. Good luck to you.

  14. I’ve suffered a big crash during a parasite cleanse which didn’t have much fibre in the diet and used very strong supplements.
    I’m wondering what I can do to recover?
    I’m extremely fatigued, anxious and derealised. It’s horrible 🙁
    The nutritionist who recommended this regime has basically told me I’m in my own and she doesn’t know what’s going on.
    Please reply.

  15. Hi Michelle:
    From what we understand, medical testing for parasites often look for specific diseased strains. We are happy that your protocol is helping you eliminate parasites that could be impacting your health. As we are not in the US, we cannot refer you to a practitioner near your home but suggest that you might contact Naturopaths or Nutritionists in your area.

  16. It seems that your cleanse was too strong for you and caused aggravations. We suggest that you take a break from cleansing, drink lots of water, get lots of rest, and eat a healthy diet before trying another program. If you are still feeling unwell, you may want to make an appointment with your medical doctor to make that nothing else is going on.

  17. Each type of detox protocol involves different methods of preparation. We suggest that you work with an accredited practitioner before beginning a parasite detox and let them know if you exhibit any aggravations along the way.

  18. It sounds as if this detox is too aggressive for you at this time. I am not sure if you have been assessed by a practitioner or are doing this on your own. I would discontinue the detox, get your strength back, and find a professional who can determine why food is making you seriously bloated and ill. Are you eating food that you are allergic to? Is it Candida? Are you taking any medications? There are many reasons why you could be experiencing these symptoms. It is best to understand exactly what is happening before you try to treat.

  19. If you are not able to purchase organic produce, we recommend that you clean your fruit and vegetables thoroughly with food grade hydrogen peroxide. Also, try to buy ones with thicker skins so less likely to absorb toxins from pesticides. Check out the website for The Dirty Dozen (listing the fruit and veggies with the highest amount of pesticides) and The Clean 15 (those with the least toxicity). Frozen food is found to be as nutritious as fresh and less expensive. Drinking clean water is also one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body.

  20. Hi Michelle, sorry I do not know of a specific practitioner or doctor there. I would suggest you google search and ask local residence for referrals.

  21. Hi Emma, it sounds like the cleanse was too aggressive without enough support to insure elimination. It might be helpful to take some good probiotics, psyllium and drink 1 cup of warm water with half a fresh squeezed lemon everyday. Depending on where you are located, you could come and see us for a consultation. http://www.healthhouse.ca/

  22. After spray-painting a bumper for my car 2 months ago, I started getting dizzy whenever I blew my nose. Since 1 month I am almost non-stop dizzy (independent of head movement or blowing my nose).

    A few days ago, a naturopath at a chiropractor suggested I take Antronex for liver detox. My dizziness is now worse than before. I am considering just stopping this stuff, since it’s making my body feel worse. What do you advise?

  23. Hi Anna
    It does sound like you may be suffering due to the toxic spray paint. Often it is an accumulation of many toxic events that could cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc. The spray paint may have been the thing that took you over the top. I am not familiar with the effectiveness of Antronex. The problem is that if your liver and kidneys aren’t functioning properly, the toxins may be detoxing but the body isn’t able to remove them from the body. We prefer gentle homeopathic remedies that open the doors first before you try to throw out the garbage. You may wish to see a registered nutritionist who can help guide you through the process. Try contacting The Health House in Markham, ON

  24. Hi Marlene,

    I was dealing with significant hair loss all over my head, fatigue and joint pain after switching a hypothyroid medicine. Not 100% sure that it was the thyroid medicine as my doctor thinks it is menopause coming as my estrogen was super low. I have since switched to a different medication, started estradiol, progesterone and 8 oz of celery juice each morning and the hair loss has stopped but the fatigue still remains. I have been on the celery juice for about a month. Could it be contributing to the fatigue? Otherwise I have eaten my normal diet which is pretty clean. I am definitely not myself with brain fog too.

  25. Hi Lynn
    I very much doubt that the celery juice is causing your fatigue. Your thyroid medication and hormone creams/pills have helped stop the hair loss but remember that your liver still has to process your medication. What are your blood tests showing? Are you getting enough sleep? If you have brain fog, there may be some Candida at play here. Are you having sugar, grains/starches, in your diet? You may wish to have a full nutritional assessment. We would welcome your call for a session at our clinic The Health House

  26. I had done isagenix and it worked great the first time. (Although the first day made me sick but that was because of the extra women’s essential vitamin packet) but I stopped it and when I got to the cleanse I was fine and lost weight. The 2nd time I was profusely vomiting for hours. Then I tried a natural cleanse with celery carrot beets ginger lemon apple and parsley. It worked but it took for me sick. So if I need to add fiber, what’s the solution. Is there a fiber product you can add to this making it healthier or a complexity different recipe or cleanse on the market that is high in fiber one can get? I’m sure they may of been comment the answer this but sadly I’m way to ADD to read all of this. It’s just too long. Thanks

  27. If you would like to add fiber I would suggest you purchase Psyllium Hulls in powder form. Mix 1 tsp in 1 cup of warm water, drink on an empty stomach first thing in the morning or before bed.

  28. Please research modified citrus pectin. So surprised this is not being given as advice to help with heavy metal or chemical detox. I was exposed to an agricultural chemical and was quite ill until after using this to safely detoxify. I was so thankful that research on this was readily available online when I was searching, but very sad to see how few people know about it. People that think it doesn’t work do not understand the difference and importance of the word modified. Plain citrus pectin does not work. The modified citrus pectin holds on to the toxins and they go out safely in the urine.

  29. Thank you so much for a such article about detox pills warnings.
    I just experienced the same as there described.
    I started with a parasite detox course with pills for 18 days which made me feel nausesus, depressed.
    After I finished that course I started just normal detox course pills – since I started this program I suffering 3-4 days with nausea, body shaking inside, insomnia, depression, mood swings, anxiety ..
    Of course I am not sure if that’s 100 procent affected my body because of the detox pills but I can feel intuintevly that better I do stop taking it and will do trough a healthy food and juices, sauna and excersizing and right nutritionist suggestions.
    What do you think ?

  30. Hi Susan
    Yes, I am familiar with Modified Citrus Pectin. It is an excellent product but very few companies produce it. It was also recommended to me years ago for one of my MS clients. The main thing is to make sure that that the kidneys are draining efficiently when doing a heavy metal cleanse.

  31. Hi Diana
    Sounds right to me! Your symptoms during detox indicate that it is happening much too quickly for your body to handle, particularly your liver and kidneys, the exit routes of your body. Don’t forget to drink lots of water during this gentle cleansing process.

  32. Hi,
    I did Epsom salt and Olive oil Liver Cleanse and now I’ve diarrhea for past one day after the cleansing is done. Is it normal to get diarrhea for couple of days after the cleanse ? I’m trying to eat fruits and normal non spicy food… but no help. I also took Psyllium hull and trying to stay hydrated but I am getting diarrhea still. Hope you can help me out. Thanks

  33. Hi Sibi
    It sounds like this detox was too intense for your digestive system. Psyllium Hulls is not a good idea while you are having abundant loose stools. Even fruit can make things worse at this time. Start with foods that are gentle to your system like vegetable soups, rice, bananas, chicken – very basic foods – drink water, herbal tea – no caffeine.

  34. Oh my gosh I have felt ill for 4 days ( achy, headache, no energy)! I started the liver cleanse last week! It finally occured to me that maybe to look up side effects! I am grateful for this site! Sincerely Judy

  35. I’ve been sick for at least a year on and off. Finally was tested, and it turned out I had mono. I started doing the medical medium cleanse, and drinking celery juice and eating the foods on his list. I woke up this morning( day 17) to juice and nearly vomited halfway through drinking it. Shakes and sweats, I had to lay on the floor. Plus at work I’m exhausted and irritable, and my stomach feels distended. And, I got a nasty canker sore like I haven’t had in years. I was at a loss if I should continue with this or not. Everything out there says it’s just detox and to be expected. Well, I still have to continue working and functioning. Your article is the one that makes the most sense. I’ve always been extra sensitive so I need to dial it all back and move forward with balance. Thank you so much. It’s common sense, but with so much information flying at you, it gets very confusing.

  36. Hi Jennifer, I hope you are feeling better now! Yes there is a lot of information out there but it does not apply to everyone as everyone is different. Best to work with a qualified holistic nutritionist to get guidance that is correct for you.

  37. I started an herbal liver detox 3 weeks ago. First week no side effects. The last two weeks I have had joint pain and fatigue and just sore all over. I haven’t finished the bottle. One more week left. Will these side effects go away after the detox? Is this normal? Also I continued to take my probiotic, vitamin c and D. And my prescribe meds.

  38. Hi there. Boy I wish I would have found your website BEFORE this mess I have gotten into. For the past 8 months I have been constipated on and off, dry skin, and constantly bloated. I have slowly gained 10 lbs, when before I could not gain a pound. I attributed these symptoms to my pain meds I have been out on long term for back issues, as common side effects are constipation, and hormonal issues which could cause all of these. I found a colon cleanse online that had great reviews to help with my issues and I’m currently on day 5. My colon is definitely “cleansing” but not yet to a horrid diarrhea state. BUT after day 2 I began having a sore throat, fatigue, foggy head, feeling hot without fever, joint/muscle pain in right arm, and just plain BLAH! Not to mention with this Corona Virus, the symptoms have caused horrible anxiety while still trying to make it through the work day. The ingredients are listed as all natural (Senna leaf, CASCARA SAGRADA BARK 10% EXTRACT, psyllium husk powder, flaxseed powder, aloe Vera gel, lactobacillus acidophilus, licorice root and MCT) 2 pills before bed for 15 days. Could these be causing such symptoms? Should I just stop now, or continue on? I have not changed my diet, as once again, I only did a little bit of google research (eyeroll). I don’t have a homeopath, I barely have a regular doctor….which is basically off limit due to the circumstances right now. Any advice would be much appreciated. Not only do I feel like a complete idiot, but also worried I might be doing damage to myself. While doing more of my fantastic research I stumbled across Candida die off, which describes me pretty closely at the moment…..although I am not taking (that I know of) a yeast cleanse product. Which of course now sounds more like what I needed to begin with. Please help ASAP!!!

  39. You are probably taking too much of the bowel cleanse, you should not be getting diarrhea. Try cutting the amount in half, it is important to change your diet focus on vegetables, a little fruit and some protein (chicken, fish, eggs). Avoid all dairy and grains (bread, pasta, especially wheat). Make sure you are drink about 2 liters of water per day.

  40. Hi Cyndi, you should not have these “detox” symptoms. usually it means you are taking too much or your body is not able to keep up and the toxins and they are recirculating.

  41. Thank you for your information I did a body cleanse over two weeks now it has burn all my flesh now I want to rebuild how do I go about that please

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