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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Common Body Detoxification Symptoms

Updated: Apr 6

(updated April 2024)

"I woke up today and felt terrible! I'm so tired. I haven't felt this tired in memory. I'm sitting at work feeling like I've been hit by a tonne of bricks and almost slightly nauseous. I realise maybe this could be from withdrawals from caffeine and sugar. And maybe some herbal supplements? Do I stick it out for a few days? I feel like if I had a piece of cake and a coffee, I would feel better."

(Name supplied)

"So I took your advice about doing some exercise but did so after about a week on your programme to ease myself in. And the first day of exercise was fine, but on the 2nd day of exercise I immediately got flu-like symptoms. My face was flushed for the rest of the day, and I got some chills. I took some ibuprofen, rested, and was fine the rest of the day. This morning I woke up feeling fine, and as soon as I did some light in-bed stretches, I got the flu symptoms worse. I'm freezing with chills on this warm day, and the nerves in my skin are going nuts...As in immense pain when my skin feels just a little cool air. I used to work out every day and never had this happen.

What has happened? Have I worked out too hard for my metabolic type (fast type 4), as indicated on my HTMA? I have just now taken my smoothie. Hopefully, it will ameliorate some of these symptoms. What do you think is going on?"

(Name supplied)

* HTMA: hair tissue mineral analysis. Metabolic Type Fast 4 indicates being in a thoroughly exhausted metabolic state.



Ongoing, vague, and diffuse health issues are common, usually associated with yeast/fungal, parasite infections, or exposure to environmental toxins, including prescription and recreational drugs. People may complain of symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, itchy skin, constipation, heavy periods, food intolerances, overuse injuries that don't fully heal, aches, and pains, weight gain, brain fog, and chronic fatigue (by the way, yeast produce alcohol and a person with a yeast overgrowth typically complains of symptoms that are similar to a hangover). The liver is the organ most stressed in such circumstances, and if we do anything to support this organ in doing its job better, there may be a surge in the mobilisation and removal of toxins. This can be a most unpleasant process, that must be worked through - carefully.

Is it a Herxheimer Reaction?

When starting a programme to improve health, a person struggling with chronic health issues may sometimes feel like they are going backwards at times and not getting better. Symptoms of previous illnesses may reappear, as might old injuries. This is "normal" and quite common, and who may be affected is pretty random. This phenomenon of appearing to go backwards before getting better is well-known in natural medicine. It's called the "Herxheimer Reaction". Look it up on the internet. It's a fascinating thing to study.

It's essential to understand what's likely going on because the exacerbation of symptoms within days or weeks of starting this kind of programme can be distressing to many. The natural reaction may be to quit altogether while criticising the natural health practitioner.

On the contrary, the exacerbation of symptoms may be worthy of celebration - we may have stirred the muddy waters or disturbed the wasp nest deep within your body. While it is sensible to back off, the best follow-up action is to quietly come back later armed to the teeth to kill - totally! The worst thing to do is to run away and hide. Celebrate!

Typical Symptoms of detoxification:

  • Headaches/migraines

  • Lethargy

  • Joint and muscle aches and pains

  • Mucus or other discharge

  • a coated, pasty tongue

  • Flu-like symptoms, sensitive skin etc.

  • Irritability and emotional volatility

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Weakness

  • Cravings

  • Nausea

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Gas

Withdrawal from caffeine (often part and parcel with going on a "health kick") can be most unpleasant:

  • Migraine-like headaches

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Feeling depressed and angry

  • Feeling like having the flu

  • Cravings

If you are on Bug Patrol

If there is a mass die-off of bugs within the body, such as yeast, bacteria, protozoa or worms, much of the detritus will enter the bloodstream, which is eventually filtered out by the liver. This is stressful for the liver and may cause pain in the lower right quadrant of the chest. This toxic filtrate is excreted via the bile, and it'll be foul. This may irritate the gallbladder. When the gallbladder squirts its contents (bile) into the stomach, the stomach may react with nausea, dry retching, constipation, or loose stools. As the toxic bile passes through the intestines, further abdominal discomfort may occur. Feeling run over by a train or fluey is a good way of describing how one may feel.

Are you mobilising and removing toxic elements?

People may have toxic elements, such as arsenic, aluminium, lead, mercury, and even uranium, accumulated deep within their bodies, possibly from decades ago. What your body can't get rid of during the initial exposure to a toxin, your body sequesters the remainder in the liver and in relatively inert tissues such as the fat and bones, where it may remain for decades.

Think of these sequestered toxins as rust in your chassis - you can't see it or feel it, but it is gradually eating away at your structural integrity - not good!

These toxins are everywhere nowadays. Every creature on the planet has mercury in them, thanks to a century of industrial pollution. Almost without exception, every farmer and builder in New Zealand has significant arsenic levels. Bathing in natural thermal waters in New Zealand may result in toxic exposure to arsenic. People who have owned a gun - even a slug gun as a child - often have high levels of lead. If this is the case, any therapy that stimulates the mobilisation of toxic elements such as arsenic may cause most unpleasant symptoms for however long it takes to get over the spike in levels of these nasties within the circulation. If this happens, there'll be an increase in the levels of toxic elements when the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is repeated 4-6 months into the programme.

Are you losing weight too fast?

Rapid weight loss may trigger emotional and physical symptoms of detoxification. Body fat, especially the brown fat of long-term storage, is one of the main areas where toxins like arsenic and pesticides are sequestered if, at the time of exposure, the person can't excrete them safely. If a person undergoes rapid weight loss, there may be the release of large amounts of these toxins, and this may make the person feel unwell and even emotionally unstable. If you are a fan of reality TV programmes, such as the Biggest Loser, you may have noticed that many, if not most, of the participants, become more like blubbering children as the weight is shed. This isn't surprising because most participants lead very toxic lives before this extreme health kick.

Are your meds toxic?

Being on medication such as antidepressants, asthma meds, antihistamines, blood pressure meds, and painkillers, to name a few, can be a significant cause of sluggish metabolism and toxic buildup. Many medications are addictive, and replacing these with healthy alternatives may be a slow process of careful withdrawal and detoxification.

Are you up-regulating?

As you regain health, liver, thyroid, and adrenal function will be upregulated. This may trigger detoxification similar to what may be experienced with candida kill-off. Candida and similar infections are almost always associated with glandular dysfunction (liver, thyroid, adrenals). They go together: fix one, and you'll likely fix the other. It'ss best to work on all concurrently to get a pleasing and lasting result.

Cleaning up takes time and effort

The body will eventually cleanse itself, but this may take several days, months in some cases, to get over the worst of it. Some people who may have been exposed to toxic elements, such as lead, may take years to be declared "clean". This is because toxins like lead are osteophilic and lipophilic, which means they're attracted to bone and fat and therefore end up being hidden deep in the body. Being lipophilic is one reason toxins like lead, arsenic, and mercury are so damaging to the brain, which contains a lot of fat.

Think of detoxification as being similar to an old and cranky car that is being expertly serviced and restarted for the first time in a long time: It may cough and splutter and blow out a whole lot of smoke and gunk until warmed up and running smoothly. There may be several false starts and other difficulties, but rest assured you will get through with the help of your experienced natural health practitioner.

Please consult your natural health practitioner

If you are undergoing any therapy that may trigger unpleasant detoxification, rest assured that there is always an end with a delightful improvement in health. However, the process needs to be controlled so as not to cause too much discomfort. How long it takes to feel well varies hugely from one person to another.

If you feel worse for wear when undertaking a treatment regime, you must contact your natural health practitioner, who'll guide you. The most usual action is to have a break from everything for a few days to allow you to settle down, then resume at a lower dose so as not to trigger an excessive detox reaction. If, on the other hand, you're coping well with the detox reaction, your practitioner may advise a reduction in doses. As you get over the worst, the doses may gradually increase. Usually, there's no need to rush this process.

Do the Challenge Test:

Suppose you think there may be one supplement causing nausea. In that case, the way to find out is to stop taking everything, wait until you have settled down, and then reintroduce one supplement at a time, waiting a few days each time before introducing the next one. If the symptoms return, stop the suspected supplement, reintroduce it again, and see. You need to repeat this process three or more times to be sure it isn't just a coincidence. Let your health practitioner know the results.

If you think you've triggered detoxification, your best first action is to drink plenty of water (water dilutes any toxins in the stomach and intestines), then consult your health practitioner.

Here are a few handy Tips:

  1. A dessert spoonful of apple cider vinegar with a twist of lemon/lime in a large glass of water may settle the upset tummy. Drink it quickly, and don't swill the liquid around the teeth because the acid may erode the tooth enamel a little. Rinse the mouth with water so the teeth aren't affected by the acid in the apple cider vinegar. Have one or two gulps of plain water down the hatch to finish. I find this is very effective for the relief of most tummy upsets.

  2. Have a dandelion and milk thistle tea brew. These herbs support the liver with detoxification.

  3. As a general rule of thumb, it's necessary to do a full 12 weeks, or longer, for most conditions of "body toxicity" to clear and to be sure that you have the upper hand, then continue with a gentle sustenance programme for several months after being clear of any symptoms.

  4. Do a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis before starting a programme. Make sure that it is repeated 4-6 months later, then about once a year after that, so that you and your healthcare practitioner are working from hard evidence rather than guesswork.

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