When you're concerned about toxins in your body, and when you're taking a detox product, you likely want to know two things. How long will the product take to start working, and how long can you take it safely?
Today we're going to address that second question, because it's the most complicated of the two. Detox products run the gamut from placebo powders to stickers for your feet to juice cleanses to supplement pills. Some of them have real, tangible effects on the body, while others just make you feel better about yourself.
Unfortunately, we can't give you a direct answer as to how long you can take a detox product, because there are so many different factors that go into it. Instead, let's just take a look at the different factors, and you can figure out where your products land.
Categorize Your Product
The first thing you should do is categorize your product. As mentioned, there are thousands of different detox products out there.
They broadly tend to fall into a few different categories:
- External products. These are things like foot pads, patches, copper bracelets, and other accessories. Very few of these tend to have any active ingredients, or at least any that can penetrate the skin, so they're safe to use pretty much indefinitely.
- Supplements. Detox supplement products tend to essentially just be vitamin and nutrient pills. Some of these are more or less safe to take as long as you want. Others might be dangerous when taken too long or in high doses, since some vitamins and minerals can have an adverse effect on the body when overdosed.
- Cleanses. Cleanses can come in powder, pill, or liquid form. They often include laxatives, diuretics, or other chemicals meant to stimulate the body to purge itself, while also providing vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to replace what is lost. Depending on how harsh these are, they may not be safe for more than a few days at a time.
- Diets. Detox diets tend to be brief but extreme shifts in your dietary habits. Some, like juice fasting, are meant to reset your metabolism, but since they have very low nutrient counts, they're not safe for longer term usage. Others, like Whole 30, are more robust and are meant to break you of bad dietary habits rather than purge you abruptly.
Depending on the style of product you're using, the safety level may vary. It's always good to be aware of what you're taking in, and what you're not taking in. Above all, you need to make sure you're getting enough nutrients from your diet in other ways so you don't hurt your body more than you're helping it with the detox.
Talk To Your Doctor
When you're concerned enough about your health to be pursuing a detox product, you should probably also be talking to your doctor. There are a few reasons for this.
First, talking to a doctor allows you to get a baseline overview of your current health. This can help you identify if you have any ongoing health concerns that might impact a detox process, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, low liver or kidney function, or a nutritional deficiency.
Second, talking to a doctor about your specific concerns may allow them to find a way to address those concerns outside of the realm of detox products. There's nothing wrong with trying a detox, of course, but sometimes there are more known, guaranteed effective processes you can try instead.
Third, by updating your medical history with your doctor, you can compare a before-and-after physical while pursuing your cleanse. That way, rather than just your subjective opinion on how you feel, you can also get tangible records of how it affected your health.
An added bonus is that your doctor is likely going to be aware of any major issues with certain detox products. Every now and then, a product might be banned or may be known to cause issues, and your doctor can warn you before you do something that might cause organ damage.
Be Aware of Your Fitness and Health Levels
Your existing state of being is important to your future state of being. If you're reasonably physically fit, reasonably active, and reasonably healthy, detox products will have a different level of impact on you than on other people.
Weight is an important factor to consider. The more you weigh, the less certain ingredients will work. However, not all detox products take this into consideration, and many ingredients do not dilute by body weight, so it's important not to take too much of a supplement.
Existing health concerns can also have an impact on detox safety. Your body's natural detoxification process heavily involves the liver, so if you have liver disease, or if you drink or take drugs or medications that affect the liver, a detox product might be very harsh. Again, though, it depends on the ingredients in the product.
Listen To Your Body
Even if you don't see a doctor to get a baseline reading on your health levels before and after your detox, you absolutely should spend some time to pay special attention to your body.
It's a good idea to do this before you start your detox. Take some time and write down your feelings, thoughts, and concerns. Take a few deep breaths and be aware of how calm and even your breathing is. Note down consistent aches and pains. Make mention of ongoing issues with bowel problems, headaches, stomach troubles, or other concerns you want to address. Keep track of your mood, how irritable and how stressed you can get.
Once you begin your detox, continue paying attention to your body. Some detox processes begin working almost immediately, while others may take days or weeks of use before you see any tangible effects. Some, of course, do nothing at all. That doesn't necessarily mean they aren't working, it just means the benefits they bring to you aren't large-scale benefits you can intuit from your mood and general feelings.
It's important that if you start noticing any unusual pains or negative side effects, that you determine if they're cause for concern. Some may be intentional, while others may not. For example, if your detox includes laxatives, you're going to experience stomach and intestinal distress and frequent trips to the bathroom. However, side effects like sharp pains in the abdomen, extreme headaches, the shakes, or vertigo might require more supervision or intervention, and could be a sign of something wrong. Discontinue your detox and seek medical attention in the case of extreme side effects.
Read The Product Instructions
If you're looking for a simple answer about how long you can safely take a detox product, the easiest source of information is simply the instructions for the product. If they're safe on an ongoing basis, they will generally just give you instructions on how to take them, with no warnings about limited usage. If it's one of the more harsh or potentially risky cleanses, they will give you instructions on how long you should take them before discontinuing them for health.
In general, the more abrupt and the more harsh the detox, the less you can take before you need to restore your body. Something like the Magnum Detox, which is a powerful and immediate cleanse, can be dangerous to take for more than a day or two, especially if you've never taken a detox before. Conversely, something like a detox tea is safe in moderation on an ongoing basis. Don't take too much in a day, but you can take it for as many days as you need to get control over your body and your symptoms.
Be Aware of Nutritional Gaps
Some detox products are actually more like fasting. The poster child for this kind of detox is the juice cleanse.
A juice cleanse is a specific kind of semi-fasting diet where you replace all of your typical daily consumption with juice blends made from fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and supplements. Depending on the product you choose to use, the composition may vary; some have proprietary supplement blends they provide you, while others simply tell you a list of products to go buy from a grocery store and make yourself.
Juice cleanses have benefits. The primarily liquid diet helps purge your body of any solids left in it. Fruits and vegetables, alongside supplements, have a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you might not be getting consistently in your life. They're also low in calories compared to most traditional diets, so they can help you lose weight. On top of all of this, a juice cleans is likely going to keep you well hydrated, above and beyond your normal hydration levels.
A juice cleanse is not without risks, though. For example:
- Some of the ingredients in a juice cleans, like excess potassium, some vitamins, or acids like oxalate, can damage the kidneys.
- Your body needs a certain amount of caloric intake to survive. A juice cleanse or a fast can last for a few days without adverse effects, but taking it for too much longer can be very detrimental.
- Without certain supplements or additional ingredients, you may lack certain nutrients in your diet on a juice cleans, in particular protein and healthy fats.
Different kinds of cleanses can have similar gaps in nutrition or risks of overdosing on specific nutrients. Too much of a good thing can, occasionally, turn bad.
Read Reviews for the Product
An unfortunate fact of the world is that the internet is not always going to be honest and up-front with you. There are a lot of people out there who would rather make money at your expense than help you succeed in your life. They'll try to sell you a detox product that might be empty, or they'll sell you something actively dangerous while downplaying the potential dangers.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from falling for these kinds of scams is to read reviews of the products from a variety of different sources. Read Facebook comments, read blog comments, read third party reviews, and always be aware of the ongoing rhetoric surrounding these kinds of products.
Keep in mind that many unscrupulous sellers will also try to bomb review sites with positive reviews. You can often identify these by quirks in the writing, by them being overly generic, or by too many very similar reviews.
Remember Your Liver
Remember that a functioning, healthy body has a built-in detoxification process, and that's your liver. Your body knows when toxins and harmful chemicals are present in its system, and it ferries those chemicals to the liver to be isolated, processed, and removed.
Detox products approach the liver in one of three ways.
- They ignore the liver's function and try to convince you that you need their product to survive.
- They acknowledge the liver's function but convince you that you need additional detox products to do what it can't.
- They acknowledge the liver's function and they work to supplement what the liver does.
The best products fall into the third category; they augment your body's natural processes rather than trying to impose a foreign process on it.
Indeed, you should try to augment your natural bodily processes whenever possible, and avoid detox products that include ingredients that can cause liver damage. Thankfully, this isn't too difficult, so long as you pay attention to what you're taking.