A trained Naturopathic Doctor and Herbalist, Dr. Page is the author of many books, including the newly revised and expanded best-seller Healthy Healing, She has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and in national magazines and symposiums. She is currently featured on "The World of Healthy Healing" on PBS television.
Dennis Hughes: What does detoxification mean to you?
Dr. Linda Page: To me detoxification means clearing out congestion. It's one of the oldest and certainly most effective healing methods known to man. Especially in the highly toxic, industrial world of today, detoxing means clearing out the toxins in our systems, and it means neutralizing the acid/alkaline balance of our bodies. This is far more important than we may think because an acid system sets up an environment for many diseases.
Dennis: So part of what we are doing is purging, but part of detoxifying is to balance the acid/alkaline of our system?
Dr. Page: Yes. Detoxification is far more than purging. Using detoxification as a purging technique either for rapid weight loss, for rapid cleansing of the bowels or some other reason is not the way to go. It isn't really true detoxification. Like everything else in nature, detoxification needs to be done in moderation and with a holistic approach. It's important to remember three things: balance (in this case your acid/alkaline system); getting rid of toxins that are stored in your body; and boosting circulation by getting rid of congestion, particularly in the lymph system.
Dennis: What's the best type of detox program? Does it have to be very involved?
Dr. Page: Some of the best detox programs are not the long, very strenuous, clinical type detoxes. I find that a mild, gentle, "spring cleaning" type of detox program is all most people need--unless you are very seriously ill. It can be done over a long weekend a couple of times a year. The hardest part about it is beginning, because it takes quite a bit of change to your lifestyle. Often a series of short detoxes, one or two over a 3-4 month period works better than a long detox, where you would need to be under clinical supervision.
Today we know that water fasts do not give you enough nourishment to maintain in this modern world. Water fasts allow your body to detoxify too fast, dumping out all those toxins stored in your fatty tissues way too quickly. You can re-poison yourself. Ayurveda uses the vegetable juice diet as a way to work on body cleansing, and I think this is the way to go. They also popularized yoga and deep breathing. Deep breathing can really enhance a cleanse.
Dennis: A lot of our readers, like myself, are working toward preventive health maintenance. If a person already has a healthy diet and is in general good health, does he or she need to go through a detox program? It seems that you are saying a regular tune up is good because of the environment we live in, but it doesn't necessarily need to be as heavy duty if you have a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Page: When someone asks me who needs to detox, I really can say with all honesty that I think everybody does. For instance, I feel that I live a very healthy life, yet I do it because detox is a technique for staying healthy in a destructive world and that is what we live in today. There are over 30,000 destructive synthetic chemicals in our society today and 25,000 new ones are coming in every year--U.S. industries alone annually release 24 billion pounds of toxic substances that are linked to developmental and neurological problems in children. We have no way of shielding ourselves other than taking care of our own bodies.
Dennis: How much importance does diet have in relation to other factors such as emotions, work related stress, etc?
Dr. Page: In my mind diet always has to play a part. It is something that we do every day. Of course we take in emotional stresses and yes, we may not exercise, and it all certainly is important, but I think that diet is one of the most critical things. I also feel that diet is the first place to start and then you can build from there. What I suggest is a mildly detoxifying diet--a protective type diet.
But when we want to go on an actual period that we call detoxification, I like to target it more. For instance, if you axe doing something after the holidays, I like to target detoxification from fats and sugars. If yon are deciding that you feel fairly congested and you want to go on a detox period during the Spring, I find targeting the liver is a good idea. (A liver detox works best when you do it through the high sun months.) I see that people get the most rapid results when they do some sort of target.
Dennis: Are there certain detoxification-type herbs that you use regularly as part of your daily supplement program?
Dr. Page: I drink green tea every morning for two reasons: because it keeps your liver uncongested, and it also helps in the way that bitter herbs help. I usually add bitter herbs to my green tea in extract form. It is a very easy thing to do and it keeps your digestion flowing and your bowel system regular. Of course, green tea has been proven to have weight loss benefits, proven immune power benefits and other things as well.
Dennis: Dr. Andrew Weil recommends green tea for lowering cholesterol and also as an antioxidant. I drink it every morning instead of coffee. But I switched to a decaffeinated green tea to avoid getting the jitters from the caffeine. Does the decaffeinating process inhibit part of the positive effects of the green tea?
Dr. Page: My first thought--not knowing if it is water decaf processing--is it seems it wouldn't be a problem.
Dennis: Another herb that I have begun using regularly is ginger. What are your thoughts on this herb?
Dr. Page: It's one of my favorites! Not only is it a bitters for your digestion, but it's good for people that may be at risk for heart problems or heart attacks (both men and women). Ginger inhibits the enzyme that puts people at risk for a stroke. It's also good for the circulatory system. Another good choice is sea greens, or sea vegetables. They are the detoxifiers of the ocean and they can do the same thing for us. They are also wonderful for weight loss, as lymph cleansers, and for detoxifying fat and sugar.
Dennis: When you say sea greens do you mean seaweed? And do you think seaweed is better than other green foods, such as wheat grass, blue green algae and spirulina?
Dr. Page: I do mean seaweed such as dulse and kelp. Spirulina is a water plant as well, but I must tell you that I have had better results with the actual ocean plants.
Dennis: I have read mixed opinions about green foods. Some people say that chlorophyll cannot be broken down, that it's indigestible by humans.
Dr. Page: I believe that it is. A lot of work has been done by Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara (founder of Green Foods, Inc.) and others that says that green foods are beneficial. Regardless, the way I work as a traditional Naturopath is from the view of the ailment, and is the person getting better. This is more important to me than the supposed proven or unproven properties of the plant.
Dennis: I know you work with herbs from around the world. Can you talk about different cultures and what detox methods they use?
Dr. Page: One Chinese herb that everybody knows about but may not think of in terms of detoxification is ginseng. Ginseng is used widely in China, for reproductive enhancement, anti-aging, detoxification and many other things. Ginseng is incredibly popular with everybody. It is a good detoxifying herb because it clears out congestion and restores body balance. It is not a purgative, but it is a restorer of homeostasis.
As far as detoxification from the Native American tradition, most of us know about sweat lodges for bodily as well as spiritual purification. My favorite herb from the Native American tradition of cleansing is sage. Many people use it today for a cleanse of the house (burning sage) and of course it was used in the sweat lodges in the same way. Sage will also really boost your immune system.
As far as the European tradition goes, I used to work in a spa in Europe. A great deal of attention was devoted to detoxification techniques, mostly water techniques. They would lower you into sweating baths or mud baths. I worked in Germany at a spa where you walked right into the mud pits outside. It certainly was a cleansing technique!
Dennis: That sounds like Calistoga here in California.
Dr. Page: Yes! I saw how effective the wraps were. You cannot imagine how much yellow body waste would come out through the skin after a cleanse of that type. There's no question that every tradition has a way to cleanse the body. In the Rainforest, the parasite cleanse is a big one.
Dennis: I am aware of spring cleansing and fall cleansing. What should people do in the middle of winter?
Dr. Page: I recommend the fat and sugar cleanse [see side bar], because around the holidays is when the average American eats so much of this kind of food. Americans eat 150 pounds of refined sugar every year! Even people who are on a low-fat diet often end up eating too much sugar. I am working with Chinese herbs a lot now, and a lot of it involves getting the sugar out of the system. When you eat a lot of sugars, it triggers the Insulin reaction which triggers your body to make fat.
The Lymph Cleanse is also a good one to do in the winter. It is a wonderful way to boost your immune system. The whole lymph system is a secondary system for your circulation. What it doesn't have is a pump like your heart, so exercise decongests your lymph system. Exercise stimulates the muscles to move all those toxins through your lymph system, enhancing your immune response.
For more information from Dr. Linda Page and how to do specific detoxification programs, look for her book Healthy Healing at your local bookstore or visit her web site at www.healthyhealing.com
Read the complete extended interview with Dr. Linda Page at www.ShareGuide.com
By Dennis Hughes