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Detox & The Emunctories

In Naturopathic Medical school I learned about The Emunctories. These are our 5 major organs of elimination. They are extremely important to support during detoxification. In my opinion, we should be actively supporting our emunctories all the time. Sadly, we live in a very toxic world. Even if you’re eating all organic, use green cleaning products, and minimizing plastics in your home, you likely have some sort of toxic burden in your body. When I think about toxic burden, I like to bring in the bucket analogy - we each have a bucket that (hopefully) starts out empty. As we move through our lives, things happen that start to fill up the bucket. Maybe we ate foods covered in pesticides when we were younger. Perhaps we had dental amalgams with mercury. We may have been drinking contaminated water or lived in an industrialized area. This is not to scare you, but to help you recognize that we all have exposure all the time. Often, it’s the little exposures, happening over the course of our lives, that fill up our buckets. If we keep adding to the bucket, eventually it will overflow! An over

flowing bucket is a major contributing factor to disease states - whether it’s mental or physical health that is suffering. Now imagine that there is a spigot on your bucket. You can turn on the spigot and empty some water to prevent overflow. Supporting the emunctories is one of the main ways that we can open up that spigot. While we can’t always control what kind of toxins we are exposed to, we can do things to help support our bodies in processing and expelling those toxins.

What are these magical emunctory organs?

These five organs include: lungs, skin, kidney, liver and colon.

We need to make sure that all of our emunctories are “open” to fully support the body’s ability to detox. In addition, if one of the emunctories is overburdened, we will often see symptoms start to show up in the other emunctories. For example, if you have an issue in the colon (e.g. constipation) that can lead to liver disease and skin rashes.

Below are some simple at-home tools that you can use to support each of your emunctories!

  1. Lungs:

  2. Diet: garlic, onion, ginger, watercress

  3. Activities: deep breathing, aerobic exercise, steam inhalation

  4. Skin:

  5. Diet: burdock root, flax seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, cayenne, cold water fish

  6. Activities: dry skin brushing, sauna, salt scrubs, epsom salt baths

  7. Kidney:

  8. Diet: cranberry, cilantro, parsley, celery, asparagus, watermelon

  9. Activities: hydrotherapy, adequate water intake (at least half your body weight in ounces per day)

  10. Liver:

  11. Diet: dandelion greens, milk thistle seed, beets and beet greens, lemons, artichoke

  12. Activities: castor oil pack, hydrotherapy

  13. Colon:

  14. Diet: rhubarb, psyllium husk, flax seed, oats, vegetables (fiber), figs, prunes, apples

  15. Activities: enema, abdominal massage, adequate water intake

Regular support of the emunctories, with the above foods and activities, can go a long way in reducing your toxic burden.

This information is not intended as medical advice. It is for informational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for seeking medical advice from your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone immediately.

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