I like science. Y’all know that. I read up on science-y things in my spare time… in my room… it’s for fun. So a couple of the latest dirty words that could get a bar of soap in your mouth if uttered in my household in a serious manner are “detox” and “all-natural”. Load of hippy dippy bologna, if you ask me (which nobody ever does… it’s like my name is Patrice). I’ve tried to ignore and just scroll past some posts showing up in my facebook feeds from a growing number of friends in the past several months but it has been building up to a point where I just can’t sit with my mouth shut and my hands under my butt anymore. This being my little sanctuary of randomness, I shall let it fly open here.
Why do I dislike hearing the word “detox”? Because, unless you’ve been hitting up some street drugs and alcohol pretty heavy and landed your sorry butt in the ER, you don’t need to put your body through such a thing as a “detox”. That cheeseburger and onion rings splurge will work it’s way out just fine on its own in a few days. Want to detox? Eat some fruits and veggies. Drink some water. Go for a walk/run/dance dance revolution. Don’t waste your money on detoxing juices, wraps, supplements, and whatnot. The only thing being detoxed is your wallet.
Here are a few articles further explaining the uselessness, as well as possible harm, of unnecessary detoxing rather than me regurgitating it for you like a baby bird –
Science-Based Medicine is one of my favorite blogs to follow – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/detox-what-they-dont-want-you-to-know/
Many people are easily drawn towards quick and easy fixes like a moth to the flame, especially when the words “all natural” are included. But these things don’t come cheap and they’re only temporary (if they even work for those lucky few). One of those quick and easy fixes happens to come from a rather popular MLM company that likely is doing some bang up business around this time of year even after all the leftovers have finally been cleaned out of the fridge (I confess, I found a small container of cranberry sauce just last week). My BS detectors go off with this company that especially targets and preys upon stay at home moms. And sure, I could just shut up and let people do what they want but I actually have some serious concerns about these “natural” “detoxing” “miracle” products. I really do care, guys. So just hear me out, please?
First, those wrap thingys? Sure, they might soften the skin, tighten, or tone but it’s only temporary. What you are mainly loosing is water weight. Not fat, not cellulite, no toxins, just water from your cells. Oh and money. Want some honest reviews? Amazon is the place to go where the 1 star reviews heavily outweigh the 4/5 stars. It’s like the only safe haven for honest customer reviews one can find on the internet.
And in this day and age of digital cameras and Photoshop technology, those “proof is in the picture” posts don’t work on me. Camera angles, lighting, flash on/off, macro/micro, whatever those fancy camera terms are, can all be adjusted to get just the right look. Flex like this, breath in, out, tilt, etc. You’re going to tell me all I have to do is wrap my flabby appendages and I can look like a Victoria’s Secret model within a month without even having to leave the couch or give up oreos?
Second, the supplements. Natural does not always equate safe. Cyanide, arsenic, hemlock tea, dihydrogen monoxide… all natural, all deadly in varying amounts. I spent an afternoon going through the rather long ingredient list of one of the vitamin supplements from this company. (What can I say? I’m a nerd. Use me for my skillz anytime.) Of course, due to being a proprietary blend, exact amounts are unknown. As Paracelsus said, “the dose is what makes the poison” but how can we know if the amounts in these vitamins are at a safe enough limit for those that could possibly be affected by them? Especially children and pregnant or nursing mothers? That’s probably why this company has a CYA (cover your arse) alongside their required “has not been evaluated by the FDA to treat or cure blah blah” disclaimer by suggesting pregnant/nursing moms as well as children probably shouldn’t take them… This should include products even externally applied to the skin as they can absorbed and processed by the body.
Here are the ones that should be cause for concern:
Spirulina pacifica – this naturally occurring type of this blue-green algae (likely the stuff this company uses because they claim to use only the most natural of substances) can contain bacteria, heavy metals, and contaminants (called mycrocystins) that can damage the liver and affect children even worse than adults. It is not good for those with auto-immune diseases or PKU. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-923-blue-green%20algae.aspx?activeingredientid=923&activeingredientname=blue-green%20algae)
Eleuthero root extract – also known as Siberian ginseng, is not safe for children, those with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, heart disease, bipolar/manic disorders, pregnant/nursing mothers, or those with autoimmune diseases; not to be used by those taking anticoagulants (aspirin, warfarin, etc.), corticosteroids, diabetes medications, lithium, immunosuppressant medications, or sedatives. (Source: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/siberian-ginseng)
Royal jelly – not safe for those allergic to bee products, may lower blood pressure.
Chlorella – not safe for those with autoimmune diseases, can cause extra sensitive skin when in the sun, may cause allergic reactions in those with asthma. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-907-chlorella.aspx?activeingredientid=907&activeingredientname=chlorella)
Milk thistle seed – slows/impairs the liver’s ability to do it’s job in breaking down some medications such as ibuprofen, warfarin, etc and thereby increases their effects as well as side effects of these medications that may be necessary to those taking them. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-138-milk%20thistle.aspx?activeingredientid=138&activeingredientname=milk%20thistle)
Astragalus root extract – mutagenic, not safe for pregnant/nursing women or those with autoimmune diseases.
Green tea leaf extract – contains caffeine; can interact negatively with many medications, see source. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-960-green%20tea.aspx?activeingredientid=960&activeingredientname=green%20tea)
Ginkgo biloba leaf extract – may increase risk of bleeding if taken with blood thinners, stop taking at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Bilberry extract – interacts with blood thinners.
Aloe vera gel – unsafe to ingest during pregnancy, may cause birth defects or miscarriage; unsafe for children under 12; may lower blood sugar. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-607-aloe.aspx?activeingredientid=607&activeingredientname=aloe)
Black walnut leaf powder – may not be safe for those with nut allergies; avoid during pregnancy/nursing, mutagenic. (Source: http://www.drugs.com/npp/black-walnut.html)
Corn silk stylus – safe at normal food levels but larger amounts may cause miscarriage. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-140-corn%20silk.aspx?activeingredientid=140&activeingredientname=corn%20silk)
Dandelion leaf – may interact negatively with some medications. (Source : http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-706-dandelion.aspx?activeingredientid=706&activeingredientname=dandelion)
Goldenseal herb (aereil parts) – not safe during pregnancy/nursing as contains a chemical that can cross the placenta as well as be found in breastmilk which can then cause kernicterus (brain damage) in infants. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-943-goldenseal.aspx?activeingredientid=943&activeingredientname=goldenseal)
Lemongrass – may cause miscarriage. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-719-lemongrass.aspx?activeingredientid=719&activeingredientname=lemongrass)
Marshmallow roots – may affect blood sugar levels.
Meadowsweet herb (aerial parts) – unsafe during pregnancy as it may cause miscarriage; contains chemicals similar to aspirin therefore not safe for those allergic to aspirin. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-108-meadowsweet.aspx?activeingredientid=108&activeingredientname=meadowsweet)
Papaya leaf – chemicals may cause birth defects, interacts with blood thinners.
Pau d’arco bark – unsafe during pregnancy, may delay blood clotting.
Plantain leaf – causes uterine contractions as well as laxative effects. (Sources: http://www.drugs.com/npc/plantain.html)
Rose hips – rugosin E may slow blood clotting.
Rosemary leaf – may stimulate the uterus; contains salicylate, a chemical similar to aspirin; may increase risk of bleeding and bruising; may increase seizures. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-154-rosemary.aspx?activeingredientid=154&activeingredientname=rosemary)
White willow bark – this is what aspirin is derived from and therefore not safe for children under 16, pregnant/nursing women, or those already on blood-thinning medications. (Source: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/willow-bark)
So there you have it. A majority of the ingredients broken down using fairly trustworthy as well as easily accessible sources to anyone via Google. I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but I would avoid if pregnant or nursing, on anticoagulants or immunosuppresants, etc. I would strongly advise not giving to children due to the aspirin-like similarities of some items. In fact, I’d save my money and go spend it in the produce aisle as well as use the extra on a new pair of shoes this spring. I think I’ll go eat an apple now; full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And cheaper. Any other products you’d like me to examine, just ask and I’ll willingly do the finger work for you. I even have a medical scientist sitting next to me every evening. He has access to even more information than I do.
And one last PSA, always tell your doctor any additional vitamins/herbal supplements you are taking, even if it might just be a basic over-the-counter tablet of Vitamin C. You may not realize it but even herbal supplements can interact negatively with medications or cause complications you may not even realize.