"Detoxification" with Pills and Fasting

Frances M. Berg, M.S.

It's an irrational concept, yet an intriguing idea, that modern life so fills us with poisons from polluted air and food additives that we need to be periodically "cleaned out" ("detoxified"). Never mind that natural chemicals in our foods are thousands of times more potent than additives, or that most Americans are healthier, live longer, and can choose from the most healthful food supply ever available.

The elaborate, manipulative hoax of "detoxification" is gaining ground. Many people sincerely believe that their intestines, colon, and blood stream are subject to "clogging" by undigested foods and poisons. Food faddists seem to have a special fascination with bowels, colons, and body wastes.)

The supposed need to detox is promoted through extensive writings, advertisements and door-to-door pitches. This usually involves fasting several times a year for a few days while taking laxatives or diuretics to "clean out the system."

Some entrepreneurs claim that detoxing is a great way to jump-start a diet by losing 5 or 10 pounds before you even begin the diet itself. And if their scheme is not about weight loss, "rejuvenation" is typically recommended afterward. People who are persuaded that these activities will restore vigorous youth can wind up hooked on an herbal regimen that costs several hundred dollars a month. The questionable products include:

The detoxification theory can enable con artists to gain great power over their customers by diagnosing and curing "potentially fatal" (but nonexistent) illnesses. "They have to invent the idea of toxins," says Peter Fodor, president of the Lipoplasty Society of North America, "because that gives them something to pretend they can fix."

It can be terrifying to believe that one's body is being poisoned by toxins from within. But if this were true, the human race would not have survived, says Vincent F. Cordaro, M.D., an FDA medical officer. "A person who retained wastes and toxins would be very ill and could die if not treated. The whole concept is irrational and unscientific."

More about "Detoxifcation"Scams


At the time this was written, Frances Berg edited the Healthy Weight Journal.

This article was posted on August 15, 1997.

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