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In order to understand how and where detoxing occurs in our bodies, let’s look at the fundamental mechanism of detoxing. These are the six main players:

1) Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is the body’s trash collection system. Lymph (a milky fluid that contains a type of white blood cell, proteins and fat) moves slowly around the body. As it passes through one of a multitude of lymph nodes, toxins are filtered out from the lymph. (See “What You Need to Know About Your Lymph System” to learn how to optimize your body’s lymphatic system.)

2) Liver

The liver acts as a giant chemical factory for the body. It clears the blood of poisonous substances (everything from alcohol to pesticides) that would otherwise build up in the bloodstream. It absorbs these toxins, alters their chemical structure, makes them water-soluble and then excretes them into the bile (a greenish-brown liquid). The bile then carries these waste products away from the liver to the intestines from which they are excreted. (Explore lifestyle and nutritional protocols to support this detoxifying organ at “The Everyday Liver Detox“).

3) Lungs

The lungs are the bellows of our respiratory system. When we breathe, oxygen is transferred from the air to the blood and the waste products of respiration (carbon dioxide and water) are ejected. However, we also inhale a host of air-born pollutants, such as carbon monoxide from traffic fumes, nicotine from cigarette smoke, formaldehyde from building materials and fabrics.

4) Kidneys

The prime function of the kidneys is to filter the blood, removing toxins and waste products generated by the breakdown of proteins. As we get older our kidneys naturally become less effective but can still function well – providing they are not overloaded with a toxic diet or environment.

5) Skin

The skin acts as a protective barrier between our internal organs and the environment. It is also a wonderful detoxifier, sweating out and sloughing off toxins that cannot be eliminated any other way. (Struggle with skin issues? See “What Your Skin Is Trying to Tell You“.)

6) Intestines

Our intestines carry away the waste products of digestion. A highly processed diet often leads to constipation, with toxic waste remaining in the body far longer than necessary (or safe).

This was excerpted from “Clean Sweep” which was published in the March/April 2002 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander is the author of over 20 books on natural health and holistic living, including Detox for Mind Body Spirit and The Five Minute Healer.

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