1 Aug 2019
Cancer and Detox
1 Aug 2019
It’s a question I get often – how to start detoxing after finding out you have cancer. Detoxing is certainly an area I focus on in my practice, but there are so many things to consider before diving into one! Your best bet is to find a healthcare practitioner to work with to ensure your protocol is safe and effective. It can be a wonderfully supportive treatment, when done correctly! Here’s a little FAQ when it comes to detoxing in cancer!
I just found out I have cancer. Should I do a detox?
It is very common to feel like you want to do everything possible after getting a cancer diagnosis. But jumping into drastic changes without proper guidance can potentially do more harm than good. There are many things to consider when starting a detox – the condition and energy level of the patient, any existing health conditions, blood sugar regulation, stress level, and medications, to name a few. The most important thing immediately following a cancer diagnosis is to get a clear treatment plan from your oncologist. Then, your naturopathic doctor can put together an evidence-based plan to support your health that doesn’t interfere with that treatment. This can include dietary changes, supplements, IV therapy, stress management, acupuncture, and counseling.
Can I detox at the same time as going through treatment?
If you are undergoing chemotherapy, it is not advisable to detox at the same time, for a few reasons. Firstly, detoxing may change your liver processing, and potentially speed up the elimination of drugs from your system. This may render them less effective. In addition, detoxing can be a heavy process for the body to undergo, and you may end up feeling significantly worse through your treatment. By focusing on dietary changes, including nutrient-dense plant-based foods, you will support your body’s gentle detox abilities without increasing its burden or affecting your integrative oncology treatment.
So when should I detox? Is it beneficial at all?
Yes, doing a detox can be a wonderful support for the body. The best time to detox is after your chemotherapy is completed. This will allow your body to process through any toxins as your system recovers and can get you back to feeling like yourself sooner. Any detox should be done under the supervision of your healthcare provider, especially post-chemotherapy, as we’ll be looking at your blood work, blood pressure, and other markers to make sure a detox program is safe for you.
I don’t know where to begin. Should I start with a juice cleanse?
There are so many different opinions and programs out there when it comes to detoxing. Juice cleanses, water fasts, herbal programs – it can be overwhelming! Working with a naturopathic doctor can help identify the type of detox that is best for you. Generally speaking, a dietary program that is plant-based and includes lots of vegetables is a great base for a detox. It decreases the burden on the digestive system that heavier foods like dairy, meat, fried foods, and processed foods can have. The high fibre and antioxidant content of those foods supports bowel function (the first pathway of elimination!), as well as liver and kidney cleansing. Getting some protein is important, whether that’s small amounts of chicken or fish, eggs, or plant proteins like legumes or organic tofu and tempeh. Protein provides amino acids like cysteine and methionine which help the liver actually bind toxins and carry them out of your body. Juices, herbs, or supplements may be added to increase the body’s detoxing abilities. Certain herbs like dandelion or burdock root ramp up liver detoxification, while cleavers promotes lymphatic drainage and clears up the skin. Getting recommendations from a professional takes your individual health into account.
I heard fasting is really good for detox. Is that true?
Both prolonged or intermittent fasting increases autophagy – the process by which your body cleans up waste and recycles cellular components. Fasting also boosts white blood cell counts and overall immune function. So yes, it is one detox strategy that can be very useful. But fasting of any kind should be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider, as it can be challenging for some people, especially if there is a lot of fatigue already or blood sugar regulation issues.
At Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph, our naturopathic doctors are trained to provide you with evidence-based approaches to support your cancer journey. Book an Insight Session today to find out how we can help!
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