It's true that people with substance abuse problems can "detox" when they get clean, but the kind of "detoxing" offered by stuff in the grocery store or pharmacy has no basis in science and is just a scammy way to scare you into opening your wallet (the companies that sell "detox" can't even say what "toxins" they're getting rid of).
Worst of all are the dietary supplements that make your poo into a kind of plastic in order to trick you into thinking that your colon has been "cleansed," as well as potentially dangerous enemas, and foot-baths that do a simple chemistry trick to make the water turn brown as though some kind of gunk has been sucked out of the soles of your feet.
If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn't excrete, he says, you'd likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. "The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak," he says. "There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better."
Much of the sales patter revolves around "toxins": poisonous substances that you ingest or inhale. But it's not clear exactly what these toxins are. If they were named they could be measured before and after treatment to test effectiveness. Yet, much like floaters in your eye, try to focus on these toxins and they scamper from view. In 2009, a network of scientists assembled by the UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. The products ranged from dietary supplements to smoothies and shampoos. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, let alone name the toxins.
You can't detox your body. It's a myth. So how do you get healthy? [Dara Mohammadi/The Observer]
(Image: Green Smootie, Robert Gourley, CC-BY)