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Understanding detox vs. cleanse vs. purification and selecting the right “reset” program for the right patient can be difficult with all of the nomenclature used to describe various nutritional approaches. What is truly the difference between metabolic detoxification support, purification, and cleansing? Which is the best option for a patient looking to hit the “reset” button?

Three Tiers of Targeted Approach: Detox vs. Cleanse vs. Purification

Think of the differences between these three reset programs as a tiered approach to wellness maintenance. 

  1. Cleanse: Patient and health care practitioner (HCP) discuss the potential need for addressing gastrointestinal (GI) function. Are there existing GI disorders? Does the patient need to “clean out” their gut? A cleansing reset program might simply aim to prevent or decrease toxin exposure and absorption. 
  2. Purification: Patient and HCP discuss a potential problem with toxins circulating in the bloodstream. Patient prompts toxin removal through sweating, increased hydration, and healthy nutrition choices. 
  3. Metabolic Detoxification Support: Patient and HCP discuss the more complex situation of both circulating toxins and toxins stored within the body’s cells, mainly fat cells. A more powerful reset program is needed for proper stored toxin removal, and it includes activating the three phases of the body’s natural detoxification process.

The Problem with Stored Toxins

Stored toxins are not in hibernation; they can inhibit cellular function, and they need to be removed. The presence of toxins stored in the body’s cells, not just circulating in the bloodstream, requires a robust reset program: metabolic detoxification support. Unlike circulating toxins, stored toxins first need to be mobilized (1), then neutralized (2) and eliminated (3). These three phases of the detoxification process require nutritional support to be successful.

Nutritional Support During Detox

Nutritional support during detoxification will reduce the risk of side effects that can occur when stored toxins are mobilized during phase I and moved to the circulation. Without proper nutritional support, detoxification can do more harm than good. Metabolic detoxification support needs to be well-planned; a patient needs to be prepared for a successful detoxification with adequate nutrition, particularly for the neutralization of mobilized toxins during phase II.

The Key Components of a Detox Formula & Nutrition Protocol

Stored toxins are activated and mobilized by phase I enzymes before phase II enzymes can recognize them, tag them with a conjugating molecule, and neutralize them. Phase II is arguably the most important phase of detoxification because of its nutritional support requirements. Patients preparing for a detox should have adequate levels of:

  • Amino acids
  • Magnesium
  • Glutathione
  • Vitamin D and B12

It is also important to address any methylation deficiency prior to beginning metabolic detoxification support. A methyl group is required as a cofactor for conjugation in phase II. It is difficult to address methylation deficiency during a detoxification program and should instead be done in preparation. 

Throughout the detoxification process, a formulation supportive of the three phases might include:

  • Vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium for phase II stored toxin mobilization
  • Amino acid support for phases I and II
  • Glutathione support
  • Methylation support
  • ATP (energy) support via creatine

How Long Should A Metabolic Detox Support Program Last?

A baseline detoxification process occurs regularly in the body. Metabolic detoxification support formulations push activity above baseline detoxification to specifically target and remove stored toxins. Pushing the body above baseline detox activity should not be done for too long or too often to prevent nutrient depletion and risk of side effects: no more than 28 days at a time and no more than once to three times per year. 

Formulations can be used beyond the 28-day limit if the therapeutic ingredients are used at a dosage that supports baseline detoxification. Depending on what a patient’s main goal is, detox formulations can either support baseline activity as a pre-/post-detox or support a robust, temporary detoxification process.

Clinical evidence can showcase the positive effects of metabolic detoxification support programs through biomarkers that note the toxin elimination. A healthcare practitioner can support their patients in making the best decision based on health needs and accurately showcase this through pre- and post-clinical assessments.