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Holistic detox practices to balance the body, mind, and spirit

Amanda Biccum, CHNC
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5Rs: Remove, repopulate, rebalance

There are a number of ways to make both preventive and healing measures to help detoxify the system and restore balance in the body, mind, and spirit. Detoxification helps enable the body’s own ability to clear pathways to thrive by eliminating harmful overloads of toxins, which in turn helps to rebalance the microbiome, which helps to clear the mind through the gut-brain pathways, and ultimately to lift the spirit.

Below are some examples of possible therapies. Before proceeding with any of the ideas shared here, always consult with your certified functional medicine practitioner to identify which, if any, are appropriate for you.

Options to discuss with your licensed practitioner

Ideas for parasite removal

Herbs and tinctures

Various natural remedies have been used for thousands of years to effectively remove parasites. Using tinctures that include black walnut husk, wormwood, cloves, garlic and other strong antimicrobial herbs have been shown to effectively eliminate parasites from the body. Best practice is to use the herbal tincture for 42 days. Parasites have a 21-day life cycle and new parasites can hatch in between.

Fasting and intestinal cleansing

Since parasites survive by feeding off the host and host’s food, fasting can starve them. Doing a carefully controlled fast, such as a bone broth fast, can be effective at preventing the parasites from feeding, which will eventually cause them to die out.

Fasting can be counter-indicated for people with autoimmunity, however, where nutrient absorption can already be an issue, so it’s particularly important to consult with your functional medicine practitioner first before attempting a fasting approach. If you do agree to proceed, you’ll want to follow your practitioner’s careful instructions to ensure you not just release toxins, but properly flush them from your system, as well – it’s a multi-step process.

An intestinal colon cleanse can be another tool used in the process of parasite reduction. Over time, fecal matter adheres to the colon wall, which creates a buildup of plaque that parasites can feed upon. By cleansing the colon, you remove the feeding ground for parasites. There are various ways to cleanse the colon, including through the use of senna leaf, epsom salt and tamarind herbal flushes, a salt water lemon flush, or colonix and enemas. There are also professional colon cleanse technicians available, as well.

Diatomaceous earth

One of the best ways to detox from parasites is to use a natural substance called diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is a white powder made of crushed fossilized diatoms. DE has a unique crystalline structure which slices through the exoskeleton of the parasites, causing them to ‘bleed out’ and be excreted via the feces, while being harmless to the human host. DE is sold as a “food grade” item. Consult your practitioner as to dosing, practice, and appropriateness for you.


An important next step after any bowel rest, fasting, or colon cleanse is to repopulate the colon with beneficial bacteria. Aftercare is extremely important in order to maintain a healthy gut and prevent harmful microorganisms from making their way back in. A healthy colon can rebound from such a treatment with proper diet; a vulnerable system will need support to properly repopulate and nourish the microbiome.

Dietary components that can aid the rebalancing process include prebiotic foods, such as fermented foods, and probiotics, such as high-potency probiotic that your functional medicine practitioner recommends. Fermented foods and probiotics are also essential to help reestablish a healthy microbiome balance and ensure the “bad guys” don’t regain the upper hand. Avoid fermented foods which contain soy and vinegar-based foods. Ensure your diet is low in packaged, processed foods and high in nutrient-dense, healthy, fiber-rich foods. These are key components of maintaining a healthy digestive terrain.

Hydrochloric acid is also a key component for proper digestion. HCL can also help ensure that, if microorganisms do end up making their way into your body, they are terminated before they make their way to your intestines.  HCL levels can be tested; some practitioners treat prophylactically.

In the case of significant dysbiosis, where the body is having difficulty recolonizing healthy bacteria, a fecal microbiota transplant has been shown to be effective. This is available on a limited basis as a safe and approved procedure. Lean more about fecal microbiota transplant here.

Heavy metal elimination

In addition to being effective against parasites, Diatomaceous Earth is a great binder for heavy metal elimination. If you and your practitioner agree on this approach, you’ll want to be sure that you are drinking plenty of water to ensure that stool is being passed frequently to avoid reabsorption or harmful toxins into the blood stream. This is important for any detoxification method.


Cilantro is a great binder for heavy metals. Drinking cilantro tea, using it in foods, juices and smoothies is a great way to continue to remove heavy metals. One of the best ways to do a heavy metal flush is to use cilantro extract, taking it 2-3x daily between meals, for about 2 weeks. Again, be sure to drink lots of water.


Sweating is a natural way our body eliminates toxins. Doing aerobic exercises, hot yoga and using infrared saunas are great ways to increase sweating and increase the body’s natural ways to eliminate heavy metals. Note that antiperspirant can block the body’s natural detoxification method here, and often introduces aluminum; choose a natural deodorant to help.

Liver cleanse

Since the liver is the largest detox organ in the body, assisting the liver in its functions helps to eliminate toxic buildup. There are a variety of ways your functional medicine practitioner may discuss with you, such as taking cracked cell chlorella and spirulina supplements, drinking low sugar green juices, lemon water, consuming bitters, drinking dandelion root, burdock root or milk thistle tea, doing coffee enemas, or consuming beef liver and sea vegetables like dulse. Or your provider may recommend an herbal or other composite supplement. Most practitioners emphasize nutrient dense foods to support the liver. Discuss which approach might be right for you.

Chelation therapy

This is an administered form of treating heavy metal toxicity using a synthetic amino acid called EDTA. It’s an intravenous method that works by binding salts to molecules in the blood. EDTA binds to heavy metals which are then exported to the kidneys where they are excreted out of the system. It can be an effective method for treating individuals who have severe heavy metal toxicity (1) and should be executed under the guidance of a licensed practitioner.

Many factors can aid in rebalancing the gut microbiome, including removal of heavy metals and parasites. These are great, first steps when it comes to addressing imbalances in the microflora.

Correcting candida and other microbial imbalances

Microbial imbalances are harder to target and treat. There are various tests you can take to see if you have candida, SIBO or other bacterial overgrowths; unfortunately, they are not always accurate. Digestive-based issues such as chronic IBS, gas, bloating, and stomach pains are often clear signs of a microbial imbalance. Acne can be a strong indicator, too.

Diet is one of the best ways to truly manage microbial imbalances. Eating low sugar foods, reducing or avoiding grains and starches, avoiding packaged, processed foods, or following The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) protocol are the best ways to help rebalance the gut.

You practitioner may also discuss various antimicrobial herbs to aid in healing. These might include cloves, black walnut, oregano or rosemary, as can be essential oils, select composite supplements, or tinctures.

Other supplements, such as caprylic acid (found in coconut oil), pau’d acro, and various enzymes which disrupt the biofilm (such as Candisol, Lufeneron or Biocidin) can help break through the tough external layer of the fungi, reducing the colonization and bringing the microbiome back into balance.

Ancient practices

There are some alternative detox practices that have been used for healing for thousands of years. Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing, has been using detox practice to help keep ama (toxins) out of the body. These include oil pulling, tongue scraping, dry brushing, Ayurvedic massage, and Panchakarma treatments.

Supportive daily self-care and detox practices

To help to keep disease in remission and prevent flare ups, both proper diet and healthy lifestyle practices are essential to good health. Stress is a significant factor when it comes to dealing with inflammation and autoimmune disease. Stress can also create vulnerability and throw the system out of balance. (2)

Mindfulness practices rooted in stress reduction such as meditation, yin yoga, qi gong, tai chi and yoga nidra are great daily practices to ensure that your personal, mental and emotional health are contributing to overall healing.

Reducing stress through trigger point release, with the use of self-massage aids like RAD rollers, Reiki and other energy healing modalities, sensory deprivation, chi nei tsang (belly massage), traditional massage, acupuncture, and acupressure are great ways to help reduce tension and stress stored in the physical and energetic bodies.

Body, mind, and spirit

At the end of the day, managing autoimmunity is all about balance. When the body, mind and spirit are balanced, autoimmune conditions can often become manageable and symptoms can recede or seem nonexistent. Detox and alternative stress-reducing lifestyle practices help to create and maintain this balance. With consistent action in the form of detoxification, a high-nutrient diet, mental and emotional support, stress reduction and healthy living, autoimmune symptoms can be reduced and you can begin to get your health back.

Healing the body is a practice; it takes time, discipline and dedication. Seek guidance from your licensed practitioner, and consider walking the path with a expert in the field who can help you implement your plan can help ensure you have a personalized path to healing your body, mind and spirit.

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