Eliminates a lot of sweating toxins


The term "detoxification" is now very often used synonymously with "purification" and has become a fashionable term in alternative medicine. But what exactly happens in the body and how does western medicine define the detoxification process?

The metabolism

Every living being has a metabolism, i.e. it absorbs substances from the environment and releases them again. Since one inevitably also ingests substances with food that the body cannot utilize or which are even harmful to the body, the body has to convert or excrete them. This vital process, which is mainly carried out by the liver, gall bladder and kidneys in humans, is called detoxification. Secondly, metabolic products and toxins are also released through the skin and breathing. The "flag" after an alcohol intoxication is a notorious example of this.

Poisons, but also drugs, are often fat-soluble, so they do not bind to water and are difficult to excrete from the body. In the worst case, these substances are stored in adipose tissue for a long time. The liver can make toxins soluble in water so that they can be eliminated through the kidneys. For compounds and toxins that cannot be secreted through the kidneys, there is the possibility of getting rid of them through the bile. The bile is formed in the liver, concentrated and stored in the gallbladder and ultimately released through the intestines. Poisons and heavy metals that are particularly difficult to dissolve in water are released through the bile. Water-soluble end products can also be released through sweat and breathing.

The liver

The liver is the central organ of metabolism and is therefore primarily responsible for making toxic substances in the body harmless and eliminable. Everything that is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract is first conducted through the portal vein into the liver. This is where the first metabolism takes place ("first pass effect"). The liver converts endogenous and foreign substances and inactivates them as part of the so-called biotransformation.

During the biotransformation, the mostly fat-soluble substances are converted into a water-soluble form. In this way, undesirable substances in the body can be excreted with the bile formed in the liver (especially larger molecules that cannot pass through the kidneys) via the intestines, kidneys, skin or respiration.

In some cases, however, previously inactive substances can also be activated. Some drugs are designed in such a way that they only become effective after biotransformation in the liver. But there are also negative examples, such as methanol (created e.g. when distilling schnapps), which only becomes the toxic substances formaldehyde and formic acid when it is converted in the liver.

An example of an endogenous poison is ammonia, which is produced when amino acids - a component of protein - are broken down. Ammonia is converted into water-soluble and non-toxic urea in the liver and excreted via the kidneys. This detoxification is vital because ammonia is a very strong poison for nerve cells and, above a certain concentration, can lead to coma and death.

The kidney

Substances converted in the liver are mainly excreted in the urine. The kidneys are therefore our main excretory organ for "waste materials". However, large substances cannot pass from the kidney into the urine, as the filters in the kidney are only permeable to small molecules. Such large toxins are excreted in the bile through the intestines. The kidneys can also convert foreign substances and toxins to a certain extent.

Furthermore, all blood is filtered in the kidney. If the kidney fails, the blood must be cleaned by an "artificial kidney" during dialysis. The acid-base balance is also guaranteed by the kidneys. Often poisons cause a shift in the acid-base ratio - compensating for this could be seen as indirect detoxification.

Adequate fluid intake is particularly important for the kidneys to function properly. So if you want to do something good for yourself, you should drink enough.

The skin

The body can also secrete certain substances to the outside through the sweat glands of the skin. Mercury, for example, can be eliminated in this way. Ammonia, urea and uric acid can also be exuded in certain amounts.

The lung

The lungs are especially important for exhaling carbon dioxide (CO2). If breathing is disturbed and CO2 is retained, symptoms of poisoning can occur. But alcohol can also be exhaled, hence the famous "flag" during and after an alcoholic intoxication.

Furthermore, toxins that are inhaled can be coughed up again directly.

Therapeutic detoxification

If the physical detoxification possibilities are exhausted, it may be necessary to intervene therapeutically. Here are some examples:

  • If the kidneys fail (renal insufficiency), the blood must be artificially purified, which is known as dialysis.
  • In the event of poisoning, such as swallowing too much medication or actual poison, activated charcoal can be administered. It is a substance that binds toxic substances very well. The activated carbon is then excreted.
  • In the case of poisoning, vomiting can also be induced, which "hurls" undesirable substances directly from the stomach and the foremost small intestine.
  • Gastric lavage, popularly known as "gastric pumping," is also rarely performed. It is used if the poisoning was less than an hour ago and the poison was absorbed through the stomach, i.e. through eating or drinking.
  • If you have been poisoned with methanol (e.g. by mistake in distilling schnapps), no direct detoxification can be carried out. However, since methanol and ethanol (normal drinkable alcohol) are broken down by the same enzyme, the patient is given alcohol in a certain amount and concentration for days, which displaces the methanol from the enzyme. Thus the methanol cannot be converted into the poisonous formic acid and is excreted.
  • There are often antidotes for certain poisons. For example, you can give flumazenil to poisoning with sleeping pills (benzodiazepines) and naloxone if you overdose on heroin. Vitamin K can also be used as an antidote when overdosing on a coumarin-containing drug such as phenprocoumon, which is a powerful blood thinner.

'Slagging' and 'Purification'

The terms "slag" and "purification" are now widely used in popular and alternative medicine. With "waste products" are meant here products of the metabolism and toxins that accumulate in the body and have a negative effect on health.

The word "slag" originally comes from metal processing, since in this industry the resulting residues are referred to as "slag". As a metaphor related to the human body, you have to get rid of these residues ("purification") in order to get a fully functional body again.

In conventional medicine, the term "slag" is not used, because harmful and superfluous residues are defined differently in the biochemical sense:

  • Fat deposits (cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL)
  • increased uric acid in the blood and tissues (leading to gout)
  • long-chain sugar-protein compounds (related to aging processes, arteriosclerosis and damage caused by existing diabetes)
  • Excess antigen-antibody complexes, especially in autoimmune processes (e.g. lupus erythematosus, glomerulonephritis)
  • Lactate (lactic acid)
  • Metabolites of drugs and drugs (e.g. marijuana residues in adipose tissue)

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Dr. med. Peter Mahlknecht
Medical review:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Eckhard Beubler
Editorial editing:
Dr. med. Matthias Thalhammer, Mag. (FH) Silvia Hecher, MSc

Updated on:

Austrian Nutrition Society, http://www.oege.at (as of 5.1.2011)

aid infodienst nutrition, agriculture, consumer protection e.V., http://www.was-wir-essen.de (as of 5.1.2011)

Institute for Pharmacology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, http://www.uniklinik-duesseldorf.de (as of 5.1.2011)

German Red Cross, http://www.drk-oberhausen-rheinhausen.de/ausbildungsunterlagen/co2vergiftung.html (as of 5.1.2011)

Medical Association Fasting & Nutrition e. V., http://www.aerztegesellschaftheilfasten.de (as of 5.1.2011)

Löffler G: Basic knowledge of biochemistry with pathobiochemistry, 5th, completely revised and updated edition. Springer Verlag, 2003.

Schmidt RF, Lang F, Thews G: Human Physiology with Pathophysiology, 29th, completely revised and updated edition. Springer Verlag, 2005

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