Detox products sell an incredibly alluring idea. Have a few indulgent days over Thanksgiving or Christmas? Just use a tea, drink a juice, take a supplement and look as fresh as Gwyneth Paltrow — no exercise or surgery required.
The truth is unless you’re a heroin addict or you’re at risk of alcohol poisoning, you probably don’t need a “detox.” Here’s why.
The idea can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden: Almost as soon as we were created, we ate a toxic apple. Since then, perhaps to atone for this original sin, many of us have fallen prey to the idea that we are full of nasty, usually nebulously defined toxins in our bodies and we need to get rid of them to be purer, cleaner, and lighter.
Look back to ancient Egypt: Physicians thought that toxic substances could be produced in people’s bodies (particularly within feces), caused disease, and needed to be expelled. This idea — called “auto-intoxication” — persisted, according to the medical journal the Lancet, and even microbiologists believed it through the past century. By the early 1900s, however, our understanding of physiology evolved, and scientists sent auto-intoxication “to the dustbin of medical history,” according to the Lancet.
Before you succumb to this incredibly appealing notion, you should know that the idea of using some product to “detox” is nonsense. But this hasn’t stopped clever marketers from selling the idea that we can become, somehow, less toxic by using special products.