Detox : the body's self-cleaning systems

Tao L | 20 November 2022
Reading time : about 5 minutes
Detox :  the body's self-cleaning systems

    The detox emunctories

    To eliminate all these toxins, whether they are of internal or external origin, the body has five major self-cleansing systems, also called "emunctories", which are specialized in filtering and eliminating one or more types of waste :

    • the liver ;
    • the intestines ;
    • the kidneys ;
    • the lungs;
    • the skin.

    The emunctories are capable of filtering and eliminating a certain amount of undesirable substances. But we must not pull on the cord! When the quantity of toxins to be treated exceeds this capacity of elimination, various disorders appear, according to the overflowed emunctory.

    The typical example is the hangover. It translates the fact that the absorption of alcohol and the symptoms which follow : headaches, nausea, irritability, disorders higher than the capacity of elimination of the liver, sleep disorders... When the self-cleansing systems seize up, the risk is to suffer from a permanent and general hangover.

    The liver : the body's control tower

    The liver is the largest organ in the human body. It plays a central and indispensable role in the cleansing of the body by acting on several levels :

    • it regulates blood circulation ;
    • It decides on the distribution of energy;
    • it releases blood to feed the muscles;
    • it filters the blood coming from the muscles, rich in organic waste and detoxifies it;
    • it favors the elimination of toxins;
    • it favors the digestion and the absorption of lipids thanks to the bile;
    • it has a choleretic function (it secretes bile) and cholagogue (it evacuates bile);
    • It is responsible for making vitamins available to the body, synthesizing proteins and transforming glucose into glycogen.

    The proper functioning of the liver emunctory can be threatened by alcohol or drug abuse, but also by excessive consumption of fats (remember that the bile salts contained in bile are essential to digestion of fats), sugars or animal proteins, or by overexposure to various toxins (heavy metals, pesticides, additives...).

    The symptoms of liver clogging are numerous with nausea, digestive disorders, skin problems, migraines, immune weakness, allergies, fatigue, menstrual disorders.

    The intestines : the waste sorting center

    The intestines are responsible for sorting out the nutrients that are useful to the body (amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.), which will pass into the bloodstream, and the unusable residues, which will be evacuated in the form of stools. In their work, they are helped by the friendly bacteria of the intestinal flora or microbiota (located at the level of the colon, the lower part of the intestines), which will allow the synthesis of vitamins and the enzymatic reactions. The intestinal flora participates directly in the detoxification process. For example, it plays a central role in the elimination of steroid hormones and cholesterol.

    It completes the action of the liver in the elimination of waste present in the blood.

    The proper functioning of the intestinal emunctory can be disrupted by imbalances in the intestinal flora, themselves linked to the use of certain medications (antibiotics in particular, but also antidepressants or antispasmodics). A poor diet, lacking in fruits and vegetables, and therefore in fibers regulating the transit, is also at fault, as constipation favors the reabsorption of toxins. Another important factor of dysfunction : intestinal porosity. Clearly, the mucous membrane no longer plays its filtering role well, and lets toxins pass into the blood and lymph, which can accentuate the fouling. This porosity can be linked to a food intolerance, an excessive exposure to chemical products...

    The symptoms of intestinal clogging are characteristic with constipation, diarrhea, poor digestion and bloating.

    The kidneys : the blood purification station

    The kidneys play a central role as blood filters :

    • they process more than a liter of blood per minute ;
    • they eliminate, in the form of urine, a certain number of waste products, in particular those resulting from the transformation of uric acid. To do this, they carry these wastes with water;
    • they allow the retention of certain substances essential to the body such as minerals, vitamins and sugar.

    The lungs : the center of gas exchange

    Breathing, provided by the lungs, has a double function :

    • inspiration allows oxygen to be brought to the cells;
    • Exhalation allows to reject the gaseous waste produced by the organism (carbon dioxide or carbonic gas) and those brought by the outside such as the gaseous residues of tobacco or pollution.

    This is an essential function because the lungs are the first line of defence against the many pollutants that surround us.

    The skin : the mirror of our health

    The skin is also an organ that should not be neglected, it reflects our inner health which can manifest itself with skin rashes, a yellow color, accelerated aging ... Its function is essential : it allows the regulation of the body temperature (perspiration allows to eliminate the excess of heat) but also the elimination of certain metabolic waste. This elimination is done via the sweat glands (sweat), the sebaceous glands (sebum) but also via the epidermis which "expels" the dead cells. Hence the importance of not wanting to block perspiration at all costs with antiperspirant deodorants.

    Lymph : the regulator of immunity

    Lymph is the clear liquid that drains from wounds when injured. It comes from the blood plasma and the interstitial liquid in which the cells bathe, it circulates in the lymphatic vessels and is eliminated at the level of the lymph nodes (folds of the groin, under the armpits, on each side of the neck). The role of the lymph is essential in the detoxification process. It ensures a good purification of the body's liquids :

    • it carries with it infectious agents, foreign bodies and cellular waste to eliminate them in the lymph nodes;
    • It plays a central role in immunity : it activates the immune response in case of infection;
    • it allows the immune cells to circulate throughout the body, and then propels it into the vessels, the lymphatic circulation.
    Published on 20 November 2022 at 17:21
    Updated on 09 February 2023 at 16:14

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    Tao L

    Tao L

    Web Editor

    My name is Tao and I am very passionate about complementary medicine. In my home country, I trained in traditional Chinese medicine. I like to pass on the knowledge gained from my experience.