Alternative Therapies and Lifestyle

Natural Ways to Detox Your System After Chemotherapy or Radiation

+ Pamela Friedman

There’s a cleaning process going on in your body everyday. The intestines, liver, and kidneys are all involved, whisking away toxins from the environment, stress, and the food you eat-waste products that, if left in the body, can build up and cause problems-and flushing them out where they can no longer pose a threat.

If you’ve been going through chemotherapy or radiation treatments, however, most likely you’re system is overloaded with waste products. Excess toxins are known to cause fatigue, stomach bloat, headaches, muscle aches, poor memory, a suppressed immune system, even bad breath. Chemotherapy drugs are quite powerful and fill the body with toxins; radiation can damage healthy cells and create toxic buildup; even cancer cells themselves become toxins as they wither up and die.

“In addition to eliminating chemical toxins and heavy metals from the body,” says the New Hope Medical Center in Arizona, “cancer patients need further detoxification support in order to remove the toxic load that comes from the death of cancer cells.”

Of course there are products out there you can buy, and you can try colonics (read our post about those here). But for those of you who want to detox in the comfort of your own homes, we’ve gathered a few suggestions. Try them out, and see if they help you feel better.

Detox Baths: Your grandma may have told you about the benefits of an Epsom Salts bath. Hot water opens the pores, allowing perspiration to take toxins away, as well as increasing absorption of nutrients such as magnesium and sulfate (in the salts), which help generate enzymes that clean up the body. According to Jordann Rawls, writing in the Yoga Examiner, adding ginger to your Epsom salt bath will open pores of the skin and further aid in eliminating pain. Baking soda helps neutralize the effects of radiation, sesame is great for de-stressing, and vinegar helps soothe joints and tendonitis. (Find recipes here.)

Water: It’s the most natural way to flush toxins out of your body. Drink at least 7-8 glasses a day, preferably purified.

Live Juices: According to, live juices can rejuvenate, heal, and help flush away toxins. “Fruit and vegetable juices are the cleansers, energizers, builders, and regenerators of the human system,” they say. Try a combination of kale, spinach, carrot, cucumber and a bit or ginger and parsley.

Exercise: It gets the heart pumping, which circulates blood, moving toxins out of the body. It also encourages perspiration, which decreases toxins, and makes you thirsty, so you’ll drink more water.

Fiber:It “sweeps” the digestive tract clean, and speeds up elimination, which means waste products are in your body for a shorter amount of time. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains.

Dandelion: Many herbs are known to stimulate detoxification in the body. Dandelion is one, used in traditional Chinese medicine as a powerful liver tonic. Try a daily cup of dandelion tea, some dandelion greens (full of nutrients), or this smoothie recipe. You’ll find other liver-cleansing recipes here. Other foods that support healthy liver function include lemons, apples, beets, and carrots.

Contrast Therapy Shower: Dr. Nancy Steely, a licensed Naturopathic Physician, recommends this shower to increase circulation and detoxify the body: Take a hot shower for 1-2 minutes, then turn the hot water down (or off) and stand under the cold water for 10-20 seconds. Follow this with 1-2 minutes of hot water, then another 10-20 seconds of cold water. Repeat once more, ending with cold water, and step out and dry vigorously. (Be sure to wait until treatment is finished for this detox therapy, when your skin is stronger.)

Remember to always check with your primary physician before you start any detox regime.

Do you have a favorite way to detox? Please share with us.

Photo courtesy of zedlafor via