More articles by

Mini P Thomas
Mini P Thomas


Trash course


Hectic as life may be, it is important to take a break and cleanse your body and soul. Here are six detox therapies to get rid of impurities and feel refreshed

  • The chemical and thermal properties of mud make it a good detoxifying agent. It absorbs the heat caused by the toxins in the body and helps fight inflammatory conditions.

  • "There could be tissues in the body which are depleted of oxygen and are at risk of damage. Ozone becomes a direct supplier of oxygen to them" - Dr Vidyut Shroff, Jivatrik Nidaan in Mumbai

Are you someone who lived on a staple diet of instant noodles for many years? Chances are you are a walking rubbish bin by now. Additives and heavy metals in food lead to deposition of toxic impurities in the body.

In modern life, we are constantly exposed to toxins. Pesticides, infections, drug remnants and pollutants in the environment leave a toxic trail in the body. But most of us are ignorant about this. Ironically, even those who keep their homes spotless and get their vehicles serviced promptly do not bother about getting rid of the toxins piling up in the body.

“These harmful substances damage the cellular integrity thereby disrupting the normal state of health,’’ says Dr P.M.Varier, additional chief physician and chief superintendent, Arya Vaidya Sala at Kottakkal in Kerala. When there is a toxic overload in the body, the warning signs often appear as fatigue, stubborn weight gain, brittle hair and nails, poor memory, muscle pain, back pain or frequent allergy attacks.

Naturopaths believe that diseases are caused by toxemia or toxic settlements in the body. “Micro organisms are only secondary. They grow in our body and cause diseases only if we provide them a fertile ground,’’ says Dr Manoj Babu A.K., senior naturopath at Jindal Naturecure Institute, Tumkur Road, Bengaluru. In naturopathy, getting rid of toxins is considered vital to ward off diseases and stay healthy.

The human body has a natural ability to sweep out toxins. But as we age, our detoxification mechanisms tend to become sluggish. Hence, a spring cleaning becomes essential. Detox therapies can enhance the elimination of toxins through the kidney, skin, colon and respiratory system.

We have handpicked six detox therapies that would rev up the immune system and work wonders for the body. Some of these help break your dependence on sugar, caffeine and alcohol, too. Detox therapies may test your willpower and patience. But the immediate reward of feeling featherlight will motivate you to go for them more often.

Colon hydrotherapy

“Colon is the boss of the body,’’ says Dr Irfana Akther of ICAM Wellcare clinic at Fraser Town in Bengaluru. There is much truth in the old saying that death begins in the colon, she says.

Colon hydrotherapy cleanses the large intestine. “We use ozonated water for cleansing,” says Akther. “During the procedure, around 1.5kg to 3kg of waste matter is removed from the body. We often see hardened stool, coins, tissue paper and worms coming out of the body.” The therapy flushes out toxins, fat and plaque accumulated in the intestine and regularises bowel movement. “Detoxing the colon can help prevent colon cancer, too,’’ she says.

An MBBS graduate from Kolar Medical College, Akther later developed an interest in alternative medicine. So she went to Germany and China, which have a heritage of traditional systems of medicine, to study it.

Colon hydrotherapy is particularly good for people who have had too much junk food, says Akther. “It is one of the best detox therapies to remove lead and other heavy metals in the body,’’ she says.

Clean-up drive Clean-up drive: Dr Irfana Akther of ICAM Wellcare clinic at Fraser Town in Bengaluru. In the background is the colon hydrotherapy machine | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

It has also delivered reasonably good results in obese people. “You lose weight as you get rid of the toxins in your body,” says Akther. “Many studies indicate that toxins cause obesity.’’ Akther recommends colon therapy to people who are suffering from diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid and cardiac ailments. Cleansing the colon helps enhance the absorption of food and medication, and speeds up recovery. People who don't suffer from any ailments can also undergo colon hydrotherapy.

Water is gently infused into the large intestine and then flushed out. It is done by inserting a speculum (a tool used to investigate body orifices) lubricated with oil into the rectum.
The therapy helps remove debris and toxins accumulated in the colon.
Each session takes about 45 minutes.
Cost: Rs3,500 per session


Panchakarma includes five specialised therapeutic modalities―vamana (therapeutic emesis), virechana (purgation), vasti (medicated enemas), nassya (administration of nasal drops) and raktamokshana (bloodletting). “These therapies are particularly meant for the elimination of morbid factors from the body through five different routes,’’ says Dr P.M.Varier. “Therapies suitable for an individual are decided taking into account his medical fitness and requirement. Appropriate methods of internal and external oleation [administering fat] as well as fomentation are to be done prior to panchakarma to prepare the body for the procedures.”

A special dietary pattern needs to be followed after the session to improve the digestive power and restore stamina, which comes down during the treatment.

Back to basics Back to basics: A patient undergoing panchakarma therapy at Government Ayurveda College and Hospital in Bengaluru | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

Panchakarma has multifarious health benefits. “For a normal person, it adds to the preservation and promotion of health,” says Varier. “At the same time, the therapies become part of the treatment protocol in chronic debilitating disorders, in view of better manageability and restoration of health.’’

Healing touch Healing touch: Dr P.M.Varier, additional chief physician and chief superintendent, Arya Vaidya Sala.

Recent studies have shown that gooseberry, basil leaves, winter cherry and Indian asparagus help in detoxification. Ayurvedic formulations like chyavanaprasam, brahma rasayanam and triphala perform a scavenging action in the body. Therapeutic administration of gold in prescribed dosage and manner also needs special mention in this regard, says Varier.

Those who prefer natural detoxification may try detox herbs and food. Turmeric, ginger, coriander and curry leaves help cleanse the body of toxins.

_Ayurveda offers purificatory therapies called panchakarma for detoxification. It should, however, be done under medical supervision only. The therapies should be performed systematically and in accordance with the fundamental ayurvedic norms for better results_.
Cost: From Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 a week

Mud therapy

At Jindal Naturecure Institute, you could detox your body, mind and soul. You feel relaxed and deeply connected to nature in its lush green surroundings.

Naturopaths believe in drugless healing. For detoxification, they use natural agents like mud. “Skin is one of the major channels of detoxification,” says Babu. “Mud application can help eliminate toxins from the body by opening the skin pores and the ducts of the sebaceous glands. They often get clogged with toxins due to faulty lifestyle habits.’’

Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was prescribed a detox mud therapy for his diabetes and chronic cough.

Mud that is sand-free and collected from more than six feet below the ground is used in naturopathic treatments. It can be applied locally or all over the body. “We apply mud poultice over the abdomen. It gives a massaging effect to the abdominal organs and improves peristaltic movements, kidney function and blood circulation. This, in turn, helps in getting rid of the toxins from the body,’’ says Babu.


The chemical and thermal properties of mud make it a good detoxifying agent. Mud also contains micronutrients like sulphur. It absorbs the heat caused by the toxins in the body and helps fight inflammatory conditions.

Mud therapy not only ensures deep cleansing, but also exfoliates, giving the skin a healthy glow.

It is highly recommended for people in white-collar jobs, who almost never sweat. Those who live in places with a seemingly pleasant yet unhealthy weather may also benefit from it.
Both red and black varieties of mud are used for mud therapy, which helps in eliminating toxins primarily through the skin and also other organs such as intestines and kidneys.
Cost: Rs700 for a full mud bath


Chennai-based management consultant A.T. Krishna Kumar, 55, still cherishes memories of the time spent at Perumbayil Ayurvedamana at Guruvayur in Kerala. He underwent a range of detox therapies, including udwarthanam, at this 350-year-old mansion-turned-wellness centre.

“The therapies worked wonders for me,” says Kumar. “I lost 4.5kg and some 3.5 inches on my waist in 14 days. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels are under control now. My family doctor, an allopath who was sceptical about ayurveda, was surprised to see the change.’’


Based on the principle of friction, udwarthanam is recommended for obese people and those who suffer from diseases caused by toxin accumulation in the body. “Since the massage is done in reverse direction [using upward strokes], maximum amount of the medicated powder gets absorbed by the skin,” says Ashtavaidyan Vaidyamadom Rajeev Nampoothiri of Ayurvedamana. “The clogged fat, dirt and toxins in the skin pores get alleviated by this treatment. It also breaks cellulites, improves blood circulation and boosts metabolism. A good perspiration through the skin is another health benefit of this therapy.”

Medicated powders like kolakulathadi choornam, eladi choornam and triphaladi choornam are used for udwarthanam. “At Ayurvedamana, we use a special choornam, which is a mixture of three medicated choornams, oil and milk. The selection of choornams is made depending on the discomfort level in the person or the imbalance in his body,’’ says Nampoothiri.

Udwarthanam can be of three types. “For patients who are overweight, medicated powder with a mild texture is used. It is called udwarthanam itself,” says Nampoothiri. “For those with severe obesity, we recommend udgarshanam where a powder of harsh texture is used. In the third type called utsadanam, we use a fine powder made into a paste form, with oil. It is mainly for patients with obesity and skin problems.”

A treatment package―inclusive of accommodation in a non air-conditioned heritage room, vegetarian food, doctor's consultation and supervision charges, two ayurvedic external treatments or therapies, specially prepared ayurveda internal medicines and yoga sessions―costs around Rs4,950 a day.

The massage is done using medicated herbal powder. It is effective against obesity caused by accumulation of toxins in the body.
Cost: Rs1,750 per session

Hirudotherapy or leech therapy

It is considered to be one of the simplest and most affordable ways of getting harmful toxins out of the body. Leeches collected from ponds and rivers are used for detoxification. “Pond leeches are the best,’’ says Dr Om Prakash Singh, associate professor of Kayachikitsa at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, where leech therapy is gaining popularity.

Earlier, it was believed that leeches helped detoxify the body by sucking the impure or toxic blood. But recent biochemical studies throw more light on how the therapy works. “Leech saliva contains around 20 enzymes and chemical compounds which have medicinal value,” says Singh. “They are released into the patient’s bloodstream during the procedure.’’


Hirudin, one of the chemicals present in leech saliva, has anticoagulant properties. “It dissolves clots and improves blood circulation, allowing more of the oxygenated blood to come to the tissues. Thus, it results in detoxification,’’ says Singh. “Clinical studies suggest that leech saliva reduces oxidants and homocysteine [an amino acid, which if in excess could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke] and increases antioxidants.’’

Leech therapy is recommended for patients with arthritis and psoriasis. “At the department of biochemistry in the BHU, we assess certain parameters before and after leech detox therapy. The results are amazing,’’ says Singh. Mechanical devices that mimic the function of leeches are now available.

The procedure involves bloodletting. One might wonder how removing a small amount of blood would help in detoxifying the body. Leech saliva contains certain chemicals which have medicinal value. These are released into the patient’s bloodstream during the procedure.
Cost: Rs150 for a sitting

Ozone therapy

Sometimes you can smell a storm coming. Scientists say the sharp, quaint smell which fills the air before the storm could be that of ozone. Those living in the hills get to breathe ozone in the monsoon. The heat from lightning causes nitrogen and oxygen molecules to split and form nitric oxide. It further undergoes changes to become ozone.

There is a layer of ozone in the stratosphere, which is from 11km to 48km above the earth’s surface. It shields us from the ultraviolet rays of the sun which are known to cause skin cancer.


Ozone is widely used for detoxification, too. “Ozone can kill bacteria, virus, protozoa, fungus and yeast,’’ says Dr Vidyut Shroff of Jaivatrik Nidaan, a clinic which offers detoxification therapies in Mumbai. “Chemically, oxygen is denoted by O2 and ozone by O3. But once ozone gets into the body, it is converted back into oxygen. There could be tissues in the body which are depleted of oxygen and are at risk of damage. Ozone becomes a direct supplier of oxygen to them. It can boost immunity, too.’’

Ozone can be introduced into the body through every hole, except the nose, says Shroff, who is an allopath by training. If you breathe ozone, it might burn your lung. “We often give it rectally so that it goes right into the liver. The detoxification takes place in the liver,’’ he says.

Ozone can be given intravenously, too. “We take 50 to 200ml of blood and mix it with ozone,” says Shroff. “Venous blood is normally dark. But it turns bright red when it is mixed with ozone. The ozonated blood is then injected back into the vein.’’

A wonder gas, ozone kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. It also detoxifies and invigorates the healthy cells in the body. A session takes hardly 20 minutes.
Cost: Rs100 to Rs200 for rectal ozone therapy Rs800 to Rs1,000 for intravenous therapy


Afsal Rasheed, 23, of Delhi had an unhappy childhood. His parents used to borrow money from their neighbours. Rasheed felt helpless and guilty when his parents were humiliated for not being able to repay their debts on time. As a child, Rasheed couldn’t fight back or take up their cause. He would bury the negative emotions in his mind.

As he grew up, the memories started haunting Rasheed. He started doing drugs to escape them. However, he sought help in time and was put on homoeopathic medicines, which helped him overcome the addiction.

Suppressed anger, hatred and stress take a toll on one’s emotional and physical health. “Homoeopathy offers remedies for emotional detoxification,’’ says Dr Mukesh Batra, homoeopathy practitioner, chairman and founder of Dr Batra’s Positive Health Clinic. “Suppression of emotions is an inevitable part of modern-day life. Children may be bullied at school. Most of the time, they are unable to hit back. They just suppress the humiliation, which manifests as physical and emotional problems later.’’

Children often find it difficult to express their anxieties and fears. Ranjan Johar of Mumbai used to develop asthmatic symptoms every time his father left for Dubai, where he worked. Conventional treatment for asthma failed to work for Johar because it didn't address the emotional trauma, which was in fact the root cause in Johar's case. "Homoeopathic medicines can treat physical illnesses arising out of emotional problems," says Batra. "Eczema, dermatitis and allergies are sometimes triggered by underlying emotional problems. Homoeopathy gives good results in such conditions."

Naini Setalvad

Naini Setalvad

It is important to detoxify to maintain good health. It could lead to a great emotional transformation, giving you a positive and heightened self-awareness.

It is a dirty world out there―and inside our bodies, too. We ingest chemicals, radiation, drugs of all kinds, sugar and refined food, and abuse our body with various stimulants and sedatives. Pollution along with non-organic and processed food create an ‘alarming stage' in our body by disrupting the functioning of immune and circulatory systems. Degenerative diseases are related to toxicity, too.

Here is a detox diet to get rid of the toxin buildup in the body:
* Begin the day with a glass of water.
* Have fruits till noon along with green tea and herbal infusions. * Have lemon water in between.
* For lunch have vegetable juice, salad, vegetables, two bajra/ jowar/ rajgira/ ragi rotis or one medium bowl of brown rice and lightly steamed sprouts.
* At 4pm, have any fruit.
* Between 6pm and 7pm, have salad, soup and vegetables, lightly sauteed with a handful of nuts.
Do this for a week once in three months to feel refreshed.
Use ghee, cumin and rock salt as condiments or add lemon juice. Garnish with coconut and coriander.
Use organic spices, pulses and condiments. If possible, buy organic vegetables and fruits.
Eat slowly. Chew properly. Do not skip meals. Drink plenty of water. Spend some time outdoors. Do yoga and non-strenuous exercises like walking.

* Removes toxins, chemicals, pesticides and naturally accumulated waste via sweat, faeces, gases and urine.
* Improves digestion.
* Helps lose weight.
* Leads to improved performance, immunity and overall wellness.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant.

This browser settings will not support to add bookmarks programmatically. Please press Ctrl+D or change settings to bookmark this page.
The Week

Topics : #health

Related Reading

    Show more