The Bogus Practice Of Detox
    By Enrico Uva | January 27th 2012 12:31 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Enrico

    I majored in chemistry, worked briefly in the food industry and at Fisheries and Oceans. I then obtained a degree in education. Since then I have...

    View Enrico's Profile
    Investigative journalists from Radio-Canada have revealed that a woman who presumably had died from a detox treatment last summer was actually part of a self-help group practicing intense 9- hour sessions of sweating (with boxed heads and  mud-covered bodies in plastic). Hyperthermia claimed her life.

    When the story first broke out shortly after her death, owners of detox spas and their peripheral industry had become nervous. Carol Perehudoff, a  travel and spa journalist wrote,

    Tragic events like these are frightening, but done in a safe and controlled way, detox is an important key to well-being.
    But people in the industry should not breathe so easily. Out of pure self-interest they keep perpetuating fallacies about skin and health. Nobody is suggesting they should shut their businesses. But if a mud bath is relaxing, and they run a clean operation with friendly people, isn't that good enough? Why do they have to pretend that their mission is to release toxins from skin ?

    With the exception of  thallium or selenium compounds, the skin is not much of an outlet for toxic materials. I guess it's easy to associate the skin as an outlet for something undesirable since it can reek in certain circumstances. But skin can smell bad not from what it exudes but from the bacterial breakdown of some of skin's secretions like ortho and para-cresol.
    Unless you are a small animal with a high surface-to-volume ratio, like an insect,  you don't depend on your skin for respiration either, so for humans, skin is not a breathing organ.  A sophisticated sensory organ and protective envelope, skin also helps us stay cool because after sweating, water absorbs heat from the skin's surface to become a gas. It can also conserve heat by constricting blood vessels and storing subcutaneous fat. It's the latter that lead to a 40.5oC (105 F) body temperature and the subsequent death of the woman.

    And it goes beyond mud baths and spas. There are Kinoki foot pads, which contain vinegar and chitin, the main component of  fungal cell walls and lobster shells. These are supposed to suck toxins out of skin. Analyses of the pads revealed no heavy metals were found in the perspiration.

    If you're going to believe something out of the blue, why not convince yourself that a massage from your special one will get the poisons out of your system.  At least the illusion will not cost anything, and it will have a wonderful placebo effect.


    that a message from your special one will get the poisons out of your system.
    Will a simple text message do? ;-)
    Yes, if it's a text message with a promise of a future massage....
    My powers of proofreading are definitely deteriorating as I missed the fact that I had typed "message"  rather than "massage"
    Carol Perehudoff here, defending herself. Interesting article, but I think the argument falls down by using me as an example. The focus of my article was to preach moderation and safety when detoxing, not to defend detoxing because I'm a (haha) nervous member of the peripheral spa industry worried that my gravy train is going to derail. And yes, personally I like detox treatments (and some I'm skeptical of) and I'm all for mud baths, especially for muscular and joint problems. There's been a lot of studies mainly in Europe about mud's efficacy. Here's a link to one. You'll find my rebuttal at

    Skin is not much of an outlet for toxic materials? So.... Pimples just come out for no reason? Please. Many skin disorders like psoriasis come from internal problems. So yes your skin does release many many toxins. My friends Dad had paint/ lead poisoning and when he started treating it guess where it all broke out?? The skin!! Amazing! Unfortunately the medical science world have been brain washed by pharmaceutical companies who fund med schools so they can ONLY teach drugs drugs drugs and if it's not working right chop it out with expensive surgery. The alternate medicine world have worked out ways to reverse the abusive treatment from careless greedy doctors (who only f up patients because of their unresistable urge to profit off all the meds they prescribe) and natural ways to heal the ALL diseases. I could write forever and you can say what you want but more doctors go from western medical science to natural healing. It's just hard to get filthy rich from helping someone with an non-patentable natural substance.

      It's just hard to get filthy rich from helping someone with an non-patentable natural substance. 
    The last time I checked, the so-called natural healing substances and mud therapies were not being given away for free.

    There's no doubt that excessive faith is placed in single molecules, and that many drugs are over-prescribed, but the other side of the fence can be just as deceitful. 

    Caveat emptor.

    "can be just as deceitful."

    I couldn't agree more