Detoxing. Everywhere we look, we see people talking about vague notions of “toxins” we’re being exposed to, and we see ads for various products claiming to “detox” our bodies. Detoxing foot baths, detox pills, hair mineral analysis tests, urine challenge tests, colon scrubbers, colonics, and IV heavy metal chelation…the list goes on. Unfortunately, over 90% of the information online about toxins is riddled with pseudoscience. And this makes it very hard for the average person to know what types of toxin tests are scientifically valid, and what types of detox treatments actually have evidence that they truly work. Wouldn’t it be great to have an expert tell you about what the actual scientific evidence says about how you can safely detox your body? (So you don’t waste hundreds or thousands of dollars on tests which aren’t scientifically accurate, and on detox methods which are ineffective or counterproductive.) I thought so. So, what is the scientific answer to how to detox your body?
This week, I am talking to Dr. Bryan Walsh, who, in an attempt to understand what science really says about detoxing, has spent countless hours researching hundreds of studies related to toxins and detoxification. He is here on the podcast to debunk detox myths and talk about what really works and what is truly based on sound science. What he has to share will absolutely change how you view the detoxification process.
In this podcast, you’ll learn:
- How the 3 phases of detoxification works (and the recently discovered 4th one)
- Why carrots, apples, and celery aren’t what they are hyped up to be
- What Dr. Walsh has found to be the most essential and powerful tool for detoxing
- The truth about toxicity tests
- Why Dr. Walsh thinks trying to detox without also focusing on fat loss is largely a waste of time
- The most common ways you are exposed to toxins
- Why using detox protocols during fasting and weight loss are crucial to your health
- Why binders and chelators are crucial to the detoxification process
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How to Detox Your Body with Real Science (Instead of pseudoscience) – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey Guys. This is Ari Whitten, and welcome back to The Energy Blueprint podcast.
I am here with Dr. Bryan Walsh who I’ve had on the podcast before. We talked about the truth about adrenal fatigue. Dr. Bryan Walsh is a biochemistry and physiology expert, and he’s a board-certified naturopathic doctor. He’s also become a personal friend of mine and someone who I’ve, through personal conversations, just developed a huge amount of respect for.
He’s someone who really doesn’t follow a lot of the health fads and trends like most health experts out there, but he’s someone who’s always digging into the research and actually seeing what’s real, seeing what’s true, and is really just constantly putting things to the test and analyzing things critically to figure out what’s real and what isn’t.
So, in this podcast, I want to talk about the detoxification, because this is a huge issue where there are lots and lots of myths and pseudoscience out there, and because Dr. Bryan Walsh just put out a new course on detoxification. Welcome, Dr. Walsh. A pleasure to have you on again.
Bryan Walsh: Thank you much. I appreciate that intro. I like the friend part. I agree.
The myths and pseudoscience on how to detox your body
Ari Whitten: Let’s talk about detoxification. First of all, what is it for people that are just unfamiliar with this concept and get into some of the specifics of a lot of the myths and pseudoscience on this.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, so, I think that’s a good question. Detoxification, here I’ll tell you this story. Before I became a naturopath, I had read the books on detoxification, detoxify and die and all these different things about cleaning up your environment. Then I went to naturopathic school and learned a little bit about it. We got out into practice, and we did this standard detoxification protocols that most practitioners are familiar with.
Then, and you know this yourself, but the more you learn about things, the more you can start to really critically analyze and evaluation certain things. And I was hearing certain things. We’ll get into this about phase 3 detoxification and these experts in the field had different things. They were describing it in different ways, and I thought, “Well, that doesn’t really jive what I thought it was. Let me go into the literature,” which was the best place to look, and find out what phase 3 actually is.
In so doing, two things happened. One is, well, first of all, I realized what phase 3 actually was and how these people, the way they were describing it was actually wrong, and that’s always a flag. The second thing was is that there is a phase 0, and I’ve been in this industry for kind of a long time, and I had never heard anybody ever talk about phase 0. I was like, “Well, how come I’ve never heard.”
It’s been recently discovered, but still, I’d never heard about it. It’s like, well, I obviously don’t know everything there is to know about detox because I would have known about phase 0. Then, also in that same period of time, I was reading some other papers that talked about a biphasic response of certain commonly used nutrients or herbs or whatever you want to call them in detoxification programs.
This biphasic effect, very clear in the literature, said that a low dose of some of these things increases certain detoxification pathways or enzyme, but a high dose actually inhibits those very same enzymes or pathways.
I thought, “Well, wait a minute.” So, a low dose is found in food. High dose is akin to what would be found in a supplement, and most detoxification programs are supplement-based. Then, at that point, man, I was like, “All right. I, obviously, don’t know anything about this. Apparently, nobody does because of the way that we’re doing these detoxification programs in the industry, so I need to start from scratch.”
And this is going back to your question on what detox actually is. I cleared off the desk, cleared out my head, didn’t have any bias against anything. I was like, “I have to start from scratch. What is detoxification in the first place.”
Are we really toxic the way that we always hear that we are? If we are, does this stuff get stored in us? We hear that it does. If it does get stored, how does it cause damage? What kind of damage does it do? Then, after I found out all this stuff, my question was if it is in us, and if it is causing problems, how do we get it out of us? What’s the best, most effective way to actually “detoxify” our body?
So, that’s way, and I’m not an expert in anything, first of all, but that’s why-
Ari Whitten: That’s very humble.
Bryan Walsh: Oh listen, I’m not an expert in anything. I’m not an expert at parenting, husbanding, anything. I’m just flubbing my way through it all. But, I’ve read a ton of the primary literature, something like over 300 papers, now. Before our call, I was even looking at more. There’s no end to the literature that’s out there on this stuff. So, I’m not an expert at it, but man, my eyes were opened.
I created a detoxification program that I’m really comfortable with, very proud of. Initially, it looks like it’s really effective as well. I’m not an expert in this, but I think we need to be having different conversations about this, and that’s why I talk to you about the whole adrenal fatigue a while back. I’m not saying I’m right, but I’m saying that I’m on to something big compared to what everybody is doing, and we need to really be talking about this in a much different way.
So, detoxification, I hate the term. 20 years ago, 30 years ago, it was like the Betty Ford Clinic when a washed-up celebrity drug user had to go and detox their body. Then nowadays, everything detoxifies something, like lemon juice in the morning detoxifies your body. We hear this term all the time. A more accurate term for it is biotransformation. Essentially, what it is is it’s taking something that can otherwise damage the body, which then there’s some gray area to this, by the way. So, it can otherwise damage the body is essentially metabolizing it in such a way so the body can excrete it.
We can very easily detoxify. We called water-soluble substances. We’re mostly water. Our blood’s mostly water. Our lymph is mostly water. So, if we ingest something or exposed to something that’s water soluble, It can be dissolved in water, like glucose or sucrose is water soluble, we can urinate it out. There’s a little bit of water in poop, so we can poop it out. We can sweat it out. It can come out in tears. It can come out in saliva, no problem. That’s detoxifying. It comes in and we excrete it.
Then there are fat-soluble compounds, and this is where detoxification or exposure to environmental pollutants really becomes a problem. Fat-soluble compounds cannot be excreted in a water route, so all those ones I just named, it can’t leave that way.
So, detoxification is [inaudible] briefly talked about the pathways, but it’s taking this fat-soluble substance that otherwise can’t easily leave the body and transforming it or biotransforming it into something that is water soluble so that we can excrete it out of any one of those routes.
What science says about the most popular detoxification processes
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. You alluded to a couple of them with, for example, lemon juice, or things like that, but there’s a lot of things out there, a lot of claims around detoxification, a lot of like colon cleansing, supplements, and colonics, enemas. I’m listing things off here. I’m not claiming that these are all invalid.
Bryan Walsh: Or good or bad, right.
Ari Whitten: I’m just saying there are lots and lots of claims out there. Some clearly have no science to support them, and some that are maybe questionable, and some people are saying they’re quackery. Other people are saying, “Hey, these really work.” What are some of the biggest detoxification myths, and maybe we can go through some of those, one by one.
Bryan Walsh: Well, that’s a good question. I mean, you started to list some of them. You can go on the internet and see somebody saying, “Just drink lemon juice in the morning, and that’s a great way to detoxify your body,” and I will flat out say that it’s absolutely not true. There’s no truth to it. In fact, some of the citruses actually inhibit detoxification, so I don’t think lemon juice will do that.
There’s foot baths, and the foot pads, and like you said, colonics, and enemas, and mucoid plaque, and all these different things. Well, I’ll tell you what. How about if we do it this way? I will tell you what needs to be in place for it to actually be a detoxification program, and I’ll just, I’m not trying to promote my program.
What I did in that program, and you know how I work. I tried to educate people in what this actually is and why we’re doing it and the how so that they can look at something else and critically evaluate to see if it is indeed a detoxification program or not. That makes sense.
So, what I will do, if it’s okay with you is go through what is necessary for it to be a detoxification program.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, let’s do it.
Bryan Walsh: So that you could look at other ones, and then you could point out the myths in which ones probably don’t work. We’re gonna just make some suppositions here. One is that we’re exposed to toxins. I mean, this is in the literature. I will not if it is my opinion, or if it’s a rat study and not a human trial or something else, I will tell you. But, we are absolutely exposed to this. The studies are very clear on all animal, including humans, that it does get stored in us, period, and that it does cause problems, period. It’s mind-blowing. It’s scary, some of the…
Are we really toxic?
Ari Whitten: Before we go on, perhaps it’s digging into that a bit more and some of the research on like, for example, newborns or umbilical cord, so just how common are these toxins?
Bryan Walsh: They’re extremely common. I mean, it depends on, there are small cohort studies that will use like 20 infants, and dozens are found in one baby’s fetal cord blood or their first bowel movement when they first are born. Their first poop, there are environmental pollutants, a lot of them in those two.
What I think some of the things that we need to, and I’ll just quickly say it, I had the same questions. I was like, “Are we really toxic?” I mean, I heard we are for 20 years now but are we really? So, what I’m saying is what I’ve looked into, and I’m very comfortable saying these things, and it’s totally backed up by the literature.
One of the big ones is you can look at what are called large population biomonitoring studies. You’re familiar with NHANES, but most of the major countries, Germany, Russia, they all have something similar, and they’re doing massive lab testing on tens of thousands of people, both urine and blood primarily, and they’re showing that the average person who doesn’t live or work near industry has, they’re excreting toxins. And the list is huge.
The NHANES report is something like over 1,000 pages. There are over 200 different chemical compounds they test that they’re found in blood and urine of everybody that they test, pretty much. And this is true around the world.
Another trend that you see is just the sheer volume of toxicology journals and environmental pollutant journals that are studying this stuff. And the things that they’re saying like, “This is really an issue. Everybody has exposure.”
Now, your diet, your lifestyle, where you live, your socioeconomic status is going to dictate what some of those exposures are, but everybody has exposures, whether it’s too toxic elements, things found on the periodic table, certain volatile organic compounds like things that you can breathe in, anaphylatoxin, the list is huge. The persistent organic pollutants, we all have exposure.
Then the question is are they stored. The quick answer to that is yes. They do fat biopsies, for example, which is considered to be the gold standard, although there are some issues with that sort of testing, and it’s found and stored in the fat of people all over the U.S. that don’t live near industry, and they have it stored in their fat.
But one of the most telling ones is there’s a number of papers done on all sorts of mammals, including humans, that show that when they go on a hydrochloric diet, fasting or something that’s going to increase lipolysis, essentially, that serum levels go up every single time. It goes up higher in some than others, but it doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, or your not overweight, that your levels, if you fast, your serum levels do go up. Well, where the heck are they coming from?
Then, the other piece is there’s a couple, there’s only a few of these, unfortunately, but there are a couple papers that will look simultaneously, small cohorts, like 20 people, will look at blood, urine, and sweat, and the blood in the urine is negative for a certain xenobiotic or a chemical, but the sweat is positive. Where the heck is that coming from? So, science leaves a lot to be desired. I can very comfortably say that we are all exposed, and it does get stored.
Now, how much in each of us, nobody knows. I don’t think there’s any valid testing to be able to actually do that, but I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that we’re all exposed on a daily basis, and it is stored to some degree if that answers your questions.
Why we should worry about the chemicals entering our bodies
Ari Whitten: I do. Now, a big picture question here, but why does it matter? What are these toxins, and some people know the obvious here, but there’s a lot of different answers. I guess a lot of different mechanisms. Why do we need to worry about these chemicals that are entering our bodies and being stored in our bodies? What are they actually doing in there to harm us?
Bryan Walsh: That’s a good question. It really depends on, again, I’ll call it xenobiotics. It depends on the xenobiotic that you’re talking about, but they all have different mechanisms. Now, some of them, I will say, are direct, and some are more indirect in terms of the damage that they cause. It can, and you’d love this one, is it can negatively impact mitochondrial function. It causes mitochondrial dysfunction. Many of them, it turns out, increases reactive oxygen species or oxidative stress. Some are directly just cytotoxic. Some might damage proteins that are found in the cell membrane, the channels or transporters or receptors, for example.
Then, the indirect ones are … it’s harder to actually quantify because they could be considered direct, but there’s quite a few, for example, that are considered endocrine destructors. I have this really great list of all the different chemicals that can impact thyroid hormone on every single level of thyroid hormone, from the hypothalamus, pituitary, binding, conversion, on the nuclear receptors themselves. So, if something were to negatively impact thyroid, for example, then that has indirect effects on the rest of the body, and cellular function, and mitochondrial health elsewhere.
So, it depends on the compound that you’re talking about, but they all have a specific, and it’s really well studied, in fact, the specific mechanism of action, that all of them, I mean depending on how deep you want to go, some of them disrupt enzymes in the citric acid cycle. Some of them disrupt some of the proteins in the electron transport stream. Some of them disrupt the receptors for hormones, for example. Or like even said, some of them will disrupt the binding hormone, but they will displace the hormone and transport themselves, instead. Some of them are very neurological, some of them more hormonal, some of them more of the autonomic nervous system. They all damage something in the body somewhere. It just depends on which xenobiotic you’re actually talking about.
The most common toxins in people
Ari Whitten: With that in mind, what are some of the most common offenders that are of the biggest concern here?
Bryan Walsh: There is one paper that I really like. It basically said everybody’s toxic, and it didn’t depend even on the socioeconomic status. I don’t remember the list, but they had people in a lower socioeconomic status had certain elements, certain xenobiotics that were higher than those that were in a higher socioeconomic status.
It’s just because of the higher socio … one was, oh man, I forgot what it was, but in the higher socioeconomic status, they’re more likely to have their own garden, and they’re likely to use pesticides in their own garden, so they had exposure to certain things that people who are in lower socioeconomic status who might smoke, for example, didn’t have.
One is what I refer to as toxic elements. Toxic elements are things off the periodic chart, so most of them are metals, for example, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, aluminum. But then things like fluoride would also be considered to be a toxic element. Then, the biggest offender, I think, is things like aflatoxins, I mentioned, comes from mold. Then there are things like benzines and hex. Those are considered volatile organic compounds. You can inhale them.
But, there’s this huge list of what are called persistent organic pollutants. Those are pesticides, herbicides, dioxins, things like phthalates are found in a lot of people. Parabens are found in a lot of people.
The whole family of the phenols. A is the one that gets the most press, but there’s phenol S, and F, and there’s another one. They’re found in everybody, right? I have a way of I’ve kind of been testing that, which I don’t think I’ll get into now. That’s a whole other topic, but those are the most common offenders that I see.
Ari Whitten: On that, quick digression on that subject of BPS and BPF, is kind of an incisivus think in my opinion, because there are a lot of plastic water bottles and such, and Tupperware, and things like that that are advertised to health conscious people that advertise themselves as BPA-free, but what they don’t tell you is that, yes, they’re technically free of BPA, but then they have this other chemical that’s basically in the same family that is just as toxic or maybe even more toxic, like BPS, for example.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, there are papers on that that say that they’re just as bad or worse.
The most common places people are picking up toxins
Ari Whitten: So, where are people getting these toxins? What are some of the most common places that people are picking up things like heavy metals or parabens or persistent organic pollutants?
Bryan Walsh: It’s something called life. No, and I say that because, again, there’s this form of testing that we’ve been playing with. There are people that are living a fairly clean and healthy lifestyle that it’s showing up I pretty high amounts, and locating the source is a royal pain.
It can be … It’s in the soils. For example, in certain soils, you might find some of these, not just pesticide. I’m talking about some of the toxic elements. Driving in cars, brake dust has a certain amount. Even if you’re driving on the road, not only the carbon monoxide and the smog and everything that a car puts out, but a lot of elements of that.
I think some of the bigger ones are where we live or work. There’s off-gassing from a variety of different things, for example, but then also cleaning products and personal care products, I think to have a fair bit of those as well. I hate to say it, but I think supplements, it’s a very unregulated industry, and I think if we were to actually test, do really good testing on a number of supplements, it would be really frightening, and people would stop taking some of them, quite honestly.
It’s in the food. It’s in the air. It’s in the water. This is years ago, but there was, I forget the group that did it, but it just in community water. I always joke around, because they found antibiotics. They found hormones. They found mood-related medications, and I was like, “You don’t have to take medications. You just drink the water.
You get everything you could possibly need.” You’ll feel happy. Your hormones will be fine. You’ll get antibiotics. You won’t have infections. Just drink the water. It’s a pharmacopeia of different drugs.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, people don’t realize that they’re getting prescription drug residues from the tap water.
Bryan Walsh: Oh my gosh. I want to take just a quick step back. None of this is meant to be scary. It’s a reality. It is. I mean, I could tell you that it’s gonna have a horrible rainstorm tomorrow, and then it’s up to you what to do about it. You can go outside prepared for the rain, or you can not go outside prepared for the rain.
This, just, to me, is the reality. It’s nothing to be sad about or afraid of. I’m not one of these fist-shakers, and say, “We’re all gonna die, because we’re toxic.”
Maybe we are, but maybe, I don’t know. This is just a reality to me like it’s really going to rain tomorrow. I’m not trying to frighten people into being healthy. I’m just saying this is our reality. You can choose what to do with this information.
Ari Whitten: And it’s also worth noting on that subject that it’s possible someone could do a very bad thing with this information, like be freaked out all the time and then creating an even worse effect by creating all this psychological stress. Now, they’re creating nocebo effects from that.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, you and I talked on the phone, though, one time talking about some of those papers that look at actual biomarkers that change when someone’s perception of a thing is there. So, yeah, no, no, no, believe me. Most of my patient base is people freaking out about the smallest little things, and it’s just not worth it.
In terms of cleaning up one’s life, there’s a financial piece to that. Buying a reverse osmosis filter or urinary filters, and all this stuff, but then there’s also how much you can take. You can freak yourself out doing this. Does that green cleaner, does it actually clean? And next thing you know, you’re stressing about everything, and that’s just not healthy.
So, yeah, you do what you can, and you hope for the best, and I think employing a decent detox testing maybe, doing a decent detoxification protocol is probably a good idea, as well as embedding some of these things into your daily life, like, your sauna, for example.
The truth about toxicity tests
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. I’m curious to digress a bit. I know you’ve mentioned it in passing a couple of times, but this testing that you’ve come up with, I’m curious to hear the details of it. The reason I think this is important, also, I think it’s important for people to know that a lot of the methods that are out there for testing for various toxins, whether hair mineral analysis or urine tests, challenge tests or blood tests, they’re all imperfect.
You mentioned fat biopsy being a gold standard. Well, it’s really inaccessible for most people, unfortunately.
Bryan Walsh: Well, my global statement on toxicity testing is that none of it is valid, and I would not waste mine or anybody else’s money on doing any kind of toxicity test, period. Now, there are a few other people in the industry that I respect that feel a little bit differently about that, but the short version is … I mentioned before that if somebody is hypocaloric, their serum levels go up. So let’s say you and I are like, “Hey, let’s go get our toxins tested tomorrow.” And you’ve been following a hypocaloric diet, and I’ve been stuffing my face, and you exercise, too by the way. When we go in, there’s a good chance that your levels are gonna come back really, really high. There’s a good chance that mine are gonna come back low, because I’ve been stuffing my face, and everything’s being stored in my body right now.
So, then, we get our tests back, and I’m like, “Ha, ha. You’re toxic. I’m not.” And the reality might be the opposite. I might be loaded with them, and they might just be passing through you fairly well if that makes sense. So, you can name the tests. I’ve looked at all of them. I don’t think that they’re valid. I think there are too many variables, and I think that, honestly, it’s interesting. If somebody has money to blow, go ahead, but in terms of interpreting them, I think it’s impossible to accurately do them.
And, it turns out that fat biopsies, there’s a whole list of reasons why it’s not accurate for this either. Different toxins can be stored in different fat depots in the body, and even in the same area of the body might have different amounts of toxins.
So, even the fat biopsy, even if it was accessible, it doesn’t look at total body burden. Oh, and, there’s a really great paper that talked about how it was stored in a visceral adipose tissue as well as subcutaneous, so you’re not gonna even do a fat … That’s a whole other piece, too. So, there’s no, in my opinion, accurate testing on looking at toxin levels.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, and probably some even fat-soluble compounds have an affinity for maybe neurological, fat tissue around neurological areas.
Bryan Walsh: Totally. There is one paper that took mice, and it put them on a yo-yo diet. Basically, what it did is it showed that when they were on the hypocaloric phase, things were released, which it always happens. But then they went hypercaloric, and guess what. These things didn’t get excreted. They got embedded in other tissues.
So, that’s creative. It goes from your love handle, and it goes into your brain, or I don’t know where it goes. So, then, you go back and you do that fat biopsy again, maybe it’s not there anymore. Maybe it went somewhere else. It’s a whole area that we don’t know anything about, so why play around with this testing when we can’t interpret it correctly?
The connection between perfluorocarbon (Teflon) and weight gain
Ari Whitten: Yeah, quick digression, I just saw an interesting study yesterday or the day before looking at weight loss in humans and measuring perfluorocarbons, which are, for example, what people would get by cooking with Teflon or non-stick cookware. They looked at perfluorocarbon release or I think in the bloodstream, in the bloodstream or urine, I’m not sure. During this weight loss process, and they quantified it, and they actually looked at it in relationships to weight regain in the long term. It was quite an interesting study.
They actually showed that people who had higher perfluorocarbon measurements were more prone to weight regain.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, I thought you were going with this one direction with that. There are two papers that come immediately to mind, and they both did the same thing. They took a group of people. They looked at thyroid hormone. They looked at a metabolic rate, and then they looked at different compounds in the two different papers. What they found is on a low-calorie weight loss diet that there was a negative correlation. So, one goes up. One goes down.
A negative correlation between serum levels, in one case it was organic chlorines, and in one paper, it was D3 metabolic rate, as well as, they looked at beta-oxidation in skeletal muscle. The higher the … Everybody went up, but the higher it went up, the lower the T3, the lower the metabolic rate, and the lower the beta-oxidation in the skeletal muscle. The other paper looked at free T4, but it was basically the same thing.
So, what was funny is the results of one of these studies, what they said was is because of this, we recommend moderate weight loss, which makes sense. But I look at that, and I’m like, well, how about supporting detoxification while you’re doing weight loss. Those studies are so powerful and other ones, I would not do a fat loss program without employing detoxification supportive things along the way. To the average person, we talk about you drop your weight, your metabolic rate does down, so you hit a plateau. So, what do you need to do, refeed days, and you need to do all this stuff. Maybe. Maybe if the stuff’s getting released, and it’s slowing down your metabolic rate, it has nothing to do with some of the things that we’ve previously believed.
Ari Whitten: That makes sense.
Why you should take detox precautions when you do fasting
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, fasting. Dude, I think fasting has a long and beautiful history, and I love the essence of it. I would not fast today. I would not have anybody fast today without drastically supporting a detox with [inaudible] methods. Every mammal studied, this stuff goes up when you go low calorie.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, interesting on that note, a little anecdotal share, I have a friend who’s a pediatric neurologist. A matter of fact, she had her on the podcast a couple times. Her name’s Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD, and she was talking to me the other day about how she’d seen several times in her clinic people who have gone on rapid weight loss programs and then come down with MS, multiple sclerosis, shortly thereafter.
Obviously, I don’t think we really have any science on this yet, where we can draw this firm link, but her belief is that basically this rapid release of toxins in a way where people can’t deal with them, and then maybe some of these are ending up I the brain and contributing to neurological disease.
Bryan Walsh: Or other autoimmune conditions or I’ll even say could something like that be a carcinogen? I mean, you go on a low-calorie diet, you flood the body with all these different things, or you yo-yo diet. Could that be the instigating factor for of [inaudible]? Nobody knows, and there’s really no way to test it. But, no, I think that some of those practices are dangerous.
What science says about hair mineral analysis and other toxin tests
Ari Whitten: I have a couple specific questions that I’m curious to get your thoughts on. One is we talked a bit about testing, but hair mineral analysis. I’m curious what your impression of that is. This is something that it’s kind of peculiar to me, because, first of all, there’s very little research on it.
Bryan Walsh: No, there’s not much research on it.
Ari Whitten: At all. And then, I know lots of doctors who think the whole thing is nonsense, and then I know a few who are big proponents of it and who use it. The interesting thing there is they don’t even agree with each other on how to interpret the tests.
Bryan Walsh: I think it’s a really … Listen, I have been around, that’s why I have no hair. I’ve been doing those tests so much that it never grew back. No, I was exposed to those, probably 20 years ago or near that. It’s really intriguing. I mean, there are some tests that I think you could just take one look at and say, “No. I’m just never going to run that.” But there are some that are just really, really interesting, and I think the thought behind looking at everything that’s excreted, both toxic elements as well as all the different, sodium, potassium, chloride type things as well, and looking at their ratios and what some of the theories that some of these proponents have come up with and have been doing for 20 or 30 years, man. I mean, they’re not just making this stuff up.
I’ll just say it. I’ll say it this way. I think there’s something to it. I just don’t, and I would put more stock into that than I would any kind of toxicity testing, for example.
Ari Whitten: Interesting. But if they were to do that urine challenge tests, or-
Bryan Walsh: Oh, yeah, yeah, no, no, no.
Yeah, but you’d have to do it serially, and you’d have to track it, of course, and look for different patterns, which they’ve done. I would like to see people compare that to serum testing being done simultaneously. I think some interesting things if someone were to really decide to want to research that and do a really good paper or research study on that, I think it could cap some interesting things.
I don’t run it anymore. I haven’t run it probably in a decade, but that test is always intriguing to me. I can’t through that one out right away. I think there’s something to it. I will say this, though. If that’s the only thing you’re running, kind of like a genetic test, or kind of like an organic acid test, or like a stool test. If you don’t have another testing to corroborate that information, then it’s not worthless, but you can’t get as much information out of it. And just if, I think you and I talked about this.
Genetic testing is interesting, but by itself tells you almost nothing. You have to look at medical history, signs, and symptoms, but then, if you juxtapose that information on an organic acid test along with the serum blood test, then you might be able to make some inferences of that. I would say the same is true of para tissue neuro analysis testing.
Ari Whitten: Interesting. I’m surprised to hear you say that. I was actually expecting you to say that you would think … Most people that I’ve talked to seem to think that’s probably the least evidence-based [crosstalk] or the least accurate one, but it’s interesting that there may be something to it. I mean, you’re measuring something. There’s something there, but it’s just a question of is what toxins, what heavy metals end up excreted.
Bryan Walsh: Oh, no, no, not for those. No, maybe I should have said this. I’m more interested in the non-toxic elements part of that, not [crosstalk]. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, no, no, I should have said that. The arsenic, mercury, aluminum, no, that’s what I don’t think is necessarily valid, but I think the sodium-potassium, copper, magnesium, and the ratios of some of these things, that’s interesting to me. If someone were to corroborate that information with serum testing at the same time, I think it could have interesting information.
I don’t think data is bad, as long as you know what you’re doing with the data. So, totally different topic. We’ll keep it super short, but salivary cortisol testing by itself doesn’t tell you a whole bunch. But, in conjunction with other things, it’s data, and it can be valuable information if you’re able to accurately interpret it only using other lab tests to help you interpret that test if that makes sense.
The best binders and chelators for a body cleanse
Ari Whitten: Absolutely. One other quick question I have for you. This is actually relatively new to me, but alpha lipoic acid, and even some of the other key lading minerals. For people that are unfamiliar, these are compounds which have the potential to bind with metals in our body, potentially to help excrete them.
There are lots of people recommending these, whether alpha lipoic acid or doing IV chelation stuff or oral chelation things. Then, I’ve seen a few anecdotes recently of people claiming that alpha lipoic acid made them a million times worse, and then there’s apparently even a forum online somewhere. I don’t know the name of it, but where there are all kinds of people claiming that chelators and alpha lipoic acid basically caused temporary binding and then allow toxins to be redeposited into the body somewhere else.
Then, they’re saying that these chelators made them much worse. I’m just curious if you’re familiar with any of that, or if you have any take on it.
Bryan Walsh: I don’t. The only thing I know about alpha lipoic acid in that realm is that it’s a weak chelator, first of all. There are much stronger ones. And, if it were weak, for it to unbind would make sense, because, it’s like albumen. Albumen doesn’t hold on to things very strongly.
No, I don’t deal with chelation or detoxification of particular metals, necessarily, so, no I haven’t looked at the literature on that. I haven’t really heard much about that. Makes sense if you have a weak chelator, but, no.
Ari Whitten: Okay, I think that’s a nice segue into what your methods actually are because you’re saying that you don’t use something, which is very commonly used by other people to focus on chelators and using things to target specific heavy metals. What is your approach, and what do you think is the most valuable paradigm and strategy as far as approaching detoxification?
Bryan Walsh: Well, first of all, and I covered this in that thing that I did for you. I think extrinsic detoxification, which is a targeted detoxification program, should be the last thing that somebody finally does. If you remember from that presentation, there’s-
Ari Whitten: Just real quick for people that are unfamiliar, Dr. Walsh, did a lecture on detoxification for my Energy Blueprint course, so only those of you who are members of that course would be familiar with it. Anyway, I just want to clarify. Go ahead.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, yeah, I think my new one’s better, quite honestly. No, I’ve done a lot of my research in that.
So, one of the things is, for example, you have to make sure that somebody has nutrient sufficiency in the first place. Now, the biochemical pathways are running in the first place, because the last thing you want to do is flood the body. You want to release all this stuff on somebody that’s nutrient deficient, that isn’t pooping properly. Their liver’s not working. Their bile is not being produced well. There’s a whole bunch of things first. They don’t have enough glutathione and precursors, for example. The PH off. It’s really interesting. PH in the kidneys basically dictates whether these xenobiotics gets reabsorbed before it goes out as urine or not.
You have to have a certain level of health first before doing an active or extrinsic detoxification program.
Ari Whitten: Excellent, and that in itself is actually a big distinction, because I know a lot of physicians, a lot of naturopaths even, in my local area that if you go into them, they might do some tests to measure toxins, heavy metals, and then immediately start with IV chelation protocols.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, and here’s the deal. Gut infections. I am on the fence about it, but if somebody has food sensitivities and intestinal impermeability, gut infections, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to clean that up first, which would lead to a detoxification problem, quite honestly.
On the other hand, the papers, whew, the papers on the microbiome and xenobiotics are unreal, first of all. Very new, and they talk about this bidirectional pathway that they have that xenobiotics negatively impact our gut bacteria tremendously. But, gut bacteria have the ability to metabolize. It metabolizes all sorts of stuff that we take as herbs to make them active and working better, but metabolizes the xenobiotics, also.
So, one could make the argument that doing a detoxification program might actually help with gut function, for example, and that’s why I’m on the fence about that. But no, you have to get things in order first, man. I mean, you can make yourself tremendously worse. So, I think that all those ducks have to be in a row first before doing something like that. But that all said, that was my little soapbox.
The first thing is you want to increase mobilization. How does one do that? You have to go on a hypocaloric diet. You have to know. I mean, the way that I do it is I have people calculate their basal metabolic rate. Then, there was one paper that showed, it was in mice, that phase 3, [inaudible] protein activity increased when they dropped their calories 25%. Phase 3 is the third phase of detoxification to get stuff out of cells. So, I have people drop down their calories from their basal metabolic rate about 35%, which is enough, I think. So, there’s that.
Time-restricted feeding, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. People can only eat, and an eight-hour window is great, but even less would be even better. You’re trying to maximize lipolysis. I mean, you’re a smart guy, so you know all of this stuff.
Why exercise is important when detoxing your body
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Bryan Walsh: To drop the calories, follow certain macronutrient ratios, so it’s not all carbs. Try to have it be more balanced in terms of carbs, proteins, and fats. Eat it in a specific period of time, and then I employ a little bit of exercise, too. What I have people do because their lives are so busy, is in my program, what I do is have people exercise for 30 minutes.
I do three minutes of a warm-up, 12 minutes of high-intensity interval training to maximize lipolysis. Then, because it’s a fasted state, recovery might not be great, I have them do 15 minutes of steady state cardio afterward to help try to maintain that lipolytic state and the fasted stated and your time-restricted feeding in the first place. Then, right after that, since you’re sweating a little bit. Your body’s heated up. Then, you jump in the sauna for 30 minutes.
My rule on the sauna and I don’t split hairs, man. I mean, I’m too old to be splitting hairs nowadays. It doesn’t matter what type of sauna. You’re like, “Well, far infrared, near infrared.”
There were some papers that collected the sweat of people, and it didn’t tell them how. It showed that they had excretion, so some did it from exercise. Others did it from heat therapy, so just heat up and sweat.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, there’s also a study where they compared the number of toxins in sweat from the far infrared traditional sauna and found it to be basically the same. So, the claims you sometimes hear that far infrared causes massively toxin section are not supported by the evidence.
Bryan Walsh: That’s great. I didn’t know that. That’s fantastic.
Yeah, so just heat yourself up. I don’t like steam rooms, because of the water that they probably use and all the aeration, but it doesn’t matter if it’s radiant heat, old fashion sauna, near infrared, far infrared, some kind of combination, but I will say this, too.
I would not do a detoxification program if I did not have access to a sauna. You do not want to flood your body with all this stuff and not be able to get it out. I wouldn’t do it, which is also to say I wouldn’t fast. I wouldn’t hypocaloric diet. I wouldn’t do a fat loss program if I didn’t have access to a sauna.
In the interest of time, I can’t get into all this stuff, there are some compounds that are excreted very well in sweat, but not in any other method. Now there are other compounds that aren’t excreted in sweat, it turns out and is actually not really excreted really well in poop, because of the enteropathic circulation that occurs. So, we need to employ many different things.
First and foremost, you have to get in a mobilization state. To accomplish that is lower the calories, hypocaloric state, exercise, and my program’s only 10 days. Exercise every day. That’s not backed up by science. I’ll say that. There’s nothing about that type of exercise to make three minutes of warm-up, 12 minutes of high intensity, 15 of steady state on anything to do with xenobiotics.
Ari Whitten: That’s just putting the pieces together.
Bryan Walsh: That’s just trying to increase lipolysis as much as possible, considering that you’re in a hypocaloric state, so your recovery might not be as great. So, you don’t want to do 30 minutes of high intensity for 10 days straight, if that makes sense. That’s to increase mobilization. Sauna is also lipolysis, metal metabolism, but that gets into excretion.
They’re being mobilized. That’s phase I. Now we have to get rid of them. So, we want to try to increase the detoxification pathways as much as we possibly can, and I’ll just say this super quick. I don’t want to go over time or however, you want to-
Ari Whitten: Oh no. That’s fine. We’re good on time.
The 4 phases of detoxification
Bryan Walsh: So, there are four phases of detoxification. There’s phase 0, 1, 2, and 3. Put it really, really simply is phase 0 is the … I always say this the same way. Imagine you’re in a room, and there are two doors. Phase 0 is the first door. That’s where the xenobiotic comes in. You’re a cell. In this room, let’s just say a liver cell or a kidney cell, or you’re an enterocyte. Phase 0 is the entrance of whatever that is into the room. It’s a xenobiotic. It’s a toxin, the persistent organic pollutant. It comes in.
Then, it goes through phase 1. And phase 1, generally speaking, for the people that have had a chemistry background, usually either adds or exposes a preexisting hydroxyl, an OH group. And that typically makes this now after gone through phase 1, a reactive oxygen species. People will say it’s more toxic than the original one. That’s not, you can’t say that as a global statement. It’s not true. In some cases, it’s more toxic. In other cases, it’s not. In some cases, it’s a reactive oxygen species.
So, in the metaphor, someone comes into your room. I say that they get a sticky note put on their forehead, and of course, that’s gonna make anybody angry. So, this person’s now angry in your room. They’re tipping your chairs and tables over. They’re throwing stuff all over the room, because they’re angry, because of this.
But then you have phase 2. Phase 2 globally is called a conjugation reaction, and that means adding something to it. So now, this angry person, because they have a sticky note on their forehead, you hand them a 100 dollar bill. Well, nobody’s gonna be upset if they have a 100 dollar bill. So, now they’re not angry anymore. They’re not causing any more damage inside of the cell. Now, they’re water soluble.
As long as phase 3, which is the second door is open, then their walk is water soluble, non-angry person, who’s not gonna cause damage to the body, can walk out that door, and then be urinated out, pooped out, salivated out, sweat outward, pried out. You have to want to be … Imagine, you have to cry a lot to get it out that way.
So, those are the four basic phases of detoxification, if you will. The conjugation reactions, I’ll just basically say this. There’s a bunch of them. It adds something. What’s added depends on. So, there’s methylation. It adds a methyl group. That’s its 100 dollar bill. There’s acetylation. It adds an acetyl or acelo group. There’s glutathione conjugation adds a, what’d I say, glutathione. There’s glucuronidation, which adds the glucuronic acid group. That’s sulfonation of the sulfur group. So, that’s basically how it works.
Now, here’s the deal. So, we’ve mobilized. Stuff’s flowing around. We want to make sure that phase 0 and phase 3 are wide open. One of the problems that I learned is that a lot of these compounds that we use in detoxification programs, they inhibit phase 3. What happens is, it comes in like diesel exhaust inhibits phase 0, but something comes in phase 0 can go through phase 1, can go through phase 2, but then it tries to leave that third door, and it can’t get out, because we’re taking curcumin, or because we’re taking green tea extract, or because even milk thistle. Detoxification silymarin, the active component, is a mild phase 3 inhibitor.
Then, remind me to talk about this other piece, but there’s a variety of things that we just don’t know exactly what they do. And then here’s the problem. You’ve heard of beta-glucuronidase, I’m sure. That undoes glucuronidation. There’s a number of enzymes that undoes conjugation into phase 2. So now, this person who has the 100 dollar bill can’t leave the third door that [inaudible] the second door out phase 3, and then the 100 dollar bill gets taken away. Now, they’re angry again, and now they start causing damage inside of the neuro and causing damage inside of the cell.
So, to be a detoxification program, this gets back to the questions about the meds that you had, for example, we need to open up those pathways as much as possible. The research that I’ve done. I’m getting feedback. Are we good?
Ari Whitten: No, you’re good.
Bryan Walsh: The research … My kids are crazy loud.
The research that I’ve done on this, I’m not really comfortable with many different herbs, compounds, and nutrients in actually increasing detoxification. I’ll just briefly explain way if you want. I’ll try to do this as quickly as possible, and this is to say because I might say that and someone will go, “Here’s a paper that shows that curcumin does increase this.”
All right, well, I have some questions for that person. Number one is was it done in the Petri dish. Was it done in the rat or a mouse or a rodent, or was it done in humans? Number two is how did they measure detoxification ability. Usually, they measure an enzyme, and when they measure an enzyme, they’ll look at either enzyme activity or what’s called the M-RNA expression, so how much the cell is making that enzyme. There are some issues with that. There was a paper that looked at Quercitrin. It decreased the M-RNA expression, so it made less of the detox enzymes, but it cleared stuff out faster, so go figure.
Another one is what tissue was they looking at. There’s one paper I looked at that showed that a given compound, detoxification supplement, increased detoxification enzymes in the liver, decreased the same enzyme activity in the kidney, and it had no activity change of the same enzyme in the gastrointestinal tract.
Then they have to ask duration. Most studies are done, and it’s just a single dose, and they look at enzyme activity. There’s one paper that I looked at that has Resveratrol inhibited acutely certain detoxification enzyme activity, but over two weeks, increased that very same enzyme activity.
And the last one is dose. And I said this is a biphasic response. Low dose tends to stimulate certain things, and high dose tends to inhibit it. So, I say all that. Tell me, is Quercitrin a detoxification nutrient or not?
Ari Whitten: I mean, it sounds like there’s so much complexity.
Bryan Walsh: There’s so much complexity.
Ari Whitten: That it’s hard to really know with anything, and it’s hard to extrapolate out so and so ingredient inhibits this particular enzyme. Therefore, it’s either going to stimulate or inhibit detoxification as a whole. I mean, there’s just so many moving pieces, it’s hard to make statements like that.
How foods are affecting the detoxification process
Bryan Walsh: So, I submit that we know a heck of a lot less than we actually think that we do, and I would even say that there’s a lot of programs out there that are giving these high-dose supplements that, based on the papers I’ve looked at, inhibit some element of detox, even if it’s inhibiting phase 3. You know that conventional medicine is using curcumin as a phase 3 inhibitor to enhance chemotherapy?
It’s that potent. What are we trying to do now? We’re trying to race to the most bio-available highest serum levels of curcumin that we can possibly have, and I’m not knocking curcumin. When we’re talking about a detoxification program, that makes sense.
I’m not mocking green tea. Green tea is, I think it’s fine, but in a detoxification program, I don’t think it has a place because the catechins have been shown to inhibit phase 3. So, back to what I was talking about, number one, mobilize. How do you do that? Hypocaloric diet, exercise, sauna. Sauna also mobilizes, but also excretes. Two is to increase detoxification pathways.
I was really happy to find there were a few papers that looked at very specific amounts of foods in human clinical trials, thankfully, that people ate, and it increased certain detoxification enzymes, like those involved in glucuronidation, and [inaudible], and these were, man, I mean 1.33 cups of leeks a day. I mean, it was very specific, and it turns out that-
Ari Whitten: And if you have 1.35 instead of 1.33, you’re screwed.
Bryan Walsh: Screwed. No, but what I like is that it … Because I was trying to create the most evidence-based detoxification program I possibly could, so in my program, I have specific amounts based on these papers of brassica vegetables. They use broccoli and cauliflower, leeks. Well, leek is a different family. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish sprouts, I think, and in very specific amounts. It ends up being about five cups a day, which is just it’s a healthy diet anyway. But, it increased certain detoxification enzymes.
Interestingly, this is awesome. Carrots and celery tend to decrease certain detoxification enzymes. What are people juicing in their juice fasts?
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Bryan Walsh: A lot of carrots, a lot of celery, apples. Apples have compounds that will also inhibit. I’m not against these things, and I’m not saying people should eat them, but if you’re doing a detoxification program designed to get rid of this stuff, you want to minimize all those things as much as possible.
Mung beans, there are sprouted mung beans that are really high in glucaric acid. The short version of that is that inhibits. Beta-glucocerebrosidase, which, therefore, maximizes glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is one of the big phase 2 pathways. You really want to get that moving.
Again, I’ll keep coming back. The first part is mobilization. Flood the body. Get up. Then, you want to increase detoxification. So, a lot of cruciferous vegetables, sprouted mung beans are in my program. Then, these are rat studies, I have to say, but honeybush and rooibos tea both have been shown to increase glucuronidation as well as [inaudible] conjugation, so drink as much as those as you like. I want to get those moving well.
St. John’s Wort, most people think of for depression, but St. Johns Wort is the most studied botanical out there, because, do you know why? I’m gonna quiz you. Stop talking for a second.
Ari Whitten: My guess is pharmaceutical companies were trying to isolate a compound to make an antidepressant?
Bryan Walsh: No, that’s good, very good. No, it is the most contra-indicated botanical, because it speeds up many of the different detoxification enzymes, and it’s contra-indicated in drug use-
Ari Whitten: Absorb more of it.
Bryan Walsh: Well, you’ll excrete more of it, because most of the medications are detoxified. Usually, most of them are hepatic. But, it speeds up phase 1. It speeds up phase 3, so if you are on a medication, a hypertensive medication, I’ll put it that way, when you start taking St. John’s Wort, there’s a chance that your blood pressure’s going to go up because you’re now getting rid of more of that.
It is a detoxification herb. That’s why it’s contra-indicated in almost every single medication out there. And because it’s so well studied, because conventional medicine wanted to know what does this thing do and why should we be careful of this when it comes to medications. Anyhow, so St. John’s Wort is in my program because it increased detoxification.
Then the last thing is, so you’re following along. Mobilization, speed up the detoxification pathways, which also means stay away from the stuff that might inhibit that. So, don’t take curcumin right now. Don’t drink green tea or take green tea extract right now, and quite honestly, I noticed this is sacrilegious, but don’t take milk thistle during a detoxification program. The fact that it mildly inhibits phase 3, I don’t think it has a place in there.
So, right now, it’s all food based, except for St. John’s Wort. Co Q-10 might increase phase 3, also.
The best binders for detoxification
Then, lastly, is binders. This stuff, there’s a really great paper you might appreciate this. They injected mice with a toxin, and then they looked in the gastrointestinal tract, and three hours later, 11% of that … It was injected, not ingested. It was in their gastrointestinal tract. That’s part of the phase 3 thing. So, these things are flooding the body. We want to sweat them out. We want to urinate them out, but they are also going into our gastrointestinal tract, in the fasted state, even.
So, this isn’t bio-based. This is just sneaking in through phase 3. So, there’s a bunch of binders that I have people take, and I wouldn’t include it if it wasn’t in the studies, but activated charcoal. It was studied. I hate chitosan for what it’s normally used for. There are some really cool studies on chitosan and increasing bio-binding, and therefore excretion.
Ari Whitten: It’s normally sold as a carb blocker.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, no, forget that. No, don’t use it for [inaudible], but there are some papers on this, it turns out in helping to excrete some xenobiotics. Then, while you’re eating, loads of fiber. You have to bind up bile as much as you possibly can to try to eliminate that. After the liver takes this stuff and conjugates it and does all the things, it puts it into bile. Then, bile goes in the gastrointestinal tract, and bile usually recirculates about 14 to 17 times, including the xenobiotics that are with it.
There are some papers that look at cholestyramine. It’s an old cholesterol-lowering drug. It binds to bile. You poop it out, so then your liver chomps up more cholesterol to make more bile, and you lower your cholesterol.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I’ve seen those studies. That’s the compound that’s Olestra, isn’t it?
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, there’s some … I don’t like Olestra, though. The anal leakage, I think, is-
Ari Whitten: Anal leakage is a real drawback.
Bryan Walsh: Forget that. No, but cholestyramine is a bio-acid sequestrum. It binds onto bile so that it doesn’t get recycled, and it was used as an old cholesterol-lowering drug, but now they have statins, which work better. But there are some actual papers looking at xenobiotic exposure and excretion using cholestyramine.
Now, we don’t have that available to us, to the general public, necessarily, but fiber does the same thing. So, I have people lowered up on fiber to try to excrete this as much as they can to get rid of that bile, to get rid of the xenobiotics.
Really, the third phase, there’s no fancy supplements. It’s binders. It’s chitosan and activated charcoal and what’d I just say a bunch of fiber, and a modified citrus pectin, and there’s some really interesting studies on modified citrus pectin and the excretion of a number of different things. That’s it, in a nutshell, I guess if you want to … That’s my secret protocol.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, another distinction that I’ll draw here is there are a lot of people that don’t prioritize fat loss or don’t even talk about fat loss as being necessary for anyway or to be in a caloric deficit as being a prerequisite. I mean, there are people who are very happy to just sell you on supplements, and just say, “Hey, these supplements are helpful for detox. You don’t have to worry about the fat loss. You don’t have to exercise. You don’t have to restrict calories. You don’t have to do any of that.”
Bryan Walsh: So, now that I’ve said all that, going back to your first question about the myths of detoxification. You can pretty much name a detoxification program now and see if it fits that protocol. If there’s no mobilization, fasting of any kind, or lowering hypocaloric or any of that stuff, you don’t mobilize. If there are no binders … How about a juice cleanse. Is that really cleansing the body? It depends on what they’re juicing.
If it’s a bunch of apples and carrots and celery, I’m gonna say that does nothing for detoxification. They’re fasting, yes. They’re probably in a hypocaloric state, so yes, they’re mobilizing. Are they increasing detoxification pathways? No. Are they increasing binding in excretion? No. Is it a juice cleanse or juice fast to detoxification program? In my book, it’s not, if that makes sense.
So, knowing those three pieces, you have to mobilize. You have to increase the pathways as best as you can, and the literature’s really confusing about all that stuff. But, like I said, mung beans, the glucaric acid, specific amounts of both alanine vegetables, too. So, onions and leeks and garlic and chives were used in this study, as well as broccoli. Eating those things to help speed that up. St. John’s Wort, I think, does a good job, too.
But then excretion. You have to get rid of this stuff. So, if a sauna is not included in the detoxification program, I don’t think it’s a detoxification program because you’re not getting rid of everything. If you’re not taking binders to help with bile, I don’t think it’s a detox.
So, with those three things, you could say is a colonic a detoxification? No, it’s not. If they’re not hypocaloric, they’re not excreting this stuff. You could ask about foot baths. Do they detoxify you? I would pretty much say no, I don’t think they do for any of that reason. Does that make sense?
Ari Whitten: It does, yeah.
Bryan Walsh: When you have the knowledge of what is required to be a detox, a true detoxification program, you could look at anything else out there and say, “Well, that does nothing for mobilization.” Well, then it’s probably not a detox program. Does that make sense?
What science shows on coffee enemas
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Very specific question, what do you think of coffee enemas. Is there any research to support the idea that coffee enemas create a huge boost in glutathione or support [crosstalk].
Bryan Walsh: I don’t think so. I think there are a couple papers on there. In terms of detoxification, I don’t think it has anything to do with that. I don’t know about increasing glutathione. I mean, I don’t know. If you drink it, or you shoot it up backward, it still ends up in your liver. So, I don’t know of the effects. We like things if they’re a little bit funky and think that it works better. I’m not opposed to it. I mean, listen, if someone wants to do that, I think it’s fine. I worry about the microbiota, but I don’t see any huge problem with it unless someone becomes dependent on it.
Ari Whitten: Basically, you’re a fan of coffee in the hooter rather than the tooter.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, man, I mean listen. I mean, that was an exit only. I think with the mouth, you got to watch what you put in it. I also think you got to watch what you put out, in terms of words and those types of things, but the rectum and the anal, that’s mostly an exit route that I know of. I always look to nature. You don’t ever really see a deer backing up to a stream to wash itself out. I think that’s a human invention.
Ari Whitten: Well, you never know what goes on beneath the surface of the water. Maybe they get under there. They find a submerged twig of just the right size or something like that.
Bryan Walsh: Listen, you never know.
Ari Whitten: One other thing I want to point is there’s a lot of people on the internet who identify themselves as skeptics. It’s interesting because I would consider you and I to be skeptics.
Bryan Walsh: Totally.
Ari Whitten: We are skeptics who actually analyze the evidence, but there are a lot of people who really identify as skeptics and think they’re really evidence-based, but don’t actually spend any time looking at the actual scientific literature, at least on the subjects they’re trying to debunk. One of the common things I’ve seen out there, especially in the evidence-based skeptic fitness industry, which I think you’ve probably dabbled in a little bit. There are a lot of people out there who say, “Oh, detoxification, it’s all nonsense. It’s all BS. None of it has any science to support it because our bodies are built with all the detoxification we need because we have a liver and kidneys. So, it’s all nonsense.”
I think it’s just so important to point out there actually are hundreds or thousands of studies showing that these toxins are getting into our bodies. They are accumulating in our bodies. They do have negative effects. Our liver and kidneys are not just adequately able to get rid of whatever amount of toxins we are pouring into our bodies, and these people are just flat out wrong.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, and remember the story I told at the beginning, I entered into it with that same thing. Are we really toxic? I’ve heard that we are, but I need to find out if we are. And there are some things. I don’t like to claim knowledge of anything because I think most things are a belief, but things I feel very comfortable about is that we are all exposed to things, that we all have some degree … Now, when you’re lean, you exercise, you perspire a lot, you probably have less than the average person, I would say. But, there’s probably some degree of storage, even based in childhood. Who knows. But, we’re exposed. It’s stored in us. They cause problems.
On that note, the number of papers that are looking at, obviously, cancers, lymphomas, leukemia, and toxin exposure, that’s obvious. Infertility, that’s obvious, but diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and neurodevelopmental things like ADD, ADHD, autism, as well as things like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There’s a lot of papers out there that are pointing to potential xenobiotic exposure and chronic conditions, and it’s not just about that we’re not eating well. We’re not exercising.
So those things, and yes, we do have detoxification capabilities. It is in us, but that’s also assuming that they’re working well, that we have all the nutrients we need to run these things properly. So, no, I didn’t agree with them necessarily, but I took the same stance of them going into this. I was so disheartened by what I was hearing and reading, I was like, “All right. I got to just clear my head. I’m gonna start from scratch,” and I can honestly say that the evidence is out there, and we don’t just detoxify ourselves.
I think that’s ignorant if you’re not looking at the evidence that actually suggests that. The question part is how to actually get rid of this stuff, and that’s why I created the program that I did. I think, and I’m not trying to boast. I mean, you know me. It’s the best that I’ve come across, because it makes the most sense, based on the evidence in the scientific literature. From human trials as much as I could, rodents with rooibos and honeybush tea, that’s the best I can find.
My barometer is what would I do if I wanted to detoxify myself or my family. That’s my barometer, and I would do this. Absolutely, I’d feel very comfortable about it. You had asked a question earlier. This is not toxin-specific. This is not if you have high mercury or aluminum or organic chlorines or DBT or whatever, this is just, listen, we have this in us. I think this is a good idea to do.
The most important takeaways
Ari Whitten: To wrap up, there are a couple things I just want to point out that I think are really important takeaways for people. Earlier, you said, I’m trying to remember exactly how you phrased it, “I would never do a fat loss program without a detoxification aspect to it,” and you also said, “I would never do a detoxification program without using a sauna.”
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, I hate to say that, but I just wouldn’t.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I think those are really nice points to emphasize, and the reason I’m emphasizing that is because I know that there are so many thousands of people who are doing exactly those two things. There are people going on fat loss programs who are paying no attention to the toxic load aspect of things, and there are people who are going on detoxification programs and putting in tons of supplements into their body who are not using a sauna.
Bryan Walsh: Just based on what I’ve read, that’s just me. I wouldn’t do either one.
How to detox your body in 10 days
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I completely agree with you. Yeah, I highly, highly recommend Dr. Bryan Walsh’s new detoxification program. Like I said at the beginning of this podcast, we’ve had a lot of phone conversations, he and I, and we’ve become personal friends. This is one of the very, very few people that I look to bounce ideas off of and say, “Hey, is my thinking right on this issue?”
This is someone that I have a huge amount of respect for and who, despite his humility, is actually extraordinarily knowledgeable. So, I really can’t recommend his detoxification program highly enough, and where can people actually get that program?
Bryan Walsh: There’s actually two of them. If they go to drwalsh.com/detox, there’s this … My wife designed a picture of me, and then two little buttons. One says, “For Practitioners,” and one says, “For Non-Practitioners.” There’s a practitioner program that’s nine-plus hours and goes deep into this stuff, man, as many studies as I could show you, chemically what’s actually happening with glucuronidation. How do we make glucuronic acid in the first place? Glucose, how does it attach to things, so like the details of these things. And I think practitioners should know more about these things.
Then, I put together a way watered down version. I’m pretty proud of it. I think it works and it turned out pretty well, very watered down version it. It’s only three hours, but it teaches people this stuff, because if you were going to … I think you need to know why you’re doing this, not just the how, if that makes sense, not just the tell me what to do, I think you should know about it.
That’s incredibly, incredibly reasonably priced, I think, for what they get. It walks them through what supplements to take, how to take them, the solid, the whole bit. I use a little … I do the fasting [inaudible] for four days of the ten, which I wouldn’t do if you weren’t supporting detoxification pathways. I think it’s a brilliant diet. I love that guy, but I just, based on what I’ve read, I wouldn’t do that otherwise.
So, yeah, just go to drwalsh.com/detox. There are two buttons that you can choose from, and you can choose either course.
Ari Whitten: Wonderful, well I’m gonna pick up the one for practitioners myself and make sure-
Bryan Walsh: Oh, and if you get the practitioner one, you get the non-practitioner one for free. I forgot to mention that.
Ari Whitten: Sweet. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Walsh. A pleasure to talk with you, as always, and a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Bryan Walsh: Yeah, and thanks much, Ari.
How to Detox Your Body with Real Science (instead of pseudoscience) – Show Notes
The myths and pseudoscience on detoxification (01:22)
What science says about the most popular detoxification processes (07:05)
Are we really toxic? (09:29)
Why we should worry about the chemicals entering our bodies (13:07)
The most common toxins in people (15:35)
The most common places people are picking up toxins (17:57)
The truth about toxicity tests (22:00)
The connection between perfluorocarbon (Teflon) and weight gain (25:11)
Why you should take detox precautions when you do fasting (27:33)
What science says about hair mineral analysis and other toxin tests (29:03)
The best binders and chelators for detoxing (33:20)
Why exercise is important when detoxing (39:15)
The 4 phases of detoxification (42:42)
How foods are affecting the detoxification process (46:33)
The best binders for detoxification (53:25)
What science shows on coffee enemas (58:38)
The most important takeaways (1:04:17)
How to detox your body in 10 days (1:05:20)
Go here to get Dr. Walsh’s comprehensive detoxification program which will teach you how to detox your body in only 10 days