Common Symptoms Of “Withdrawal” From A Toxic Lifestyle. How To Ease Your Way Through The Healing Crises?

If you’ve ever experienced any kind of fasting or detoxification practice for any length of time, you may very well be all too familiar with the various kinds of unpleasant symptoms that can manifest during such cleanses.

Those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and those who have the most food allergies, will have the most difficulty initially. For example, eliminating food allergies and un-junking the diet causes reactions akin to withdrawal from other addictive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine or heroin. It is best to gradually reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour, and over-the-counter medications (except as directed by your physician) a week or two before you start your program.

Note: We are often most addicted to the foods we are allergic to! Getting off those allergens can cause a brief, flu-like achy syndrome that may last 1-3 days, rarely does it go on for more than a week. 

First it is vital to understand that there is a flow to detoxification which is the way the body naturally eliminates waste materials from the cellular level, channels of elimination, then out of the body. This flow is similar to the flow of water from a garden hose. If the hose becomes clogged at any point, the entire flow is stopped.

Likewise, there are special pathways or “gates”, within the body, where this flow of detoxification could be repressed. These are not just some organs of eradication, but some areas within the body where this natural flow could become obstructed. They are the following: the colon; the lower back and kidney; the gallbladder and the liver; the lungs; the skin and the lymphatic system.  Every effort should be made to improve the function of the liver, kidneys, colon, lung, skin and lymph system.

If one or more of these pathways becomes sluggish, congested, overwhelmed, or is otherwise  functioning less than optimally, this puts an unnatural burden on the others, which often results in disagreeable symptoms. Therefore the symptoms can transpire for a number other reasons than die-off.

For instance, if our liver is congested, especially during a cleanse, we may notice some skin eruptions like a rash or adult acne. Or if we’re suffering constipation while doing a detox protocol, we may develop flu symptoms like swollen lymph glands, a sore throat, or perhaps a cough or lung congestion. That is why it is so crucial supporting the Body’s Detox Pathways.

The following symptoms are very common at the beginning of the program and should disperse within the first few days of your program.

  • Bad breath
  • Constipation
  • Achy, flu-like feeling
  • Headache
  • Sleep difficulties (too much or too little)
  • Hunger & Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Offensive body odor

Don’t worry, these symptoms are indicative that your body is eliminating toxins and are a positive sign!

How To Ease Toxic Life "Withdrawal" Symptoms 


  • Fatigue & Disrupted Sleep Patterns

Stimulating the body to purge toxins requires a larger internal workload than the body is used to. This creates fatigue and sometimes disturbed sleep. Expect to feel more tired and respond to the feeling by resting more than you normally do. Take naps when you can and get to bed at the very latest by 10pm. Go to bed with a plan to get a full 8 hours of sleep a night. When you are sleeping, your body is able to work efficiently at repairing and cleansing itself. Scheduling more rest that you are used to will help ensure you are getting enough down time, so that if sleep is distressed you are still getting in enough rest.

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Adding any additional tasks may cause the fatigue to be worse. Stick to a moderate exercise routine, don’t overdo it. Increasing your workload is not beneficial to the workload required of your body during detoxification. Stress in any form, whether physical, emotional or mental is counterproductive.

  • Headaches 

A dull, lengthy headache is one of the most common detoxification side effects. Headaches during detox are most common in the afternoon and evening, as the body has been active all day. One reason this happens is because you have altered your normal daily routine and most likely abandoned some bad habits such as drinking alcohol, caffeine, smoking or cutting out sugars or processed foods, etc. This creates a situation of withdrawal, which can cause a headache, as your body is no longer receiving these.

Second, you will find you will need to urinate more frequently and perhaps experience loose stools, both of which can be dehydrating to the body. Dehydration will cause a headache. It is imperative to drink a lot of water, that being a minimum of 8-10 full glasses of filtered water daily. To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean.

  • Frequent urination, Loose stools & Digestive upset 

As discussed under number 2, urination and loose stools are some ways the body eliminates toxins. Some of the herbs in a cleanse may be slightly diuretic, which stimulate the body to urinate and have a bowel movement.

It can be a shock to the digestive system to introduce herbs, nutrients, more fresh, whole foods, while removing processed foods and bad habits. The stimulation of purging toxins and excess hormones also stimulate more frequent digestion and the body works hard to get rid of the bad stuff.

This is why hydration and eating a nutrient rich whole foods diet is so important, while including a whole food multivitamin. These will help ensure you are replenishing nutrients. A great way to support your digestion while doing a cleanse is to drink fresh vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies, if they are not incorporated into your detox program.

Activated charcoal taken alone, ginger root in the form of tea or capsules, or digestive enzyme supplements are recommended treatments for the bloating and cramping that may accompany a 7-day detox diet.

  • Nausea 

The change in diet and lifestyle, along with the introduction of herbs and nutrients may cause some minor nausea. Nausea occurs during special detox diet when the lymph glands release toxins at such a fast rate that the liver has to manage the surplus, which gets released with bile into the stomach. To manage nausea, it suggested drinking water or carrot juice. It is important to drink fluids, as toxins in the body are eliminated through urine and feces.

The best ways to evade nausea are through hydration, diet choices, resting more and taking capsules with a little food and water. This should pass in a few days. If it advances to vomiting, something else may be going on.

  • Cravings 

When choosing to do a cleanse it is important to abolish poor dietary and lifestyle habits such asdrinking alcohol, caffeine, processed sugary foods and perhaps smoking. Eliminating stress is also an important part of cleansing.

Changing diet and lifestyle practices can create a situation of transitory withdrawal. This will most definitely trigger cravings connected to those areas you have changed and eliminated. For example, if you drank coffee every morning, it makes sense that your body, being used to that, will desire it once again.

  • Emotional Side Effects 

You may undergo a gamut of emotions, depending upon the particular 7-day detox program you are following. Anxiety, irritability and depression are common emotional disturbances of a detox diet. A true fast brings up more negative emotions than does a more balanced 7-day detox diet.

Common Tips

  • Staying hydrated is perhaps the most essential tip for minimizing detox side effects during any detoxification protocol or fast. Fresh juices, green tea, or plain, filtered water should be your best friends. Flushing out the toxins is priority number one when detoxing and you can only do this when you are amply hydrated. Because you may be taking something to help rid yourself of these toxins (ie. expelling more waste than usual), rehydration is particularly important.Make sure you drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily. Stay away from plastic bottles, but glass bottles are okay.
  • Fatigue is normal during a cleanse, so permit more time for rest and sleep. To boost energy, exercise for 30 minutes a day. Walking outside in the fresh air is best. Roll up those sleeves and let the sun hit you with some vitamin D too!
  • Take 1000 mg of buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner. Take 300 mg of magnesium citrate at dinner.
  • Heat is a great resource while cleansing as it helps draw out the toxins from within. Try a sauna or a warm bath with epsom salts for 20 minutes a few times per week.
  • Use psyllium seed husks, ground flaxseed, or oat bran daily to absorb toxins and to help speed their transit through the system.
  • On occasion, a good enema or colon irrigation can offer relief.
  • Don’t wait till you are starving to eat!  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein-based meals and snacks every 3-4 hours. Excellent sources of protein are baked or broiled fish, lean poultry and legumes, such as edamame or black beans.
  • Eliminate all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and any other addictive substance. By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet, the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior. Reset your biology to eliminate all triggers.
  • Use a lot of antioxidants, enzymes and superfoods (in a way of whole organic food or quality supplements) in order to combat free radicals, provide nutrition to your body, supporting detoxification pathways, keep up your energy level and reduce detox reaction.
  • Meditation, deep breathing or any calming activity is good.
  • Tune in to your body and listen to the cues it provides you. A cleanse is a great journey to learn more about understanding how to operate your very own owner's manual!

The bottom line is that the body must go through an elimination process to attain good health. There will be ups and downs. Symptoms, if they appear, are usually mild, but in some cases can be severe. Understand, the symptoms you experience are telling of the cleansing, purifying process that is underway.

Go as slowly as your body needs to so that your elimination is gradual and comfortable.

Also, keep in mind that this is not an endurance contest. If symptoms become too severe, stop the detox and regroup. You can always restart the detox again at a later date.

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