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How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation
Although your body does a great job of detoxing all on its own – at least when you’re healthy – when you’ve been through chemotherapy and/or radiation, your body is overloaded with chemical residues. It is important to detox after chemotherapy and/or radiation to get that residue out of your body – and you’re going to feel so much better if you do.
An overload of toxins is known to cause bloating, fatigue, headaches, poor memory, aching muscles, a suppressed immune system (which is the very thing you’re relying on to keep you well), even halitosis (bad breath). Toxic buildup within the body can also be a problem if you have had lymph nodes removed because our lymphatic system acts as another method of waste removal, and this toxic buildup can worsen the side effects of lymphedema.
Once chemotherapy and radiation are finished and these strong treatments have done their work, the body is filled with toxins. Radiation can damage healthy cells and create toxic buildup and if you think about it, even cancer cells themselves become toxins as they wither up and die from the treatments. The body does its best to get rid of all this, but I certainly felt the difference after a good bowel cleanse subsequent to chemotherapy, and many others have reported the same.
Make sure you’re strong enough to undergo cleansing, however. Consult with your physician or naturopath before embarking on cleansing. You might find it necessary to wait a number of weeks or even months if you are too weak but the sooner you get started detoxing, the better you will feel. Even if you are too weak, you can still increase your water intake, do some gentle exercise and begin juicing (for more on juicing, keep reading).
How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation – 10 Tips
1. Colonic Hydrotherapy – Colonic hydrotherapy can be of assistance not only after chemotherapy but also during to help alleviate the terrible constipation that often results from chemotherapy. Your medical staff may argue the efficacy of chemotherapy (I had one nurse tell me that we are designed for wastes to move ONE way and we shouldn’t go against that!) but it really helps tremendously. I went through a course of colonic hydrotherapy post-chemo and found it to be a gentle and effective method for toxin and waste cleansing. There’s nothing new about colonics – Egyptians were using it for constipation centuries ago. If you’d like to read one person’s experience with it, click here.
2. Drink Plenty of Water, Herbal Tea – This is the most natural way to detox your body after chemotherapy. Make sure your drinking water is filtered (and preferably not obtained from plastic water bottles) to help keep you safe from herbicides, pesticides, and other assorted nasties that our water can often contain. We used to hear that drinking 8 glasses of water per day was essential, however, newer studies have shown that as long as you are sipping away on water all day you are probably getting what you need. Put in a slice of lemon for some additional flavor, cleansing qualities and antioxidant protection. Herbal teas are also wonderful to help the cleansing process, particularly dandelion tea which is a liver tonic.
3. Juicing, Juicing, Juicing – It seems like I am always touting the benefits of juicing organic vegetables and fruits but their importance for health cannot be overstressed. Make sure you have a great juicer though, as not all juicers are designed to keep the living enzymes within your expensive organic produce alive! Here’s a great one, this is the one I use (and it’s a great price). Live juices can help to heal, rejuvenate, and flush away toxins. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are the cleansers, energizers, regenerators, and blood builders of the human body. Try any combination of beet (great blood cleanser), kale, spinach, carrot, cucumber, apple, ginger and pineapple (both great anti-inflammatories, so that makes them anti-cancer as well). Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants and help to cleanse the blood of impurities. See my page Diet and Cancer for some data on why certain vegies and fruit are good for cancer. I have loads of articles on my website about the benefits of juicing, so be sure to check them out as well.
4. Circulate Your Blood – Something as simple as bouncing on a rebounder (one of those mini trampolines) for 10 minutes a couple of times per day helps to get your heart pumping, blood circulating and toxins flushing out of your body. Best done BEFORE a meal or juicing, however! Walking, cycling, hiking, dancing, yoga – all of these are great to get the body moving and detoxing. Make sure you drink plenty of filtered water after exercising.
5. Fiber – Fiber helps to grab onto toxins in your digestive tract. Fiber soaks up toxins rather like a sponge, speeds up elimination, helps with cleansing. Natural fiber is available from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, however there are also plenty of fiber products on the market which you could add to your health regimen. One particularly good one is freshly ground organic flaxseed.
6. Herbal Medicine – There are many herbs and essential oils which will assist you in detoxing after chemotherapy and radiation. Milk thistle is a particularly good herb for liver cleansing. I would definitely recommend seeking the advice of a qualified naturopath before using herbal medicine, however, because they are specifically trained in herbal medicine and since herbs can sometimes have drug interactions you would want the best guidance possible for your particular needs.
7. Eating Organic Food – Because at this stage you are working towards detoxing and keeping well and healthy, your best bet is to avoid processed and sugar-laden foods as these will not assist the detox process. Eating plenty of organic fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish or chicken is much more conducive to keeping your system clear of any further toxins. Google “raw food recipes” for some really great suggestions and recipes that appeal to you.
8. Epsom Salt Baths – There is something so restorative about a hot epsom salt bath! Hot water opens the pores and assists perspiration to take toxins away. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, and these two minerals help generate enzymes that clean up the body. To make it a totally revitalizing experience, add lavender essential oil for its calming effects, or ginger which also helps to open the pores and is a good natural anti-inflammatory. If you don’t have epsom salts, baking soda is also useful and it helps to neutralize the effects of radiation. This is another place where water filtration is important because if you live in an area where the water is highly chlorinated you are soaking all that chlorine up into your body through the skin. Chlorine and breast cancer are linked, see this article from globalhealingcenter.com. For a great recipe on a particular sort of detox bath, see my article How To Detox In Your Bathtub.
9. Detox Your Household – You might not think about this, but if your body and skin care products are laden with toxins you are taking all of those into your body via the skin as well. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin or hair. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the importance of using organic body products and cosmetics when you are detoxing your body. There are several good brands out there, contact me if you need help finding good ones.
10. You Must Rebuild Your Immune System – Since your immune system is your first line of defense against cancer and all other diseases, you must rebuild it because the chemotherapy and radiation treatments will have blasted the hell out of the very thing you are relying upon to stay well. Yes, your body may eventually do this on its own, but the process is generally quite slow and we don’t want to give any open doors to stray cancer cells. Here’s my page on how to build immunity quickly so that it’s very strong: 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.
I know that’s a lot of things to think about, but if you are determined to get well and stay well, incorporating even just two or three of these suggestions into your life will be very helpful.
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