The Process of Detoxification & Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

Read Part 1 | Part 2

Supplementation and The Process of Detoxification

A. Herbal Supplementation

The Process of Detoxification, Supplements, and Adrenal FatigueThe process of detoxification is one that can be difficult for many.  To be successful many people think it is necessary to starve in order to triumph in the process of detoxification. Well, this isn’t completely true. As detoxification diets may not stimulate the liver, lungs or the kidneys enough, herbal detoxification supplementation is often added. Not only do herbs provide vitamins, minerals and enzymes—essential for good nutrition, they are also useful in helping certain organs when different herbs are combined. Different herbal combinations aid the process of detoxification and they can be found in most organic food stores .

The liver is the main detoxification center of the body. In the process of detoxification, a detoxification regimen should include cleansing and protecting the liver. There are a wide variety of plants that exert beneficial effects on liver function during the process of detoxification.

1. Silymarin

The most impressive research done, looking at the process of detoxification, has been done on a special extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) known as silymarin, a group of flavonoid compounds. These compounds protect the liver from damage and enhance the detoxification process.

Silymarin prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant. It is much more effective than vitamin E and vitamin C. Numerous research studies have demonstrated its protective effects on the liver. Extremely toxic chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, amanita toxin, galactosamine and praseodymium nitrate produce experimental liver damage in animals. Silymarin has been shown to protect the liver against these toxins.

Silymarin also works by preventing the depletion of glutathione. The higher the glutathione content within cells, the greater the liver’s capacity to detoxify harmful chemicals. Moreover, silymarin has been shown to increase the level of glutathione by up to thirty-five percent. In human studies, silymarin has been shown to exhibit positive effects in treating liver diseases of various kinds including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, fatty infiltration of the liver, and inflammation of the bile ducts. The common dosage for silymarin is 70 to 200 mg one to three times a day. Milk thistle comes in different forms. Fermented milk thistle, for example, is an excellent way, but only if properly used.

2. Other useful herbal supplements

  • Liver: LIV-A Dandelion, red beet, angelica, gentian, parsley, horsetail, birch leaves, chamomile, and turmeric.
  • Kidneys: Parsley, dandelion, juniper berries, ginger, and goldenseal.
  • Lungs: LH Comfrey, senega.

For effective detoxification, herbs should be used in conjunction with the detoxification diet.

B. Flora Supplementation

A healthy intestine is of paramount importance for AFS recovery. Optimal gastrointestinal health depends on the balance of microscopic interplay between billions of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Both are needed for normal bowel function. A well-maintained balance between these opposing microorganisms is essential for a properly functioning digestive tract.

About 400 species of these good bugs inhabit the intestines. Their total population is about 100 times the number of cells in your body. Remarkably, these microorganisms coexist peacefully in a carefully balanced internal ecosystem. As long as they flourish, they prevent pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria and fungi from colonizing. In this way, beneficial bacteria help keep you healthy. If the delicate intestinal environment is disrupted, pathogenic bacteria, parasites and fungi such as clostridia, salmonella, staphylococcus, Blastocystis hominis and Candida albicans often move in, multiply and attack the beneficial bacteria.

Research has shown that the good bacteria or otherwise known as probiotics, help defend the body from the pathogenic species of bacteria and detoxify toxic chemicals.They also produce valuable vitamins including biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and vitamin K. The bacteria assist in breaking down dietary proteins into amino acids, which are then reconfigured into new proteins that are useful for the body. The good bacteria also ensure that toxins are excreted from the bowels (via the stool) rather than absorbed into the bloodstream.

One such good bacteria is acidophilus. They stimulate activity in the thymus and spleen (both are key immune system glands). They prompt your body to manufacture natural antibodies. Certain acidophilus strains even protect against the formation of tumors and promote the production of interferon, a hormone that protects against cancer. When probiotics are present, they secrete mediators in which the pathogenic forms cannot grow. However, when the micro-organic forms take over, they will exclude the probiotics with their toxins. Replacing our natural flora is vital to prevent any disease and to keep our bowels healthy and populated with probiotics. By taking probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus, they can help us in our detoxification program.

Numerous studies have been conducted to understand the mechanism of how probiotics work. Many amazing facts have been established concerning the beneficial and therapeutic aspects of probiotics including:

  1. Increased enzyme productionsuch as proteases that digest proteins and lipases that digest fats.
  2. Improved bowel transit time and texture of the fecal matter.
  3. Increased synthesis of immune antibodies and augmentation of gamma-interferon production.
  4. Reduction of lactose intolerance caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase which leads to reduced bloating, gas formation and stomach discomfort after milk consumption.
  5. Act as an anti-toxin with anticarcinogenic and antitumor agent.
  6. Relief of dermatitis and other skin disorders by improving gastrointestinal bacteria balance.

Many scientists at the forefront of probiotics research believe that the toxins secreted from the pathogens, rather than the pathogens, are responsible for diseases

Regular supplementation with probiotics such as acidophilus repopulates your intestinal tract with benevolent bugs. These microorganisms restore and maintain balance within your internal ecosystem while displacing noxious bacteria and fungi at the same time. They also increase the acidity of the intestinal environment, which useful bugs thrive in (acidophilus literally means love of acid) and harmful bugs detest.

Probiotics also have another benefit if the intestines are not inhabitable for the malevolent microorganisms: They help reduce a number of toxic chemicals in the body, namely pathogenic bacteria and fungi, which produce their own toxins. At a local level, this minimizes the risk of colon cancer and protects the entire body and improves overall health on a larger scale.

Acidophilus supplements are widely available in health food stores and drugstores. Selecting from among the numerous something-dophilus products may appear a daunting task. Examine the labels and you will discover a variety of useful bugs including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium Longum, Bifidobacterium Breve, Lactobacillus Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus faecium. Some products may contain fructo-oligosaccharides, which are sugars that nourish beneficial bacteria to make them colonize faster. All of these ingredients are acceptable and any combination of them works well.

Remember that acidophilus supplements contain living organisms, so freshness is critical. Purchase a product well before its expiration date, which should be clearly displayed. Once the supplements are opened, keep them refrigerated. Discard any supplements that are more than six months old. Dosage varies from one product to another. It is best to refer to the instructions on the label.

If you do not wish to consume supplements, try yogurt, which contains the friendly bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic. Acidophilus also helps restore intestinal micro flora balance and inhibits the growth of bad bacteria. In a nutshell, probiotics promote good digestion, boost immune function, increase resistance to infection and keep us better equipped to fight the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

Caution: Excessive probiotics use can lead to constipation.

C. Antioxidant Supplementation

Antioxidants, the process of detoxification, and Adrenal FatigueAntioxidants such as vitamins A, E, and glutathione are essential for detoxification as they help cells to neutralize free radicals that cause mutation and cellular damage. When these free radicals are neutralized, the antioxidant vitamins will be utilized and display low levels. They play such an important role that any deficiency in them is detrimental to anti-aging. When our antioxidants are low, energy is unavailable and detoxification cannot take place as usual. This allows the toxins to multiply and add up until they can be further processed. Our liver and other organs are also compromised in their functions. With a simple deficiency in energy, health can be threatened since its energy has been diverted to the removal of toxins and waste.

Taking optimum levels of antioxidants during fasting is important and an effective way to raise glutathione levels in the liver. They should be taken together with silymarin, the flavonoid complex from milk thistle, to improve liver function. Glutathione and silymarin are both important detoxification agents of the body.

Vitamins should be taken as a cocktail in optimum amounts because each vitamin is unique and works on a different aspect of the body. For example, both vitamins A and E are fat-soluble and are found in our fat tissues/ stores. They are particularly effective in preventing the oxidation of cell membranes, which are made up of phospholipids.

On the other hand, vitamin C is water-soluble and fights free radicals in the plasma. Vitamin C and E help regenerate each other as well.

High doses of vitamin C can have a laxative effect as it attracts water. Vitamin C can be taken until a bowel tolerance level (BTL) is achieved. The BTL varies from one person to another. Some people may reach a tolerance level at four to five grams (4,000 – 5,000 mg) while others only reach tolerance at 10 to15 grams (10,000 – 15,000 mg). Cancer patients can easily consume 20 to 30 grams (20,000 – 30,000 mg) of vitamin C to reach tolerance level, as they require more vitamin C than most people. The body’s ability to tolerate vitamins depends on the state of AFS. The more advanced the AFS, the lower the tolerance, and the less assimilated. This is common. Always talk to your practitioner before embarking on such a program if you have AFS.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that can aid in gentle detoxification as it attaches to the wastes within the body and draws them out. Unfortunately, if taken orally, glutathione has a very poor absorption rate. One way for the body to fully utilize glutathione is intravenous, however, this can be costly. Liposomal glutathione is a very good alternative as it is as well absorbed as intravenous with a much lower cost.

Other helpful nutrients that should also be considered include quercetin and acerola as well as extracts of resveratrol, green tea, grape seed, red wine, and bilberry.

D. Enzyme Supplementation

Enzymes are molecule catalysts located in abundance in the body. In fact, there are over 1,300 different types. Enzymes are considered the construction workers that facilitate all the bodily functions.

There are several forms of enzymes. Raw fruits and vegetables contain a plentiful supply of enzymes. Cooking and processing food can destroy enzymes. When enzymes are destroyed, the body’s ability to digest food, deliver nutrients and maintain optimum functions are affected.Toxins thus build up and accumulate in the body. Some of these enzymes are amylase, lipase, lactase, protease, and cellulase.

Digestive enzymes are especially important, as exhaustion is one of the main reasons for accelerated aging.Plant enzymes assist in the digestion of food directly through the intestinal tract. Supplemental enzymes help prevent bloating and exhaustion after a large meal. We consume an average of two pounds of food per day or 20 tons over a lifetime. A smooth passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract is critical to avoid stasis of feces, which releases toxins. Digestive enzymes help in this respect together with a high soluble fiber diet. A good blend of nutrients should include amylase, lipase, protease, cellulase, ginger root, papain, raisin powder, pectin, and beta glucan.

Digestive enzymes also help other vitamins and minerals. For example, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K require fat for absorption. Fat has to be broken down by an enzyme known as lipase. If lipase is not present in sufficient quantities, the fat will not be broken down. If the fat is not broken down, the vitamins will not be released. Therefore, you can spend a fortune on vitamin pills but if there is an absence of the proper enzymes to release the vitamins into the body’s systems, the vitamins will still be flushed out.

On an interesting note, one of the early signs of improved digestion following digestive enzyme consumption is an improvement in skin tone. Likewise, if the inner organs start to degenerate and fail to function properly, the stress will most likely be revealed on the face. Supplementation with digestive enzymes is, therefore, an important part of an anti-aging treatment, in addition to consuming raw foods and mineral supplements.

Caution: Excessive enzymes can lead to loose stools or diarrhea.

Charcoal and Germanium

How can charcoal help in the process of detoxification? Charcoal has been used as a natural remedy for centuries and different delivery systems have been made available through modern technology. Because of its adsorption capabilities, charcoal has been used for indigestion, food poisoning, bloating, and detoxification. Charcoal can be ingested or can be made into poultices, wraps, braces, lotions, soaps, and garments. Clothes made out of charcoal cloth are particularly useful. For those with advanced AFS, charcoal apparel can be an excellent option for gentle detoxing. There are many options available according to each person’s sensitivity. The construction of the apparel and the application length of time are critical determinants of success.

What can geranium do to help in the process of detoxification? Well, germanium is a gray-white semiconductor element that may help relieve inflammation if applied externally. Germanium atoms attract harmful positive charge ions from the body and help balance the ions within the body. It also has an additional effect in helping the body’s muscles relax, reducing fatigue and tiredness while increasing circulation and enhancing the body’s anti-inflammatory defense system. For those with AFS, the body slows down and becomes easily inflamed. Germanium apparel may be a gentle option to help rebalance the positive and negative charge ions within the body that have been thrown off by its own equilibrium.

Germanium has two important distinguishing factors that bring about healthy functioning effects in the human body. These traits are its inherent ability to balance the body’s ions, also known as bioelectricity, and its ability to penetrate far infrared rays into the human body.

Our modern lifestyle frequently exposes the body to harmful positive charge ions, usually generated from mobile phones, computers, various other electronic equipment, chemicals and ultraviolet or UV rays. The presence of more positive charge ions makes the body operate more slowly and much less efficiently. The cells within the human body start to weaken, making it more susceptible to aging and illness. This process commonly accelerates due to a lack of oxygen reaching blood cells with a now reduced carrying capacity.

Germanium’s effect on far infrared rays

So, let’s explore infrared rays in the process of detoxification. A far infrared ray is an element of sunlight, a type of energy wave. These rays contain an incredibly low amount of energy that subsequently provides no detrimental effects on human bodies. It’s also not considered a radioactive ray. The human body is naturally considered organic. It’s also a source of far infrared rays. This fact relates to the ancient Chinese art of chi, which implies humans harbor their own internal life force, which works much like the previously mentioned rays.

Far infrared rays, although not considered radioactive, have similar characteristics to sources of light with radiation elements. Light energy, in general, doesn’t require additional mediums or conductors to transmit energy to objects. The light from the Sun, as an example, travels incredibly long distances without other mediums to Earth.

Far infrared rays do share different traits apart from normal visible light. Far infrared rays can travel or penetrate through objects. These rays can travel as deep as four to 10 centimeters from the top layer of human skin into the body, essentially warming the body from the inside out.

Studies have been conducted on the effect of far infrared therapy or stimulation to improve blood flow, which as a result may affect wound healing, or patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Germanium can emit a certain amount of far infrared rays, measuring around four to 14 microns. When both the body and germanium emit the same nine-micron wavelengths, this overlapping causes the water molecules within the body to warm, facilitating the circulation of blood throughout the body. As the body contains over seventy percent water in weight, this process essentially reactivates the body’s water molecules, which in turn, improves blood circulation.

When far infrared rays get absorbed into other parts of the body, such as organs, it potentially revitalizes, improves and strengthens them. This process also increases the temperature underneath the skin, in addition to promoting micro-circulatory flow throughout the body, improving overall health.

Other Detoxification Modalities

In the process of detoxification, there are numerous detoxification modalities available in addition to what is presented in this paper. Some unique ingredients in the process of detoxification can include the use of activated charcoal, germanium, or combinations of them unique

Acupressure, the Process of Detoxification, and Adrenal FatigueOther modalities, in the process of detoxification, include acupuncture and acupressure to open up the meridian, lymphatic massage and stimulation to increase toxic excretion, various forms of baths and soaks, gallbladder and liver cleanses or flushes to clear out heavy metals, parasites, and internal toxins; anti-Candida herbs to lower intrinsic toxic load, pulse electromagnetic field therapy to rebalance internal energy flow, various forms of hyperthermia modalities including the use of sauna and far-infrared rays, intravenous ozone and hydrogen peroxide therapy are also helpful in the process of detoxification.

While each specific modality has its benefits when deployed at the right time with the right intensity, indiscriminate use can often make Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome recovery worse.  Those who are in mild AFS may experience a temporary increase in energy during detoxification, but it is often short-lived so that continuous and higher intensity treatment is often required. Prolonged use can lead to a state of dependency and feel wired and tired. For those who are in advanced stages of AFS, these seemingly harmless and widely touted beneficial modalities can in fact backfire and worsen the condition. Adrenal crashes can be triggered easily. Always consult your health care practitioner before embarking on any such program, especially if you are weak.


Almost everyone needs the process of detoxification in their lives, especially people who are exposed to industrial or environmental toxins. Those with AFS need detoxification even more as the body’s natural detoxifier organs are performing suboptimally. The degree of detoxification varies from person to person. Those with advanced AFS need to be especially careful. In the process of detoxification, it is important to remember that detoxification is a common trigger of adrenal crash. The cornerstone the process of detoxification includes fasting, vegetable juicing; nutritional supplementation and a proper maintenance diet once the body has been detoxified. This can be supplemented with special herbs, antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes to help the detoxification process.

Always consult your health care practitioner before embarking on any detoxification program.

Read Part 1 | Part 2

© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Acupressure, the Process of Detoxification, and Adrenal Fatigue