Ask the Organic Beauty Expert: 15 Ways to Limit Your Toxic Intake

By Mary Beth Janssen / November 6, 2011

Traipsing from one festive gala to the next? Enjoying the abundance of the season? Perhaps you’ve even tipped the scales toward over- abundance? If yes, chances are that you may be suffering from toxic overload…

Ask yourself: Do you find it hard to get motivated?  Do you still feel tired after a full eight hours of sleep? Are you stressed out, with a tendency to fly off the handle with the slightest provocation? Do you suffer from gastrointestinal upsets, insomnia, headaches or body aches…?

With the new year just around the corner, perhaps we all could benefit from stepping up our detox efforts and strive to be lighter in every sense. Isn’t that what January 1st inspires in us all, ”out with the old, in with the new?”

Detox is more than having a squeaky-clean colon and clear, radiant skin (although an important part of it!). It’s also about simplifying, decluttering and clearing away the complexities in our lives, as much as possible.

It’s the intention that we set in the morning for how we’re going to create our day—our connection to others, the thoughts we have, the activities we engage in, the food we eat, the products we use. As we become fully present in making the most life-affirming choices possible, we lessen our toxic load and infuse our life with vibrant energy and joy.

This, my friends, can amount to the very best health insurance possible.

There are two facets to detox. Detoxification may be seen as a programmed ritual enacted once or twice a year whether at home, at a wellness center or spa. Many spas now offer detox programs, treatments and products. These can include fasting, herbs, saunas, special diets, mineral mud baths, hot rock massages and colonic irrigation—to name but a few. Detox can also be seen as a perfectly natural and ongoing process for each one of us. If we’re honoring the process, that is. Our body has these incredible built-in systems for detox—the lymphatic, respiratory, urinary, gastrointestinal and the skin. Naturally, the key is not to overtax them.

Toxins can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin (pesticides, heavy metals, food additives, prescription or recreational drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, along with chemicals found in household and personal care products, amongst others). Toxins may also be internally produced (metabolic waste, digestive or hormonal by-products, free radicals—along with toxic thoughts and emotions that create real changes in our body chemistry). This toxicity creates a “body burden” that can compromise our immunity, lead to mental fogginess, extreme fatigue, skin problems, body aches, neurological ailments, endocrine disorders, heart disease, and over time, even cancer.

Our well being depends on vigilantly and regularly cleansing our mind-body physiology of these toxins. It is critical that we optimize whole brain, heart, neurological, endocrine, metabolic and immune system functioning.

For those of you who are new to these concepts, detoxing has a two-pronged approach. First, reduce or eliminate your intake of toxins and switch to natural/organic alternatives wherever possible. Secondly, increase your body’s ability to flush out toxins through the circulation and eliminative pathways, i.e. healing breath and movement, saunas or steam baths, massages, high fiber foods, plenty of purified water and through strengthening of your liver. As the nucleus of our body’s cleansing system, the liver works endlessly to filter and purify our blood as neutralizing toxins. The higher our exposure to toxins, the more compromised our liver function. (See the OSM website for more details re: liver protective/ fortifying foods and supplements.) Personally, I don’t go a day without taking milk thistle, a powerhouse liver supportive herb. Why, my pooches even take it!

Every single lifestyle change that detoxes the body and destresses the mind will benefit us. This includes simply tuning into the rhythms of nature—and creating a daily routine that honors these rhythms. Routines can be incredibly comforting, especially in today’s staccato, hyperkinetic world. In respecting the rhythms of nature, we encourage the effortless flow of intelligence through our mind-body physiology—and safeguard the natural order of things (a product of billions of years of evolution!). Over the course of the 24-hour day there are ideal times for transformation and regeneration. These include our sleep/wake cycles, body temperature, hormonal levels, metabolism, regenerative capabilities and reproductive cycles. Every day, strive to regularly schedule reflective time, breathe deeply, clear toxic emotions, take healthful, energy producing foods, get regular exercise and follow beautifying/therapeutic rituals. Try to go to bed early and rise early. This is so profoundly important as our body is busy detoxing and rejuvenating itself during the nighttime hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (whereas our digestive processes are optimized during the midday hours).

On a purely practical level, here are some ways to limit your toxic intake:

  1. Slow down and connect with your inner peace. This allows you to become tuned into your thoughts and actions and truly be present with yourself and others.
  2. Smile and be kind. If you’re warm-hearted when greeting others, they’ll oft respond in the same way. This encourages healing energy to flow between you.
  3. Think positively. Minimize disturbing influences and release toxic thoughts. Toxic thoughts can create some of the same chemical changes in our body as pesticides.
  4. Learn to forgive. Even when justified, anger and resentment are poisonous.
  5. Enjoy every facet of nature, as often as you can. It provides tremendous lifeforce-enhancing nourishment for body, mind, and soul.
  6. If a smoker, quit. It is a well-documented toxic activity. And while you’re at it, shun second-hand smoke.
  7. Reduce exposure to pollution. Diffuse purifying essential oils into your environment. Invest in an air purifier.
  8. Eat plenty of fiber—more whole grains, beans and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts). Fiber will bind with and remove toxic compounds in the colon while increasing regularity.
  9. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich, organic vegetables and fruits, especially those that are deep colored. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals — harmful reactive molecules that can set the stage for chronic and acute disease alike.
  10. Consider juicing as you’ll reach your daily vegetable target with ease. At the same time it’s your hidden shortcut to detoxification, genuine healing and optimal weight.
  11. Get eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of purified or filtered water daily.
  12. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. It will not only reduce stress, but will increase/ improve circulation, which will enhance the body’s own natural detoxification process. And don’t forget about those feel-good endorphins that are produced!
  13. Meticulously care for your skin to optimally flush toxins. One third of metabolic waste is excreted via the skin.
  14. Get regular massages, and better yet, give yourself a daily massage. Use an organic plant oil to massage your body. Do this before you shower in the morning. It’ll optimize the skin’s barrier function, lymph flow (moves toxins out of the system), blood circulation, lubricating joint fluids. Plus it will deknot those muscles and release a flood of feel-good chemicals into the blood stream.
  15. Go to bed early, and rise early to optimize the regenerative effects of sound slumber.
We truly are creatures of habit. As we begin to witness our actions and become more consciously aware from moment to moment, an energetic shift begins to take place. We are setting a new standard for the way in which we want to live our lives, one that honors our wholeness. The occasional detox now becomes perpetual rejuvenation.


Mary Beth Janssen is a highly respected beauty and wellness educator, certified mind-body health educator for the Chopra Center for Well-Being, and the author of six books. To send her your questions, write to


Mary Beth Janssen

Mary Beth Janssen

Author, Mind-Body Health Educator at Chopra Center for Wellbeing
Mary Beth Janssen is a certified mind-body health educator for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and author of five books. Send questions to
Mary Beth Janssen

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