Rethink Health††† - April 2009

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Is Cleansing A Dirty Word?

Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at Exeter University, this month reported the Duchy of Cornwall to the Advertising Standards Agency, alleging that claims made on behalf of a cleansing tincture marketed by the Duchy are groundless. He went on to question the very concept of cleansing.

It may be that the subject has not yet had the benefit of systematic and rigorous analysis, which only means there is no evidence available one way or the other. But nor, I suspect, has hand-washing. Yet it is recommended for all NHS staff and a detailed protocol exists explaining how to do it. And I have personally compared the germ count from my hands before and after washing with soap and water, and noted the striking improvement from one to the other.

Your body can clearly accumulate dirt inside it, as well as out. Some of that dissolves in water and can be removed through your kidneys almost as soon as you eat it. Much, however, will only dissolve with chemical help, or must be breathed out. Alcohol and anaesthetic, for example, can be processed in your liver and be rendered harmless, or dissolved in bile, or breathed out through your lungs.

Quite a few modern chemicals are much harder to deal with. Those designed to kill insects are the most difficult. Many do not bio-degrade, so you consume them along with the food that was sprayed. They dissolve in fat rather than water, so that they can penetrate the skin of the insect. This makes them hard to handle in your body, and a good few are deposited in your fat cells so that they can at least be out of harmís way. We know this because human milk, and fat samples from accident victims, were until 2000 analysed by the MAFF Working Party on Pesticide Residues. These residues have been declining over the years as their dangers have been recognised, but the range of values varied widely between individuals, some of whom were sufficiently contaminated to raise concerns. (These analyses seem to have been dropped by the Pesticide Residues Committee www.pesticides.gov.uk/prc_home.asp who superseded it.)

If dirt is accumulating in our bodies, then attempts to get rid of it and avoid anything more are sensible, whether or not the science is in place. For my money vitamin C is the first recourse, followed by all other anti-oxidants. These are the vitamin-like substances that give fruit and vegetables their vividly colour. A diet based heavily on vegetation is cleansing by default, even if some of the food is contaminated, because these foods build up alkaline reserve which usually supports the cleansing functions of blood, kidneys and liver more than its contaminants use them up. The flesh of farmed animals, poultry and fish tend to contain more chemicals than vegetation and to require more digestion, both of which burden your cleansing mechanisms.

The best special foods for cleansing are the lily family Ė onions, leeks and garlic.

When you lose body fat during weight reduction, you will occasionally be aware of the effects in your blood of chemicals that have been released from fat deposits as they dwindle. It may even remind you of symptoms you were having when these chemicals were being deposited. A simple diet or fruit fast, reinforced with vitamin C and lots of water, will get rid of the chemicals quickly and with minimum symptoms.

To avoid all but the inevitable exposure (in the air, for example) you rely on food grown without agri-chemicals. Food from the wild, or the open sea, is best. (The Mediterranean is a closed sea.) Organic (www.soilassociation.org) or Bio-Dynamically grown food (www.biodynamic.net) is, in my opinion, worth buying just for its relative cleanliness Ė let alone its vitality.

Donít forget drinking water, which is easily and affordably purified (www.pozzani.co.uk). There is nothing in water worth drinking, apart from pure water itself.

Donít Push Pregnancy

Two recent studies have urged caution about pregnancy Ė those procured through in vitro fertilisation, and those which end prematurely. In both cases the risk of impairment in the child is significantly raised. This seems only common sense, but research confirms it any way.

Pregnancy is the most creative event that can happen to people. For success, an awful lot has to work and coordinate well. If your body is not right, or you are not in the mood, pregnancy will not work out perfectly.

The best approach if you cannot conceive or fail to hold a pregnancy is not to reach immediately for high-tech help, but first to sort yourself out and attune better to future parenthood. Start with a decent diet, without alcohol, for both you and your partner. Cut out smoking for sure. More sophisticated preconception advice is available Ė www.foresight-preconception.org.uk - ask for it. Consider, despite Professor Ernst, some form of cleansing regime!

I donít apologise for returning to this subject two months running. Itís Easter, the season of fertility. And itís your biggest ever opportunity to influence the health of your family. Itís huge, and once missed it cannot be made good.

If youíd like our leaflets on the subject, please ask.