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mercredi 3 août 2011


All through our history, diseases have been attributed to a variety of External Forces: humours, poisons, witches, brews, minority people, monkeys and the newest of these trends popular among the new age people seem to be TOXINS and various ways they can help you cleanse yourself. In science the definition of TOXIN is very narrow, it is a poisonous substance produced by a living cell. Man made substances which are poisonous are considered Toxicants. And detoxification has a very different meaning in Science than in the Popular culture.
I came across this article on a Medical Journalism magazine, those “ toxin affecionados or those who think they are polluted with (toxins)” should read the full article, available on line.

Detoxifying fashionably
Category: Alternative medicine • Antivaccination lunacy •Entertainment/culture • Medicine • Popular culture • Pseudoscience •Quackery • Skepticism/critical thinking

But how do you get rid of toxins?
Given that these magical, mystical "toxins" are ubiquitous, the methods proposed to eliminate them are legion. Still, they tend to break down into five main methods. Often two or more of these methods are combined in order to flush out those evil humors toxins:
• Diet. Key to many "detox" regimens is diet. These can range from all juice diets such as the "Master Cleanse" diet, which consists of lemonade, maple syrup, and Cayenne peppers (I kid you not) to raw food diets such as the ones I've discussed (cooking food apparently loads it up with toxins) to any number of other bizarre diets.
• Colon cleansing. Discussed in depth by yours truly nearly five years agoand better known as regularity über alles.
• Heavy metals. This is where "chelation" therapy comes in. In essence, the claim is that we are all overloaded with "toxic" heavy metals. The treatment is, of course, chelation therapy. Unfortunately for quacks (and fortunately for us), genuine heavy metal poisoning is increasingly uncommon. Removing lead from paint has made it less and less common for babies to be poisoned when they put paint chips in their mouth, and removing lead from gasoline has decreased the amount of lead people breathe in. Moreover, there are specific criteria for the diagnosis of poisoning due to specific metals, and chelation is only useful for some metals. It's also important to remember that, for all the claims of anti-vaccine activists that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in some childhood vaccines causes autism, not only is there no evidence to support this claim, but there is a lot of evidence against it. Worse, often the diagnosis of "heavy metal toxicity" made by alt-med practitioners is based on "provoked" urine levels, a methodology that has no validity.
• Skin detoxification methods. These methods claim to purge the "toxins" by eliminating them through the skin. They include modalities such as "cupping," pads like the infamous Kinoki footpads whose manufacturers claim they can draw toxins out through the soles of the feet, and the even more infamous "detox foot bath," where the water turns colors regardless of whether your feet are in there or not.
• Manipulative methods. These tend to break down into methods like massage therapy and "lymphatic drainage," basically manual methods that claim to "improve lymph flow" and thus "detoxify" the tissues. Examples include rolfing and lymphatic drainage massage (which, while feeling good, doesn't remove any toxins that anyone can show).
The bottom line is that in medicine, "detoxification" has a specific meaning, and alt-med "detox" believers have appropriated the term for something that has little or nothing to do with its real medical meaning. Basically, in real medicine "detoxification" means removing a real and specific toxin or toxicant (or set of toxins and/or toxicants). In the case of real heavy metal poisoning, chelation therapy is real detoxification. Similarly, using lactulose to decrease the production absorption of ammonia by the gut is an example of detoxification. In contrast, alt-med "detoxification" is far more akin to the exorcism of evil spirits, the removal of evil humors, or the driving away of miasmas.
Fashionable nonsense
It's not clear to me what's behind this latest wave of detox faddism, but it's clear that the concept that we are somehow being "contaminated" or poisoned is nothing new. Perhaps my favorite pop culture example is from a movie that's nearly 50 years old, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. In this blackest of black comedies, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper has a paranoid delusion that fluoridation of water is a Communist plot that will lead to the contamination of the "precious bodily fluids" of every American. Acting on this belief, General Ripper initiates an all out first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and the rest of the movie involves the increasingly darkly funny efforts of the U.S. government to recall the bombers and abort the attack in order to prevent global Armageddon. The idea "contamination" and the need for "purification" goes back much farther than that, though, as Trebay notes:
The idea of toxicity is a constant in Western culture, said Noah Guynn, director of the humanities program at the University of California, Davis, and a researcher into the cultural meanings of ritual cleansing. "We're obsessed with the idea that our environments have turned against us, that they are poisoning us and we have no choice in the matter," Dr. Guynn added. "We've been contaminated by something that you cannot eradicate, you can only treat."
Whatever the reason for the resurgence of belief in various "detox" modalities, one thing's for sure. Unnamed, unknown, undefined "toxins" are the new evil humors and miasmas, and detoxification is the newest fashionable form of ritual purification. It's a religion far more than anything