Detoxification (detox for short)[1] is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including, but not limited to, the human body and additionally can refer to the period of withdrawal during which an organism returns to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance.[2][3] In conventional medicine, detoxification can be achieved by decontamination of poison ingestion and the use of antidotes as well as techniques such as dialysis and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy.[4]

Many alternative medicine practitioners promote various other types of detoxification such as "diet detoxification," but there is little evidence that detox diets have any health benefits.[5] Furthermore, Sense About Science, a UK-based charitable trust determined that most commercial products' "detox" claims lack any supporting evidence and can be considered a "waste of money".[6][7]


Types of detoxification

Alcohol detoxification

Alcohol detoxification is a process by which a heavy drinker's system is brought back to normal after being used to having alcohol in the body on a continual basis. Serious alcohol addiction results in a decrease in production of GABA, a reuptake inhibitor, because alcohol acts to replace it. Precipitous withdrawal from long-term alcohol addiction without medical management can cause severe health problems and can be fatal. Alcohol detox is not a treatment for alcoholism. After detoxification, other treatments must be undergone to deal with the underlying addiction that caused the alcohol use.

Drug detoxification

Drug detoxification is used to reduce or relieve withdrawal symptoms while helping the addicted individual adjust to living without drug use; drug detoxification is not meant to treat addiction but rather an early step in long-term treatment. Detoxification may be achieved drug free or may use medications as an aspect of treatment. Often drug detoxification and treatment will occur in a community program that lasts several months and takes place in a residential rather than medical center.

Drug detoxification varies depending on the location of treatment, but most detox centers provide treatment to avoid the symptoms of physical withdrawal to alcohol & other drugs. Most also incorporate counseling and therapy during detox to help with the consequences of withdrawal.

Metabolic detoxification

An animal's metabolism can produce harmful substances which it can then make less toxic through reduction, oxidation (collectively known as redox reactions), conjugation and excretion of molecules from cells or tissues.[8] This is called xenobiotic metabolism.[9][9][10][11][12] Enzymes that are important in detoxification metabolism include cytochrome P450 oxidases,[13] UDP-glucuronosyltransferases,[14] and glutathione S-transferases.[15] These processes are particularly well-studied as part of drug metabolism, as they influence the pharmacokinetics of a drug in the body.[16][17][18]

Alternative medicine

Certain approaches in alternative medicine claim to remove "toxins" from the body through herbal, electrical or electromagnetic treatments (such as the Aqua Detox treatment). These toxins are undefined and have no scientific basis,[5] making the validity of such techniques questionable. There is no evidence for toxic accumulation in these cases,[5] as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic wastes. Under this theory if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise. Therapies include contrast showers, detoxification foot pads, oil pulling, Gerson therapy, snake-stones, body cleansing, Scientology's Purification Rundown, water fasting, and metabolic therapy.[19]

See also


  1. ^
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  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Mayo Clinic Website
  6. ^ Scientists dismiss detox schemes
  7. ^ No proof so-called detox products work: scientists
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Danielson P (2002). "The cytochrome P450 superfamily: biochemistry, evolution and drug metabolism in humans". Curr Drug Metab 3 (6): 561–97. doi:10.2174/1389200023337054. PMID 12369887. 
  14. ^ King C, Rios G, Green M, Tephly T (2000). "UDP-glucuronosyltransferases". Curr Drug Metab 1 (2): 143–61. doi:10.2174/1389200003339171. PMID 11465080. 
  15. ^ Sheehan D, Meade G, Foley V, Dowd C (2001). "Structure, function and evolution of glutathione transferases: implications for classification of non-mammalian members of an ancient enzyme superfamily". Biochem J 360 (Pt 1): 1–16. doi:10.1042/0264-6021:3600001. PMC 1222196. PMID 11695986. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Metabolic Therapy

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • detoxification — n. 1. a medically supervised treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol intended to rid the body of the addictive substances. [WordNet 1.5] 2. treatment for poisoning by counteracting its toxic properties. [WordNet 1.5] 3. conversion (of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • détoxification — ● détoxification nom féminin Opération physico chimique ou métabolique par laquelle un produit perd sa toxicité …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • detoxification — 1905, of substances, 1971 of persons who drink to excess; see DETOXIFY (Cf. detoxify) + ATION (Cf. ation) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Detoxification —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Détoxication. Detoxification est un best of de Dr. Dre visant à introduire l album Detox, dont la parution est annoncée pour la fin pour le 31 mai 2010 en Europe et le premier Juin de la même année aux USA.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • detoxification — [[t]diːtɒ̱ksɪfɪke͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] N UNCOUNT Detoxification is treatment given to people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol in order to stop them being addicted …   English dictionary

  • detoxification — noun (U) 1 the process of removing harmful chemicals or poison from something 2 detox: detoxification unit detoxify verb (T) …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • detoxification — detoksikacija statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Nuodingos medžiagos padarymas nekenksminga arba jos pašalinimas. atitikmenys: angl. detoxication; detoxification rus. детоксикация; обезвреживание яда …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • detoxification — detoxify ► VERB (detoxifies, detoxified) 1) remove toxic substances from. 2) abstain or help to abstain from drink or drugs until the bloodstream is free of toxins. DERIVATIVES detoxification noun detoxifier noun …   English terms dictionary

  • detoxification — noun see detoxify …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • detoxification — См. detoxication …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology