Basically, the detox system is like a funnel. You can dump a lot in, but there is a narrow exit pathway. Excess toxins just overflow and must be redeposited and "stored" into our organs, brain and gut. It is important to balance the toxins circulating in our blood stream with our ability to move them out of our body through our detoxification system. Otherwise, we just move toxins from one part of the body to another.

We feel "die-off" when we mobilize more toxins than we can excrete. It is necessary to address nutrient deficiencies to optimize opening the detox pathways. There are nutrients which help the body to optimize detox pathways naturally.  B12, MAGNESIUM, B3, B6, B12, folate, zinc, SELENIUM are key nutrients. Additionally, molybdenum and sulfate. Vitamin C, citrus pectin, and kelp (heavy metal tested, organic) can help to bind heavy metals and escort them out. 

this is a complex explanation of liver detoxification.

a simple explanation: Basic Liver Detox (video) and the Detox Obstacle Course.

Some of us (40% of Americans) have a gene called the MTHFR gene polymorphism, which is basically an impaired detoxification system. It is worsened due to the ubiquitous fortification of our food with synthetic folic acid

Food folate helps us to detoxify more effectively. Folate is in beans, greens, liver and legumes.

(photo credit, Helen Padarin of Nourish-Ed)

Some 90% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is critical to over 300 biological processes, especially detoxification. 

Die-off is not optimal, per my understanding. We want the toxins to be excreted, not just moved around in our body. 


I do want to mention that skin is a detox pathway - an overflow valve when the body is overwhelmed with toxins that can't be processed fast enough. Cilantro does not bind with heavy metals. Cilantro (and chlorella) can mobilize heavy metals, however. Clay and activated charcoal can help to find heavy metals. 

The key is to get toxins out of the body by optimizing our nutrients to support and "open" our detox pathways

Foods to help Phase 1 Detox:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brown Rice
  • Carrots
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheatgerm
  • Melons and peppers
  • Tomatillos, papaya, plantains, carambola and guava

Foods to Help Phase Two Detoxification:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Eggs
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Papaya and Avocado
  • Mushrooms

But, too fast detox just makes die-off symptoms. Slow down, add nutrients, build back up slowly. Same thing happens with too many probiotics or rapid shifts in the gut ph. 

I love kombucha, liver supportive foods and whole food probiotics, I just caution about "die-off". 

Kombucha has S. boulardii which displaces and replaces candida albicans. Candida binds with mercury to store it out of circulation. If one has/had mercury fillings and detoxes poorly, they are likely to have candida.

When we kill off candida, we could release the mercury back into blood circulation to redeposit in the brain, organs and gut (fetus and breasmilk also) during "die-off" and detoxing.

  • The issue is that detox symptoms are an indication of overloading our detox pathways. 

Caution regarding "Cleanses". 

You might want to refer to Andy Cutler (PhD Chemist), author of "Amalgam Illness", regarding the one-thiol vs. two-thiol groups binding mercury for excretion. Cilantro and chlorella have one-thiol groups.

Basically, one thiol groups do not bind as tightly to mercury (and other heavy metals) as substances in the two thiol group, and thus mobilize mercury around from "stored" locations in the body, but do not necessarily shuttle it safely out of the body.

But, yes. One can excrete some of the heavy metals, even while mobilizing more into the organs, unfortunately. Mostly people *selling* cleanses promote 'knowing you are moving toxins' by embracing the die-off. 

My concern and research originated because I have a mouthful of mercury and wanted to "cleanse". I trust each individual to do her own research and take full accountability for her own health choices.

Chelation and active detoxification of heavy metals is a complicated topic. If you have concerns about heavy metals, Andy has written a whole book about it and hosts a yahoo group for Q&A.

But, in general, Andy is much more comfortable with synthetic supplements and chemical chelators than I am. He is a chemist. I'm a whole foods gal. 

I learned from Andy that "die-off" is a symptom of mobilized toxins in excess of the body's ability to excrete it. Andy has chelation protocols to help manage that with supplement nutrients, rotating chelation (on x days/off y days), etc. 

I don't chelate with synthetic supplements. I support my body's natural detoxification pathways with whole food nutrients. 

Also, chelating pulls mercury from mercury (silver amalgam) fillings. So, chelation needs to be avoided while fillings are still present in the mouth.


The issue is striking the balance where we are optimizing our ability to excrete toxins without just moving them around. I believe that whole food is the best healer. 

Detox stress is additional stress on the body and increases nutrient demands. Supporting the body with whole food nutrients (such as bone broths, liver, greens, nettles, CLO, whole food probiotics, etc), alongside adequate magnesium, sunshine for Vit D, etc are key, ime. Our body is actively removing toxins all of the time, WHEN we provide it the nutrients needed for the natural detox pathways. 

Unfortunately, many of us ate a Standard American Diet (SAD) with inadequate nutrients (and excess chemical toxins). Nutrient deficiencies lead to excess toxin build up. Therefore our body stored excess toxins for us, because we couldn't process them out safely. WITH whole food nutrients, our body can do its job, without buying "cleanses" and actively dumping toxins during "die-off". The body is an amazing healer. :-) 

Pat RobinsonWellness Educator

P.S. Susun Weed is a very respected herbalist who actually recommends a natural rebalancing approach to yeast problems. From her website here is her advice to people "fighting" yeast.


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Comment by Pat Robinson on August 13, 2012 at 11:33am

Per my understanding, chemically, cilantro (and chlorella) only have a one-thiol group and do NOT bind strongly with mercury. Additionally, it pulls mercury from amalgam fillings into blood circulation. But cilantro and chlorella do not safely excrete mercury out of the body, according to Andy Cutler, chemistry PhD and author of "Amalgam Illness" Thus cilantro and chlorella are to be avoided with mercury fillings, or in an attempt to "chelate".

There is a difference between *mobilizing* mercury and *excreting* mercury. Again, it is related to the weakness of the chemical bond between cilantro and mercury, per my understanding. (see post #36 on) cgi-bin/Blah/

Apparently, the cilantro/chlorella can *pull* mercury from the body, including from the mercury fillings in the mouth, and some mercury will be excreted in the urine, thus increased urinary measurements of mercury. However, MORE mercury is mobilized than can be effectively removed from the body and is just REDEPOSITED into the brain, gut, organs, fetus and breastmilk.

And it is ill-advised, from all of my reading, to consider active mobilization of mercury with amalgam fillings in the mouth.

For supporting natural detoxification pathways, I'd do Epsom salt baths, magnesium, zinc, B-vitamins (especially folate and B12), and selenium. And hydration.

Vit C - large doses can help to ameliorate detox symptoms, but does not bind mercury. Bentonite clay baths are another alternative I'd consider. Oral consumption of activated charcoal or apple pectin can help to bind heavy metals (and minerals, though). Sauna and sweat is great for detoxifying heavy metals (not sure while nursing, though). Salt water flushes can help to ameliorate detox symptoms, also, ime.


Comment by Shekinah Lawrence on January 1, 2013 at 7:08pm
Hello and happy new year! How fitting to detox after a fully fat and indulgent yet abundantly blessed holiday! Quick question, according to the list of foods listed above for phase 1 and phase 2 is there a menu suggestion like breakfast lunch dinner type thing? I've grocery shopped for the the foods and I'm making some bone broth but I'm one of "those kind of people" who need a bit more direction and a plan if one is available. Even a three day plan would work and I'll just repeat it. Help please! Or I'll just eat all the foods in a big garbage bowl......eggs and plantains, mushrooms and papaya anyone?


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