As blooming flowers and the seasonal celebration of Imbolc herald the coming of spring in the Southern hemisphere, we are moving into a time that has often been considered the optimal time to support the body's own detoxification systems.
But what does 'detox' even mean? This word is often overused, and applied out of context by health influencers who barely understand the human body. It is one of the biggest fad words in the world of health, and likely there has been more damage than healing caused by the misapplication and misunderstanding of this process.
Many of the 'detox' methods promoted and popularised by the multibillion dollar health industry, actually have very little, or even no foundation in the physiology and biochemistry of the body, and are often more of a reflection of our own collective neurosis, rather than an understanding of the body's processes.
To understand this, it is helpful if we take some time to reflect on our own collective history and the evolution and source of ideas and concepts within our psyche.
A prominent contribution to the concept of detoxification, is actually the beliefs and attitudes of patriarchal religions, dating back at least as early as the middle ages, which often considered the body to be unclean and the holder of original sin. Illness was considered to be a manifestation and punishment of this impurity, only able to be remedied via suffering through a process of purification and repentance.
Many forms of medicine during these times were also of the belief that this purification could only be evidenced by the expulsion of toxins via elimination pathways, and with an emphasis on cathartic processes, many extreme forms of elimination were encouraged. Despite the extreme nature of some of these processes, the appeal they often hold for humanity does bring up the question of the connection between the psyche and soma, and the impact a cathartic physical representation of elimination can have on the mind, and as a result, the body.
The attitudes underpinning this were then further magnified by concepts and discoveries made during the 18th century, which contributed to a perceived separation between the body and nature, and an allopathic view of the body that lost the ability to understand the body in a holistic manner, instead approaching with a narrowed vision that missed the complexity and symbiosis of the bodies processes and terrain.
Today we see the influence of these outdated beliefs rampant within the health and wellbeing world, manifesting in extreme and unfounded detox methods, and a growing increase in Orthorexia nervosa, an obsession with only eating foods considered to be healthy and clean enough.
This is often more prevalent in woman, who in addition face misogynistic and patriachal concepts that have long been perpetuating the idea that the feminine should be petite, submissive and quiet; almost childlike, guided and controlled by the paternal masculine. A program that has effectively distracted and shackled many woman who find it hard to break free from this deeply ingrained attitude which continues to be perpetuated by media and women alike.
Healthy eating is important, as is gently supporting our body's own detoxification processes, especially in today's modern toxin filled world. However we must be cautious to remain balanced in our approach, remembering that our body is a powerful vessel with it's own inherent intelligence, and that the body and this physical, matter based world we live within, is just as sacred, if not more, than any visions or concepts of a divine transcendence beyond this realm.