How Do You Really Get Rid of Toxins? (2024)

Commercially available detoxes are a scam. There, we said it.

You don’t need detox products or programs, they don’t work, and some can even do harm.

Colon cleanses, detoxing smoothies, juice cleanses, detoxifying supplements, capsules, teas, and essential oils ... the list of these products gets longer every year.

But which toxins are they supposedly removing?

In medicine, a "toxin" is generally a drug, and “detoxing” is being weaned off the drug.

In the modern wellness world, the meaning of toxin has become much fuzzier. It might mean synthetic chemicals, pollutants, heavy metals, or processed food, among many other options.

As the authors of a review of detoxes write, “Despite the widespread popularity of detox diets, the term ‘toxin’ remains ill-defined.”

They explain that “No rigorous clinical investigations of detox diets have been conducted.”

In this feature, we’ll focus on your body’s own incredibly efficient detox systems, which have evolved over millions of years.

In particular, we’ll focus on your liver and kidneys, your body’s primary detoxifying workhorses.

They handle the toxins your body generates, including the lactic acid your muscles produce and waste products from your gut microbiome.

These organs also tackle toxins that enter from outside — through food and drink, the air you breathe, and your skin.

Love your liver

Your liver is one of your largest organs, and it plays more than 500 biological roles.

Once you’ve digested your dinner, anything that gets absorbed through your gut lining and into your blood makes its way to your liver along the portal vein. This includes nutrients.

Your liver turns them into compounds your body can use, stores them, and sends them to cells when needed.

Your liver also takes on toxic substances as they arrive.

How does it make toxins safe?

Your liver is home to an impressive suite of enzymes. Some turn dangerous toxins directly into puss* cats, and this is called phase 1 metabolism.

But your liver still needs to get these subdued toxins out of your body. So, it moves on to phase 2 metabolism.

In this phase, enzymes in your liver "conjugate" the puss* cats — they attach another compounds to the toxins. This makes them water soluble, so they’re easier to get rid of.

After conjugation, your liver sends the modified toxins to your kidneys, where they’re removed in your urine. Or, it adds them to bile, which is sent to your gut, so they end up in poop.

Toxins might need to go through phase 1 metabolism multiple times with more than one enzyme before moving on to phase 2. It’s a wonderfully complicated system.

Using its incredible armory of enzymes, your liver can handle a huge range of potential toxins, including medicines, drugs, heavy metals, microorganisms, and old red blood cells.

Now, let’s look at the next detox powerhouse, your kidneys.

Care for your kidneys

Your kidneys are essentially filters — they trap toxins and remove them in your wee.

Capable of filtering an incredible 44 gallons (200 liters) of fluid daily, your kidneys filter all of your blood a jaw-dropping 60 times every 24 hours.

These organs can handle a wide variety of toxins, including chemicals produced during metabolism, like ammonia, urea, uric acid, and creatinine. They also remove the conjugated toxins from phase 2 metabolism.

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In addition, our kidneys help rid us of industrial toxins, like heavy metals. Plus, they help us excrete compounds from food when we consume too much, including salt, vitamin C, and B vitamins.

How do they do it?

Each of your two kidneys contains around 1 million tiny units called nephrons. And each nephron has a filter called a glomerulus, which is a tiny cluster of blood vessels.

The glomerulus filters your blood, only letting through small molecules and liquid — so your blood cells and proteins stay in.

Each nephron also has a small tube called a tubule. After the fluid is filtered by the glomerulus, it moves along the tubule.

From there, fluids and other things your body needs, like nutrients and minerals, are shunted back into your blood to circulate around your body. And what’s left in the tubule — i.e., the trash — becomes urine.

Other detox systems

Your liver and kidneys, as we mentioned, are your detoxification powerhouses. But other organs and systems help out.

One example is your gut: If you eat something toxic, you might vomit or develop diarrhea to expel it before it causes harm. You also poop out the toxins that your liver adds to bile.

And your skin is a protective barrier —It helps keep water-soluble toxins from entering your body.

We should mention that toxins aren’t removed through your skin. You can’t “sweat out" toxins.

And while we’re on the topic, “detoxifying face masks” might clean your face — in the same way that soap does — but they won’t pull toxins from your blood through your skin.

Meanwhile, your lungs help remove toxins and microbes that you breathe in. For instance, tiny hairs trap larger particles. And mucus traps the smaller particles, which then get expelled.

What should you do?

Although your body has incredible detoxification systems, they can get overloaded. Your liver and kidneys are workhorses, not miracle workers.

If you consume too many heavy metals, for instance, you will get very sick eventually. The same goes for other toxins, including alcohol.

Still, by this point, colon cleanses and liver detoxification supplements won’t help.

Your body does need support to work effectively. But it doesn’t need a “cleanse.”

Supporting your liver

The British Liver Trust and American Liver Foundation offer this advice for protecting liver health:

  • If you drink, reduce your alcohol intake: Take 2 or 3 days off alcohol every week, preferably in a row.

  • Maintain a moderate weight.

  • Have a healthy diet.

  • Get regular exercise.

  • Only take the medicines you need as your doctor prescribes.

Supporting your kidneys

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, you can support your kidney health by:

  • Maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

  • Staying in a healthy blood cholesterol range.

  • Not eating too much salt.

  • Eating more fruits and veggies.

  • Staying active.

  • Taking medicines as advised by your doctor.

  • Getting enough sleep: 7–8 hours a night.

  • Quitting smoking, if you smoke.


If you’re feeling low in energy or just under the weather, looking for a quick fix with a detox product is tempting. Sadly, the companies who market these products know this. But they can’t deliver.

In truth, most of us already have all the detoxing capabilities we need — our liver and kidneys, in particular. We just need to look after them.

Making small, sustainable changes can help you feel better.

With that said, if you’re worried about your health, speak with a doctor, who can check for underlying conditions. Similarly, if you’ve consumed something genuinely toxic, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.


All about portal vein: A pictorial display to anatomy, variants and physiopathology. Insights Into Imaging. (2019).

Can you sweat toxins out of your body? (2019).

Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. (2014).

“Detoxes” and “cleanses”: What you need to know. (2019).

How does the liver work? (2016).

Liver: Anatomy and functions. (n.d.).

Looking after your liver. (n.d.).

Mechanisms of hepatocyte detoxification. (2018).

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (2023).

Physiology, renal. (2022).

Take care of your kidneys and they will take care of you. (2022).

The kidney dysfunction epidemic, part 1: Causes. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. (2015).

The liver is a factory. (n.d.).

Your kidneys and how they work. (2018).

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  • How Do You Really Get Rid of Toxins? (3)
How Do You Really Get Rid of Toxins? (2024)


How do I flush all the toxins out of my body? ›

What does a full body detox involve?
  1. follow a specific diet.
  2. fast.
  3. drink more water or juices.
  4. use supplements.
  5. use colonic irrigation, enemas, or laxatives.
  6. use a sauna.
  7. reduce exposure to toxins in their environment.
Jan 21, 2021

How are toxins removed from the body? ›

Digestive System can detoxify by eliminating toxic foods, by either vomiting or diarrhea. Kidneys detoxify by secreting toxins or filtering toxins out of the blood into urine. Liver detoxifies by changing the chemical nature of many toxins.

How long does it take to flush toxins out of your body? ›

Detoxing from alcohol or drugs involves removing toxic substances from the body while managing the withdrawal symptoms that occur simultaneously. Detoxing typically takes three to ten days. However, a more severe addiction can extend detox by several weeks or even months.

How do you know if your body is full of toxins? ›

Some signs that your body has a toxin buildup include:
  • Brain fog.
  • Hair loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Brittle toenails.
  • Bad breath.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight gain.

What is the best drink to flush your system fast? ›

  • Lemon detox drink: Lemon is one of the most common and staple ingredients of detox drinks. ...
  • Mint and cucumber detox drink: This detox drink is claimed to be great for managing weight and maintaining fluid and mineral balance in the body. ...
  • Coconut water detox drink: This is an easy and quick drink to prepare.

What does it feel like when toxins leave your body? ›

During detox, your body adjusts to the absence of the substance, causing digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Because your stomach and intestines have been damaged, your body is trying to repair the lining and eliminate toxins. All of this causes gastrointestinal distress.

What comes out of your body when you detox your body? ›

In theory, the detoxification process involves cleaning out your body of chemicals, pollutants, and other “toxins” that can negatively impact your health. However, the truth is that healthy bodies are able to do this on their own through the kidneys, liver, digestive system, and skin.

What diseases are caused by toxins? ›

Types of Injuries and Illnesses from Toxic Exposure
  • Aplastic Anemia. Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood disorder that occurs when the body fails to produce sufficient amounts of new blood cells. ...
  • Asbestosis. ...
  • Asthma. ...
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans. ...
  • Cancer. ...
  • Hodgkin's Disease. ...
  • Leukemia. ...
  • Mesothelioma.

Where does your body release the most toxins? ›

Trace amounts of metals and other chemicals can be present in your sweat, but your kidneys and liver do most of the work when it comes to getting rid of toxins in the body.

How to fix toxin overload? ›

Minimizing exposure to environmental toxins, minimizing stress, maintaining daily hydration status, and consuming a balanced diet will help you ensure that your body is getting the essential nutrients it needs to detoxify optimally.

How to detox your body in 24 hours? ›

10 ways to detox your body in 24 hours
  1. What is a detox? ...
  2. Start your day with lemon water. ...
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast. ...
  4. Move your body. ...
  5. Clean up your diet. ...
  6. Enjoy a cup of tea. ...
  7. Try twisting to relieve tension — and aid digestion. ...
  8. Do some breathing exercises.

How to deep clean your body? ›

To deep clean your body, bathe or shower at least 3-4 times a week and wash your skin with gentle soap and warm water. Use a loofah, washcloth, or gentle exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin and deep-set dirt.

How do you clean your detox system? ›

Perform a disk cleanup

Regular disk cleanups free up storage space and can make your computer run faster. Getting rid of temporary files is easy. On Windows 10 or 11, go to Settings > System > Storage. Click Temporary files, then Remove files.

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