5 lies about detox and toxins

5 deceits about detox and toxins (header)

Have you heard about toxins? 

I know a few. Let’s see: snake venom, the botulinum toxin, the tetanus toxin… well, that’s it. I can’t name any more of them. 

Unfortunately, the word “toxin” has entered the popular language and is now used for pretty much anything: pollutants, heavy metals, fecal matter, microbes, gluten… hell, even stress supposedly generates toxins. 

According to some shady individuals, toxins are everywhere. They also talk about “metabolic waste” that accumulates and must be eliminated from our bodies; otherwise it’ll make us sick. 

At the holistic shop (and at the pharmacy, sadly), you’ll find a range of products that promise to eliminate these toxins and “clean up the system.” They often carry statements such as: 

  • Detox
  • Cleanse
  • Internal cleansing program
  • Supports a healthy liver
  • Protects and eliminates liver congestion
  • Promotes fat burning and weight loss (yeah, because that’s the real goal)
  • Etc. 

Manufacturers of these products make a fortune after the holiday season as they manage to convince people that they must “find balance after this period of excess“. 

Unfortunately, detox is a huge scam. So-called “cleanses” contain nothing but obscure herbal mixtures with no real purpose, as well as diuretics and laxatives that make you go to the toilet more frequently. Sounds like fun, huh? 

For educational purposes, let’s laugh a little at these ridiculous products. Let’s also examine the key deceits their manufacturers use to extort money from people. All statements found below were taken directly from their websites.

Translation by Olivier Bernard, proofreading by Lauren Knight.


5 deceits about detox and toxins (intro)


Toxins and pollutants exist since the industrial revolution

Life expectancy and health in the past and today


You must cleanse your system after the holiday season


Toxins prevents vitamins and nutrients from being absorbed

What naturopaths say about cleanses



You must help your organs to eliminate toxins and waste

My test to assess whether your organs are functioning or not


Food and waste accumulates in the intestines

Detox cleanses contain laxatives


35 responses to “5 lies about detox and toxins

  1. References:

    – Air pollution is not a recent problem: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/air-pollution-has-been-a-problem-since-the-days-of-ancient-rome-3950678/?no-ist

    – Pollution in ancient times: http://www2.sci.u-szeged.hu/eghajlattan/akta03/005-015.pdf

    – Cavemen were exposed to a toxic environment: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3128818/400-000-year-old-teeth-reveal-evidence-man-pollution-shows-caveman-diet-really-balanced.html

    – Life expectancy in the US: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm

    – Scientific analysis of detox and cleanses by pharmacist Scott Gavura: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-detox-scam-how-to-spot-it-and-how-to-avoid-it/

    – Dr Ben Goldacre’s video recap on detox : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UrhJ8P8iZ8

    – The theory of autointoxication by feces was disproven a long time ago: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9252839

    – Colonics and laxative-based therapies are a useless and dangerous: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/gastro.html

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  4. Great article!!! Now will you please address the “miracle cures” snake oil like the plexus and other brands of money grabbers? They cure hypertension, arthritis, diabetes and help you lose weight! I have blocked so many people on Facebook because of their constant promotion of these products.
    While you are at it, “oil pulling” “essential oils” and “apple cider vinegar” as well?

    • Hi Carol !

      As a matter of facts, I do have comics about those “miracle” products, juice cleanses and oil pulling, which I hope to translate soon.

      The thing that baffles me about those is how exaggerated the claims are. As an example, apple cider vinegar allegedly cures pretty much everything from hiccups, dandruff and acne, causes weight loss and prevents cancer. When something “looks too good to be true”, it probably is. And to make things worse, the regulations on natural health products are so soft that their makers can say pretty much anything they want on the labels.

      Thanks for your comment !


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  7. This all *sounds* well and good, but, if you don’t include citations from credible sources, how is your opinion any more valid than someone’s who has claims to the contrary?

    • Hi Keith!
      You’re right, my references weren’t showing up: they’re included in the first comment above.

  8. very interesting! TY i enjoyed it very much

  9. I love you, man! (Said like in Wayne’s World) Thanks for the good giggle. I just got some weird looks in the library…

    • thepharmafist

      You’re welcome Melanie! I personally get weird looks all the time, so I feel you. Probably a toxin overload in my face…

  10. I think you are being paid by a big company to write this article, all you said is as stupid as it sounds. Go back to school

    • thepharmafist

      Well, I’m willing to accept your theory.

      But let’s be honest here: what kind of big company would invest in a comic about prehistoric pollution, clogged intestines and talking kidneys? The anti-detox lobby? Oil companies? Even Monsanto wouldn’t care.

      Unless you consider that all healthcare professionals are corrupt. In that case: yes, I am paid to keep people healthy.

      Thanks for your comment anyway.


  11. This article is great, thanks. I think people like to think they can cure their perceived ills with a simple shake or pill. The most wild claims for those products are made by people who are desperate to make back the money they are losing in their pyramid scheme/MLM company. Check out Juice Plus, Ariix, Forever Living etc.

  12. Neboysha Shayne Nestorovic

    Everything has it’s limits, even your liver, believe it or not. Ever heard of enlarged livers? Why do you think they get that way? Because they are overworked which eventually leads to liver failure. The standard American diet is loaded with toxins.
    How about constipation, diverticulitis or bowel pockets? Why aren’t people pooping if everything is fine and dandy? Medical books say that 100% of people will develop bowel disease as they grow old. This doesn’t need to happen if you practice regular detoxification.
    Certain substances (albeit there’s a lot of low quality products out there) support organ function and promote the elimination of over accumulated toxins resulting from our unnatural lifestyles.
    I suggest you study the works of Dr. Richard Schulze, Dr. Robert Morse, Dr. Jensen, Dr. Herbert Shelton, Dr. Tilden. Dr. Christopher, etc.
    You’re misinforming people. Cute comic though.

    • Hi there!

      Thanks for your comment.

      As a matter of fact, an enlarged/fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) is a real condition, however it is a consequence of being overweight and ingesting too much calories. It’s actually the exact same mechanism by which “foie gras” is made : making ducks eat too much and becoming overweight creates hepatic steatosis.

      This has nothing to do with toxins, at all. The cure for hepatic steatosis is losing weight and/or changing eating habits.

      As for constipation, it’s a very common and almost always benign problem. Of course it doesn’t happeen as often if you “practice regular detoxofication”, because detox cleanses are made of laxatives et diuretics. But going more often to the restroom doesn’t eliminate anything that would not have been eliminated otherwise.


    • Agreed. Those are great practitioners that achieved massive healing results through detoxification. Also, Bircher-Benner, Gerson, Hippocrates Institute, Arnold Ehret, Benedict Just, Louis Estes, Johnny Lovewisdom, Aterhov, Hilton Hotema, Johanna Brandt. It’s been done again and again for those in the know; the misinformation is rampant but for those on the healing path, keep detoxing, keep learning, and you will get there.

      • Hi Steven!
        Unfortunately, many so-called expert practitioners, even scientists, can have unscientific beliefs and promote bogus cures such as cleanses/detoxing.
        This is what we call “appeal to authority”: because well-known individuals promote something does not meean it’s effective or safe.
        Thanks for your comment,

  13. Neboysha Nestorovic

    As a matter of fact, you’re dangerously incorrect. Studying some of the experts listed above is sure to broaden your understanding so you can stop misinforming people.

    • Love the “dangerously incorrect”. Especially because all I’m saying here is that detox cleanses are a scam meant to extort money from people.
      I wonder who’s misinforming people.

  14. An exception to your “whether your organs need help or not” could be those who require dialysis perhaps?

    • Of course 🙂
      Like someone with hepatic cirrhosis would require immediate attention.
      But detox cleanses are aimed at people with a good health otherwise, but who suffer from vague symptoms, which are then attributed to failing organs. That’s the revolting part.
      Thanks for your question!

  15. I would really like the evidence that proves this comment from the 16th “Medical books say that 100% of people will develop bowel disease as they grow old.” as a simple Google search did not pull up ANY results that agreed with that comment. Especially with the follow up “This doesn’t need to happen if you practice regular detoxification.” it makes me wonder what exactly that commenter does for a living? The only people I’ve heard or read make that argument are people who are somehow financially invested in convincing people to buy “detox” kits and the like.

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  17. PharmaFist, you are FREAKING CRAZY! Are you sure you’re not related to a pharmaceutical magnate? Nice try, I don’t think you realize very few twisted minds will buy your theory. People are very well informed nowadays and won’t buy your distortions. And the reason they won’t buy them is because they have experienced first-hand the benefits of detoxification, as I have myself. It’s true that some formulas are better than others but that’s another topic. Good Luck!

    • Hi Nina!

      Thanks for your comment. You are right: some people feel better after cleanses and detoxing. I totally get that and to some extent, I understand why they are still popular. After all, the idea that our bodies accumulate toxins or other bad stuff is scary, and the proposed solution (detoxing) is simple. So if it was just people drinking herbal tea and feeling better, I’d be supporting that, because as a clinican, I always appreciate first-hand experience.

      Unfortunately, the reality is far more grim. Detoxing is a business. It’s a marketing tool used to sell services and products, and basically to take money from good people. They rely on fraudulent advertising and on abusing the scientific language. This is why I am warning people against those products.

      I have worked in a hundred different pharmacies in the last 3 years, and they sold detox products in pretty much all of them. If I was related to any type of business magnate, I could benefit from promoting these products. But I would never do that. And I would never promote any pharmaceuticals either. My job is to help people make better choices regarding their health and to help them avoid being manipulated by businesses or unreliable individuals who sell unproven remedies.

      Take care Nina,


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  19. Eat a diet with lots of fiber and the body will have no problem to cleanse itself.
    What i am always on the fence with, it seems like you allude to all those tinctures are really not worth much. There are a couple guys around a long time, with quite a following (Schulze–Morris)
    There has to be “some” validity in the products the sell, some swear by them,
    It’s not possible to scam so many so long–is it ??

    • Hi Mike!

      Well, you’ve said it yourself:
      “Eat a diet with lots of fiber and the body will have no problem to cleanse itself.”

      The only “validity” of detox cleanses is that they contain laxatives and diuretics, so they make you go more often to the restroom. But this has no link with cleansing whatsoever.

      Thanks for your comment!


  20. Hey Oliver,
    What about the worth of the tinctures they promote. The 2 i mentioned been around a long time, many loyal followers. They promote products that cleanse lymph, blood, fight colds, shrink tumors, etc. Their customers throw roses at them, could the products be all black magic ??
    Very curious of your thoughts on this, plus any studies to de-bunk the claims.

    • Hi Michael!

      I don’t know about these specific tinctures, but:

      – Lymph, blood or any other biological fluids do not need any type of “cleansing”;
      – Fights cold: one needs to provide scientific evidence to make such a claim;
      – Shrinks tumors: one needs MASSIVE scientific evidence to make such a claim.

      If there were studies on these, they would not debunk the claims. Actually, the claims have to be supported by the ones who say them, i.e. if they want to claim that their tinctures shrink tumors, they are the ones who need to provide proof for this. Not anecdotes, but peer-reviewed evidence. Otherwise, all claims are true until proven wrong (a.k.a. reversal of the burden of proof).

      Unfortunately, bogus cures are everywhere. And of course, being around for a long time or having many followers is not evidence of efficacy and safety.

      Thanks for your questions!


  21. Thanks Oliver,
    I question the above cause i just had a bout with my swollen prostate, leaning on my bladder, creating some blood in my urine, going on for 9 months, but this time the blood was thicker.
    Due to this, i had trouble passing urine so went to emergency for some help (ugh:o)
    So i am looking to try and reduce size of my prostate.
    All tests came back fine, i am in good shape, my blood work is always good. Vegetarian, lean, with a very solid diet–so–i’m thinking, what the heck can i do (naturally) to improve my condition.
    This is why i question these products, i wanna go in attack mode, figuring what can i lose.
    Do you have any info on a raw diet ? Fruitarian based ? Or any on BPH. Raw is another Dr Morse
    advocates, and so many testimonials, 40 yrs. –geez i’m thinking gotta be something to it.
    Dr. Sculze is more vegetarian based.
    Lastly, i know i could not sustain a fruitarian diet, but could do a few meals –IF–I knew, er–thought, it “may” help. Sorry to ramble.
    Thank you
    oops–i’m 70.

  22. Thanks Oliver,
    That’s close to my lifestyle, without the oils and fish. Guess it helps my cardiovascular but not
    my BPH ;o(

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