Why You Need A Three Phase Detoxification Plan (Seriously)

We have several organs of elimination and detoxification, and they need a three phase detoxification plan. Nature has designed them to do a pretty good job, but given that we live in a polluted world, where we touch, breathe, drink and eat a wide range of impurities, it’s a really good idea to regularly help those overworked colons, kidneys, gallbladders and livers. Here’s what to do…

Detox the organs of elimination

YES, IT’S true that plenty of medically trained people think that a detox cleanse is hogwash, whether or not it’s some cutesy three phase detoxification plan. The body does that just fine unaided, they say. Somehow, there’s another group with the same medical training that hold the opposing view.

Every July 4th here in Sausalito, there’s a rope-pull contest in Dunphy Park.   The Cal band finishes pumping us all up with marching music, the huge American flag is hoisted and immediately catches the wind coming off Richardson Bay, about 10 feet away, and the police and children line up opposite each other along a long, heavily knotted rope for the main event.

Those cops are good-natured. They’re always outnumbered and they always lose, but none has ever shot any of those screaming, chest-thumping kids.

This next Independence Day, I’d like to put the “detox is hogwash” medical types on one side of that rope, and their “detox is sensible” counterparts on the other side, and let them have at it.

Once the hogwash group shit themselves over the exertion, they’ll wish that they had done a detox cleanse.

What you’ll learn in this article:

  • Why the organs of elimination need cleansing and in a specific order
  • How to do a three phase detoxification
  • Why do a three phase detoxification
  • What herbal ingredients do the job

Over the years, I keep bumping into the alkaline/acidity debate. The doctors maintain that the body adjusts its ph very precisely, and you therefore need not be concerned about the relative alkalinity/acidity of the food you eat.

Of course, there’s an opposing point of view that goes so far as to say that an acidic body is the perfect environment for cancer, so be sure to eat mostly alkaline food.

I’m about to make a point.

Dr. Oz has been pilloried of late given his predilection for sensational claims made about this or that magical supplement on his TV show, but he does have his moments of lucidity, this one about the acidity debate.

Oz was asked the question by an audience member whether it mattered if we endeavored to consume mostly alkaline food. His answer can be applied to the topic at hand, detoxification.

In his answer, Dr. Oz basically said that although the body is intelligent enough to keep itself in the right pH range (7.0 is neutral), it takes energy to do so, and the more you could assist your body by not overtaxing it with acidic food, the more vital energy the body would have for other things.

So, too, with detoxification.

The body has several organs of elimination, such as the skin, colon, kidneys and liver, and they work in marvelous concert to get rid of a whole host of toxins, mucous, cellular debris, and – literally – other shit.

But consider two, reasonable assertions about this:

  1. It takes work (energy) for the organs of elimination to maintain this detox cleansing; and
  1. They can be overloaded, just like a your in-sink garbage disposal if you shove too much down it and overwhelm that poor little motor.

Personally, I’ve been riding the detox cleanse bandwagon for nearly 25 years, and although I have no scientific proof of its efficacy, I do notice a few things:

  • I fill up the toilet a few times a day
  • I get leaner and more energetic after a bout or two of headaches and listlessness
  • My sclera (while part of he eyes) get clearer and brighter
  • My skin gets all silky-like
  • My diet gets reset into a stricter, healthier mode
  • I become insufferably self-righteous, but
  • I recruit at least one other person along for the ride so (s)he can agree

On this site, there are several blog posts about detox cleansing, such as:

Your Fall Detox Cleanse in 5 Simple Steps

Choose Your Detox Cleanse: One Of These Three Will Work For You!

“Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”: One Year Later, Countless Lives Changed

{Check out the Category, “Detoxification and Cleansing” in the sidebar for more.}

However, there is one important consideration I have yet to write about – the cleansing sequence that can achieve the best results.

What I mean is that there’s an ideal step-by-step process, each focused on a particular organ. Certain procedures and supplements can be tuned to primarily address one over the other, and the sequence is important.

There are many resources that could guide my presentation of this three phase detoxification plan, but I’m going to choose Jon Barron’s, the mastermind behind the website, Baseline of Health.

The reason for this is that the guy knows his stuff and has a program you can follow if this article sufficiently inspires you to do so.

When you follow a particular protocol, it will likely suggest the type of food, drink and supplements to consume, when to ingest them, and over what period of time, and Jon does a fine job with this in the detox section of his website.

The three phases of detoxification are:

Phase 1 – Heavy metal cleanse, colon detox and intestinal cleansing

Phase 2 – Kidney detox and gallbladder prep and pancreas flush

Phase 3 – Liver detox, gallbladder flush, and blood cleansing

Let’s dive into each…


Phase 1: Colon Detox and Heavy Metal Cleanse

Many people are concerned about cleansing the liver because it is taxed with the critical function of purifying the blood of toxins and processes nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion, among other vital tasks.

Yes, for many of us, the liver could use a break from time to time, but it’s a good idea to first cleanse the intestinal track. This is because if your intestinal tract is clogged during the liver detox, many of the toxins being dumped by your liver will back up into your bloodstream, and you will curse the idea that detox cleansing is a good for you.

The aim for Phase 1 is to purge heavy metals and to cleanse the colon.

Colon Detoxification

Cleaning the colon is easy and can be accomplished relatively quickly, unless parasites reside there (which they do for the large majority of us and so I’ll address this in a future post).

colon detox

Begin your cleanse with detoxification of the colon.

Purging heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum and arsenic is not easy and can take some time.

The reason you want to take supplements designed to both cleanse the colon and detox heavy metals at the same time is that colon cleansing supplement formulas will help move the heavy metals out of your system once “purged” by the heavy metal supplement formulas.

Colon cleansing formulations typically include various herbs and psyillum husk powder and/or bentonite clay or charcoal for their absorption properties.

Jon Barron’s approach is to both correct and detoxify colon function. He believes you must (source):

  • Help bring the colon back to life by stimulating the muscle movement of the colon.
  • Encourage matter to move forward through the system.
  • Halt putrefaction.
  • Draw old fecal matter off the walls of the colon and out of any bowel pockets.
  • Disinfect.
  • Draw out poisons and toxins (including chemicals and drug residues).
  • Help leach out heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
  • Even remove radioactive material such as Strontium 90.
  • Soothe and promote the healing of the mucous membrane lining of the entire digestive tract.
  • Help stimulate the body to begin the healing and repair of herniated areas.
  • Increase the flow of bile to help clean the gall bladder, bile ducts, and liver.
  • Promote healthy intestinal flora.
  • Destroy and expel parasites.
  • Destroy Candida albicans overgrowth.
  • Maintain regularity.
  • Decrease straining.
  • Speed up the transit time of feces through the large intestine.

For the “colon corrective”, the supplement formula should provide both cleansing and healing to the entire gastro-intestinal system in order to stimulate peristalsis (the muscular movement of the colon), halts putrefaction and disinfect, soothe, and heal the mucous membrane lining of the entire digestive tract.

The formulation should be mostly organic herbs, such as:

  • Cape Aloe Senna
  • Cascara Sagrada
  • Barberry Rootbark
  • Ginger Root
  • African Bird Pepper
  • Fennel
  • Termianlia Cherbula (Tibetan intestinal health herb)

For the “colon detoxifier”, the supplement formula should be a strong purifier and absorber. The aim is to draw old fecal matter off the walls of the colon and out of any bowel pockets. It also needs to draw out poisons, toxins, heavy metals and even remove radioactive material such as strontium 90.

Look for an organic herbs formula that includes:

  • Apple Pectin
  • Montmorillonite Clay
  • Slippery Elm Inner Bark
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Fennel Seed
  • Activated Willow Charcoal
  • Psyllium seeds and husks
  • Pau d’arco (helps control candida)
Heavy Metal Cleanse

In industrial societies, cleansing your body of heavy metals is an ongoing battle simply because you cannot avoid absorbing them.

As I wrote in, Time For Your Toxic Heavy Metals Detox, Step by Step:

A baby born today begins life in the industrialized world with a body filled with more than 200 chemicals and heavy metals. Over the years, more of this alien, harmful stuff accumulates. As adults, it’s estimated that we have over 700 various contaminants in our bodies.

heavy metal contamination

click pic to read

The air we breathe, some plastics we use, food we eat (mercury from fish) and even our teeth (silver-mercury amalgam fillings) ensure that we get constant exposure to heavy metals.

If you do nothing else, add both chlorella and cilantro to your smoothies, and cilantro to your salads.

Cilantro neutralizes the electric charge on deposits of heavy metals inside of cells, which relaxes their tight bond to body tissue, thereby freeing them up to be flushed from the body. Studies have shown that levels of mercury, lead, and aluminum in the urine increase significantly after consuming large amounts of cilantro. (source)

Once the heavy metals are unbound, or “free”, they can be removed from the body, the role of chlorella.

Chlorella possesses the capacity to absorb heavy metals. In studies undertaken in Germany, high doses of chlorella have been found to be very effective in eliminating heavy metals from the body – from the brain, intestinal wall, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, and bone. (source)

The challenge in using the one-two punch of cilantro and chlorella is that sometimes the cilantro can “unbind” and “free up” heavy metals, particularly mercury, faster than the chlorella can extract it from the body. The result is what I refer to as the “detox effect”, which simply a term used to describe any unfavorable reaction to a detox cleanse, such as headaches, fatigue and/or that “spacey” or “woozy” feeling. (For more on this, read the Healing Crisis.)

Ideally, then, supplement formulas for heavy metal detoxification should include some ingredients known to chelate (“bind”) to heavy metals and assist in their extraction from the body. Three that do that are humic acid, fulvic acid and EDTA.

Beyond their chelating capabilities, there are substantial health benefits derived with the use of humic and fulvic acid, such as (source):

  • Control of inflammation
  • Stimulating metabolism
  • Working as powerful free radical scavengers
  • Regulating the thyroid and thymus glands
  • Oxygenating the blood
  • Maintaining optimum alkalinity

Supplements to use for the heavy metal detoxification can include tinctures made up of chlorella, cilantro, humic and/or fulvic acid.

Then, there’s EDTA and something quite more common, niacin.

EDTA deserves to be a separate article. It’s powerful and needs to be used with caution. If you’re interested, read this pdf document entitled, Protocol for IV and Oral EDTA Chelation, by Dr. Barry F. Gordon.

Along with a rebounder, sauna and some absorbers (activated charcoal or bentonite), niacin is the primary ingredient in Dr. George Yu’s Niacin Detox Protocol for extraction of heavy metals and toxins from the body.  I’ve already written about this, so if interested, go read, The Ultimate Heavy Metal Detox.

For more information about Jon Barron’s protocol for Phase 1: Colon Detox and Heavy Metal Cleanse, and the supplements he offers, go here.


Phase 2: Kidney and Gallbladder Flush

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the lower back, just below the rib cage. Their function is to:

  • Keep the composition of your blood balanced
  • Regulate the amount of fluid in the body
  • Control balance of electrolytes in your blood
  • Help to control blood pressure
  • Produce hormones that are crucial for blood and bone formation
human kidneys

The second phase of the cleanse is the kidneys.

As we all know, after blood is filtered by the kidneys the byproduct is urine. (To see what the color of your urine reveals, go here and scroll down to the infographic.)

What you may not know is that many people’s kidneys are not healthy.

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse estimates that each year, nearly 100,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with kidney failure. More than 100,000 currently have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) due to diabetes, and an astounding 7.7 million have physiological evidence of chronic kidney disease. (Source)

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an estimated 650,000 Americans will have kidney failure by 2010 and will require renal replacement therapy, either ongoing renal dialysis or a kidney transplant. (Source) Without one of these therapies, ESRD is fatal.

As significant as those numbers cite above are, you are probably not among them. However, since everyone accumulates “sludge” in their kidneys and livers, everyone is a candidate for regular kidney/gallbladder cleanses.

Even people who have had their gallbladders removed will benefit. Regular softening and flushing of stones and gravel will keep the kidneys, liver, and gallbladder functioning at optimum levels. The older you get, the more your organs of elimination get taxed and the more mandatory regular cleansing becomes.

A proper kidney cleanse includes a gallbladder flush, one that softens gallstones and instigates their passage. The herbs that should be included in your supplement formula should have these characteristics:

  • Anti-lithic (stone breaking)
  • Diuretic (water removing)
  • Antiseptic (infection killing)
  • Anti-nephrotoxic and anti-hepatotoxic
  • Soothing to urinary tract tissue
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Stimulating to renal tissue

Some that do include:

  • Chanca piedra
  • Hydrangea root
  • Gravel root
  • Marshmallow root
  • Juniper berry
  • Corn silk
  • Uva ursi
  • Parsley root
  • Agrimony
  • Dandelion leaf
  • Horsetail
  • Orange peel
  • Peppermint
  • Goldenrod

Read about Jon Barron’s protocol for Phase 2: Kidney and Gallbladder Flush, and the supplements he offers here.


Phase 3: Liver Detox and Blood Cleansing

This is the final part of the three phase detox cleanse; everything else has been done to prepare for this part.

Liver, gallbladder and intestines

The third phase of a cleanse addresses the liver.

The liver is our body’s primary filter. Good health is impossible without it functioning properly.

The liver is our second largest organ (the skin is the largest) and has a part to play in at least 200 separate functions. Its vital role is in regulating, synthesizing, storing, secreting, transforming, and breaking down many different substances in the body, specifically (source):

  • Regulation of fat stores
  • Cleansing the blood and discharging waste products
  • Neutralizing and destroying poisons
  • Protein metabolism, including manufacturing of new body proteins
  • Metabolizing alcohol
  • Managing chemicals and drugs in the blood
  • Aiding the digestive process by the production of bile
  • Helping the body resist infections by producing immune factors and by removing
    bacteria from the blood stream
  • Storing vitamins, minerals, and sugars
  • Production of quick energy when needed
  • Controlling the production and excretion of cholesterol
  • Maintaining hormone balance
  • Regenerating its own damaged tissue

Very few of us have an optimum performing liver, simply because so many of life’s activities, and the environment we live in, is taxing to it.

Consider these challenges to kidney health:

Too much protein in the diet. Protein metabolism is especially taxing on the liver since it is the liver that must metabolize complex proteins into simple compounds. The greater the consumption of protein, the greater the stress on the liver.

Too many simple carbohydrates in the diet. The body converts excess simple carbohydrates into triglycerides, which are then stored in the liver as fat. The more fat stored in the liver, the harder it is for the liver to perform its full range of normal functions.

Overeating. Too much enzyme deficient food stresses the liver.

Drug residues. Virtually all of the drugs that we take (medicinal, recreational, chemotherapy, whatever) are processed, purified, and refined in the liver—in preparation for elimination from the body.

Alcohol causes inflammation of the liver’s tissue. Once the liver is inflamed, it can no longer filter, which causes it to plug up with fat and become even more inflamed. If we consume enough alcohol, we overwhelm the liver’s ability to regenerate, and the net result is cirrhosis (or hardening) of the liver.

Toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides. Everything we breathe, eat, and absorb through our skin is purified and refined in the liver.

Lack of exercise forces the liver to do the elimination work that should be done by the lungs and the skin.

Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease.

Symptoms of Liver Disease Include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Constipation
  • Low energy output
  • Allergies and hay fever
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Infertility
The Gallbladder

And now let’s check in on the often misunderstood gallbladder.

At a rate of about 500,000 per year, gallbladder operations are the most frequently done surgical operations in the United States.


Because of too-painful-to-pass gallstones?

If that’s the reason, we should stand witness to this injustice, for in large measure it’s the liver, not the gallbladder, which is responsible for the production of gallstones. The liver produces the bile that hardens into “stones” that are held in the gallbladder.

But before you blame the liver, know that it doesn’t control what it must process – we do. The bile is created to help digest fats and oils, and if our diets are too high in the wrong types oils or too low in fiber; if we have allergies to diary and eggs, or low stomach acid; if we experience chronic stress – then an excess of bile will be produced by the liver and wind up hardened into gallstones held by the gallbladder.

Removing the gallbladder does not remove the problem; it merely removes the symptoms.

Once the gallbladder is removed, further gallstone suffering is unlikely, but now there are two new problems:

  1. Given that the underlying stressors on the liver haven’t been addressed, they will get worse — eventually impairing the liver; and
  2. With no gallbladder there’s no regulating effect on bile — it will continually dump into the intestinal tract when not needed, and be available in only minimal amounts when needed. The net result is chronic digestive problems and probable long-term nutritional deficiencies.

Regular liver/gallbladder cleanses are a much better way to go. These will induce the liver to purge all of the fats, old cholesterol deposits, gallstones, poisons, drug residues, and toxic waste that can overwhelm it. Perhaps nothing else you do will make a greater difference in your overall health.

Ingredients in the herbal supplements used for a liver/gallstone cleanse should include most of the following, either as tinctures, teas or capsules (source):

Liver Tea

  • Dandelion root
    liver tea

    Liver-loving herbal tea.

  • Burdock root
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Cardamon seed
  • Licorice root
  • Fennel seed
  • Uva Ursi
  • Juniper berries
  • Ginger root
  • Clove buds
  • Black peppercorns
  • Horsetail herb
  • Orange peel
  • Parsley root
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Sassafras root bark

Liver Tincture

Liver Tincture

Liver-loving herbs infused in solution.

  • Milk thistle seed
  • Black walnut hulls
  • Dandelion root
  • Picrorhiza kurroa
  • Oregon grape root
  • Ginger root
  • Artichoke leaf
  • Gentian root
  • Wormwood leaf
  • Garlic
  • Fennel seed

Blood Cleansing Tincture

  • Red clover
    Blood Support Tincture

    Blood-cleansing herbs infused in solution.

  • Chaparral
  • Burdock root
  • Poke root
  • Yellow dock root
  • Goldenseal root
  • Oregon grape root
  • Bloodroot
  • Mistletoe
  • Periwinkle flowers
  • Lobelia seeds
  • Sheep sorrel
  • Cayenne

Read about Jon Barron’s protocol for Phase 3: Liver Detox and Blood Cleansing, and the supplements he offers here, and a comprehensive Q&A here.


Your Takeaway

If you’ve made it this far, you must be seriously interested in becoming squeaky clean inside.  Well, as they say,

As within, so without.

If you’re new to this, my suggestion is that you make it as simple as you need it to be to be able to achieve it comfortably.  This means to choose a detoxification program that you can and will do.  Recruiting a buddy to join you increases the probability of success many-fold.

Thus, at first you might just do Jon Barron’s colon cleanse and wait awhile to continue along the three phase detoxification plan.  Alternatively, you can do any of the more simple, though perhaps not as effective cleanses, that I’ve linked to above, and will copy/paste here for your convenience:

Your Fall Detox Cleanse in 5 Simple Steps

Choose Your Detox Cleanse: One Of These Three Will Work For You!

“Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”: One Year Later, Countless Lives Changed



Last Updated on April 11, 2023 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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