“A daily detox drink? Seriously, Beth?!”
Just hear me out, ‘kay? I’m weirdly passionate about this post and if we were together in real life you’d be subjected to a whole lot of wild arm gesturing and dramatic facial expressions accompanying a TED-talk-level speech, filled with answers to questions you probably didn’t ask but OBVIOUSLY should know. 😉
I know that the word “detox” is a bit controversial these days. It has been widely hijacked by fad dieters and sketchy quick-fix gurus. Critics have reacted strongly in the other direction by claiming things like “detoxing is a myth” and “you don’t need to detox or cleanse anything – that’s what your liver is for!”
And to that, I say – EXACTLY! Our detox organs are the star players here, not your weird sludge drink made from 45 lemons, chicken guts, and and broken promises.
Yup – your beautiful, wonderful liver, gall bladder, and kidneys are the superstars when it comes to detoxification – that’s literally their job… and they are the professionals.
It might sound like a distinction without a difference, but focusing on supporting your detox organs is a way different intention than “doing a detox”. It’s a mindset shift, as well as an expectation shift, and it makes a huge difference in your expectations. (That flashy, quick-fix mentality is so ingrained in our culture!)
On the other hand, to respond to the critics: just because we have a liver and its job is to detox doesn’t mean that it’s functioning optimally.
Why Did I Start Drinking This Daily Detox Drink?
Okay, here’s my back story for what led me to making and drinking this particular daily drink to support my body – and especially my liver and kidneys.
Heads up, it’s not short. (I warned you about the passionate TED Talk monologue, ha!)
Among other frustrating “minor” health concerns, I’ve been dealing with eczema for 5+ years now. When it first showed up, I was already quite well-versed in natural and alternative health. I saw a dermatologist (mostly just for due diligence) who wrote me a prescription for steroid cream, and that was it. Even going in, I knew that there was more to the story, and that I wasn’t going to get help from the conventional medical system. I knew that the root cause of eczema is usually internal, not external.
(Side note – the often-recommended natural topical solutions for eczema (natural creams, oils, etc) are not usually addressing the root cause either, unless the cause is actually more of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to a chemical in something like household or personal care products. In desperation, I tried dozens of different topical things anyway, but none helped.)
Healing Diets for Detoxing?
For a few years, I put all of my efforts into trying to heal my body through a so-called “perfect” diet. I’ve done AIP, Whole 30/Paleo, and GAPS. I was egg-free for 9 months (which maaaaaybe helped a tiny bit), and I’m already gluten-free due to Celiac.
Did they help? Short answer: not really.
None of those types of diets are inherently bad (nutritionally). They are full of nutrient-dense, healing, wonderful foods – while restricting certain others believed to be more difficult to digest, causing inflammation, and thus ill health.
However, after years of personal experience with various dietary restrictions, I can safely say I strongly believe that some people really don’t necessarily need to cut that many foods out of their diet to see their health improve, despite the advocates of these diets presenting them as a non-negotiable for true healing. Can they be helpful for some people? Absolutely, yes. Would I still consider using them for certain situations? Depending on the issue – probably. But – they aren’t the entire story.
Let’s remember the goal here: holistic health. (Holistic is defined as “relating to the complete whole or system, rather than parts.”)
Let’s be honest here – if focusing on pharmaceuticals and “bandaid” solutions is antithetical to holistic health, then so is focusing solely on diet.
Also – restrictive eating can be super stressful, and while yes, absolutely certain foods can be triggers for eczema, guess what else is a trigger too: stress! (I know, it can start to feel a bit hopeless at times… a kind of damned if I do, damned if I don’t kinda thing. I get it!)
(Note: restrictive healing diets also carry the risk of orthorexia, which is a big topic, and something I’d like to address in a future post.)
Expanding My Horizons with Herbalism
Fast forward a few years and I’m still itchy with eczema, fatigued, anxious, and dealing with a variety of other annoying health complaints – like low progesterone, random aches and pains, wonky iron/hemoglobin, inattentive ADHD (diagnosed in 2020), and fungal overgrowth. For years I had mostly focused my alt health efforts on diet & food as well as making low-tox lifestyle choices (personal care products, home supplies, etc) but had been gaining more and more interest in other strategies, too.
One day in early 2020 I saw that the Herbal Academy was having a sale on their courses. I am a lifelong learner (aka intensely curious and obsessed with collecting information) so with a vague curiosity I took the plunge and bought both the introductory and the intermediate herbal courses. I’m not finished with them yet (hello, ADHD), but what I’ve learned so far is rocking my world in the best way.
I used to secretly be entirely unimpressed by herbalism. I would think things like, “a cup of chamomile tea may feel soothing, but it isn’t going to solve anyone’s anxiety and panic attacks in real life, and I’m dealing with real-world problems here, not a Hallmark movie story arc…”
Whoa, baby, how wrong I was!!
What is Herbalism?
Herbalism, at its core, is about expertly using the full strength and synergy of plants to support the body and bring it back to a state of homeostasis so that it can function optimally. It’s not just “conventional medicine, but with herbs instead of pills”, it’s something else entirely – a whole new paradigm.
Herbalism doesn’t just ask “what?”, it asks “why?” and then addresses the latter instead of the former. Instead of saying “eczema is caused by inflammation, so do things that are anti-inflammatory”.. it says “what is causing the inflammation? How can we address that and bring the body back to homeostasis so that it corrects itself?”
Important caveat that must be said: not every ill is able to be “fixed” (either with herbs or conventional meds), and this line of thinking is meant to be open-minded and highly individualized. It does not necessitate the outright rejection of conventional medicine, either. Most advocates of holistic health agree that conventional medicine can be respected for what it offers, while also acknowledging that it doesn’t have all the answers… and is even wrong sometimes. (*cough cough, eczema, ahem*).
Supporting the body’s various systems (such as digestive, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, respiratory, and more) is something that happens holistically, i.e. from a wide variety of efforts, like optimizing diet, mental care and stress management tactics, personalized use of medicinal herbs, proper rest and regular body movement, and more.
This process is not found in a supplement bottle quickly ordered online – it’s an intentional and usually-slow process that requires effort, digging, advocating, and patience.
Supporting the Body’s Detox Organs
The digestion & detox systems are my personal favorites when studying anatomy. It’s absolutely fascinating to me how our bodies take in (air, food, liquid, and other things in our environments such as pollution, toxins, etc), process, and then release.
The complexity of it all is mind blowing, which is why I find it so baffling when someone (usually anti-alternative health folks) waves off any mention of the word ‘detox’ simply because “that’s the liver’s job” – as if literally nothing could go wrong with the process. (Yikes – how naive!)
An Analogy: A Polluted Swimming Pool
When we lived in the suburbs, we used to live next door to a lady who had an in-ground swimming pool in the (thankfully fenced) backyard. We could see it from our upstairs window, and it was – no exaggeration – a cesspool of dark green/black growth and nastiness. It was clearly untended with all kinds of nasty pathogen growth and pollution, a partially submerged old tarp with algae all over the place, and a ton of assorted tree/leaf debris in and around the pool.
What would happen if you simply added some super pure, perfect water? Would that fix it? Nope. How about if you poured in whatever jug of cleaning chemicals were hanging in the garage? Probably not gonna cut it. What if you drained it, cleaned it, refilled it… but totally ignored the pool filter? The problem will just repeat itself, most likely.
Or… what if you did the research, figured out the actual problem (is the filter broken? clogged? is there an overgrowth of a particular pathogen that would respond to a particular solution?) and then targeted your response to that? Your approach would probably involve two things: initial efforts in cleaning up what’s there + focusing on the pool filter to ensure it can effectively do its job both now and moving forward.
When the body can’t effectively eliminate the toxins it takes in, we have a problem. Thus, my mission to focus supporting my liver, kidneys, and other detox organs to do their jobs more effectively – while continuing to eat a whole foods, healthy diet 95% of the time, avoiding other sources of toxins as I’m able, and working on the other pillars of health like sleep, movement, and plenty of outside time.
What are the Ingredients in the Daily Detox Drink?
Okay, so at this point I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve gotten off track. I may be the queen of rabbit trails and distractions (ahem – aforementioned ADHD…) but nope, I swear all of this ties together!
Now that I’ve covered a bit of backstory, I can tell you this: this daily detox drink was the first thing I started doing on a regular basis when I began my deep dive on learning how to support my liver, kidneys, gall bladder, and beyond – which I am doing in an effort to get heal my eczema (and an assortment of other annoying health issues).
Here are the starring ingredients in this daily detox drink:
1. Carbonated water
We’ve had a SodaStream for years and we LOVE it. We carbonate 4-5 quarts of water a day with it, and use it in various ways: this detox drink, homemade root beer, and just drinking it straight up as sparkling water.
The carbonation is key for me because I don’t taste the mineral drops at all when it’s bubbly. When I make this same drink, only with still water, I taste the salty aftertaste of the drops. I don’t know why it works, but it does. Nonetheless – the carbonation isn’t necessary for any health reasons so if you use regular water that’s fine.
2. Tart cherry & cranberry juice
Both of these pure juices are low in sugar and pack a punch in the vitamin department. They’re both great for the detox system including the kidneys, liver, and beyond.
I had them both on hand to try to incorporate them into my days for monthly hormone cycle support (from what I learned in one of the programs from Zesty Ginger), so I just decided to use them. I alternate them, but you could also do a splash of each – it’s totally up to you!
Added bonus of tart cherry: it helps your body to produce more natural melatonin, which helps you get better sleep. I talked about using tart cherry for sleep in this blog post: Anxiety at Night: 12 Holistic Ways to Reduce it and Sleep Peacefully.
3. Lime or lemon
I prefer lime, but my husband prefers his daily detox drink with lemon. We buy them pre-sliced and frozen (lemon and lime mix) and it’s one of the BEST convenience buys I make regularly. I love that this step is super quick and easy because that helps ensure I actually consume this drink each day!
Lemons and limes are high in Vitamin C, and are acidic, which is helpful for digestion. (And what’s helpful for digestion is helpful for your detoxification system, of course. It’s like a pre-game warmup.)
4. Mineral drops
I add mineral drops to my daily detox drink for a couple of reasons:
- Minerals helps the water be absorbed into your body and cells more effectively (i.e. more effective hydration) so you don’t just pee it all out right away. (This is the basic idea of an electrolyte drink, by the way. I have a DIY electrolyte drink on the site that would work similarly if you prefer that, but in my opinion it doesn’t taste quite as good as this one.)
- Hydration is really important for your detox organs to function at their best. (source)
- Mineral levels also directly impact a number of health concerns that orbit around many of the things mentioned here, like anxiety and brain function, energy levels, and more.
This is a great brand of mineral drops, available on amazon.
Mineral drops that you buy (like these) are typically made from ancient sea bed deposits. And… do you know what else is made from ancient sea bed deposits? Sea salt! I’ve used purchased mineral drops so far, but am experimenting with making my own salt solé (water saturated with unrefined sea salt), and using that instead – I think it will be way more cost-effective. If I end up writing a post on that I’ll be sure to come back and update here.
How Does the Detox Drink Taste?
There are a number of different “detox” drinks recipes out there on the internet, but this is the winner for me because I actually really enjoy drinking it. I find it tasty and refreshing! It reminds me of a La Croix or other flavored sparkling water. It’s way more fun to sip on this all morning instead of just plain ol’ water.
You could even add a drop of stevia extract if you wanted to sweeten it a little. However, unless you’re used to only consuming sweet drinks that probably won’t be necessary. Personally – I enjoy it as it’s written below, and I find it yummy and refreshing.
Plus – it’s intentionally gentle enough that it can be a daily thing, as opposed to some of those crazy intense short-term programs out there. (I’ve never tried those – I like food too much!)
What Are My Results?
Maybe you’re thinking, Okay, so it’s just… water… with a couple of things added? Yup! That’s why it’s gentle and suitable for daily consumption. I’m not trying to detox my body with an atomic bomb, here. I was just trying to get into the daily habit of staying hydrated, improving my digestion, and ingesting a food source of Vitamin C – all so that my detox organs can operate more effectively.
And the verdict? I’ve been drinking this daily (honestly – I’ve hardly ever skipped a day!) for about six months now. Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- My eczema stopped flaring to the point where I’ve avoided steroid cream for nearly 4 months now – this happened with the daily detox drink alone – no other changes. I previously hadn’t been able to go longer than 2 weeks without being in absolute agony and succumbing to the prescription cream. This step was MAJOR.
- My eczema patches are actually shrinking! (I started the use of a couple of specific liver-targeting herbs a few months ago as well, which really helped here. I’m using burdock root, dandelion root, yellow dock… as well as astragalus, an adaptogen.)
- Recently I noticed that I’m almost *never* thirsty. I wasn’t expecting that one, but it makes total sense! I drink a quart of this every day, plus my morning coffee, nightly tea, and a few cups of herbal infusions per day. Rhe only new part is this detox drink, and I noticed that I haven’t felt that “super thirsty, parched throat” feeling that I used to get often. This alone tells me that I’m staying hydrated way more effectively than before.
- My digestion and elimination is great and feels more regulated than ever. (I’ve previously really struggled with constipation and irregular digestion.)
Daily Detox Drink – Let’s Recap What It Is (& What It’s Not)
The term “detox” has been hijacked, but we need not throw the baby out with the bathwater. In our modern world there are plenty of toxic additions to our environment, our household products, our body care, and our food supply.
This drink is not a gimmick, or a magic bullet solution to anything. It’s simply part of an overall effort at tending to your eco-system – the beautiful and mysterious human body you’re privileged to have.
After more than a decade immersed in the alternative world world – learning and reading and experimenting – I finally realized just how many of my natural health peers are still caught in the Western medicine framework. I know because I was there for years, too. When you’re first learning about how natural remedies really can be powerful, it’s tempting to just jump on the latest “big thing” that you hear about – whether that’s drinking bentonite clay, the wonders of bone broth, the apple cider vinegar drink that your friend swears was life-changing, or a million other things that we share with each other.
Thankfully, however, I’m widening my perspective and learning the art of patience. I’m fascinated by the subtleties of holistic health and herbalism, and this daily detox drink is a perfect example of that.
I highly encourage you to try adding this delicious drink (or a variation that suits you!) to your daily routine… and I encourage you to ditch the magic bullet mindset and embrace the pursuit of a holistically-found homeostasis. It’s well worth your while!
Cheers to small steps with big impact!
Cranberry Daily Detox Drink
- 4 cups carbonated water
- 2-4 tbsp cranberry or tart cherry juice
- 1-2 slices lemon or lime
- 1/4 tsp mineral drops
- Carbonate your water (or use store-bought)
- Add water to glass of choice (I use a quart jar – perfect for the amount of detox drink I want to consume every day)
- Add juice, mineral drops, and lemon or lime slices