Liver & Gallbladder Detoxification

The holiday season calls for many things: lots of shopping, lots of wrapping, as well as, lots of eating and, for some people, lots of alcohol. For the removal of toxic waste build up in the most important organ of our body, the liver, a liver & gallbladder cleanse may be in order. That’s not to say that this cleanse is to be done only after the Christmas/New Year season when we wine, dine and have fun to our heart’s content but it would be a wonderful way to kick off the new year!

The liver & gallbladder cleanse is used to cleanse and flush toxins from the liver and eliminate gallstones and biliary sludge from within the gallbladder. The liver is the most incredible organ in the body (next to the brain) because it constantly filtering, detoxifying, synthesizing and processing a myriad of physiological substances. With all the work going on in the liver, it too can have a build up of waste which is produced from the many processes. Of course, the degree to which your liver needs to be cleansed always depends on your eating and drinking habits as well as your environment.

Who should do this cleanse?

  • anyone interested in disease prevention
  • people with chronic allergies and chronic diseases (such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, arthritis, migraines, heart disease, gastrointestinal diseases, etc.)
  • people with chronic fatigue, low moods and weight changes (the liver helps maintain your metabolism)
  • people who have taken many pharmaceutical drugs
  • people with sluggish liver function
  • people who live or work in an area of high industrial pollution or work with toxic materials
  • people who have had a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)
  • people who have gallstones

Before starting this cleanse, be sure to prep yourself for it. If you’re currently on any prescription medications, talk to your doctor before starting the cleanse because it’ll be best if you don’t take any when you do the detoxification. It’s recommended that you consume vegetables, fruits, cereals and little cooked foods (with little to no cooking fats) on the day you intend to start the cleanse unless you are already on an individualised cleansing diet.

What you’ll need:

  1. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar will act as a solvent in the bile. The apple cider vinegar used should be whole, unprocessed and organic.
  2. 4 Tablespoons Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) relaxes smooth muscles so that stones can pass without spasms.
  3. ½ Cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is best, Virgin will do as well) stimulates the gallbladder and bile duct to contract, expelling stones and other solid wastes stores in the liver and gallbladder.
  4. 1 Large/2 Small Grapefruit (Pink grapefruit emulsifies with oil better but regular will work as well) helps prevent/minimise nausea by speeding the transit of olive oil through the stomach and into the duodenum.

The Procedure (5 days):


The Best Calcium

“I drink all the milk I can so that I get all the calcium I’ll ever need.”

It’s no lie that the easiest way to get calcium is through our diet. But how much of the calcium we consume is really absorbed and used by our body?

Although many foods are fortified with calcium, some people may still need to take calcium supplements. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, many Americans consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and maintain healthy bones.

There are two types of calcium that the body absorbs: ionic and non-ionic.

Non-ionic calcium is not as well absorbed as ionic calcium. Why is that? The body uses and stores away ionic calcium so it can easily absorb the type that’s already in the form it can use. However, non-ionic calcium has to be converted to ionic calcium in the body so that it can be used but it can only convert so much calcium at once. This is why only a limited amount of non-ionic calcium will be absorbed by the body. That’s probably one of a number of reasons why many people who eat calcium fortified foods may still not be receiving enough calcium, no matter how much you eat or drink at once.

What about calcium supplements?

There are many calcium supplements that vary according to how much calcium it contains and how well it may be absorbed by the body. The two most popular forms are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Neither of these are ionic calcium supplements.

  • Calcium carbonate contains more calcium than calcium citrate but needs high amounts of stomach acid to unbind the calcium from the carbonate for absorption.
  • Calcium citrate contains less calcium than calcium carbonate but is more easily absorbed.

The best calcium supplement that has the highest absorption rate is ionic coral calcium. This is obtained off the coasts of Okinawa, Japan. Keep in mind that not all coral calcium supplements are ionic in nature. There are two types of coral calcium:

  1. Above sea / fossilized coral calcium – this is harvested in its natural state and easily ionizes.
  2. Below sea / marine coral calcium – this is processed (with intense heat) to purify it from heavy metals present in Japan’s oceans. It may or may not easily ionize.

Above sea coral calcium is the better coral calcium and overall better calcium supplement for the body.


If you’re interested in reading about calcium, it’s benefits and its interactions with particular drugs, check out University of Maryland’s page about it.

For a more detailed comparison of calcium supplements, check out The Wolfe Clinic’s page about it.

Better Supplementation?


Have you always wondered why there are so many brands for one type of supplement alone? I did – for a long time. Many supplements from different companies do the same thing for different prices. Or, at least, they’re supposed to.

Always remember: the chemistry of your body is unique to you.

This is why pharmaceutical drugs have different effects and side effects on different people. For some people, the action of the drug is stronger. In others, weaker. The same thing happens with nutraceutical supplements and remedies. For every person, there is a different effect.

Let’s say you purchased a bottle of vitamins that does wonders for you. You think it’s a great product so you recommend it to your friend but he/she doesn’t feel the same boost of energy as you do. Same purchase but different bodies. A different brand of this vitamin may be a better option, whether it be more expensive or cheaper.

If something doesn’t work for you, try a different one. You’ll know a brand is good when you hear that its product line does what it should. If it works for the greater majority, it must be of good quality and it’s more likely to work for you.

Cleansing & Detoxification

What are you up to this holiday season? Family dinners? Travelling?

Usually, I like to be travelling (preferably to somewhere cold since I live in the tropics) during my Christmas vacation. This year, since I’m not, I’ll be staying home to do a nice weekend fast and cleanse. Every now and then, maybe every three to four months, it’s important to give your body a cleanse, even if you live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, a good cleanse can be the start of a healthy lifestyle. An occasional flush of toxins ensures the optimal function of your body. After all, Very few people are so disciplined as to retain a strict vegan diet. People eat meats and fish, filled with nutrients as well as toxins. People may have the occasional unhealthy snack…maybe a little chocolate, maybe a few cookies. How many of us maintain a perfectly healthy diet, especially with the marketing of so much “junk food” in all media?

If you’ll be nibbling on some sweets and meats this holiday season, be sure to follow up with a good cleanse! Rid your colon of waste that will, undoubtedly, build from your day(s) of eating. Try to regain a less acidic biological pH. Rejuvenate your body and give it a nice cleaning! Don’t let the bad stuff settle in.

The Benefits

A good individualised cleansing programme can:

  • Jump start a dietary or lifestyle change (including weight loss).
  • Give your body a break from irritating/allergenic foods.
  • Rejuvinates and detoxifies organs so they can function at their optimal.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Enhance energy performance.
  • Promote normal immune function, mental and emotional clarity.
  • Normalise digestive functions.

There are a number of individualised cleansing programmes put together by naturopathic physicians. Be sure to consult one before you jump into a cleanse to determine what type is best for you.

Can anyone do a cleanse?

Of course! Typically, everyone should do a cleanse. People start individualised cleanses for many reasons, the most common include:

  • weight loss
  • constipation and digestion problems
  • skin problems
  • asthma and allergies
  • fatigue
  • hormone imbalance
  • general wellness and prevention (even if you’re healthy!)

As for me, I’ll be doing a cleanse for general wellness. We’ve got tons of vegetables and fruits nested in our refridgerator, purchased yesterday in preparation for the weekend diet. I’ll be consuming a liquid diet for the next few days consisting of vegetable juice, blended fruit smoothies, coconut water and, of course, water. I tend to feel peckish during these liquid fasts, so I’ll be nibbling on some apples, grapes, cucumbers and maybe steam a little tofu. It’ll be a good weekend! I hope you all enjoy yours!

Paging Dr. Alternative

Paging Dr. Alternative

TRIBUNE PHOTO: Jill Stanard, director of clinical operations at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, measures tinctures for dispensing at the clinic.

I found this lovely article from April online written by Peter Korn of the Portland Tribune. It’s about the state pushing naturopaths to fill the shortage of primary care physicians. It’s a pretty interesting read.

The article takes the opinions of two doctors, Drs. Mark Crislip and Daniel Newman, about this change in primary care. Dr. Crislip is the typical conventional medical doctor with an opinion shared by most physicians in this field of medicine illustrating his lack of knowledge of, firstly, what naturopaths are and, secondly, what they do. The fact that he thinks of naturopathic physicians under-qualified, uneducated magicians shows this to great extents. Dr. Newman on the other hand is an example of a doctor who understands and is open to what naturopaths have to offer. Something that few doctors have.

It would also be inappropriate to assume that all naturopaths hold no medical background. After all, I’m sure there are people like me around…who become conventional doctors before they decide to take a dive into naturopathic medicine. I often wonder how many do that, though.

Patient-Centered Medicine

As a third-year medical student in a five-year degree programme, I begin clinic work from January. In preparation for such, I’ve been reading Macleod’s Clinical Examination to brush up on many things I once learned as a first year student along with educating myself about clinical practices and how to examine a patient. I can’t help but realise the irony that has become of modern conventional medicine. Maybe it’s just me, with the mindset of complementary medicine, but so much of the Hippocratic Oath has been lost over time as conventional medicine has evolved into what we know it to be today. The Hippocratic Oath, which we recite from a piece of paper upon graduation, has become just that. Much like The Lord’s Prayer said during full assembly at primary and secondary school means little to the young students these days as they learn it by rote.

The section on general examination in the text speaks of patient-centered care in which communication with the patient is important. On the following page, it goes on to say that an average of 13 minutes is enough time for proper patient-physician interaction in a private practice, 5-10 minutes in the hospital setting. I often wonder, how many does one learn about a person in less than 15 minutes? We’re taught that asking the right questions and observing the person is all one really needs but, are patients really satisfied with rushed routine examinations? A greeting, a quick scan of the file, a few questions and the jotting of a prescription and doctors move on to the next patient. Hasn’t this become unsatisfactory? Even medical students who get sick and pay a general physician a quick visit sometimes complain about the lack of time they spend with doctors. Or, at least, that’s how it used to be in first year. Since then, students have been conditioned into believing that the right questions take you on the right track, despite the number of misdiagnoses and wrong prescriptions.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I don’t quite think that rushing patients into and out of an office makes things patient-centered. This is what medical students are taught and how they are trained. These are the kind of doctors that are bred. I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved in complementary and alternative medicine but I was never sure about which aspect of it I was most interested in. It was only this year, after a bit of learning, that I’ve decided on going into naturopathic medicine. People often ask me, “If you’re interested in doing alternative medicine, why are you in medical school instead of studying alternative medicine.” I personally think the experience I have gained and will gain in medical school is invaluable. I understand the training and mindset of doctors better having to go through it myself. That’s the simplest answer.

Good Carbs & Bad Carbs

It’s only too often that one would hear “I have to stop eating all these carbs and go on a diet.” Did you know that replacing the bad carbohydrates in your diet with good ones can go a long way by itself?

What defines good carbohydrates from bad? The answer is simple: the glycemic index (GI). This is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar and insulin levels are bad! Carbohydrates that produce only small fluctuations in your blood sugar and insulin levels are good.

Bad carbohydrates have a high glycemic index.

Good carbohydrates have a low glycemic index.

You can think of it like this: The human body likes everything to remain balanced (like a city). High GI foods send enormous amounts of glucose into your blood stream causing a large distortion in the once-balanced blood sugar level (the blood sugar spike, like a surge in crime). The pancreas goes into ‘emergency mode’ and dispatches copious amounts of insulin to put away the glucose so that the levels can go back to normal (the insulin spike, like the police). Glucose levels go down and insulin sticks around until it’s degraded (takes about an hour). Eventually, the body tissues (glucose storage departments) that use the insulin get tired of having it around and may stop responding to it (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes mellitus may occur as a result. Type 2 diabetes can progress to the point where the pancreas is so overworked that parts of it stop working and insulin isn’t produced much anymore. What bad carbs!

Basically, the lower the glycemic index, the better it is for your body. These foods slowly allow glucose into the blood stream so that levels rise only slightly, only small amounts of insulin is released in response and the pancreas doesn’t get overworked. Low GI foods are much healthier and keeps your energy levels more balanced. There are a number of benefits to eating low GI foods, some of which include:

  • losing and managing weight
  • diabetes management
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • prolong physical endurance
  • reduce hunger and remain fuller longer


So, how do I know what foods are low glycemic and high glycemic? You can use this database link to find the glycemic index of the foods you’re curious about.


If you’d like to read more about the glycemic index, check out The Glycemic Index.