After several surgeries and years of steroids to bring a rare blood disorder under control in her late teens, Rebecca Reynolds was told she was cured.

She still didn’t feel well.

Reynolds, then 18, had gained weight, and felt sluggish and weak. She was depressed.

So Reynolds turned to alternative medicine, convinced that her symptoms were the result of toxicity from the years of drugs and invasive procedures she had endured. She vowed to make a change and started to detoxify her body.

Twenty-five years later, Reynolds, a resident of a western Cleveland suburb and the owner of Planet Green and Green Clean, an organic-products store in Rocky River and a line of nontoxic cleaning products, has eliminated all wheat, dairy, meat and sugar from her diet, invented her own line of safe cleaning products to remove chemicals from her home, and torn out the carpets. She exercises daily, uses colonics and gets bimonthly massages. All in an effort to live as cleanly as possible.

While Reynolds is probably an extreme example of the practice, she is representative of many in the holistic health movement who see detox as an essential part of healthy living.

The basic premise, widely debated, is that the body accumulates more toxins in the modern world than its natural detoxification system — the liver, kidneys and lungs — can get rid of.

Proponents say that chemicals from pesticides on food, chlorine in drinking water, bleach and ammonia in cleaning products, and carbon monoxide in polluted air build up over time and cause disease.

The only way to get rid of them, they say, is to detox. The concept has become enormously popular, leading to a booming alternative health products and services industry hawking everything from juices, colonics, ionic foot baths and infrared sauna treatments to every manner of herbal purgative imaginable.

But even detoxification backers part company on which methods work because, as with many alternative therapies, there is little scientific study to support the treatments. 

Click here for the rest of this article.