Detoxification is an approach that aims to rid the body of toxins; accumulated harmful substances that exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Detoxification usually includes one or more of: dieting, fasting, consuming exclusively or avoiding specific foods (such as fats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, or water), colon cleansing, chelation therapy, or the removal of dental fillings.
The premise of body cleansing is based on the Ancient Egyptian and Greek idea of autointoxication, in which foods consumed can putrefy and produce toxins that harm the body, or in the humoral theory of health whereby the four humours themselves can putrefy and produce toxins that harm the body. Biochemistry and microbiology appeared to support the theory in the 19th century, but by the early twentieth century detoxification-based approaches quickly fell out of favour.
Even though abandoned by mainstream medicine, the idea has persisted in the popular imagination and amongst alternative-medicine practitioners. In recent years, notions of body cleansing have undergone something of a resurgence, along with many other alternative medical approaches.
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