Dear Dr. Bailey, I like the idea of a cleanse, especially to jump start a diet but I have to take medication twice a day with food and not sure how that would work. I also have COPD and high blood pressure and not sure if it would affect that also. Thanks for any input. Nina
Nina, A detox cleanse can mean a lot of things, all the way from fasting on water to simply eating and drinking only pure and chemical free organic foods. The Detox Cleansing Fast I do is somewhat in between.
Prescription Medicines, Medical Problems and a Detox Cleansing Fast
The important point in doing a detox cleanse is always that it be safe for you.
That's one of the reasons that I always adjust my activities when I do a cleanse - I just don’t have much energy on a cleansing fast and I need to be careful.
The second key point is that after a detox cleanse, you have a familiar and wholesome diet to come back to when the cleanse is over.
If not, then we don’t maintain the benefits of the cleanse and our health problems come right back. This is my personal experience. Over the years I've transitioned my general diet to be healthier and healthier to support my fight against my health issues. My biggest issues are arthritis and general musculoskeletal pain. It turns out that I am celiac and am now gluten-free. It has taken me years to figure this out. Even without gluten in my diet, I still struggle with this issue and a periodic detox cleanse reduces whatever it is that accumulates and causes me to be achy and stiff.
Can you do a detox cleanse if you are on medication?
Your medications and medical issues mean that for you to safely consider a rigorous detox cleansing fast like I do, you would definitely need your doctor’s supervision. I would guess that your doctors would even caution you against doing a cleansing fast and instead recommend dietary changes that are much gentler.
My health issues are different; I am a cancer survivor but the medicines that I take do not regulate complex metabolic health issues, all of which would impact the safety of a fast. It's important to understand that doctors carefully adjust a patient’s medicines based on what they know about that person’s baseline lifestyle.
A cleanse would be a significant change in that lifestyle meaning that your doctors would need to monitor you and undoubtedly adjust your medicines as your body and activities changed.
Talk with your doctors regarding how you might go about safely modifying your diet to make it pure and chemical free and then have them monitor you as you begin to make these changes in your lifestyle.
The second important point in doing a detox cleanse is that it’s only of benefit if the diet one comes back to afterwards is healthy and pure.
In my experience, this is what makes the cleanse such a powerful tool to improve my health issues. The book I mention in the Detox Cleansing Fast post talks about this in detail and I recommend that you read that book before considering a cleanse. The author talks about people making themselves ill by eating the wrong foods too soon after a cleanse.
I've written about my opinion regarding the 3 most important features of a healthy diet:
Try to create this healthy diet before considering a cleanse, so that it’s easy to come back to afterwards.
I would recommend looking at these posts to see what I think is an ideal diet for good health. See how you might gradually adapt your current diet to fit these concepts. Have your doctors monitor your medicines and go slowly. Switching from the normal American diet to a heavily plant based organic diet that includes only moderate amounts of healthy fats and animal products is a big shocker to the body. It will undoubtedly change your medicine dosages so again your doctors need an active role. Again, these dietary changes are important. They take time to figure out and implement in your lifestyle, and will undoubtedly impact your medicine dosages.
Remember, it’s so easy for us Americans to grab convenient processed foods filled with sodium and chemicals. Doctors adjust medicine dosages to handle this American diet. When a person stops eating all our modern food chemicals, their medicine dosages need to be changed. It’s all part of the ‘detox’ and it’s why we feel so different eating a wholesome low chemical diet. In my personal experience this is why I feel so much better when I’m careful with my diet, and why I feel so lousy when I grab the convenient, delicious processed foods that are everywhere.
Best of luck, this is a huge but worthwhile project. I admire you for considering it.
Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist
Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.