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Herbal Detox and Alcoholism

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It is noteworthy for individuals to be concerned about their health and to try to upgrade the functioning of various aspects of their body, such as the liver, by "natural" methods like herbal detoxification.

Research may indeed demonstrate that taking herbal detox products enhances the overall functioning of the liver.

When an individual makes an effort to "self-detoxify" herself because of excessive, abusive, or irresponsible drinking, however, she is fooling around with hazardous, life threatening circumstances that simply need to be addressed by qualified, medical detox practitioners.

Continue reading and discover why the terms "herbal detox" and "alcoholism," for all practical intents and purposes, simply do belong in the same sentence.

The Nature of Environmental Pollutants and Toxins

Research has demonstrated that environmental pollutants enter our bodies via the food we eat, via the water and liquids we drink, via cuts or openings in our skin, and via the air we breathe.

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When pollutants enter the blood stream, they cause toxins or poisons to build up in the body.

Due to the fact that these toxins adversely affect all of the major systems and organs of the body, these poisons therefore affect the overall functioning of the body.

While many of the body's organs are important in combating environmental toxins, perhaps the two organs that are the most important in the body's ability to fight disease and poisons are the skin and the liver.

The Liver, Detoxification, and the Defense System

The liver is the second largest organ in the body and is frequently perceived as one of the most important organs in the human body.

In fact, according to traditional Chinese medicine, for instance, a healthy liver is seen as the most significant organ used by the body in the fight against disease and in the optimal functioning of the body's defense systems.

The liver has a number of important functions:

  • It is responsible for eliminating and detoxifying the poisons that enter our body

  • It produces bile that is essential in the breakdown of fats

  • It metabolizes alcohol that has been ingested

  • It is the organ that stores Vitamin A, D, E and K.

Alcohol abuse, environmental pollution, drug abuse, sedentary lifestyles, and alcoholism all contribute to the less than optimal functioning of the liver. The following list represents some of the main consequences of a poorly functioning liver:

  • Unhealthy skin

  • Respiratory ailments

  • Depressed immune system

  • Obesity

  • Alcohol poisoning (due to excessive drinking beyond the ability of the liver to metabolize the alcohol).

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Ineffective digestive system

  • Allergies

Herbal Detox and the Functioning of the Liver

There are "natural" ways to enhance the overall functioning of the liver. One of these ways is to ingest herbal detox pills, sprays, or drops.

These detox products typically contain herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, licorice root, cascara sagrada, and black walnut hulls.

It is believed in various "holistic" circles that herbal detox products rid the kidneys, colon, and the liver of harmful toxins. It is also believed that herbal detox products improve digestion, strengthen the muscles of the large intestine, and cleanse the liver and the gall bladder.

Essentially, then, building up one's liver via herbal detox methods is a gradual process that needs to be addressed on a daily basis.

In a word, herbal detox products do not instantaneously cleanse the liver; nor do they instantly enhance the overall functioning of the liver.

Faulty Logic, Misinformation, and Irresponsible Behavior

As a result of the above, the following "testimonial" from a 31-year old person about the benefits of a certain herbal detox product he or she takes is a perfect example of irresponsible behavior, poor logic, misinformation, and possible false advertising:

I take XXXXX before and after a good party - I mean you are only young once! We all know the effect alcohol has on the liver and how you feel the next day, so I start taking them the day before and carry on for a day or two. I hardly ever have a hangover like I used to, thank goodness!

So what is so "wrong" with this testimonial? First, by taking this herbal detox pill, spray, or drop, the person may actually be creating a false sense of security. How?

By telling himself that his liver is functioning optimally due to the herbal detox product he has taken, he may actually drink more alcohol than his liver can metabolize.

The result: possible alcohol overdose. Simply put: "responsible drinking" means limiting the amount and the frequency of drinking--it does not mean popping a herbal detox pill and then drinking excessively.

Second, a person who has been abusing alcohol for an extended period of time cannot instantly optimize the functioning of her liver simply by taking herbal detox pills, sprays, or drops.

This kind of faulty thinking (and false advertising) can lead to serious hangovers, headaches, and quite possibly, to alcohol poisoning (which by the way, can be fatal).

Third, heavy drinkers who try to quit drinking on their own will almost always experience mild, moderate, or perhaps severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Since alcohol withdrawals can be extremely dangerous, and, in some instances, fatal, ALL individuals who experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms should see their doctor or healthcare professional immediately so that he or she can assess the severity of their condition and suggest the treatment intervention that is the most appropriate and effective for their particular situation.

Fourth, it is important to note that by using doctor prescribed medications during the alcohol detox process, alcohol-dependent individuals, who receive detoxification in a hospital or in a detox center, are less likely to experience possible seizures and/or brain damage.

In a word, engaging in "self-detoxification" via herbal detox methods can result major health problems and occasionally in death.

The Lethal Concentration and Alcohol Poisoning

Researchers use the term "lethal dose" (LD) to describe the dose (or "concentration" for alcohol cases) that causes death in half of the population (LD: 50).

Most substance abuse researchers agree that blood alcohol concentrations in the 0.40% to 0.50% range satisfy the LD: 50 requirement.

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in the blood after the alcohol has been absorbed by the stomach and entered the blood supply.

Based on the above we can arrive at a working definition of "alcohol overdose." An alcohol overdose is a dangerous and sometimes fatal consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol that results in blood alcohol concentrations from 0.40% to .50%.

It must be emphasized, furthermore, that "binge drinking" (consuming five or more alcoholic drinks at one sitting) can also result in an alcohol overdose.

Factors that Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration

The effects of the alcohol on your body depend on the amount of alcohol in your blood (known as blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Factors that affect your blood alcohol level include the following:

  • How fast your body metabolizes the alcohol

  • How strong the alcoholic drink is

  • How much food is in your stomach at the time you drink

  • How quickly you consume the alcoholic drink

What This Means in Common Drinking Situations

Alcohol addiction experts define a "standard drink" as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 72-proof distilled spirits, all of which contain approximately .54 ounces of alcohol. Additionally, the average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of approximately one drink per hour.

Now that we understand what a "standard drink" is and how long it takes an individual to metabolize an alcoholic drink, we can place the discussion of "lethal dose" into a more understandable framework.

  • A 100-pound man or woman would have to drink 9 or 10 standard alcoholic beverages in less than an hour to reach the LD:50

  • A 200-pound man or woman would have to drink roughly 5 or 6 standard alcoholic beverages per hour for 4 hours to reach the LD: 50.

Although drinking patterns such as these are not common in most drinking situations, participating in drinking games" (such as "Beer Hockey," "Bong Pong," and "Drunken Uno" that are "played" at certain parties) or involving oneself in club "initiations" (such as sorority or fraternity initiations) often involve drinking that can, and does, reach the lethal dose.

The point: excessive and irresponsible drinking can lead not only to impaired judgment but also to dangerous health problems that can result in death.

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Conclusion: Herbal Detox and Alcoholism

It is "responsible" for people to be concerned about their health and to try to enhance the functioning of various aspects of their body, such as the liver, by "natural" methods like herbal detoxification. Surely, taking herbal detox products may in fact help the overall functioning of the liver.

When a person attempts to "self-detoxify" himself because of heavy, excessive, or abusive drinking, however, he is messing around with dangerous, life threatening situations that simply need to be addressed by professional, medical detox experts.

In a word, the phrase "herbal detox and alcoholism," for the most part, simply does not make sense from a safety or from a health perspective.

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