In Functional Medicine, Natural Health & Lifestyle

Understanding which organs are involved in detoxification (& optimizing their function) is essential…especially if you have an autoimmune disease.

Toxins can directly cause autoimmunity to develop and they can worsen the symptoms and the progression of the disease process.

Gently optimizing your organs of detoxification will encourage your body to release toxins and help improve your body’s overall functioning which will help you feel better.

Toxins are introduced in your body in two ways: through normal physiologic processes (like breathing or eating) and through exposures in your environment.

In theory, your body should be able to process the waste products and toxins you’re exposed to. However, the environment has been flooded by an overwhelming number of chemicals that our body’s have a hard time keeping up.

According to the Environmental Working Group, there are nearly 85,000 chemicals currently approved for use in this country and that number is rapidly increasingNo wonder our body’s are completely overwhelmed and not working optimally! 

Although you can’t always control the chemicals and toxicity you’re exposed to, you can influence and encourage your body’s natural detoxification and elimination processes.

Gently optimizing the organs of detoxification will enhance your body’s functioning improving how you feel on a day-to-day basis.

Gently optimizing isn’t doing a scheduled “10-day cleanse” or “21-day detox”. While those things have a place in health, they’re often too harsh on the body and they generally make people with autoimmune disease feel worse.

Using lifestyle and dietary interventions, you can improve the functioning of your body and increase it’s ability to detoxify the toxins you are exposed to. By gently encouraging your body to work it’s best you’ll also minimize the harsh side effects of a scheduled detox.

Here are the six organs of detoxification (& a bonus that you shouldn’t overlook) and a few tips to get them working better:


  • Kidney: The kidney is responsible for filtering blood and removing waste products from your body through urination. Its efficiency is partly affected by your hydration status and blood pressure. If either of these aren’t optimal, toxins are more likely to circulate through your body instead of being eliminated.

Tip: Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration.

  • Colon: The colon removes toxins and waste products through bowel movements. If you’re not pooping regularly, toxins can remain in the colon for prolonged periods of time and can be reabsorbed back into your body.

Tip: If you aren’t having regular bowel movements, check with your healthcare provider to find and treat the cause. Probiotics and proper hydration will help as well.

  • Skin: As the largest organ in the body, the skin provides a route for toxins to exit the body mainly through sweat and oil glands. Exercise or saunas are a great way to get the body sweating, encouraging the release of toxic buildup.

Tip: Work up a good sweat at least 3-4 times a week.

  • Lungs: The lungs help the body releases gaseous wastes, such as carbon dioxide. Breathing plays an important role in detoxification because it helps the body return to a relaxed state, when the body’s detoxification systems are most active.

Tip: Practice breathing exercises 5-10 minutes a day.

  • Liver: Unlike the other organs mentioned above, the liver doesn’t directly remove toxins from the body. However, it plays a major role in detoxification pathways. It alters the chemistry of toxins it encounters so that they are more easily removed from the body.

Tip: Eat foods that support the liver such as: beets, garlic, leafy greens and green tea.

  • Lymphatics: The lymphatics (composed of lymph nodes and the vessels that connect them) are another filtration system in the body for waste products. Enhancing the flow of lymph supports the body’s ability to detoxify.

Tip: Massage and dry skin brushing will help increase lymphatic flow.

  • Emotions: Although not technically an organ, your emotions serve as a powerful way to release emotional toxicity. When your emotions are not properly processed and released they can be stored in your body. Harboring the so-called negative emotions like anger, grief, fear and sadness will also lead to increased stress which creates more toxins and inhibits the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Tip: Be mindful of your emotions and find the support you need to maintain a healthy emotional life. Practicing gratitude and self-love will help as well. 

Toxicity directly influences your body’s ability to function optimally. And, if you have a less than optimally functioning body, you’re far more likely to suffer symptoms and worsen the progression of your chronic health issues.

A scheduled “detox or cleanse” can be too harsh for people who have an autoimmune disease. A great alternative is to daily (& gently) encourage your body’s natural processes for detoxification and elimination which will directly influence how you feel.

What’s your take?

Do you focus on the organs of detoxification as part of your health and healing strategy?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Want to learn more about how functional medicine can help you feel better? Check out my FREE Email Series, 7 Keys to Reversing Autoimmune Conditions, you’ll learn:

  • why reversal and remission are possible for you,
  • what simple things you can do to feel better soon,
  • how to create a lifetime of wellness
  • and, so much more.
Recommended Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • Rita

    Hi Deborah,
    Love to read your emails. Very helpful.
    Since 6 years going through Myofacial pain but now becoming very emotional.
    Left no stone unturned. I am 51 year old.
    Menopausing also. Have leaky gut symptoms. I am vegan. Can you guide me about diet so I can get proper nutrition. Drs want to put me on anti depressants, I want to fight naturally help.
    Appreciate your help

    • Dr. Deborah Anderson

      Hi Rita,
      I’m glad you enjoy my emails…I love sending them out! :) It sounds like you have many things going on but that your mood is your most concerning thing. There are many ways to naturally help mood disorders. The most important thing is to work with your doctor to find and address the root causes. Often with mood disorders diet and your gut are the two most important places to look! I’ll respond more thoroughly to the email you sent. Just know that you do have lots of options and that it’s very possible to get you feeling better naturally.
      All the best!
      Dr. Deborah