From ArticleWorld

Detox is a colloquial term for detoxification, which is the process of removing a toxic substance or substances from the body. The toxic substances can be environmental, from alcohol, from illicit drug use or from a medication that has built to toxic levels in the system.


Detoxification is not exactly the same as withdrawal, although the two terms are related at times. In the case of medical detoxification from alcohol or drugs, the idea is to gradually eliminate the effects of the drug on the body without overtly causing withdrawal symptoms. This can mean that an individual takes medications for anxiety or medications that mimic the drug until the drug is eliminated from the system, after which the temporary withdrawal medications are gradually reduced.

Similar detoxification happens when a patient needs to stop taking a medication. Because the body chemistry adjusts to the taking of a medication over a period of time, the detoxification must be gradual so that serious side effects are minimized and the body is allowed to adjust to the change.

Some forms of complementary medicine use detox protocols that claim to remove environmental and food toxins from the intestinal tract. One unusual method of detoxification employs a long absorbent string that is swallowed into the stomach and is supposed to absorb stomach toxins. After a period of time, the string is removed through the mouth. Other protocols use products designed to absorb toxins and pass them through the bowels.

Medical uses

One method of detoxification used commonly in emergency medical settings is the use of activated charcoal with or without sorbitol in cases of drug overdoses. Approximately 8-12 ounces of charcoal in a slurry is consumed by the patient or passed through a nasogastric or orogastric tube into the stomach where, in theory, it absorbs enough of the drug to minimize the drug’s absorption. Sorbitol is added to hasten the passage of the charcoal through the gastrointestinal system.

A Tylenol overdose involves some of the same detoxification procedures as other drug overdoses but has its own drug-specific protocol. A medication known as Mucomyst (or acetyl cysteine) helps the body metabolize excess Tylenol, allowing it to be removed from the body faster, reducing the risk of Tylenol-induced liver failure.