Joseph F. Unger Jr, DC, FICS

The road to optimal health, while highly individualized, is built upon the bedrock of core principles common to all humankind. Paramount among these principles is the concept of detoxification. As global warming illustrates, we live in an increasingly toxic world. The accumulation of these poisons undoubtedly has serious effects upon not only human health but all organisms on the planet.

During my undergraduate studies in pre-medical school in the early 1970’s, I discovered a report by the American Cancer Association which concluded at that time that at least 90% of cancers were due to environmental toxins. The report’s recommendation was to develop a vaccine to keep people from getting cancer when exposed to these various toxins. While some skeptics would argue that scientific literature is inconclusive with respect to human toxicity and its relationship to disease, this conclusion has serious flaws. One of the most important embraces the concept of synergy.

Synergistic Effects

For example, most humans can drink a few beers without any negative repercussions. They can likewise take a prescription-sized dose of barbiturates for some ailment without serious consequence. If the two are combined, however, it can prove deadly. That is because the synergistic effect of these two substances together is much greater than a simple summation of the two effects.

The FDA currently allows untold thousands of man-made, toxic substances into the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Not only is it impossible to predict the effects of the combination of all these different ingredients, but it is even more difficult to predict their effects upon a given individual. Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. may have said it best in her book, Detoxify or Die. While we agree with Dr. Rogers’ basic premise, we have found certain methods of detoxification to be more effective in the detoxification process than those she promotes.


At Atrium Health Services, we utilize a variety of techniques and procedures customized to the individual that basically fall into two separate categories:

  1. Generalized detoxification.
  2. Specific detoxification

Most cleansing procedures target specific components of detoxification. In her ground-breaking book, Clinical Purification, Gina L. Nick, Ph.D., N.D. illustrates that detoxification is a complex, multi-step venture requiring intervention at various levels. In order to truly cleanse the system, one must begin at the intracellular level. If a toxic substance is trapped within cells and structures such as nervous system, bone, liver, etc., attempts to rid the body of toxins will be compromised until the toxic substances are extracted from those structures. The essential avenues of exit include the skin, lungs, colon, liver and kidneys.

To complicate matters further, all of these various structures depend upon nutrition, nerve supply and vital energy to perform their functions optimally. For example, if one has a spinal misalignment resulting in decreased nerve energy to the kidneys, they are unable to function or detoxify properly. If one has a cranial distortion affecting the pituitary gland, then that individual may not sweat normally and thereby be deficient in skin detoxification. Another individual may be deficient in a micro nutrient or trace mineral inhibiting liver or colon function, and the result can be improper detoxification. Ultimately, detoxification is simply one of five essential steps in the nutritional process which are:

  1. Ingestion
  2. Digestion
  3. Absorption
  4. Assimilation
  5. Elimination

Improper function of any of the first four will result in compromised detoxification.

The overall vitality of the organism is a further component in the detoxification process. If you have overall low vitality, your body is going to be less likely to have the appropriate energetic resources to detoxify optimally.

For example, in some individual cases exercise or proper breathing may be the best activity to increase detoxification. Because the human body is a complicated and integrated system, it is erroneous and too simplistic to blame all conditions and diseases upon toxicity. The importance of detoxification, however, is often overlooked and bears serious consideration. Because the environmental liabilities are inescapable, it is recommended that all persons interested in optimal health engage in a routine detoxification program. It is also useful to explore the distinctions between general vs. specific detoxification.

General Detoxification

Most programs have a one-size-fits-all approach to detoxification. At Atrium Health Services, we realize that the individual nature of each patient encompasses a vast range of needs, sensitivities and personal characteristics. With this in mind, we offer a variety of approaches to detoxification.

General procedures include therapies such as saunas, fasting, juice fasting, raw food diets and similar programs. Each of the above-mentioned approaches can accelerate human detoxification by facilitating the natural physiological mechanisms. These are, of course, excellent things to do.

However, due to the complexity and nature of some of the toxic substances we all encounter, these measures may not yield optimal results.

Some toxic substances are too chemically complex to be effectively processed by simply increasing the body’s natural mechanisms. Utilizing the wealth of information outlined in Clinical Purification by Dr. Gina L. Nick, Ph.D., N.D., Standard Process Laboratories, a leader in whole foods nutrition, devised SP Cleanse®. This product contains a specifically-formulated collection of nutrients and herbs designed to facilitate and promote detoxification at every level. This is the most generally effective detoxification product we have ever seen.

SP Cleanse® stimulates detoxification out of the tissues from the intracellular level into the blood stream and enables each of the organs and systems of detoxification to do their jobs more efficiently. It is essential to understand that if a “blockage” at any level or stage of the detoxification process occurs, you can experience a “backup” or “congestion” of the entire chain of events. This is why we believe that SP Cleanse® is not only the best product available but also the best place to begin a detoxification program or to use routinely on a periodic basis. It can also be an effective adjunct to any detoxification program.


Fasting is a time-honored approach to detoxification, and many people have reported extraordinary results from an extended fast. At one time fasting clinics were found throughout Europe, and the relief that many achieved from often debilitating conditions was amazing. If you are interested in fasting, we would encourage you to investigate some of the literature on this subject.

A true fast is a mental, emotional and physical, if not spiritual, experience. Ideally, it should be conducted only under conditions of greatly reduced stress; thus, in our modern-day society it tends to be very impractical. However, if you are so moved to investigate this approach, we suggest working with a qualified professional to monitor your progress.

Many fasting experts are wary of advising the complete fast for most people. Because we are subjected to a wide variety of toxins, they feel that this “cocktail of poisons,” if released too quickly in the body, may have negative side effects. Very often, intracellular poisons are released into the bloodstream and cannot be easily discharged from the body. As a result, the individual may experience undue discomfort, if not damage, from the inability to fully excrete the toxins being released.

This again underscores the value of utilizing SP Cleanse® by Standard Process Laboratories, Inc. in your detoxification procedures. This product effectively facilitates the detoxification process from every level, beginning from the intracellular to the exiting of toxins from the body.

SP Cleanse® Dosage

In our experience we find a wide range of individual responses to any detoxification program. The recommended first step in detoxification is to take SP Cleanse® along with your regular diet. The suggested dosage is seven capsules with a large glass of water three times a day between meals. If your system is particularly toxic or you tend to be highly sensitive, the recommended dosage would be three to five capsules with a large glass of water three times a day between meals for a month or so. Should even this reduced amount lead to undesirable symptoms or other negative effects from detoxifying too quickly, simply reduce the dosage to a comfortable level, even if it is only one or two capsules daily.

If you know yourself to be overly toxic or have prior experience with detoxification and choose to increase the dosage, we have had patients take ten or more capsules three times a day (again, with a large glass of water) in order to accelerate their progress. However, if you are less familiar with detoxification, then the lower dosage is recommended for a trial period of a week or so in order to evaluate your response to the program.

SP Cleanse® is truly one of our single most valuable and effective detoxification products. If one uses only SP Cleanse® as a detoxification program without any other measures, you will make significant progress toward optimizing your health and possibly even preventing toxic-related diseases in the future.

Level 1 General Detoxification

For the beginner in detoxification programs, we recommend a 2-3 month regimen if using SP Cleanse® alone. Many individuals report feeling better while on the program, and these improvements tend to last even when the program is long finished. Others report no discernible difference while detoxifying. One of the commonly-reported positive outcomes is an improvement in bowel function. Results vary from person to person. Even if you do not obviously feel different, you are still detoxifying.

As stated earlier, certain cancers are known to be caused by specific toxins in the environment. But the person who is accumulating these toxins does not necessarily suffer any adverse effects until it is way too late when the cancer is discovered. Experts in the field generally agree that the onset of the cancer process begin 5-10 years prior to the tumor becoming large enough to be detected. Very often, however, persons experience symptomatic changes such as improved colon function and increased energy levels.

During the initial stages of the detoxification process, others may actually experience lowered energy levels. This is an indication that you are indeed toxic, and greater energies are being spent eradicating those toxins from your body. If you have too vigorous a reaction, we recommend you simply cut back on the SP Cleanse®, increase your water intake and continue the program for a longer period of time.

Level 2 General Detoxification

In addition to the SP Cleanse® protocol, Standard Process Inc. has enhanced programs for detoxification. The next stage would be accomplished by increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables. The simplest of the enhanced detoxification procedures is to make one meal a day of totally all raw fruits or raw vegetables. The most extreme protocol at Level 2 is to eat nothing but raw fruits and raw vegetables (preferably not at the same meal) for one or more days, one week or even several weeks. Again, depending upon your sensitivity, constitution and level of toxicity, you may elect to engage in the Level 2 detoxification program.

Level 3 Detoxification

Depending once again upon your need, commitment and constitution, you may choose to engage in an even more extended detoxification program. Once again, our preferred method is designed by Standard Process Inc. It includes SP Cleanse® along with a raw foods diet and a meal replacement product called SP Complete®. With the meal substitute SP Complete®, the body is afforded all of the necessary nutrition to engage in an extended cleansing program.

For further information on this program, please call Atrium Health Services and schedule a consultation with one of our qualified professionals. This can be an especially effective program for anyone attempting to achieve maximum detoxification or to address any serious health conditions. This should obviously be done under the supervision and guidance of a qualified practitioner.

Determining Levels of Toxicity

Certain diagnostic methods such as hair analysis can sometimes give insights into the levels of certain specific toxic compounds in the body. An accurate assessment of the degree of overall toxicity one may be experiencing is difficult at best. Be aware that any technology proposing to evaluate a level of toxicity for the human body does not necessarily predict the impact of that toxicity on any given individual. Some people are highly sensitive to even the smallest amounts of certain toxins. This is why some migraines can be triggered by simply smelling gasoline while filling your tank. Conversely, in rare instances, very toxic levels may not seem to appreciably affect the health of certain individuals. This would explain why occasionally a heavy smoker may live to be well into his or her nineties.

A snapshot of your general levels of toxicity, however, can be easily obtained via completion of a short questionnaire. If you are interested in such an analysis, please contact Atrium Health Services. The questionnaire is particularly valuable as an assessment tool following the detoxification program. If, for example, one documents their levels of well being and engages in a detoxification program, the same assessment tool may give insights into the effectiveness of that program. Simply put, we can attempt to document how you feel. If you feel better after the initial detoxification program, then toxicity levels may be affecting your well being. This would indicate that an ongoing detoxification program is warranted.

If, on the other hand, you experience no positive effect from the program, then you may need to look further in an attempt to boost your level of health or to address specific symptoms or conditions. Even so, we maintain that engaging in some form of routine detoxification is an essential aspect of a good prevention program to enhance optimal health.

Other General Detoxification Program Procedures 

Sauna/Infrared Sauna

These interventions increase body heat, which is known to have certain therapeutic effects. Detoxification is also enhanced by sweating. Some individuals experience significant-to-profound improvements by routine saunas. Ultimately, the only way to determine this is to try it for yourself.

If you are interested in including routine saunas in your detoxification process, your doctor will be happy to refer you to one of our trusted partners for this service.

Massage/Lymphatic Drainage

The lymphatic system is somewhat analogous to the sidewalks and back alleyways of city housing. All of the trash and garbage exits down these pathways and out into the alleyways. Since the lymph system is also intimately involved with immunity, such procedures can certainly facilitate generalized detoxification. Again, the effectiveness of these treatments can best be determined by engaging in a series of treatments to evaluate any changes you may experience.

There are numerous other methods of general detoxification and specific products that you may find useful. All such programs are best evaluated by taking a personal inventory of your symptoms and conditions and reevaluating after a trial period of your program of choice.

If you are interested in adding massages to your detoxification process, your doctor will be happy to refer you to one of our trusted partners for this service.

Specific Detoxification Procedures

Liver/Gall Bladder Detoxification

Many books, practitioners and authorities in health care tout the benefits of liver and gall bladder detoxification or flushes. As previously described the liver, while exceptionally important and essential in human nutrition and function, is not solely responsible for detoxification. The liver has almost 500 known functions, most of which are not directly related to detoxification. Therefore, we believe that, in many instances, the liver and gall bladder flushes are overemphasized.

This in no way diminishes their essential role in the process. One of the more famous procedures for liver/gall bladder detoxification utilizes a variety of activities, culminating in the drinking of olive oil mixed with lemon juice. While we have certainly seen favorable results from this procedure, it is at best a most unpleasant experience. Fortunately, there are much easier and far more effective ways of accomplishing the same ends.

We have seen numerous people with symptoms of liver and gall bladder dysfunction experience tremendous relief by engaging in a regimen of Betacol® and Cholacol® by Standard Process Inc. The procedure is very simple. Take two of each of these products with each meal for one to three bottles, depending upon the severity of your condition. We have become so convinced that this approach is far more effective than the old purging procedures that we specifically recommend to NOT use the old liver and gall bladder flush. The Betacol®/Cholacol® program is far more effective and infinitely less distasteful.

Colon Cleansing

Many people experience positive effects from enemas, colonics and by adding bulk such as psyllium husk or seed to their diet. Many also achieve good results by utilizing charcoal tablets or bentonite clay to absorb toxins in the colon.

Ideally, however, the colon should be vitalized in order to promote its own detoxifying activities. Again, one of our favorite products is SP Cleanse®, The other product that often yields tremendous positive results is called Chiro-Klenz.

Klenz Chiro is a tea (not a laxative but a colon tonic) designed to help vitalize colon function. By simply drinking this tea as recommended, many individuals experience impressive results. The dosage may vary widely based upon your individual requirements, and it is claimed that there are no lingering or addictive side effects. If you are in need of a specific colon tonic, Chiro-Klenz and SP Cleanse® may be the answer.

Chelation Therapy

In general, the body is equipped to process and eliminate organic toxins occurring as byproducts of our nutritional process or food intake. At any given time our bodies must deal with many thousands of complex organic toxins as well as inorganic toxins. We have no physiological mechanisms in place to fully break down these inorganic toxins. This is why more aggressive detoxification protocols such as SP Cleanse® are required for optimal health in our modern world.

Some toxic molecules are actually so large or of such a makeup that they are virtually impossible to totally expel from the system. These include many heavy metals known to be severely toxic such as aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. Aluminum is implicated in Alzheimer’s as well as other neurological conditions. Lead has a host of negative side effects, as does mercury, which has a particular affinity for the neurological system and bone. Cadmium is implicated in many cancers.

One compound effective against heavy metal toxicity (though considered unaccepted by allopathic medicine in general is calcium disodium EDTA. This compound is routinely used for what is known as chelation therapy. EDTA (for short) can bind with some of these heavy metals to facilitate excretion from the body. As an added bonus, EDTA can also complex with fat and calcium molecules in the bloodstream and is believed to be effective in combating hardening of the arteries and well as cholesterol buildup in the bloodstream. Chelation therapy or EDTA is often observed to be effective in circulatory problems as well as cardiovascular conditions.

The traditional method of administering EDTA is intravenously. EDTA will also complex with minerals in the body. Therefore, mineral replacement is highly recommended. The most traditional procedure requires administration of an IV in the doctor’s office one to two times weekly. Within a day or two, a follow-up IV is required for the replacement of minerals.

Many claim that chelation therapy and oral EDTA are as effective as the other approaches. While the controversy persists, the fundamental physiology does not support those conclusions.

For detoxification purposes specifically pertaining to heavy metals and other toxins, chelation agents can only extract the toxins that are already present in the bloodstream. Many of these heavy metal toxins tend to accumulate in nerves and bone. Therefore, it can be a long process of pulling these toxic residues out of those deeper structures. Under those circumstances, it may stand to reason that a slower approach may in the long run yield greater results.

If you are interested in including chelation therapy in your detoxification process, your doctor will be happy to refer you to one of our trusted partners for this service.

Detoxification Maintenance Recommendations

Once you have completed a detoxification program, your body must deal with the ongoing effects of the increasing pollution of the world.

Raw Foods

Consider a meal of totally raw vegetable or raw fruits a day, or meal a week or for a full day per week. This will help energize your body’s own natural detoxification mechanisms.

If you have any questions about our services, please contact us today at (314) 872-9955.