The Detoxification Process — Does it Really Exist? : Guest Author Nomi Shannon

Thursday Apr 12 | BY |
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“Having long been a believer in the concept of detoxification, I was surprised recently when a friend questioned its very existence.”

Believe it or not, most of us have experienced the symptoms of detoxification, or what I like to call a “healing crisis.” We just stayed home from work because we thought we had a cold, the flu, or a stomach bug.

I could tell you stories! In fact, I think that’s just what I’ll do—tell you some true stories that illustrate why I strongly believe that cleansing and detoxification are the answer to all of mankind’s woes. Well, that they’re huge pieces of the healthy lifestyle puzzle, anyway.

My Story of “Raw”
I have been some version of “raw” for almost 25 years. I worked at the world-renown Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida for several years, running their Health Educator Course and interfacing with the guests on a daily basis as a Program Counselor. And I have been writing about and teaching raw food and alternative health for 16 years.

Oh, and I’m going to be 70 pretty darn soon. But I feel like a healthy, energetic, vibrant, busy 40-something-year old. Back in my 20’s-40’s, however, I dragged through life with never enough energy and all kinds of maladies, including undiagnosed celiac disease, fibromyalgia, sinusitis, digestive disorders, allergies, depression, and did I mention hardly enough energy to get through the day let alone be joyous and creative?

I took pills by the handful, and went well past “recreational” in the use of a still popular illegal substance, initially to quell the constant stomach pain I had (undiagnosed celiac will do that to ‘ya). To say the least, I was not Living the Dream. Then, in 1987, at the age of 44, I found out about raw food and never looked back.

1. The Story of Nathan
Nathan is the son-in-law of a very dear friend. When he was about 19, he had cancer on his upper thigh, or groin area, and was treated with surgery and radiation.

Flash forward a few years. Nathan’s mother-in-law was telling me about how this young couple decided to do a juice fast. But, she told me, Nathan got “very sick.” She didn’t have to say another word. I instantly knew what had happened. You see, they were “on trend” with the juice fast, but they had no understanding about cleansing or detoxification reactions and mistook his dramatic reaction for illness.

When the area where his cancer had been became inflamed and opened up (the body in its wisdom finally having a chance to rid itself of toxins that had been there for years), they panicked and he was rushed to the hospital and treated conventionally with massive antibiotics, etc.

Naturally, I am worried about this young man. I feel it is inevitable that he will be gravely ill again.

What they “should” have done: His symptoms were scary and dramatic, far more so than the “usual” cleansing reaction. The only way to have dealt with it was to have gone into this cleanse with a great deal of knowledge, and in Nathan’s case, supervision by a person trained in all aspects of cleansing.

What Nathan’s reaction was all about is a perfect and dramatic example of Hering’s Law of Cure which states that healing occurs from the head down, from inside out, and in reverse order as the symptoms have first been acquired. (Constantine Hering lived in the 17th century.)

So if you have a cough, the cough gets worse, you wind up with pneumonia, and then a month or two later you begin to fast, guess what? Chances are you will briefly re-experience those symptoms of pneumonia.

When we take drugs to suppress symptoms (sometimes necessary), we’re not curing the cause; we’re pushing that cause deeper in or suppressing it. Sooner or later, all that suppression takes a heavy toll on us.

Because Nathan’s cancer was suppressed, many years later, at the first opportunity his body had to cleanse (when he was juice fasting), symptoms reoccurred, in the order that he was ill, last or most recent, first.

2. The Story of the Young Man in Sedona
When I lived in Sedona, I regularly attended a raw potluck nearby. That is where I met a tall handsome man. He was more than handsome, this guy was literally glowing with good health. Radiating, even. I wanted to hear his story!

He said when he was in his early 30’s, he had cancer all over his body for the third time. For his first two times he had used conventional methods. He said he was in so much pain all he could do was lay down on a couple of bean bag chairs. He told his young daughters that he wouldn’t be able to stay with them for too much longer.

Right around then, a thought came into his head. He remembered reading about the Gerson Institute a long time ago. He found the book still in his bookcase! He attended Gerson in Mexico and upon his return home, followed their program exactly. This involved hourly juices, a strict diet, and daily coffee enemas. Friends ran his business for him and his wife made his food and juices.

At the time that I met him, it was his one-year mark from lying on the bean bag chairs saying goodbye to his 8- and 6-year-olds. He was on a two-year program, so he was at his halfway mark. It was just unbelievable to see this strapping, glowing, strong guy who 365 days ago was dying on a bean bag. He was so wise to stay on his program. You have to release ALL the toxins/poisons in order to become permanently well.

3. My Own Story
And then there is my own story, and what happened to me at the end of a 7-day water fast. But first I have to go back in time 25 years.

Back in the day, long before I was raw vegan, I was terribly allergic to shrimp. It took years to figure out what made me so sick, because I could eat cold shrimp by the bowlful, but when it was served hot it made me very ill.

I had about 10 incidents over many years where I ate hot shrimp and about 8 hours later would experience horrible, dramatic symptoms that were so severe, each time I was taken to a hospital to get shots to SUPPRESS THE SYMPTOMS. That’s a lot of suppression.

Move ahead around 20+ years from my last shrimp episode. By now I am a raw fooder and have been for quite a few years. I am at a supervised one-week water fast, run by a well-known healer, Ray Kent. Now, planning 7 days for a water fast is a bit artificial. It’s really best to let a fast run its course and listen to your body.

But this is the real world and I had limited time to go away. The plan was to end it on the 7th day. I remember looking in the mirror on the morning of the 6th day and saying to myself, “Wow you look 10-15 years younger.” And I did! Days of rest and water only is a very profound way to cleanse and heal. I saw a lot of healing there.

On the last night I experienced the most profound and dramatic healing crisis of my life: ALL THE EXTREME SYMPTOMS OF MY SHRIMP ALLERGY! Okay, I was trying to be lady-like and not actually describe the symptoms, but I see now that I have to. Close your eyes if you’re squeamish.

My Symptoms
My typical symptoms from my old shrimp allergy: Really bad diarrhea, with really bad vomiting, simultaneously. Preceded by hours and hours and hours (and hours) of horrible nausea, shaking, hot and cold sweats, paralysis of the hands, hands closing into little claws. Lasted for hours and hours and hours. Some days from say, 4:00 a.m. all day until shots at the hospital put a stop to it. Most horrible, violent illness. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Would easily lose 10 pounds in one day. Become dehydrated. Just like food poisoning at it most painful and awful.

Here’s what happened on that last night at Ray Kent’s fast, who, while it was going on, was a mere 30 feet away from me in his trailer. But while it was happening I didn’t need to call him. Because, you see, I knew what was happening. I welcomed it. It was like a miracle.

I underwent a “healing crisis,” “cleansing symptoms,” “detox.” I shook so violently that an observer might have thought I was having a seizure. My hands clawed up and I went all pale. I perspired. I was cold. I did not have pain; I did not vomit or have diarrhea…it was like a ghost of my symptoms. It lasted maybe 2 hours, could be 3, I don’t remember.

When I woke up the next morning I looked like a truck had hit me. (Remember how I was admiring how young and great I looked a mere 24 hours before?)

Such is the nature of a most profound healing experience.

Why did this happen, especially then, when I had been raw for quite a few years and had done a huge amount of cleansing already? Hering’s Law of Cure: healing occurs from the head down, from inside out, and in reverse order as the symptoms have first been acquired.

I feel the answer is that finally, my cleansing and healing had gone deep enough and far back enough (over 20 years since last shrimp incident) to allow the final last bits of toxicity from the drugs that were pumped into me to drain out. Like Nathan, whose body in its wisdom started to cleanse, my body was ready to release something that was stored deep within from decades before.

Cleansing, detoxification, and healing are very, very real and very, very profound. Our bodies were designed to do this. We just have to get out of their way and let them.

Your Question of the Day: What is your detoxification story?

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Picture courtesy chris8800 via

Nomi Shannon

Nomi Shannon

Nomi Shannon is an award winning author and world renowned coach. Her best selling book, The Raw Gourmet, has sold over 200,000 copies. Her second book, Raw Food Celebrations (with S.Duruz), is flying off the shelves at bookstores worldwide. Since 2008, Nomi has received numerous Best of Raw Awards for: Best Raw Educator, Favorite Raw Chef and Favorite Raw Book (for The Raw Gourmet, Raw Food Celebrations, and best in Media for What Do Raw Fooders Eat) as well as best Blog, best Online Store and her personal favorite, Funniest Raw Woman.

She’s not only a certified Hippocrates Health Educator; she actually ran The Hippocrates Health Institute’s Certification Course back in the early 1990’s. Raw since 1987, Nomi has been featured in Alive magazine, Get Fresh, San Diego North County Times, and Galveston News, as well as numerous radio shows and other media.

Nomi is known for teaching people proven steps to keeping — or regaining — vibrant health. Her website offers breakthrough information, product reviews, delicious recipes, an ezine and an online course — all free of charge. She also offers online coaching courses, her books, raw kitchen equipment, DVDs, phone consultations and live classes. Since there’s conflicting information about what the “best” raw food diet is, many raw fooders wonder what to eat. Nomi shows people a simple path to thriving on raw food and leaving the confusion behind. Just as important, she empowers people to whip up delicious meals quickly and easily, turning newbies into thriving home chefs practically overnight.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Thomas says:

    I’ve always believed the symptoms of illness to be our body’s way of trying to get rid of something it does not like.

    Here is a great article from today’s news on the microbiome that lives on and in our bodies. You need to read all 4 pages. It sheds light on why some people get certain illnesses and others with the same diet do not.

  2. I really enjoyed this and look forward to some more contributions from Nomi.

  3. Karen says:

    This was very interesting. It’s good to know that if something goes down that we have some idea what is going on and don’t freak out.

  4. Winter Fey says:

    I went off white flour and white sugar two weekends ago and began eating cups of raw food daily. I used to be more on the constipated end of IBS, my body’s gone the other way. I’m also having brain fog and fatigue, and acne. Going to a naturopath next week…can’t wait to keep detoxing with their help–it’s not good to do this alone! <3

  5. Dylan says:

    This still doesn’t conclusively answer the question you posed. Anecdotal evidence isn’t proof. I’m no saying I don’t think detox doesn’t exist – I believe it does. But this article has no scientific basis – only personal anecdotes. Not very convincing to the disbeliever, doesn’t add anything to the debate.

  6. wendy green says:

    great article nomi. thank you. i have done some kind of cleanse or retreat every year of my adult life. i eat high raw, exercise and live in a natural place. my last cleanse was a 14 day water fast…zero detox “symptoms”. it was a breeze. i believe if we are living well, and cleanse annually we can be supremely healthy.

  7. ana says:

    Mine’s really simple :)I wasn’t able to fast in the past so decided to do a cleanse intending to remove fecal stones. You soak 10 prunes in hot water for the night, you eat them and drink all the liquid first thing in the morning, and prepare the next lot for the night = the last thing you eat before bedtime. So it’s 10-10-10: 10 prunes in the morning, 10 in the evening, repeat for 10 days.
    Result: on day 9 or 10 my body produced a good few handfuls of white jelly-like stuff, which Google pics quickly identified as gallbladder stones!!! (white not green meaning no cholesterol & soft not hard meaning not calcified) Now, there’s a lot of controversy about it on the net, most doctors claiming it’s impossible to naturally remove gallstones, saying it’s undigested oil (like from a liver flush )but all I can say is that in my case this ‘prune cure’ has perfectly explained my unexplained ‘stomach’ pains that started in my teens that lasted till I became vegeterian, and an almost 20-year aversion to fat, oil, fried things and meat of course – my body just wasn’t able to digest this stuff!
    As an added bonus, for a month or two I had ZERO chocolate cravings!
    Most of all, it really helped me understand what was not functioning well in my body (something that doctors couldn’t tell me cause I guess they just PRESUMED that you cant have gallbladder stones at 15). A few years afterwards, I did a full round of liquid ESSIAC that cleansed all my organs perfectly and literally gave me a brand new gallbladder, so now for the first time in my life I can eat fatty foods and actually crave oil – guess my body’s stocking up on what’s been denied to it for so many years 🙂

  8. zyxomma says:

    There’s a small part of Hering’s Law of Cure that was missed above: Healing takes place from above (the head) to below, from within to without, from organs of greater importance to organs of lesser importance, and in reverse order of the onset of symptoms.

    A small difference, but important. Health and peace.

  9. Bryan says:

    I have been vegetarian 22 years, vegan 12 of them and 70% raw for the last three. I have done quite a number of intestinal and liver cleanses in the last three years as well and have positive results. I feel fortunate that I have felt a bit weak sometimes and maybe some jitteryness, but nothing dramatic as read above. I know giving the best health opportunities to my body so that it can do what it was designed to has been the best ‘medicine’.

  10. Jennifer says:


  11. Chris Wark says:

    Great post Nomi!

    I’ve had your book The Raw Gourmet for 8 years but never knew your story. The young man in Sedona reminded me of me. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2003 at 26 years old. Refusing chemo I did the “Hallelujah Diet” which is ver similar to Gerson: raw vegan, 64 oz of veggie juice every day, as well as intermittent juice and water fasting.

    Fortunately I never had the severe detox symptoms you had, lethargy being the worst for me.

    I’ve seen many people try raw food and give up after a few days because they “felt bad”. Too bad they didn’t understand that what was happening in their body was actually a good thing

  12. liz says:

    Kevin, I hope you’ve really digested (pun intended:-)) the crux of this article, because Constantine Hering was a wonderful homoeopathic doctor, who was convinced to study homoeopathy after being cured by it. Formerly he had been a very sceptical allopathic doctor.
    You have indicated in your previous posts a so-so attitude to homoeopathy, not really believing it, but patronisingly accepting it ‘if people really think it works’.
    Not only does it work, it is the most powerful medicine on the planet because it works on all levels – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – and, as you can see, its principles are the cornerstone of deep healing.
    I really hope that Naomi goes further in future posts to show how homoeopathy is essential to true healing.

  13. june says:

    I wanted to know if all Ana ate was the prunes or did she eat normal along with the prunes? Thanks

  14. Jessica says:

    When I did my first few cleanses I would get migraines, severe fatigue and mood swings that were so bad I was afraid I would do or say something that would cause me to be fired from my job!! That would last for about 5 days and then I would feel like I was on top of the world.

  15. suzette says:

    Sorry but as usual I don’t know where to post stuff when I have a random comment/question. I have a theory and don’t know why I’ve never seen this issue addressed. Upon recently thinking about a friend healing from a liver tumor (who I promptly & lovingly talked this over with), who is using a 100% raw protocol, I realized that one of her daily meals includes raw dehydrated french onion bread. This recipe contains extra virgin olive oil. I’ve learned that we should actually be careful not to leave the cap off the oil longer than necessary to use what’s needed so the oil doesn’t get exposed to air. Well isn’t it obvious that anything sitting in a dehydrator for hours on end with constant air circulation would TOTALLY OXIDIZE the fresh pressed oil? Or any oil for that matter. Therefore not only cooking oil damages it, but what’s the point of “raw” if the oil is basically stale and oxidized making it harder for even a healthy liver to process? Am I missing something? I really value your opinion Kev. Please weigh in.

  16. suzette says:

    Ooops sorry, one more random question I’ve been wanting to ask. Is nutritional yeast alkalizing or acidifying or neutral?

  17. Tara says:

    Great article! Very timely for me, I just started a sort of juicing cleanse 4 days ago. I currently have a sore throat and headache, which happens to be the last ‘illness’ I felt. I am having my first 2 drinks as veggie/fruit smoothies, made in my vitamix and the last 2 drinks as veggie/fruit juice. Not sure if I should be having the smoothies but it takes less produce and fills me up more.

  18. Sarah says:

    I was confused by the title of this article. I don’t think she is saying that detoxification doesn’t exist – of course it does. We know that fat soluble toxins go through phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification in the body in order to be excreted. However, what is important to note is that many people think that going on a cleansing program or a detoxification program is the ONLY time we are detoxifying. We are detoxifying 24/7. If we weren’t, we would die. So maybe what is meant is “Does the concept of a healing crisis during a detoxification program exist”? (Meaning a cleansing or detoxification program that enhances the body process that we are undergoing 24 /7. To asnwer this question, I think the answer is what she said: no it doesn’t, because a true “healing crisis” is what she describes as Hering’s Law. In other words, you would not experience a true healing crisis after going through a day or two of a juice fast. What is more likely is that you are experiencing upregulated phase 1 where the toxins are coming out of the cells and entering the bloodstream and being made water soluble and down regulated phase 2 which is where they are joined together with an amino acid to get them out of the body. (So you need amino acids or some kind of protein to do this). If you are robust enough, your body will catch up with this situation, but it is better to make sure that phase 2 is upregulated as well and then you won’t have these flu like symptoms. If you are not robust and have a weak life force and are exposed to a lot of fat soluble toxins (like pesticides), then I would advise against a juice fast and recommend a slower detoxification enhancement program.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say I was very disappointed in this article. The title made it seem like it would explore whether detoxification is real, but there was no science in the article related to detoxification, only anecdotes – personal stories. There is nothing in this article that proves detoxification to be real. I believe anecdotal evidence can be compelling, and I myself have felt better after cleanses. Personal experience should not be dismissed, but it isn’t science. Because of this article’s title, I was expecting a true explanation of the science behind detoxification.

  20. Aime says:

    I started my first ever cleanse with a water fast as directed by my ND. This wouldn’t be the usual suggestion for someone in my sick state of health but I was headed to the ER again for unbearable pain like I had one time before. Within a day I was severely depressed & having suicidal thoughts. Fortunately I called my ND & she had me get out in the sun, dig my feet in good chemical & weed free soil & of course doing coffee enemas. The depression lifted & my issue subsided. Since then I have done MANY juice fasts. Some have felt GREAT, others have had much detoxing going on during it but I know to ride it through naturally & not panic. The body is an amazing creation definitely by intelligent design. It wants to heal & be well IF we just help it do so. Thank you Lord! Awesome article!

  21. nina says:

    I truly believe “body detox” exists – I’ve had a few small incidents myself, over the past 3-4 years, since becaoming more and more raw.

    BUT, my request is – Kevin – Please have Nomi become a regular contributor!! Please, please, please!! I dearly love this woman and what she has to say. Thank you so much for this contribution.

  22. Helen Downham says:

    What is a water fast? Sorry, I’m not sure about this. Do you drink only water for a planned period of time? And the same with juicing? I have recently gotten over breast cancer and took chemo. Working with my ND to get the toxins out, but he is very wary about going at to too fast.

  23. Kristine says:

    Thank you Nomi! I am a big fan. Your articles always inspire. I feel strongly about using colonics as a way to keep from having or reducing the affects of a healing crisis during detox. Especially for a relative newby like me who has only been doing this for 4 and half years. I feel I am in more control/sure of ridding my body of whatever is bothering it. I recently did a shortish detox of 4 days followed by a colonic. I waited a week to have another colonic and that one was crazy. Obviously, one was not enough to sweep away all that my body was trying to get rid of. Enemas are good too. I am really pleased that I just signed up for my first detox retreat, ie, someone else is going to be making all the juices…:-)

  24. eyla says:

    great article, thanks 🙂
    I love that it comes from personal perspectives and direct experiences…

  25. DUDE says:

    21 Days into a water fast, both my kidneys started to throb. It was very painful. I didn’t know what was wrong and I was a bit panicked.

    Well for the next three or so days, I was urinating out what you would basically classify as sand. It was kidney stones being dissolved. I even saved some of the debris.

    Although painful, I did not need morphene like my two coworkers who were coincidentally going through conventional treatment for kidney stones right about the same time.

  26. ana says:

    Hi June (comment no 10), it isn’t a prune ‘fast’of any sorts, you follow your regular diet while you’re doing the cleanse. Hope it helps 🙂

  27. Tommy says:

    I was vegan for 7yrs and raw for the preceeding 3yrs when I cleansed with Arise & Shine. At the end of 30 days I started a 10 day water fast up Mt. Shasta. I never had any cleansing reactions, but for a clean eating vibrantly healthy man I sure had great deal of mucoid plack and toxins exit my body. The glacial water I used to drink was also very beneficial

  28. Tommy says:

    Most importantly, thank you Kevin, and congratulations to you and Annmarie.

  29. Carole says:

    When I was in my twenties, I did a 5 day water fast, and my energy was so good! As soon as I went back to eating normally, the energy diminished. Unfortunately, it took another 20 years for me to find out I had a gluten problem. I was still addicted to grains and now, after reading “Wheat Belly”, I have finally been able to go grain-free, and can feel the difference – more energy and less brain fog. I have had trouble with juicing – it didn’t seem worth all the work, but now I’m feeling more determined.

  30. Ed says:

    It really exists, but the old guard {V.E.Irons)and older made assumptions based on observations,the Mucoid Plaque exited the body in the shape of the colons large and small so they were credited as source. Dr Alejandro Junger in his book “Clean” gives the best explanation of this purge that I have come across,the water fast or juice feast allows your body to purge the chemicals, poisons, and normal organic toxins somewhere between 5 to 10 days in. When your tissues, cells, and liver get relief from garbage in, they get to function on garbage out and they have knowledge to do this that we all were born with.Still I sit here at this time knowing that the last juice feast and Daniel Reid “The Tao of Detox” {another excellent book}cleanse I completed was eight years ago. I remember the feeling and swearing it would be a every year renewal.How I forgot and went back to my BEER drinking habits does not compute.So take it from a crazy man, it’s a good thing to do.Specifically I am talking about a juice feast, liver cleanse, and colema board twice a day protocol. If you eat anything you don’t grow organically, your ascending colon needs help.Upon completion your astonishment will be as mine, a quickening of sorts you thought not possible.Myself I look to get back on Schedule.

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