From juice cleanses to salt rooms, IV cocktails to sweat therapy, detox continues to be the health trend du jour. And, says Dr. Rashmi Gulati, the director at New York's Patients Medical, there's no better time than now to clear your body of toxins. In the fall and winter, Gulati explains, the body goes into a state of quasi-hibernation. Come spring, your body — in harmony with nature — is ready for a rebirth.
Here, we take a look at six different ways to detox, how they work, and what you should know before you try them.
What it is: All juice, all the time.
How it works: The basic premise behind juicing is that it frees up energy to engage in deep cleaning. Blueprint Cleanse founder Zoe Sakoutis explains, "The energy normally spent on breaking down a sandwich, a Twinkie, or even a big healthy salad can now be re-directed to helping the body 'clean house.'"
Need to know: The cleanse will go down much better if you prepare your body for it — which means phasing out meat, dairy, coffee, and alcohol prior to juicing.
DIY: Most programs cost between $50 and $100 per day. If you have a juicer, you can do it yourself for significantly less. The Norwalk Juicer (nwjcal.com, $2,395) is generally considered to be the best, but the Breville Die-Cast Fountain Elite is a close second, and a fraction of the cost (brevilleusa.com, $299).
MC recommends: Blueprint Cleanse delivers squeezed-to-order juices to your doorstep — and we think it's the best-tasting option out there. If you're not ready to go cold turkey, try the Juice Til Dinner option, which includes "clean" dinner options like a creamy red pepper collard green wrap with cashew pudding for dessert.
What it is: An intravenous injection that bypasses the digestive track and delivers detoxifying agents directly to the tissues and cells.
How it works: IV therapy can be used to build up the body's nutritional stores — i.e., infuse minerals and vitamins directly to tissues and cells — and to extract toxins through the use of chelating agents. Either way, the main advantage of IV therapy is that it's a direct line to bloodstream.
Need to know: This is not your standard spa treatment and should only be administered by an accredited physician, nurse, or medical assistant.
MC recommends: At Patients Medical, you'll get a full-body workup to determine imbalances in your body. Any IV therapies that are administered are tailored to your personal specifications and needs.
What it is: Halotherapy, or salt therapy, historically meant a visit to one of Europe's salt caves. Now we have manmade salt rooms.
How it works: Because of the dry, highly dispersible nature of rock salt, it is able to travel through the airways and absorbs bacteria and mucus from your lungs. It's also thought to have a beneficial impact on skin irritations, asthma, and allergies.
Need to know: Salt therapy won't immediately cure that winter cold you've been battling or that bout of rosacea. Give it time: Expect to see and feel results after about three or four trips.
DIY: At home, try adding two cups of Epsom salt to warm bath water and have a good long soak. Repeat as needed (up to three times a week).
MC recommends: New York's Halo/Air opened in February 2010 and is the first of its kind in the U.S. A one-hour session costs $99; four sessions cost $249.
What it is: Call it a steam room, sauna, banya, or hammam, the basic idea is this: It's hot, you're sweating.
How it works: Our skin is the biggest organ in our body and when we sweat, we're not just cooling down our body, but also eliminating toxins.
Need to know: Lower temperature saunas are thought to be more effective as a detoxifying technique because they stimulate a "fat sweat" as opposed to a "water sweat." Either way, be sure to take it slowly and drink plenty of water.
DIY: You don't need a sauna to sweat — exercise works just as well, if not better: By reducing body fat, you're eliminating storage space for toxins (they love to hang out in the fatty cells).
MC recommends: Vegas' Drift Spa has a coed, mosaic-tiled sanctuary designed to imitate the traditional Turkish hammam, as well as single-sex steam rooms and saunas.
What it is: A gentle massage targeting the lymphatic system.
How it works: Soft-touch opening techniques promote lymph flow and help move stagnant energy, stimulating the immune system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Need to know: Make sure your therapist is certified in manual lymphatic drainage therapy (LDT) and avoid this type of massage if you have a heart condition or are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.
DIY: Dry brushing is a great way to maintain lymphatic health. Take a soft-bristle brush and apply light strokes on the arms, legs, and abdomen in the direction of the heart.
MC recommends: At New York's Mandarin Oriental Spa, senior therapist Wafa Mzeghet has developed the Clearing Factor, a three-hour treatment whose key component is LDT. There's also a sea salt and kama oil exfoliation, black clay wrap (see Mud Therapy, below), and more traditional Swedish massage.
What it is: A full-body mud or clay wrap or bath.
How it works: "Bentonite clay particles carry a negative electrical charge, while toxins carry a positive charge" explains Kelli Ziegler, director of the Spa at Camelback Inn. "The negatively charged molecules draw the positively-charged toxins out through the skin pores."
Need to know: Mud therapy is not for the claustrophobic, as it typically involves being wrapped up in a cocoon-like sleeping bag or layer of towels and heating pads, for at least 20 minutes. It's also not recommend for pregnant women or those with iodine or shellfish allergies.
DIY: Ziegler recommends Living Clay Company's Detox Clay Powder ($22.95). It can also be useful to exfoliate the skin prior to your mud rubdown in order to slough off dead skin and open up the pores. We love Naturopathica's Espresso Mud Body Scrub ($48).
MC recommends: Inspired by a Native American sweat lodge ritual, the 60-minute Adobe Clay Purification Wrap at the Camelback Inn involves a head to toe Adobe clay wrap, followed by a rubdown with juniper and sage ($165).
Read more from Geraldine Campbell at www.geraldinecampbell.com.