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How Detoxification Boosts Resilience

By Jodi Cohen

A solitary figure stands on the edge of a cliff, gazing into the misty mountain expanse.

Toxicity drains your energy reserves.

Resilience requires energy. You need energy to make any and all positive shifts in your life

The more you detoxify the food, chemicals and emotions that are draining your resilience, strength, energy and vitality, the more you free up energy to be used in a positive fashion.

While physical detox is all about releasing toxins (like chemicals and heavy metals), emotional detox involves letting go of the past and releasing the emotions, beliefs, and experiences that no longer serve us.

Dr. Daniel Pompa refers to this build-up of chemical, emotional, and physical toxins as the “stress bucket. He notes, “Every drop of stress builds up in the body until the metaphorical bucket begins to overflow. This overflow s why some people hit a wall out of “nowhere”: your stress bucket has been accumulating for years. So the final event that tipped the scale might not have seemed like anything major, but in fact, it’s the cumulative effect of stress over a lifetime.”

To enhance your capacity for resilience, you need to not only reduce your exposure to environmental toxins, irritants and negative energy that deplete your resilience, but also support your innate detoxification systems – the organs that help eliminate the toxins stored in your body – to help free up your physical, mental and emotional resilience.

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification is a natural, daily process that allows your body to eliminate toxins.

Detoxification usually includes both limiting your exposure to and intake of environmental toxins and giving your digestive system –  including the liver – a break by eliminating foods that are high in toxins or difficult to digest, absorb and assimilate (think sugar, dairy, grains, caffeine and processed food).

Once your body has more energy freed up, it can then start on the work of housecleaning (i.e. cleaning out the toxins that have been stored in fat cells).

Sadly, when your toxic load overwhelms your capacity to handle it or when you lack nutrients or energy, detoxification can be compromised and toxins may accumulate in the body.

Toxins can limit the ability of cells to function, so the body safely stores them away to avoid any harm.  For example, when your liver cannot adequately handle your toxic load, it and stores them in fatty tissue like your brain and nervous system.  This is because toxins love cellular fluids and the brain. Toxins store in fat and affect endocrine health.

For this reason, toxins are a huge energy drain, stealing your energy while simultaneously stimulating and exhausting your system. The impact is additive and cumulative, often presenting as disease in old age.  For example, research by the Environmental Working Group found that:

  • Hormone disruptionwas associated with about 154 chemicals
  • Infertilitywas associated with 186 chemicals found in the study
  • Immune system disruption was associated with 130 chemicals in the study
  • Neurotoxins were associated with 158 chemicals

Your ability to detoxify determines your resilience and resistance to disease.

Supporting your organs of detoxification, including your liver, gallbladder, gut and kidneys, helps enhance their resilience and capacity to function optimally.


What Are Toxins?

When most people hear the word toxin, they think of heavy metals or pollution, but in reality toxins can be any substance that creates an irritating or harmful effect in the body, including undigested food (think fats or proteins), excess hormones (like estrogen) and yeast overgrowth or other digestive concerns.

Any substance in excess can create toxins in the body.  You create toxins all the time as by products from your normal metabolic functions and a healthy body can eliminate them

Toxins come from internal and external sources and can be categorized into chemical, emotional, and physical toxins.

Chemical toxins can be found in:

  • Food (Food Additives, Preservatives, GMOs, pesticides, herbicides)
  • Air pollution, including airborne allergens and radiation like EMFs from cell phones, call towers and Wi-Fi networks
  • Mercury in amalgam fillings
  • Heavy metal toxicity (industrial exposure, air or water pollution, foods, medicines, improperly coated food containers, or lead-based paints)
  • Black mold found in homes, schools, stores, and office buildings
  • Tap water toxins (including chlorine and fluoride)
  • Conventional body care products (including SLS, parabens, and fragrances)

Physical toxins can include:

  • Metabolic or Cellular wastes
  • Parasites, Viruses or Infections
  • Imbalance in Gut Flora
  • Dysbiosis
  • Poorly Digested Foods
  • Unaddressed biochemical imbalances

Emotional toxins can trigger the release of stress hormones in the body, especially when emotions and thought triggered perceived stress becomes chronic and a looping, without any resolution. These emotional toxins may include:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Sadness
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Understanding what deplete you helps you take positive steps toward health and resilience.


Symptoms of Toxicity

Toxicity in the body limits the ability of your cells to function. Symptoms can present as:

  • Pain and Fatigue: Lack of energy, headaches, muscle and joint pain
  • Mood changes: anxiety, aggression and depression
  • Cognitive problems:reduced memory and brain fog
  • Neurological problems:nerve pain, tremors and balance problems
  • Immune alterations: chronic infections and/or severe allergic reactions
  • Poor digestion: constipation, nausea, bloating and weight gain
  • Hormone imbalances: infertility, PMS and premature menopause, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and poor blood sugar balance
  • Skin problems: allergies, eczema, psoriasis and acne

This Toxicity Questionnaire details symptoms and can help you assess toxicity risk.


How Essential Oils Help with Detoxification

The detoxification process mobilizes the toxins out of storage with the intent of then removing them from your body.  Think of cleaning out your garage and putting all the trash in bags that you then take to the dump.  Just as literally taking the garbage bags to the dump is an important step in getting it out of your house, it is important that the toxins that are mobilized during the detoxification process actually leave your body.  If they don’t leave your body, they are recycled and reabsorbed into the body (and sometimes into places that are not as safe as the fat cells, like the brain).

Most of the popular detoxes do a terrific job of mobilizing the toxins, but unless the toxins actually leave the body, they can be reabsorbed and do more harm than they would have if just left alone. This is why it is important to include dietary fiber or clay in a detox effort to ensure that the toxins have something to bind to in order to leave the body.  It is also important to support detox with essential oils, to aid organ function and the elimination of toxins.  A detoxification program is supposed to help us heal, not hurt us.

Essential oils possess specific properties that help support the detoxification process and eliminate toxins. The right blends of essential oils can:

  • Support organ function and vitality.
  • Improve the function of major elimination pathways by supporting the body’s ability to clean tissues and eliminate waste.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Stimulate your white blood cells to help clean up toxins in the body.


How Your Body Detoxifies

Your body clears toxins through fluids (blood and lymph) which drain from your brain down through your body much like a hydraulic system or a stream flowing into a larger river and eventually into the ocean. As long as the waterway is open and not blocked by logs or sediment, everything flows smoothly. When there is a blockage in this flow, the water backs up and can flood the surrounding area and cause damage.

Once toxins draining from the brain clear the neck channel, they must continue to flow downstream in your blood, through your liver, to your gallbladder, and into your bile, which then transports toxins through the gut for elimination in your stool. As long as toxins flow in the right direction and do not encounter congested tissue or stagnation in any organ, they can be eliminated.

Congestion in your detoxification pathways, such as liver congestion or stagnant bile flow, impede the elimination of toxins. This pushes toxins back into your bloodstream where they are forced out through other detoxification pathways—your skin and your kidneys—leading to blemishes, scabs, and rashes, frequent urination and low back pain.

READ THIS NEXT: 10 Detoxification Pathways

Detoxification Pathways

The detoxification pathways move the toxins out of the body. These pathways include:


Your vagus nerve initiates in the brainstem, where it directs your organs of detoxification to move toxins out of your system.

Your vagus nerve stimulates the Parasympathetic “Rest and Digest” branch of your nervous system.  In order for the body to detoxify and heal, it needs to be in the rest and digest parasympathetic state. You literally cannot detoxify when you are under stress.  

Apply the Vibrant Blue Parasympathetic® blend to the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system “rest and digest” state to promote optimal detoxification.


Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is critical for moving metabolic waste, toxins and infections out of the cells via the lymphatic fluid.  It serves a dual role as a detoxification pathway and an important part of the immune system through the Peyer’s Patches in the gut, which is 80% of our immune system.

Interstitial lymph fluid permeates every part of the body and flows through the lymph nodes where toxins are filtered out, acting as a pre-filter for the liver to prevent clogging and liver overload.  The lymphatic system also helps carry nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other healing substances into every cell.

Unfortunately, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump and lymphatic fluid can accumulate and stagnate (learn more about the Lymphatic System here).  This stagnation can be due to an overload of acidity, animal protein, gluten, infection, toxins or adhesions of the connective tissue, such as scars.

The more you can help the  lymph fluid flow, the more quickly you can move toxins out of the body.  This is why saunas, dry brushing and jumping on a trampoline are recommended.

To support lymphatic drainage and movement, generously apply Vibrant Blue Oils Lymph™ around the sides of the neck, under the left clavicle, in the arm pits, and the groin.  For more tips to improve lymphatic function, read this article.

Your vagus nerve runs alongside your lymphatic vessels and can enhance or detract from congestion that impacts lymph flow.  As you know, your lymphatic system, including lymph nodes and the vessels that connect them, filters and moves waste products, including pathogens, infections, toxins and metabolic waste out of the cells for elimination.  Healthy vagus nerve function, in the parasympathetic state, enhances the flow of lymph supports the body’s ability to detoxify.

Your vagus nerve also regulates your immune response, which involves your lymphatic system, which permeates every part of the body through a series of lymphatic ducts and nodes that carry waste to the circulatory system for elimination.

Blood Flow

Your blood shuttles toxins from the cell through lymph to the liver. Your blood flows through every cell, tissue and organ in the body delivering oxygen and critical nutrients while carrying away metabolic debris. Blood also shuttles communication molecules around the body, cleanses detoxification sites such as the liver, and provides a freeway for the immune system.

Your blood is sensitive to toxins, so instead of letting toxins linger in the bloodstream, your body will instead push them out through through the kidneys or the skin.

Your parasympathetic nervous system helps increase blood flow to your organs of detoxification so they have more energy to operate effectively. Your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system increases blood pressure  and routes blood flow to muscles, lungs, and other areas essential for moving away from perceived danger.  Research found that over time, chronic activation of your sympathetic nervous system and change the shape, size, and organization of blood vessels. (Study) Healthy blood flow helps carry toxins to the liver for elimination.



The liver plays a huge role in the detoxification effort, filtering toxins from blood and neutralizing fat soluble toxins into water soluble substances that can be eliminated from the body through the kidneys (via urine) or intestines (via stool)

The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. It helps our body metabolize nutrients, eliminate harmful chemicals, heavy metals, alcohol, and drugs.

But dumping more toxins into an already overworked liver can be a recipe for disaster.  The liver needs the energy and vitality to keep up with the increased toxic burden. 

Keeping your liver healthy is critical for optimal health and resilience. Vibrant Blue Oils Liver™ helps support optimal health and vitality of the liver.  This is a great blend to support any kind of digestive repair effort that would release extra toxins (like yeast die off), a detox cleanse or for anyone who demonstrates liver stress symptoms like sensitivity to smells (smoke, perfume, etc.) and or chemicals or those who are easily intoxicated or hung over.  Apply Liver™ directly over the liver (right side beneath the breast) 2-3 times daily.  You can also combine Liver™ blend with castor oil – just add 3 drops of Liver™ to 1 tsp of castor oil and rub it over the liver before bed.  Castor oil is notoriously messy, so you can either: (1) cover it with a piece of flannel and plastic wrap and apply heat from a hot water bottle (avoid the electricity of heating pads) for 20-30 minutes,  (2) wear a ratty t-shirt and let your body eat work it’s magic (3) climb into an Epsom salt bath with the castor oil and Liver™ oil and benefit from layering 3 healing strategies at the same time.


Gall Bladder

After your liver processes toxins, the waste molecules are transported in your bile, a fluid produced in the liver that helps our body break down fat as well as carry toxins and old hormones out of the body, through your gallbladder to the intestines for excretion. As long as toxins flow in the right direction, they can be eliminated.  If the flow of bile is inhibited, toxins cannot be efficiently removed.  Your sympathetic nervous system slows digestion and inhibits gallbladder contraction and emptying.  By way of contrast, your parasympathetic nervous system supports optimal bile flow to enhance detoxification.

Your gallbladder is responsible for storing, releasing, and concentrating bile.  Bile has been called liquid gold—because research has found that it is so important to so many functions in the body. Bile helps regulate inflammation, emulsify and digest fats, and support gastrointestinal motility. Bile acids are antibacterial and bile helps move toxins out of the liver and into the gut, where they can be safely excreted.

Diminished or slow bile flow can block our ability to detox, disrupting many enzymes and transporters the liver needs in order to function optimally.

When our bile becomes too viscous, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins (especially estrogen) don’t move out of the system and often get reabsorbed.

Compromised bile flow can also compromise the liver’s ability to transport toxins out into the bile. Instead, toxins and toxin conjugates may actually back up into the blood, contributing to herxheimer and detox reactions.

Sluggish or stagnant bile flow can be caused by a very low fat diet, too much toxicity in the body (which thickens the bile), estrogen dominance, or chronic stress (as stress hormones hinder bile production). The gallbladder is also another organ that holds onto negative emotions like resentment, anger, bitterness, and hate.  Some indicators that the Gall Bladder blend might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes, dry skin, hair loss, and an achy feeling in the liver area. Even hypothyroidism in women can be linked to low bile flow, since bile breaks down the fat that is used to make thyroid hormone.  For more ways to support the gall bladder, read this article.

To support the optimal flow of bile and allow toxins to flow out of the body, apply 2-3 drops of Gall Bladder™  underneath the ribs at the gall bladder (right side, underneath the ribs.  If you lean forward, it is easier to apply under the ribs).



The intestines play an important role in our detoxification and immune health, providing a physical barrier to stop viruses, bacteria, fungus, yeast, parasites and other pathogens or toxins from entering the body and maintaining a balance of “good” bacteria that assist in the detoxification of toxins and the maintenance of a balanced gut environment.  Normal detoxification during digestion depends on the integrity of the GI membrane and the maintenance of the precise bacterial and chemical environment.  An imbalance in the intestinal flora and injury to intestinal walls, can allow undigested food and other contaminants can leak into the bloodstream.

Regular and healthy bowel movements are a critical pathway for the toxins to leave the body.  Poor waste elimination is often correlated with toxins being reabsorbed into the body, often known as re-toxification.

It is estimated that 25% of detoxification processes occur within gastrointestinal tract. For example, most toxins enter your body within foods and beverages you consume.

Healthy gut flora support detoxification.  More specifically, a strong and intact gut barrier can prevent the leakage of toxic materials from the intestines into your body.  In contrast, intestinal permeability or leaky gut allows these potentially toxic compounds to by-pass the processes of detoxification that would normally be carried out within the gut cells.

Maintaining healthy gut flora helps prevent harmful bacteria from rapidly growing. When your gut flora is out of balance, opportunistic and harmful bacteria can multiply and can predominate. Research finds these harmful bacteria then release ‘endotoxin’, which can increase intestinal permeability.  These endotoxins trigger  inflammation, increasing oxidative stress, which depletes our most glutathione, an important compound for neutralizing and eliminating toxins. The endotoxin inflammatory cascade also inhibits important liver enzymes that detoxify harmful compounds (Study) and reduces bile flow which is important for detoxification (Study).

The Parasympathetic state helps support healthy digestive motility and trigger bowel movements critical to the elimination pathway which allow for nutrient absorption and trigger the muscle contractions to allow food and waste to move through the digestive tract.

Applying 1 drop of Parasympathetic® behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone can support digestive motility and trigger bowel movements critical to the elimination pathway.

Our Intestinal Mucosa™ protects the cells and nourishes “good” bacterial flora which in turn feeds the lining of the small intestine keeping it robust, healthy and able to support the final steps of digestion, allowing only appropriately digested food particles to be absorbed.

To help maintain the healthy balance of gut flora and neutralize toxins, apply 2 -3 drops of Intestinal Mucosa™ in a clockwise circle around the belly button.  Can be used in combination with Anti-Inflammatory™ to both anti-inflame and heal gut lining.



Your kidneys detoxify by filtering toxins out of your blood and removing waste products through urination.

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that play a vital role in detoxification, filtering the blood, and helping remove waste from the body through urination. When your liver is overworked, your kidneys take up the slack.

The kidneys also regulate the balance of fluids in the body, blood pressure (by maintaining the salt and water balance), and the body’s acid-alkaline balance or pH (by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals and electrolytes). The kidneys control the volume, composition, and pressure of fluids in all the cells. Blood flows through the kidneys at its highest pressure, filtering out toxins and directing nourishing materials to where they are needed.

When your kidneys overwork, you can experience symptoms like low back pain, the need to urinate more frequently, puffiness around your eyes, and swollen feet and ankles.

If your skin and kidneys are not able to pick up the slack for your liver, your body will store toxins in fat cells to protect itself from those toxins flowing back to critical organs like your brain. When this occurs, you may experience weight gain, fatigue, and brain fog. The body will do anything it can, including adding extra weight to your frame, to move toxins out of your blood stream to protect vital organs.

Sympathetic nerve receptors are abundant in the kidneys, and sympathetic over activity can disrupt your balance of sodium and water.  The parasympathetic state supports healthy hydration and blood pressure to ensure toxins are eliminated and do not recirculate through your body.


Your lungs help you detoxify by releasing gaseous wastes, such as carbon dioxide.

Your lungs also help support and regulate your oxygen supply, drawing oxygen from the environment into blood and releasing carbon dioxide from the blood to the atmosphere. Your lungs also help expel toxic materials such as carbon dioxide and heavy metals from the body. Breathing plays an important role in detoxification because it helps the body return to a relaxed Parasympathetic state, when the body’s detoxification systems are most active.

The lungs are sponge-like organs located near the backbone on either side of the heart that inhale and exhale an average of 16,000 times a day.  Optimal lung function, and effectiveness as a detoxification pathway can be challenged by outdoor and indoor air pollution and poor lifestyle habits (smoking, lack of exercise, shallow breathing).

Similarly, emotions like feelings of grief, bereavement, regret, loss, remorse can obstruct ability of the lungs to accept and relinquish, impeding their function of “taking in” and “letting go”.  Grief that remains unresolved can become chronic and create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung’s function of circulating oxygen around the body.  When lung function is impaired, it leads to shortness of breath, fatigue and feelings of melancholy.

Fortunately, essential oils can be extremely beneficial for the lungs. For example, Breathe™ blend contains three different types of Eucalyptus oil, a potent antiseptic, expectorant and decongestant that can help clean and strengthen the lungs.  Breathe also contains Peppermint Essential Oil whose expectorant qualities may help support upper respiratory congestion caused by asthma, bronchitis, allergies, cold or flu. To use, apply 1- 2 drops topically on throat and upper chest (Breathe™ contains a lot of hot oils and can turn the skin red.  We therefore recommend diluting with castor oil, coconut oil or olive oil before topical application).  Breathe™ can also be inhaled using steam inhalation (Place 2 to 3 cups boiling water + 5 drops of Breathe™ in a bowl, cover your head with a towel, close eyes and bring face close to the bowl and gently inhale the steam) or used with a hot wet towel compress to the lungs and throat areas.

Lung Support™ helps overcome grief and let go of negative experiences.  Apply 2- 3 drops over the lungs.  Allow yourself to deeply exhale any grief as you apply the blend.  A normal and healthy expression of grief may be expressed as sobbing that originates in the depths of the lungs, including deep breathes and the expulsion of air with the sob.



Your skin is your largest organ and a major elimination pathway. Your body eliminates up to a pound of waste products every day through your skin. Your sweat glands act as a key channel, helping to support any toxic overflow from your liver or kidneys.

Your skin detoxifies by first of building a barrier for toxins to enter and then using sweat to eliminate them. Your sweat glands act as a key channel helping to support any toxic overflow from the liver or kidneys.

Skin reactions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, rashes, or dry and itchy skin are often an indication that your liver and kidneys are processing more toxins than your body can handle. When your liver is unable to process toxins, your pores start to pitch in to sweat things out.

Sweat therapy can trace its roots to Native American sweat lodges, Scandinavian saunas, and Roman and Turkish baths. Recent research corroborates the benefits—toxins like heavy metals have been found in sweat after heavy exercise. Fat-soluble toxins, such as endocrine disruptors like bisphenol A (BPA), can escape in the sweat as well. Supporting the detoxification pathway through the skin can lessen the burden on other detoxification organs like the liver and the kidneys (this is especially helpful for the kidneys, since they are delicate organs and can be easily damaged by overuse).


Detox Baths

Heat helps to open and enlarge your pores, which opens the pathway for sweat and to detoxify whatever else may be in the pores of your skin.  My favorite tool for eliminating toxins via sweat therapy is a detox bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt, 1 cup of baking soda, and a few drops of either lavender essential oil or a combination of clove and lime. The clove helps to pull toxins out of the skin to lessen the burden on the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. But remember: oil and water don’t mix! Blend the oils into the salt first to ensure their distribution in the water Make the water as hot as you can tolerate and try to soak for at least 20 minutes, ideally 3-4 times weekly.



Your eyes serve as a detoxification pathway.  More specifically, tears – like other fluids in the body – are extremely detoxifying should be allowed flow.  Tears lubricate your eyeballs and eyelids as well as prevent dehydration of several mucous membranes. Tears also contain lysozyme, which is an enzyme that kills bacteria.

Biochemist William Frey found that emotional tears contained more toxic byproducts than reflex tears. Psychology Today notes “After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins that accumulate during stress.”

Crying tears of pain, loss or sadness is literally emotional perspiration that releases emotional toxins. Emotions are meant to flow and move through you so that you can release them.



The spleen, located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen, assists with the distribution of healthy blood cells, filtering and storing your blood in much the same way as the lymph nodes filter lymph fluid.   Your blood is very sensitive to, and easily effect by, toxins. Once infiltrated with toxins, your blood can become a shuttle and depository for the toxins.  This is why the spleen, while technically part of the lymphatic system, serves as an important detoxification pathway, that must be supported in any detoxification effort.

Just like the liver, the spleen recognizes and removes old, malformed, or damaged cells from the blood and helps fight off infection.  For example, the lymphocytes in the spleen help destroy any toxins or pathogens in the blood.  Macrophages in the spleen then help clean up any remaining debris.

The spleen is a highly vascular organ, containing many vessels that carry and circulate fluids in your body and is highly susceptible to stagnation.  According to Chinese medicine, the spleen houses the body’s thoughts and intentions and is responsible for analytical thinking, memory, cognition, intelligence, and ideas.  These emotions in their extreme states – over-thinking, worry, excessive mental and intellectual stimulation or any activity that involves a lot of mental effort — can contribute to disharmony and stagnation in the spleen.  If you “ruminate” and obsess constantly about life experiences, you literally are not “transforming” them into positive fuel to motivate taking action and moving forward in life.

To help release stagnation in the spleen, apply 2- 3 drops of Spleen Support™ over the spleen (left side of the body, under breast) or around the earlobes.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.