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Open 10 Detoxification Pathways with Essential Oils

By Jodi Cohen

A diagram of a human body.

Your ability to detoxify heavy metals, environmental toxins, bacteria, viruses and fungi is critical to your health.  Any build-up of these pathogens in the body keeps your immune system on high alert and triggers chronic inflammation – both of which interfere with your ability to heal.

In order to leave your body, toxins or pathogens flow from the cell to the lymphatic fluid where they are carried into the blood, processed through the liver, then eliminated via the gall bladder carrying them to the intestines in the bile where they are eliminated with your bowel movements.

Any congestion or stagnation in these detoxification pathways can compromise your ability to detoxify.  To help get the detoxification pathways open and flowing, consider supporting your detoxification effort with dietary changes and essential oils for detoxification.


Essential Oils for Detoxification

Essential oils help keep plants healthy by moving vital fluids and energy. They transport water from the roots to the leaves and perform similar functions in your body, helping to move energy, flush toxins like viruses and heavy metals, and prevent stagnation. Essential oils can help open drainage channels like those in your lymphatic and circulatory systems to improve the flow of energy and toxins through the blood, into the detoxification organs, and then out of the body.

Science magazine reported that certain types of anesthetics, or substances that reduce sensitivity to pain, dramatically increase the space between your cells so fluid can flow more easily to help wash the brain. Many essential oils have been found to have anesthetic properties, which helps explain their value in brain detoxification. (Study)

Studies have verified the sedative and anesthetic properties of essential oils like clove, eucalyptus, lavender, fennel, black pepper, and peppermint. (Study) For example, the administration of clove oil, which is high in the constituent eugenol, dramatically decreased the time required for the induction of anesthesia. Similarly, both fenchone, a constituent of fennel essential oil, and linalool, a naturally occurring constituent in lavender oil, both have acute local analgesic effects.


What is Detoxification?

The idea behind a detox is to give the digestive system, including the liver, a break by eliminating foods that are high in toxins or difficult for the liver to digest, absorb and assimilate (think sugar, caffeine and processed food).   Once the liver 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).

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.  Toxins can limit the ability of cells to function, so the body safely stores them away to avoid any harm.


How Can 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 for detoxification can help you heal correctly during a detox.

Open 10 Detoxification Pathways with Essential Oils

The detoxification pathways are channels by which the toxins exit the body.  All of these pathways must be open and flowing optimally before we begin to mobilize toxins or kill pathogens.

As you may know, any kind of detox effort increases the burden on the detoxification organs. If your detoxification pathways are already stressed, blocked or stagnant, mobilized toxins will likely be reabsorbed and we might feel even worse.  This is often characterized as a “detox reaction” but what it really means is that the toxins are not leaving the body.  If this happens, you often need to pause the detoxification effort and open the detoxification pathways.  Essential oils can play an especially powerful role in helping to open these detoxification pathways as they are extremely gentle and can be topically applied, thus avoiding any additional burden on a potentially compromised digestive system.

10 Detoxification Pathways

Open these 10 detoxification pathways before our bodies become burdened by the toxic overload:

1.  Autonomic Nervous System Parasympathetic

There are 2 states of the nervous system:  The Fight or Flight Sympathetic State and the Rest and Digest Parasympathetic State.  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.  In addition to taking time to relax, it is helpful to support the organs that provide the body with the energy reserves and strength necessary to detoxify, including the hypothalamus and adrenal glands, with appropriate nutrients or the Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit™.

Another key stressor and toxin creator is an impaired digestive system.  If you are not absorbing and assimilating your nutrients, it puts another stress on the body and the undigested food particles add to the toxic burden.  To ensure optimal digestion, you can 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  digestion, absorption and assimilation of the nutrients necessary to help the body heal and put it in optimal balance.

2. Liver

The liver plays a huge role in the detoxification effort, filtering toxins from blood and neutralizing the toxins in preparation for elimination. 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. 

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.

3.  Gall Bladder

The gallbladder is responsible for storing, releasing, and concentrating 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. 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.

This can be caused by a very low fat diet, too much toxicity in the body, estrogen dominance, or chronic stress. 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.  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).

4.  Detoxify Emotions  

The Detoxification process  occurs on a physical, spiritual and emotional level and can help uncover and express feelings, especially hidden frustrations, anger, resentments, or fear.  Often, the more toxins a person releases, the more stored emotion that is also released.   Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt noticed this pattern in his work with thousands of chronically ill patients and noted that “for each unresolved psycho-emotional conflict or trauma there is an equivalent of stored toxins and an equivalent of pathogenic microorganisms. To successfully detoxify the body the three issues have to be addressed simultaneously.”

It is important that these emotions are allowed to be processed and released to avoid causing additional stress that would undermine the detoxification process and essential oils make excellent tools to help gentle release and detoxify emotions.  For example, our key organ of detoxification, the Liver, holds onto traumatic experiences and negative emotions, like anger, impatience, resentment  and frustration creating emotional blocks cause the liver to become sluggish.  Processing and releasing these negative emotions are an important step in opening the drainage pathways.  Learn more about the importance of processing unresolved emotions HERE.

To help you move through and release anger and negative emotions from the cells of the liver, apply 2 -3 drops of Liver Support™ over the liver, the heart or around the earlobes.  You can also gently inhale Liver Support™  for 3 – 7 breathes, breathing out any negative emotions on the exhale. For more tips on detoxify emotions, read this article

5. 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.

6. Intestines

Our intestines are critical for both physical breaking down our food, so we can digest, absorb and assimilate the nutrients and also eliminating the waste. 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.  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.

The intestines also 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.

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.

7.  Skin

The skin is our largest organ and a major elimination pathway.  Our sweat glands act as a key channel helping to support any toxic overflow from the liver or kidneys.  For example, skin reactions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis or rashes are often an indication that the liver and kidneys are processing more toxins than the body can handle, so your pores will start to pitch in to sweat things out.

Sweat therapy can trace its roots to Native American sweat lodges, Roman baths, Scandinavian saunas, and Turkish baths and recent research corroborates the benefits, finding toxins like heavy metals in sweat post exercise.  Fat soluble toxins, such as endocrine disruptors like BPA, can also escape via in the sweat as well.  Supporting the detoxification pathway via the skin can lessen the burden on other detox organs like the liver and the kidneys (which is especially helpful for the kidneys as they are delicate organs and can be easily damaged by overuse).

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 Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic® oil. The clove oil in the Parasympathetic® blend helps to pull toxins out of the skin to lessen the burden on the liver, gall bladder and kidneys.  For more tips to on healing baths, read this article or download this FREE guide.

8.  Kidneys

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that filter blood and remove water-soluble waste products.  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 (pH) by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals and electrolytes.

They 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.  It is important to support the detoxification pathway of the kidneys because when the kidneys are overburdened, it will impair other detoxification channels.

The kidneys can also hold onto feelings of fear and paranoia which can impair function. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the seat of courage and willpower.  Water is symbolic of the unconscious, our emotion and of that which we do not understand and that which we fear.  To help dispel fear, assist in feeling safe and support the kidneys for optimal function, applying 2- 3 drops of Kidney Support™ over the kidneys (one inch up and out from belly button), back of neck, or around the outside of earlobes.

9.  Lungs

The lungs are sponge-like organs located near the backbone on either side of the heart. They serve as a fundamental source of life energy –transporting oxygen from the atmosphere into the capillaries so they can oxygenate blood – as well as an important channel of elimination – releasing carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere.

Our lungs 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.

10.  Spleen

The spleen, located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen, assists with the distribution of healthy blood cells, filtering and storing our blood in much the same way as the lymph nodes filter lymph fluid.   Our blood is very sensitive to, and easily effect by, toxins. Once infiltrated with toxins,  the 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.

Remember to Take Binders

When we detoxify, we need to make sure that the toxins are not only mobilized, but actually leave the body.  In order to leave the body, toxins travel through the liver, where they travel to the small intestine in the bile.  If the toxins are not bound to anything, most of them will get reabsorbed in the gut.

Binders are substances that ‘bind’ to toxins to help move them out of the body.  They work by attracting or trapping toxins, and transporting them out of the body.

Prioritize Sleep

Restful sleep is critical for the body to detoxify and heal.  If you are not sleeping, you will not detoxify. This means not only the ability to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep and achieve a restful REM state.  For help falling asleep, you might consider Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit™including the Circadian Rhythm blend, which  triggers the pineal gland to release melatonin.   For night waking, consider the Vibrant Blue Blood Sugar Support Kit™ or Vibrant Blue Detox Support Kit™.


Several of the Oils mentioned above are included in the Vibrant Blue Detox Support Kit™.  The Detox Support Kit™ contains Parasympathetic®Liver™Gall Bladder™.  When used in combination with a detoxification diet, fiber or clay and other nutritional supplements, these oils can help support the organs of detoxification for optimal function.   We advise you to consult a healthcare practitioner for additional nutritional and supplemental support.

Also, to help determine which Vibrant Blue Oil Kit is right for you (Detox Support Kit™Stress Support Kit™Blood Sugar Support Kit™ or Gut Repair Kit™), check out this complimentary Vibrant Blue Oils Detox Checklist.


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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.