Share Guide magazine





An Interview with Linda Page, N.D.

Naturopathic Doctor, Researcher and Master Herbalist

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publisher

Dr. Linda Page is a trained Naturopathic Doctor and Herbalist and the author of many books, including the  revised and expanded bestseller Healthy Healing. She has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and in national magazines and symposiums. She is currently featured on The World of Healthy Healing on PBS television.

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The Share Guide:
Dr. Page, what does the term detoxification mean to you?

Dr. Linda Page: It's one of the oldest and certainly most effective healing methods known to man. We have many records of it as far back as 5,000 years ago, perhaps even up to 20,000 years ago. People have known for a long time that detoxification--or cleansing the body of a build up of toxins--was certainly beneficial to their health. It's a known health benefit all over the world, and to me it means clearing out congestion. Especially in the highly toxic, industrial world of today, it means clearing out the toxins in our systems, and it means neutralizing the acid/alkaline balance of our bodies. This is far more important than we may think because an acid system sets up an environment for many diseases.

The Share Guide: So part of what we are doing is purging, but part of detoxifying is to balance the acid/alkaline of our system?

Dr. Linda Page: Yes. Detoxification is far more than purging. That used to be what people thought. For so long there wasn't very much information about it available, and a little knowledge was a dangerous thing. People started using it for weight loss. I was one of those people, because I had fought my weight all my life. You can literally detox yourself to death, and I did that. I was in a coma for quite a while. I died right on the operating table and went through an out-of-body death experience. When I left the hospital I only weighed 69 pounds. Unfortunately, I enthusiastically embraced the wrong way to do this and it is one of the things that led me to write my book so that other people wouldn't make that same mistake. Using detoxification as a purging technique either for rapid weight loss, for rapid cleansing of the bowels or some other reason is not the way to go. It isn't really true detoxification. Like everything else in nature, detoxification needs to be done in moderation and with a holistic approach. It's important to remember the three things we just talked about: balance, in this case your acid/alkaline system; getting rid of toxins that are stored in your body; and boosting circulation by getting rid of congestion, particularly in the lymph system.

The Share Guide: What's the best type of detox program? Does it have to be very involved?

Dr. Linda Page: Some of the best detox programs are not these long, very strenuous, clinical type detoxes--unless you are very seriously ill. I find that a mild, gentle, "spring cleaning" type of detox program is all most people need. It can be done over a long weekend a couple of times a year. The hardest part about it is beginning, because it takes quite a bit of change to your lifestyle. Sometimes a series of short detoxes, one or two over a three or four month period works better than a long detox where you would need to be under clinical supervision.

The Share Guide: A lot of our readers, like myself, are working toward preventive health maintenance. If a person already has a healthy diet and is in general good health, does he or she need to go through a detox program? It seems that you are saying a regular tune up is good because of the environment we live in, but it doesn't necessarily need to be as heavy duty if you have a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Page: When someone asks me who needs to detox, I really can say with all honesty that I think everybody does. For instance, I feel that I live a very healthy life. I am working with the absolute newest supplements out there because I am on the testing range with so many of them. Yet I do it because detox is a technique for staying healthy in a destructive world and that is what we live in today. There are over 30,000 destructive synthetic chemicals in our society today and 25,000 new ones are coming in every year, many of them on the winds from countries that have no safeguards in place, or in our water supply. U.S. industries ALONE now annually release 24 BILLION pounds of toxic substances that are linked to developmental and neurological problems in US children. We have no way of shielding ourselves other than taking care of our own bodies.

The Share Guide: I know that diet plays a big role in our overall health, and I reviewed the detoxes in your book Detoxification. I am wondering how much importance that has in relation to other factors such as emotions, work related stress and so forth?

Dr. Page: I don't know that I could answer that in specific percentages, but in my mind diet always has to play a part. It is something that we do every day. Of course we take in emotional stresses and yes, we may not exercise, and it all certainly is important, but I think that diet is one of the most critical things. I also feel that diet is the first place to start and then you build from there-- because diet can also help you out with the stress problems which are certainly growing every year as well.

The Share Guide: Seeing diet as a primary source of well-being that we can control individually, what I do is take herbs and supplements in addition to trying to eat a low fat, primarily vegetarian diet. I am wondering if there are certain detoxification-type herbs that you use regularly as part of your daily supplement program or if detox is just something that you do periodically?

Dr. Page: What I suggest is a mildly detoxifying diet or maintenance diet, like you mention--a protective type diet. I feel that we can always be protecting ourselves fairly easily with our diet. But when we want to go on an actual period that we call detoxification, I like to target it more. For instance, if you are doing something after the holidays, I like to target detoxification from fats and sugars. If you are deciding that you feel fairly congested and you want to go on a detox period during the spring, I find targeting the liver--and we can easily do this with foods and herbs--is a good idea. Any time you are working with a liver detox you want to have help, vitamin D from sunshine helps. A liver detox works best when you do it through the high sun months. Other things can also be worked on, and I see that people get the most rapid results when they do some sort of target. A protective diet, however, could easily include something early in the morning like green tea. I drink green tea every morning for two reasons: because it keeps your liver uncongested, and it also helps in the way that bitter herbs help. I usually add bitter herbs to my green tea in extract form. It is a very easy thing to do and it keeps your digestion flowing--it keeps your whole system flowing, your bowel system regular. That is just one little thing you can do every morning. Of course, green tea has been proven to have weight loss benefits, proven immune power benefits and other things.

The Share Guide: Dr. Andrew Weil recommends green tea for lowering cholesterol and also as an antioxidant. I drink it every morning instead of coffee. But I have a question regarding green tea. I tend not to get hungry until lunch time, so I will have fresh squeezed orange juice and tea in the morning usually, nothing really solid, until I get hungry around midday. I have been drinking this green tea which was giving me the jitters, so I switched to a decaffeinated one. I am wondering about the decaffeinating process and if that actually inhibits part of the positive effects of the green tea.

Dr. Page: My first thought, not knowing if it is water decaf processing, it seems it wouldn't be a problem. I believe there is good news and bad news about caffeine. I believe you do get increased metabolism and certainly a little mental boost there. I enjoy green tea or even black tea; I like the caffeine that it provides. (What I can't really handle and don't even ever do is coffee or chocolate.) I am surprised you get jitters from green tea.

The Share Guide: I think it is because I don't get hungry in the morning. I'm busy on the phone and I notice myself feeling a little wired, which I hadn't felt when drinking herbal tea. So I switched to the decaf green tea and felt much better. Another herb that I have begun using regularly is ginger. What are your thoughts on ginger?

Dr. Page: It's one of my favorites! What a good choice. Not only is it a bitters for your digestion, there are some new things about ginger being researched. For people that may be at risk for heart problems or heart attacks (both men and women), ginger inhibits the same enzyme, for instance, that puts people at risk for a stroke. It's the very reason that doctors often recommend an aspirin a day for people. Aspirin inhibits that enzyme. Ginger does this with much less stomach problems, digestive and eye problems that come along with aspirin. Also, cayenne and ginger together in a synergistic fashion. Cayenne boosts your central circulatory system, and ginger gets everything right down to your fingertips and boosts your circulatory system all the way to your extremities.

The Share Guide: I am sure that you are aware of standardized herbs. You probably prefer the whole herb.

Dr. Page: Oh yes, I have a problem with standardized herbs. I can tell you all kinds of side effects coming out of this standardized herb process.

The Share Guide: It's only part of the plant, right?

Dr. Page: Yes, you are losing so much. What you really lose, are all those protective benefits that the whole herb has. It may have alkaloids or something that might be harmful in its isolated or concentrated form. When you have the whole herb, the plant already has built in a lot of the protective benefits so that you can take the whole thing and get the benefits of the alkaloid or whatever else it is. There is a lot that you lose. Now we know for instance with St. John's Wort, that many side effects are coming out of the standardized extracts.

The Share Guide: I know you would call some of these herbs like green tea or ginger part of preventive health maintenance. But they may be cleansing and detoxifying you as well.

Dr. Page: Exactly, I certainly use both of those. Another one is sea greens, or sea vegetables. They are the detoxifiers of the ocean and they can do the same thing for us. They are also wonderful for weight loss and detoxifying, fat, sugar and lymph cleansers.

The Share Guide: When you say sea greens, are you talking about seaweed?

Dr. Page: Exactly--dulse, kelp. I often go out on the boat to gather it. I have gone out in the ocean in a wetsuit. I used to go out with big garbage bags to take it in. I take baths in them. You can feel immediately a seaweed bath is incredibly cleansing.

The Share Guide: Do you think seaweed is better than other green foods, such as wheat grass and spirulina?

Dr. Page: Spirulina is a water plant as well, but I must tell you that the actual ocean ones, I have had much better results with simply because I have been working with them for 25 years.

The Share Guide: I have read mixed opinions about green foods. Some people say that chlorophyll cannot be broken down, that it's indigestible by humans.

Dr. Page: I think you would get mixed opinions there because a whole lot of work has been done by the Sun Wellness people and Dr. Hagiwara and others that say that they are beneficial. Regardless, the way I work as a traditional naturopath is from the view of the ailment, and is the person getting better and are we getting the results that we want. This is more important to me than the supposed proven or unproven properties of the plant.

The Share Guide: Your personal favorite is more the sea vegetables. I think there is a lot of good research on Green Magma and some of these others. I was kind of surprised when I heard a doctor or two that I respect say they weren't really sure if chlorophyll was really digestible by people.

Dr. Page: I believe that it is. When I was in a coma, then coming out of the coma, and for all those weeks in the hospital, I felt that if I was getting all those things, I didn't have to eat any hospital food at all. The health food store in town was allowed to bring in green drinks and sea greens and the herbs you are talking about as well. I felt like I was getting a little transfusion. I can tell you it was just like a deep breath because my body was so down.

The Share Guide: So you actually ran your health down through the detoxification process?

Dr. Page: I was only eating five things for several years. It sounded good, but it was terrible. I thought I was losing weight. I look at pictures of me then and of course I was anorexic.

The Share Guide: You were malnourished.

Dr. Page: Incredibly malnourished...I came out of the fashion world so I thought I should be on a cleansing diet my whole life. I nearly detoxed myself into the grave!

The Share Guide: Because you go from cleansing to using your bodies vital reserves after a while?

Dr. Page: Oh yeah, I had no B12 and that is what really gives you cell regeneration. You have to take it in, your body doesn't make that.

The Share Guide: I know you like to work with herbs from around the world and that's always intrigued me. Do you want to talk about different cultures and what detox methods that they use?

Dr. Page: I just got back from China in June and I am now going to be representing some of the Chinese herb companies over here. The Chinese herb that everybody knows about but may not think of in terms of detoxification is ginseng. It's used widely over there, for reproductive enhancement, anti-aging, detoxification and many other things. Ginseng truly is incredibly popular with everybody. Ginseng is a good detoxifying herb because it clears out congestion and restores that body balance. It is not a purgative but it is a restorer of homeostasis.

The Share Guide: I'm concerned that there are so many people wanting wildcrafted herbs that we are going to just wipe them out in the natural world. Do you know the average age of ginseng that is used? I know the roots have to be several years old.

Dr. Page: I have been to several ginseng farms and the farms are all very old. They have now developed a way of alternating their fields so that they can grow more. The Chinese do an enormous amount of importing. Up until just five years ago, 90% of the ginseng we grew here went there.

The Share Guide: Wisconsin ginseng?

Dr. Page: Exactly. Now that's changing rapidly because we are realizing how good the quality of ours is here.

The Share Guide: You are primarily working now with herbs from other countries such as China. You have also worked with Ayurveda and some of the other world healing systems, haven't you?

Dr. Page: Yes, I have been involved in creating Ayurvedic formulas in the past. Ayurvedic practitioners are the ones that made the vegetable juice diet so popular for cleansing. I really admire them for that. I think that's exactly the way to go. American and European traditions were using water fasts at the same time--but today we know that water fasts do not give you enough nourishment to maintain in this modern world. Water fasts allow your body to detoxify too fast, dumping out all those toxins stored in your fatty tissues way too quickly. You can re-poison yourself. Ayurveda uses the vegetable juice diet as a popular way to work on body cleansing, and they also popularized yoga and deep breathing. Deep breathing can really enhance a cleanse. As far as the native American Tradition, most of us know about sweat lodges. That certainly was for body as well as for spirit purification. My favorite herb from the Native American tradition of cleansing is sage. Many people use it today for a cleanse of the house (burning sage) and of course it was used in the sweat lodges in the same way. Sage will also really boost your immune system. As far as the European tradition goes, I used to work in a spa in Europe. A great deal was devoted to detoxification techniques, mostly water techniques. They would lower you into sweating baths or mud baths. I worked in Germany at a spa where you walked right into the mud pits outside. It certainly was a cleansing technique!

The Share Guide: That sounds like Calistoga, here in Northern California.

Dr. Page: Yes! We used to do the wraps. I saw how effective the wraps were. You cannot imagine how much yellow body waste would come out through the skin after a cleanse of that type. There's no question that every tradition has a way to cleanse the body. In the Rain Forest, the parasite cleanse is of course a big one because that is what they get, and they are getting even more now that they have become inundated with a western diet. It is like an open environment for all the parasites. They keep the body from being able to fight it.

The Share Guide: You have given a good overview of a number of countries. Another question: I am aware of spring cleansing and fall cleansing. This issue comes out in January. What should people do in the middle of winter?

Dr. Page: I recommended the Fat and Sugar Cleanse, because this is when the average American eats so much of this kind of food around the holidays. Americans eat 150 pounds of refined sugar every year. Even people who are on a low fat diet end up eating even more sugar. I am working with Chinese herbs now and a lot of it is getting the sugar out of the system. When you eat a lot of sugars, it triggers that insulin reaction. It is the insulin reaction that triggers your body to make fat. The Lymph Cleanse is also a good one to do in the winter. It is a wonderful way to boost your immune system. The whole lymph system is a secondary system for your circulation. What it doesn't have is a pump like your heart, so exercise decongests your lymph system. Exercise stimulates the muscles to move all those toxins through your lymph system enhancing your immune response.

The Share Guide: Do you have a preference as to using tinctures, capsules, tablets, or herb teas?

Dr. Page: That's a good question. The way I feel about it in regard to detoxification is that you should start out using an extract, or tincture in water or under the tongue, and then move into a capsule or a tea. In general you will get a better result if you give your body a lot to work with at first. Most people's cleanses are short ones. I recommend using a one ounce bottle of extract or tincture during one cleanse.

The Share Guide: You are suggesting the more concentrated version at first?

Dr. Page: Yes, go in descending order. This is best because you ask your body to pick up more at first. That way you get a much more permanent result. Whereas with drugs you normally have to take more and more to get the same results.

The Share Guide: What do you see as the descending order?

Dr. Page: Teas are the weakest form. They are very good during detoxification because they can flush your body and flood your body with rinses. Caps are four times stronger than teas. Tinctures or extracts are either four or eight times stronger than capsules.

The Share Guide: Do you think there are specific herbs and vitamins that people should take every day?

Dr. Page: I don't think you should take every herb all the time. For instance, echinacea, which is a wonderful lymph cleanser and boosts the Lymph Cleanse, should not be taken all the time. You should alternate one month on and one month off. Even ginseng works better if you alternate. The reason is not so much that your body builds up a tolerance to it (as it would to a drug), but the whole idea behind herbs is that they enhance your body function. You need to give your body time to use what you have been giving it.

The Share Guide: Do you give yourself a break from green tea or do you think we can use that year round?

Dr. Page: I think we can use it year round. One of the benefits is that you can add different extracts at different times. I like to add the bitters because it keeps my system feeling so free and flowing. I use it pretty much all year round, but I use my traveling time as my break.


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