BTS: How I address inflammation in private practice
After practicing nutrition for 13 years, it's time to share some of the things I've learned to help you shortcut your own success in either private practice or with your health goals.
In this behind the scenes episode, I get into the frameworks, approaches and timelines I use when guiding clients to overcome root causes of inflammation, rebalance hormones, and optimize gut, liver, adrenal and thyroid function.
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[00:00:00] Christa: I found this quote on my desktop when I was pulling in some other schematics or diagrams that I have on my desktop, and I thought it would make a fun little intro to set the stage. It says, there's a saying that goes hurt people will hurt people, but I really never hear the opposite. Healed. People will heal, people get healed, then go heal.
[00:00:26] Christa: This really warms my heart. And on my short-term list is to be more generous with this podcast, with this platform because I think, I hope that I have some value to share, to add to your life after being in practice for 13 years. I hope I can share some of the lessons that I've learned to save you time in your own healing journey, whether you're a practitioner or.
[00:00:53] Christa: Or a client yourself. I think we're all clients in some aspects just independent of, of what our name badge says for our, you know, how we earn a living. But today I wanted to share a little bit about how I address inflammation with clients in my private practice. So if I was gonna summarize this in one line, Perhaps I might say there's a few, there's several one-liners I might use, but I might say I'm essentially addressing the imbalances or toxicities and filling in the gaps and deficiencies.
[00:01:27] Christa: So for context, some of the super common symptoms, not everyone who walks through the door has a diagnosis, right? And actually, I kind of prefer that. I tend to work in this gray area where I have people with subclinical symptoms they're not getting answers for, but they're smart people, so they're not settling for it.
[00:01:44] Christa: They're not really okay with feeling not great, and so they're looking for optimal and not just functional. So, I have a laundry list. There's always new things walking in the door for symptoms, but I love to see some of these super common symptoms that I see a lot, which are low energy or not feeling really rested after sleep.
[00:02:06] Christa: Any kind of issues of sleep, stuffy, nose and throat clearing. Any GI symptom, food sensitivity, skin staff, especially eczema, feeling cold or having a puffy face, or fluctuating five or more pounds of water weight in a day or two. I definitely think those last couple are major inflammatory symptoms. So when you're trying to solve a problem, you reverse engineer it, right?
[00:02:29] Christa: You say, I want to fix this symptom, and then you use those symptoms. You put them in collections to help you decide which area needs priority first. So the question is, which area is most imbalanced in the body? Maybe it's multiple areas that are imbalanced. For me, when I'm working with clients, I'm usually bringing multiple symptoms and.
[00:02:49] Christa: Into balance. I'm trying to optimize and improve the function of these four systems. The th at least the thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, the gut, and the liver. Now maybe the ovaries get a little, little time, you know, airtime, but, or, or different system. But I find that the thyroid, the adrenals, the gut and the liver are the most underrated systems that need support and balance that kind of.
[00:03:13] Christa: Give you the most symptoms or signs that your body is whispering, that it wants help or maybe even yelling at you, right? So I go back first at which area is imbalance? What's dysfunctional that it needs to come into function or to become more optimal? Maybe the person doesn't have a diagnosis or lab work that's off, or they can't find any that's off yet because maybe more complete lab work needs to be done.
[00:03:36] Christa: Right? So we have more specialized and. Lab testing that can show you some more like deeper things, I would say. But you wanna start to figure out which areas seem to need the most support, because sometimes the adrenals need more support. Maybe someone is having all kinds of really weird symptoms that they can't quite describe.
[00:03:57] Christa: Maybe they're having some heart palpitations, maybe they're kind of dizzy from sitting to standing. and that is usually gonna be some adrenal stuff. And if that's going on, what happens is that usually you don't have very good foundations or nourishment foundations. And so you should be very careful about what you do next because if you don't have foundations to do other processes, you must nourish kind of that, the adrenal foundation back to health a little bit in order to make gains in other areas.
[00:04:23] Christa: So essentially, in different words, if you are really deficient in a certain area, even though you eat really well, cuz most people do, they come in, they're like, Technically the picture of health, but they've got these weird things going on. If they are low in nutrients, what stress does long term is it depletes a bunch of nutrients and then the body starts robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then you have just a variety of of symptoms happening.
[00:04:47] Christa: People actually accidentally create this for themselves sometimes as well. We will take certain supplements, individual ones, and each thing has. A reaction, right? Everything we do has a reaction, and so things are meant to be in synergy. And so if we take an isolated supplement for too long, you can create deficiencies in other areas.
[00:05:07] Christa: So I see that a lot as well, especially with iron, zinc, and Vitamin D. All right. So there's what's causing dysfunction, which toxicities and imbalances are going on that are causing deficiencies. And then from there, it's a, a series of in of dominoes. So there is a. Graphic that I use often when I'm talking to pos potential clients from Dr.
[00:05:29] Christa: Samuel Yak. He is an immunologist and he runs a. Kind of a functional medicine training program called Cogens Immunology. And it's a nice schematic and it shows all these things con contributing to the bucket of inflammation. And when I saw this for the first time, I was like, oh my gosh, this is exactly what, what we do in practice.
[00:05:49] Christa: So I, I refer to it often and then I've kind of made my own version of it. So here are the things that are contributing to inflammation most often. Something going on in the. And something going on in the nervous system. There are other things that could be going on. If you get a concussion or you end up with some brain inflammation, there can be different reasons for brain inflammation hitting your head physically or, or something else is causing brain inflammation.
[00:06:11] Christa: There's some not great stealth infections, right? Lyme disease, there's other things that can cause brain inflammation that will create a lot of immune system. Basically, if the brain doesn't feel safe and it's getting a lot of messages, right? Thousands of messages every. , if it doesn't feel safe, it can be shooting inflammation through the body.
[00:06:28] Christa: So I would say even people who have pain, it's, it's a really awful chronic loop where, which is first the chicken or the egg. Either way, the pain in the body is gonna speak to the brain. The brain's gonna feel unsafe, and it just kind of keeps feeding itself. Other things that contributes inflammation include, Not oxygenating well.
[00:06:48] Christa: So some breathing defects or oxygen defects issues around iron, um, and iron recycling system can fit into this bucket because if your iron is goofy , then oxygen rides around on that. So just poor oxygenation can be a big deal. You'll hear. Dr. Eric, Eric Baleage talk about this as a cause of root cause of thyroid.
[00:07:11] Christa: Things like a sneaky root cause of thyroid things in an upcoming episode. Hormones like hormones and, and blood sugar go together a lot. Actually, hormones to me can be kind of secondary, but, um, there's a lot of hormones, right? There's sex hormones, there are adrenal hormones, there are blood sugar, hormones, ghrelin, insulin, et cetera.
[00:07:30] Christa: So if those are out of balance or, or dysfunctional for a variety of reasons. Some, some type of usually lifestyle induced reason. Um, then that contributes to the inflammatory bucket. Having issues with toxic burden and not being able to clear toxins, uh, which is something I care a ton about what's going on in food and environment, and I already mentioned blood sugar.
[00:07:52] Christa: So all of those things contribute to that inflammatory bucket that. Speaks to the innate immunity that's happening inside of the immune system, which is mostly inside the gut. And then that can have an upregulating or downregulating impact on TH one and th two status. Now, depending on which one is upregulated or downregulated, the symptoms can look a little bit different.
[00:08:13] Christa: For example, I think if TH one is upregulated, you may not get actually sick very often, but you can have some other things going on. I think, I think maybe some pain stuff with TH two being upregulated. Don't quote me on that. Um, with TH two upregulated, that's the one I see much more often where people present with a little bit more of that atopic maybe asthma, allergy, eczema, sinus issues, uti history, low immune system.
[00:08:42] Christa: That's like what I really see most. . So there's also other infections that can be going on in the gut or in the body that are contributing to this overall, any immunity. So there's all this messaging happening and communicating with the immune system. So another one liner I like to say is that I am impacting what's informing the immune system.
[00:09:03] Christa: So, Everything under the nutrition umbrella, whether it's gut health, detox issues, blood sugar issues, et cetera. I just kind of group that all in nutrition, um, is informing the immune system and also what's going on in the nervous system is informing the immune system. That's the sneaky part, right? Like that's the area that flagged me for years and years and years in practice.
[00:09:23] Christa: I'll try to come back to that. All right, so we've talked about kind of figuring out, I'll use. Symptoms. I'll kind of find out the history. Usually it kind of presents itself, but we bring these systems into balance and I would say I'm combining a few different well tried and true approaches, and then adding my own lens to bring these things into balance.
[00:09:42] Christa: So if I had to just pick a couple modalities that I'm using, , I'm using the integrative process, which is, I'll tell you about by Jeffrey Bland, that's been around for decades to, to, to support this. And then I'm also using a quote unquote, pro anabolic approach. Now, I use that term kind of loosely because I'm not dogmatic.
[00:10:03] Christa: I've had this conversation with colleagues. Some of them say that this approach feels a little dogmatic. I would just say it's a nourishment based approach instead of a restriction based approach. That's, I really like that corner of the internet. It's really this new age diversion. It's just a new name on an on, on some older premises.
[00:10:20] Christa: It's really funny. It's a full circle. Like my, my more, uh, maybe, maybe that digression is not necessary right now, but this brings me back to education. I had right out of college when I was kind of trying to decide how I really wanted to practice, but I was in the room with a bunch of chiropractors and non dieticians and I kind of fell out of like a fish outta.
[00:10:42] Christa: Anyway, it's a new aged version of this semi food is medicine approach. I mean, I'm gonna call it that. Or, um, kind of like Western Apri, Sally Fallon principles a little bit. I, and you can maybe, your brain goes A lot of places. All of our brain, we are, we have all kinds of, um, information. We've reached it from different places that start to tell us like, what does that actually look like?
[00:11:03] Christa: My goal is less supplements. More synergistic nutrition, more food, retting things. So I used to do a comprehensive micronutrient panel on a, like every client and insurance used to cover it. And it was wonderful, but it, and it was very effective. But long term, it was a lot of supplements and there was a lot to do.
[00:11:23] Christa: So what I was looking for was, A, something that could show us what happens when you have stress on the body, what nutrient things happen. And then I also needed an answer because I was seeing so many people with these thyroid symptoms that didn't have it showing up on blood work or adrenal, like we're just not even on the same planet conventionally and functionally with what's going on in the adrenal.
[00:11:47] Christa: anyway. So integrative a process. I'm gonna explain that and then a little bit of pro metabolic or this, or, you know, another word for, for a bit of a movement if you're trying to learn more about this is root cause protocol. So I look at things with like curiosity and optimism and say, what could I learn from this that's working for this?
[00:12:05] Christa: So there's pieces I use from, from this protocol. And again, I, I just shared, I, it's really to see this impact of stress and to see the imbalances, these nutrient imbalances, cuz then I can physiologically help someone fill in those nutrient imbalances. We still have to work on that stress, chemistry and nervous system.
[00:12:23] Christa: Okay, so I wanna give you a, oh, I wanna tell you a couple more things about that. So, under stress, we dump minerals. Minerals, make enzymes work, and enzymes make everything work in the body. Another good, like, just underline that one. enzymes make everything work. And if you don't have the nutrients to make enzymes work, then things break down.
[00:12:44] Christa: And Peter, or how does it go again? Robs Peter to pay Paul, right? The body wraps Peter to pay Paul. So let me give you an example that feels kind of tangible. Pretty easy. Sometimes everyone's familiar with digestive enzymes. Maybe some people are familiar with stomach acid. I used to use more digestive enzymes and do more stomach acid repletion, but I don't use that as much in practice anymore, almost.
[00:13:09] Christa: I rarely use those things anymore. Because if you're under stress, whether it's emotional, physical, now it could, it can help for sure in the short term, but I get frustrated if things don't work long term . So, so I'm always looking to optimize. So if you're under stress, whether it's emotional, physical, like you have some pain, so that's you shrub your toe, that's a stress, right?
[00:13:28] Christa: Or other things the brain deems unsafe. For example, skipping meals because you're busy when your body would want that and the blood sugar's not stable and it's not very intentional. Like there's times that people can do this and it can be this intentional thing. . Sometimes it becomes this brain does not like it.
[00:13:46] Christa: Unsafe thing. So when you have these things going on, you'll suppress the enzymes that you would use to digest foods. So stress suppresses digestive enzymes, stomach acid, bile acids. Okay? Invariably so you can. Take these supplements and quote unquote fix it, but then you can just relapse again under stress.
[00:14:05] Christa: So this really bothered me a lot because I wasn't seeing the needle move like I can, I can look at this in a stool test and I can see different markers of enzyme function and they weren't moving. If you're just kind of doing it for the body, you're like enabling it to not do it on its own. So essentially there's a couple pieces here.
[00:14:26] Christa: give the body back what it needs because minerals are the foundation to making some of these things work and what dumps the minerals, stress of different types. So I've done a lot of different work the last couple of years evaluating different modalities for nervous system. So I'm going from, I, I've gotta come back and talk about integrative process.
[00:14:44] Christa: I've talked a little bit about root cross protocol and pro metabolic approach. I'm using a mineral analysis to help me in practice for this. I will say that I, I tried to learn this. Funny enough, I, the first training I did around it was in. 2000, it must have been 2010 cuz I threw the notes away somewhat recently when I was redoing my office and I was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe I learned about it.
[00:15:06] Christa: But I thought it was really hokey and weird. And then I went through a course around it and just thought, oh, this is way too much supplements. And then I had another colleague share about the Brookhouse protocol process using that for evaluating mineral status in the tissue, AKA the hair, because that is tissue that grows out and so we can see a longer.
[00:15:27] Christa: situation. If you can look at nutrients in more of a longer term situation, instead of going and getting a blood test and just seeing serum, you're able to see a bigger, more complete picture. So there's a lot, unfortunately, it's not like super intuitive to read it on your own. Um, so you can't, it's not, I I would say there's a lot of like patterns and trends and things and that that's kind of true for a lot of things.
[00:15:48] Christa: So, . So we're filling in the nutritional gaps by saying which things are out of out of line. And then there's an order of operations on putting that back. And then if stress is suppressing or dumping the nutrients, right, which is means you have deficiencies. So you can't make things right, you can't make these digestive enzymes.
[00:16:09] Christa: Then I've had to go back and really evaluate, okay, how do I really help people, um, get to the other side and really have more lasting results? I've done a lot of work and also for myself cuz I really am my clients honestly. So I've done a lot of work in these last couple of years evaluating different modalities for the nervous system because I thought, gosh, what you don't realize is a stress is gonna cause relapse and.
[00:16:31] Christa: Very frustrating for me. So when I say relapse, I mean symptoms like constipation, bloating, hair loss, et cetera. Like these are all things that happened to me, corrected everything, and then saw these symptoms coming back. That's because under stress, you would suppress these minerals, then these processes could not happen.
[00:16:49] Christa: And before, you know, you've got kind of a sluggish thyroid, but it's not enough to show up on blood. You've got adrenals not not performing well, but it's not enough to show up anywhere unlike blood work. So you're just kind of told everything is fine, even though you're like, well, it doesn't feel great.
[00:17:02] Christa: Like my, my skin is drier than I would like it to be. And there's lots of different things that can be going on. You can have relapse of fungal issues. So for me, I brought in a modality into my practice. I haven't talked about it a ton, but it's a very specific kind of breathwork practice. And it's a combination.
[00:17:19] Christa: It's called theta breathwork, which is, it's not a well-known name. Like you can't just like look this up in your city and find someone. Yet probably there's about 10 of us that can do this because the person who kind of developed this, and it's really just a combination. Of different modalities that already exist, including visualization, a super hyperventilation practice of breath work, and um, some neuro linguistic programming modality.
[00:17:45] Christa: And so this is something I'm offering to my clients like one to two times a month. I'd like to be getting to do it more commonly. And it allows you to get into this theta brainwave state, which you can access healing memory recall. Um, Et cetera. And it's, it's lovely and I always kind of hesitate talking about it because it doesn't sound like it didn't sound cool to me.
[00:18:10] Christa: I just, I went to a retreat one time and they're like, okay, we're gonna do this thing. And I didn't thought that was really amazing. So I, this isn't the first breathwork program I've in certification I've done, I did another one. Um, you've heard Campbell on this program. I've done his before and that one was very functionally based because he like me as a, like very practi.
[00:18:30] Christa: So he is wonderful for very specific diagnoses and different things, and so I learned a lot from him as well. But one of the things I learned from him that was a really mind boggling, and hopefully this'll sink in for you, and I just had to share this with clients last week cuz they asked about this because sometimes if you're doing a super hyperventilation practice can make you more anxious if you're anxious.
[00:18:51] Christa: Well that's an issue cuz I've. You know, most of my clients have some, a little bit of anxiety. And so anyway, we talked through that. We talked through overcoming that and all these things, and I had to go find some information from some of my functional breathwork training. And what I found was that we're really oxygenating cells.
[00:19:08] Christa: And when we oxygenate cells, were really, uh, giving them, uh, resources for healing and. in the presence of oxygen, your body can create, uh, 32 units of attp. That's energy. Um, that's cellular regeneration. So like stress breaks things and then this puts it back together. Um, ATP is like what we want. , that's the fountain of youth.
[00:19:32] Christa: And then without oxygen, you can make two. So like it's 15 times more efficient for free to heal what's going on physiologically in your body. Certain breath work, so I find that mind boggling. We can talk more about another time. So I kind of use, I use that integrated process, root cause protocol, trying to address these underlying.
[00:19:56] Christa: Signs and symptoms like these overall defic underlying deficiencies that have been caused by stress that are not showing for the blood work. All right. Let me tell you a little bit about the integrator process, the integrative process, and I know I'm kind of talking about a lot of things, but I feel like it's kind of hard to describe several months of work, and I don't want that to sound bad.
[00:20:13] Christa: I like people to see pretty significant differences in their health within the first month. And then get their buy-in, cuz I want them to have lasting benefits. And then I want them to be around long enough to go through the hard parts. And here's, let me, let me actually kind of share how that works in the integrative process.
[00:20:29] Christa: Because if I lay out these timelines, it kind of helps you understand why I lay out timelines in such a way. So in the integrative process, there's four or five Rs. There's remove, replace, repair, and or populate, and sometimes reassess or rebalance, right? That got added on. . So for me, remove is, uh, toxic burden, um, nervous system imbalances and stress chemistry, gut imbalances, sometimes food stuff.
[00:20:56] Christa: I will say, like I, I might help someone with food modification more if they've got a diagnosed autoimmune condition. It seems to matter more. . A lot of my clients walk in with a healthy diet. Some simply don't have enough of certain things. So I'm not a big restriction proponent in my practice, which is again, full circle cuz it actually started there way back when.
[00:21:15] Christa: But that doesn't serve people long term. If they've had stress and they've, essentially the stresses caused deficiencies. Okay? So remove process that will last about two to four months. If you're dealing with a, a toxic burden like mold, it can be a little bit longer. Um, Namely, because sometimes you don't know where that's coming from, but it will present itself.
[00:21:33] Christa: It always does . So remove is the first step. So two to four months replaces the next step, which I add in, start doing things simultaneously to support that, replace missing nutrients, enzymes, et cetera. So I think that's about three to six months, and I'm kind of creating that timeline based on. A lot of experience with micronutrient testing, and then also knowledge of what it looks like to get those minerals back in the cell.
[00:21:56] Christa: This is contingent on what am I doing with my nervous system, so I'm working on that as well. So remove is two to four months, replaces three to six months nutrients and enzymes, and I'm, I'm giving the body support to make its own enzymes. I would say I, I'm not looking to just take digestive enzymes.
[00:22:12] Christa: That's a bit of an elementary, to me, it's a bit of an elementary approach, so I no longer do that. That was Christo yesterday. . And then the last step, you know, during practice for me is repairer, populate and repairer. Populate lasts for, in my opinion, two to four months. beyond the remove. So even if you start repairing your population before, you still wanna continue it for about two to four months after to make things stick.
[00:22:38] Christa: And I would say you, you know, we could argue that you're gonna be supporting nourishing for the long game and you just could get better at it. Another way to describe this is I always like to use the lawn. Removing is looking at which weeds are present, targeting those going to pull those weeds. and then nourishing the soil so that way you can grow good grass.
[00:22:56] Christa: Cuz if you pull out weeds, what grows back in this like kind of dried up spot. Which is really not that far fetched for how cells are because inflammation dries up the lipid layers of the cells and then you can't get nutrients inside. So you can't get, can't get grass in this like dried up patch of the lawn.
[00:23:13] Christa: Somehow weeds can grow right out of it, right? And so you wanna nourish that soil. So that's part of the replace process. And then their parer populate is really receding that grass and wanting. Stick. So that's really the easy part, in my opinion. That last step is the easy part. And that's when I kind of bless and release someone and let them do it on their own when I think they're gonna be able to maintain their results.
[00:23:32] Christa: So we used to do things in three months, then people just had more and more things happening. Like if your adrenals are broken, cuz you've had chronic stress, it just takes a little time to nourish that back to health. I would say like a minimum of three to six months if you're being pretty aggressive.
[00:23:45] Christa: And so, anyway, long story short, and if I, you know, I don't want people to be done when they're kind of middle things. So anyway. We made a pretty executive decision kind of recently, like, okay, our programs are five months because we want people to just feel like really good at the end. Our goal is that, you know, the first step is like awareness coming in.
[00:24:02] Christa: Like you, you probably have awareness before you get here. It's gonna get maximized in our, in our work together, cuz labs are gonna help with that. Symptom assessments are gonna help with that. Then we're gonna do the work, like bring those systems into balance as fast as possible. Efficiency is a big core.
[00:24:16] Christa: And the last piece is empowerment. And so I really do, and I, what I'm seeing, like our clients just keep getting cooler and cooler , like more awesome and more awesome. Um, cuz we've done a ton of things. We just updated a ton of things, but they are just so incredible and I'm so grateful to be able to support them.
[00:24:36] Christa: But the end goal is empowerment so they can do things on their own. And even if they think that they can't right away sometimes if I believe that they can and they don't think they. . They, they can, I, I will say like, don't spend your money with me. Like, please, you can do this on your own. You can always come back if you need it.
[00:24:49] Christa: And guess what? They, they seem to do really well. So that makes me really happy. So I'm combining the integrative process a little bit of root cause protocol stuff, repleting minerals because stress is dumps minerals and it gives me a physiological thing I can do to create that kind of less stressed life.
[00:25:05] Christa: And what we see is changes in the gut within two to four weeks on starting protocols, changes in food sensitive. between one and three-ish months of like onboarding protocols and then changes in energy from an a variety of other things, like maybe hormone changes, et cetera. That can be anywhere from immediate to six plus weeks.
[00:25:27] Christa: So those are kind of ROIs. Uh, I have some, like, I know this is audio, so you can't see the schematics, but again, like. It's what's feeding into the inflammation. We try to get rid of that balance, it modulate it, improve it. Um, then we fill in the gaps and then we try to make things maintained. So I wanted to tell you a little bit about that because maybe there's something really useful.
[00:25:50] Christa: Maybe it's something a little different than an approach you've seen before. The. Approaches in functional medicine are eliminate, eliminate, and kill, kill, kill forever. And I think we really have to take breaks from that. And I think you'll see continued shifts from us as we continue to optimize with clients.
[00:26:05] Christa: I would say there's always more than one way to do everything. Always more than one way to do everything, but whenever I find something not working well, I look for opportunities to make it work better. It's just a personality glitch, . So if you have questions, I'd love to hear them. I'd love to try to answer them for you.
[00:26:25] Christa: Krista bigler.com/questions and drop your questions there. Hit me up on Instagram at anti-inflammatory nutritionist. a change. One of the changes I made this last year was not taking clients a hundred like every day, because there's a different kind of energy when you bring clients in versus when you're serving them.
[00:26:42] Christa: Um, it's just different. It's just, you know, it's, it's like back to school. It's like back to school is a certain phase and then being in school is a different kind of phase, and so, For me to like create my own less stress life, I would take clients like four to six ish times a year and there's, there was a lot of opportunities to become a client.
[00:26:59] Christa: The first half of the year. There will not be as many in the second half of the year. So it is now March and I am taking clients to the end of this month to start in April. And then next I'll be taking clients in May to start in June and then I won't be until fall or back to school time, until we take clients for the last time of the year.
[00:27:14] Christa: Cuz then it's holidays. So if you want to go through your case, uh, evaluate it. Get second eyes on it. Um, book a call if you'd like. Krista bigler.com. You can find where you can book a call there. And if you have questions, please submit those krista bigler.com forwards. Last questions, I'll throw the both of those links into the show notes and hope you have an amazing week.
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