A Fascinating Look at What "Detox" Means Around the World
Over the past few years, the word "detox" has come to be associated with juice cleanses, meditation retreats, and elimination diets—at least in the United States. After a few weeks of too much sugar and booze, modern Americans like to flip to the other extreme, replacing the contents of their refrigerators with charcoal water and kale (temporarily, anyway).
Recently, though, we've been experiencing some detox fatigue. After all, certified nutritionists don't actually approve of liquid diets, and sitting perfectly still on top of a mountain for three days just isn't realistic for most people. We figured it was high time we reevaluate what the word detox really means. And what better way to do so than to look to different cultures around the world?
To find out what detox means across the globe, we got in touch with women from Nigeria, Mexico, Poland, and beyond, and had them tell us their secrets. Keep scrolling to learn the fascinating detox rituals of seven different countries!
"I was born in Poland, a country where the people, we feel very close to the Earth. Eating organic food straight from the local farms is a very natural process for us. As I remember, for me and my family, detox meant spiritual cleansing. Meditation in the meadows, lying on the green grass, eating sun-filled fresh food. … Polish women detox very naturally. It's not a hipster thing. It is something we learn as kids. It's about cleaning out your mind, getting stronger, visualising your future goals, and your happiness. This process is very empowering. Polish women are mentally very strong. They take knowledge from traditions, spirituality, and what Mother Earth offers. And it offers everything." — Ewa Budka, model at MSA models
"Detox in my country refers to having a cleanse of alcohol and partying or trying to have a healthier diet and practicing meditation. Drinking green juice is very typical, and having fruit for breakfast. You can see every morning in Mexico City that the cars that sell fresh juice are very busy. What I look for when I do a detox is to make my body brighter by eating fresh food, to make my skin softer, and to relax my mind by doing meditation and yoga if I can. Many girls in my country do the same kind of thing." — Daniella Valdez, model at MSA models
"I'd say the top 'detox' for Mediterranean countries is anything to do with the sea—especially thalassotherapy—which can be as simple as bathing in the sea. This ritual has been passed through generations to boost the immune system, circulatory system, anti-aging benefits, and more. In fact, my grandmother's both believed the more sea time we had as kids in the summer, the less risk of sickness during the winter." — Stella Metsovas, author of Wild Mediterranean
"Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, my mother usually mentioned detoxing after big holidays like Christmas and New Year's. And it usually involved washing and squeezing out fresh vegetable leaves like Ugu or bitter leaf and Maringa leaves and drinking the juice from it. Doing this was supposed to flush out all the junky stuff left over in the bowels from the festivities and increase blood production and circulation. We hated it as kids because the juice was always so bitter, and your poop comes out green. But we usually felt so much better and were tummy ache-free." — Julia Ese Otobo, model at MSA models
"In Sweden, we detox by sweating, sauna, or as the Swedes call it Basta. Sweden has a deeply rooted culture of practicing the ancient detox method of sweat. We spend a lot of time in the sauna, and almost every house or apartment complex has a private sauna installed. When we increase the temperature in the body, we trick the body that it has a fever, and it goes into healing mode. We combine the sweating with ice baths and rolling in the snow to reset the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Afterward, you feel amazing." — Karin Agstam, model at MSA models
"In Peru, detoxification is the process of cleansing the body of toxins in addition to excess fluids and other impurities that ultimately prevent its proper functioning. There are different methods that people use in my country. … If you want to experience detox on another level, there are spiritual and cleaning retreats that are made to put you in contact with nature. For example, there's the Medical Volcanic Water Pre-Retreat Cleanse in Cusco, Peru. A woman gives you this healing water to help cleanse our body. The medicinal water comes from volcanoes, Mother Earth. This ceremony is meant to help you begin a journey of discovery and personal transformation." — Paula Montes Pastor, model at MSA models
"Recently, my daughter and I participated in a detox program in Phuket, Thailand—five days at a facility called PhuketFit. We ate raw and vegetarian food, had daily massages and steams, and exercised. Detoxing in Phuket was amazing. … Each morning we took our vitamins, psyllium husk, a magnesium drink, and green smoothies. Throughout the day, we drank two fresh coconut waters, which were a treat. … We also had a daily liver cleanse which was a unique combination of garlic and milk. Water was available everywhere, and we drank at least a gallon a day.
"My favourite beverage we drank was the Panna leaf tea. It looked like plain water but had a natural sweetness, which, when combined with the warm water. was satisfying and delicious. Local Thai women say the Panna leaf tea 'helps to move the body … and make the stomach full.' Then there were the messages. 'Massages help you relax and clean the organs,' says our Thailand Wellness consultant. We had massages every day, along with timed steam room sessions infused with a blend of detoxing herbs. All of these strategies definitely worked, I felt lighter and after the third day had lots of energy." — Shani Brinkley, international wellness guru
"I think in London, when you talk about detox, people usually think of juice cleansing or eating pretty much nothing and drinking herbal teas. Nothing particularly spiritual comes to mind. Perhaps it did at one point, but it seems that, at least from what I have observed, the word detox became popular at the same time that cold-pressed juice bars started popping up. It's not as big of a thing here than it is in New York, that's for sure! I think people also cut out the booze, drink juice, and join the gym!" — Kat Ladd, model at MSA models