Book of the Month Review: The Detox Book by Bruce Fife

The Detox Book: How to Detoxify Your Body to Improve Your Health, Stop Disease, and Reverse Aging, 2nd EditionI set out this month to find some solid information about detoxification. Internet searches only reveal so much, and it's hard to separate fact and fiction when web sites are constantly blurring the line between real information and product promotion.

I picked The Detox Book because I know Bruce Fife from his prolific literature on coconut oil. I thought he might have an interesting take on detox. For the most part, I think this is a great book if you're interested in learning the fundamental principles of detoxification. Here's the scoop:

The Good:

There's a lot of good in this book (remember that when you're reading the next two parts of this review). Most people would definitely learn a lot about numerous detox principles and regimens, including:

- Having the right attitude about nutrition and detoxification
- Eating a clean diet as strong foundation for good health
- Avoiding food chemicals and modern franken-foods that compromise health
- What is the healing crisis and what to expect
- Fasting and juicing
- Exercise and activity for health and detox
- Oxygen therapy (including deep breathing, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, etc.)
- Heat therapy
- Colon, kidney and liver cleansing (read about those here)
- How to use cleansing herbs (and which herbs to use)
- Cleansing the mind

And all of these subjects are covered thoroughly, so you'll know what your options are, what supplies you need and exactly how to do everything listed above. Trust me, you're not left standing there with a brand-new bottle of food-grade hydrogen peroxide wondering what the heck to do with it. Fife wrote his book for those who are exploring self care, and he explains everything step by step. Since his book covers such a wide range of therapies, it makes it much easier to search out options that will work best for you.

... the Bad:

Where has all the science gone?

Don't get me wrong, Fife's work is not too shabby. There are even some studies referenced through the book. But the skeptic in me was left somewhat unsatisfied. Fife used a lot of visual analogies to explain certain detoxification processes. It made it easy to understand, but I know anyone who likes things backed with solid science would be rightfully skeptical. Using visualization is often how medical experts pull the wool over our eyes. Just because I'm told something in a way that visually makes sense doesn't mean it's in any way true. (Think "artery-clogging-saturated-fats." It makes sense visually but it's a complete farce.)

Sometimes I got the feeling I was being told, "You'll just have to take my word for it." This seems to be thread that runs through most natural health venues, since really there hasn't been a lot of extensive research into this subject. Many times Fife's explanation was more than satisfactory, but other times I left the book feeling like I needed more concrete answers to really understand how all this worked.

... and the Ugly:

Depressing Dietary Advice (Again)

Ah, this is always the section in books that gets my goat. I've yet to find a book that really completely addresses the topic of nutrition. Most are very one-sided and this book is no different. Take, for instance, this sentence from page 51:

"Remember, cows don't eat meat to get their protein, nor do they drink milk after weaning."

Why, that's just pure genius. Comparing our dietary needs to a cow's? Now, maybe if we could find a way to squeeze a few more stomachs into our guts that would make more sense. But until I start regurgitating and chewing my cud, I'm not going to make any rash assumptions that my diet should be anything like a cow's. But then maybe I'm just not that big on grass.

Then Fife counters that with an insightful paragraph like this:  

"People have been eating fat, even saturated fat, for thousands of years without heart disease or hardening of the arteries. It's only been over the past century that fat consumption has become a problem. Studies show that we haven't increased our animal fat consumption, in fact, animal fat consumption has decreased while heart disease has increased. But the fats we eat nowadays are different from what our ancestors ate."

Well, he got that right. So, yeah, you could say there's some apparent discrepancies regarding nutrition here. In fact, not two pages away in the same chapter we come across charts aiming to show the correlation between fat consumption and disease.

Fife does say it's the quality of the animal foods that matters, that plenty of previous cultures did well on animal foods, that animal fats contain important vitamins not found in other foods, and that we don't really need to be vegetarians. But in spite of those redeeming points, anyone who was approaching this book for dietary advice would definitely come away with the feeling that we should all be at least part time vegetarians (or even that the USDA pyramid is a good guideline for nutrition!). And I don't think that's advice I'm going to handing out anytime soon.

So read through the nutrition chapter with a grain of salt. And if you're like me, remember to take a few deep breaths so you don't hurl the book at the wall.

The Verdict

Overall, I liked The Detox Book. I found it personally useful and it gave me a sense of direction in what I needed to research in the future to learn more about detoxification. You do have to wade through a bit of hype and melodrama along the way, but I found it worth a read even though it didn't blow me away in amazement.

You'd be hard-pressed not to find something in this book worth learning. And if you haven't done extensive research about detoxification before, then you'll probably learn quite a bit from The Detox Book. If you can get past the negative points above, I'm sure you'll find it worth the read.

Personally, this book inspired me to find a way to work a few more organic foods into our budget. I've also been rebounding for at least a few minutes several days a week (learn more about rebounding on this post). And I really learned a lot about liver health and how a properly functioning liver should work.

I came to this book seeking to learn more about detoxification so I could implement some new strategies in my own life, so in that light I did get a lot out of this book.

Buy The Detox Book by Bruce Fife today.

UPDATE: Dr. Fife was gracious enough to send me an email thanking me for this review, and also clarifying his current stance on nutrition. Here is what he said:

"When I initially wrote the book some 14 years ago, I was leaning towards vegetarianism, the Weston A. Price Foundation had not been formed, and I had not yet begun my research on coconut oil. I spent several years studying fats and oils in depth, reading many hundreds of research papers on the topic. It was from this experience that I learned that vegetarianism is not the way to go and that saturated fats and cholesterol were not the evil dietary villains they were made out to be, as I was taught in school. In 2001 I went back and updated a few things in the book to reflect this, but really needed to do a major rewrite on the diet sections, but the lack of time prevented me from doing so. Consequently, there are, as you noted, some discrepancies in the book, which I need to correct. I have been planning to update the book more completely and I will do this in the near future. In the meantime, all the detox procedures described are accurate and can be used with great benefit."

I thought you guys would be interested in hearing what Dr. Fife has to say, and since I have a great respect for his work (especially regarding coconut oil in recent years), I thought it was only fair that he had a chance to share his views and clarify his position. Thanks, Dr. Fife!


Interested in hearing my reviews on other popular alternative health books? Check these out:

The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

Adrenal Fatigue by James L. Wilson

The Schwarzbein Principle (the whole series) by Diana Schwarzbein

The Mood Cure by Julia Ross

Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon

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