What is a detox?

One type of detox, a detoxification diet, is designed to eliminate toxins from your body. Commonly, they start with fasting — no food or drink. Then they progress to a strict diet of water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and raw fruits and vegetables. Sometimes the diet includes herbs and other natural supplements.

Often these detoxes are targeted at eliminating a specific item from your daily routine, such as:

While detox diets are commonly self-managed, there are also medically supervised detox programs for alcohol and opiates that can be the first step to addressing dependence. This type of detox should only be done with medical assistance.

When you’re participating in a detox, it’s common to experience headaches.

Detox headaches are often caused by your body’s reaction to missing an item, such as sugar or caffeine, that was habitually present. This may result in:

  • a reduction in circulating hormones
  • toxins such as chemical food additives or drugs leaching into your circulation to be eliminated
  • a release of energy from tension and stress

Along with headaches, other symptoms during a detox diet may include:

When reading about these detoxes, the symptoms may be called various names including healing reactions, cleansing reactions, detox symptoms, and healing crises.

Depending on the nature of your detox, you may not eliminate these headaches but there are ways to make them bearable. Techniques and remedies to try include:

Showering and bathing

  • Take a warm shower to help wash away toxins followed by a cool shower to stretch your skin and close your pores.
  • Consider time in a sauna to push toxins out through your skin. Follow it with a shower.
  • Soak in a very warm, not hot, Epsom salt bath. Use 1 to 2 cups in a standard size bathtub.


Breathing can expel toxins and long, slow breathing may relax you and ease your headache.

Drinking fluids

Dehydration can cause headaches. Many detox diets suggest drinking lots of water to stay hydrated to help headaches and get rid of toxins.

If it fits with your detox plan, consider fresh juices and decaffeinated herbal teas. Many detox diets allow natural drinks as long as they don’t contain added sugars, preservatives, or pasteurization. Some herbal teas to consider are:

Essential oils

  • Peppermint. Many natural healers suggest that massaging a drop or two of peppermint essential oil into your forehead, temples, and back of your neck will stimulate blood flow and soothe muscle contractions.
  • Lavender. Lavender essential oil, according to many natural health practitioners, is a sedative and mood stabilizer. They suggest inhalation as the best way to take advantage of its effects for headache treatment.

Since essential oils aren’t regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, be sure to buy oils from reputable sources. Also, if using topically, be sure to check if you’re allergic by placing a test patch of oil on your skin and seeing if you have a reaction.


Some herbs suggested for natural headache relief include:


Advocates of natural healing feel that meditation will help with detox headaches by relaxing your central nervous system, increasing oxygen supply to your brain, and reducing stress.

There are many natural ways to address a headache while you’re on a detox diet. Consult with your doctor before beginning a detox program to make sure that it’s a safe undertaking for you based on your current health.

If you have headaches or other symptoms that cause concern once you’ve started the detox, check in with your doctor to make sure that it’s in your best interest to continue.


According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, there isn’t any convincing evidence that self-managed detox diets or cleansing programs actually remove toxins from your body or improve your health.