Bodily Defenses Image Map
Many products of bodily metabolism are waste products that the body either does not need or cannot use. The body may even be damaged by some of metabolism's products.  Thus, mechanisms exist to rid the body of these damaging chemicals. In addition, many chemicals in our environment are damaging to the body and such products need to be eliminated or destroyed.

The Liver
The Kidneys

Three organ systems act in indirect ways to detoxify.

  1. Lungs - remove toxic gases and volatile chemicals that can be breathed out of the body. An example is the chemical, acetaldehyde, which is created when the liver destroys alcohol. Acetaldehyde is what you smell on the breath of a person who has drunk a lot of alcohol. This gas would be lethal if it were not removed from the blood by way of the lungs. Gas anesthetics are eliminated from the body mostly by way of the lungs.
  2. Skin - some toxins can dissolve in sweat and be removed from the body that way. It is a common belief that stimulating sweat with intense exercise or heat will help clean the body of toxins. But there is not much medical evidence that this is practical. And, excess sweating can cause loss of water, which may be more hazardous than the toxins.
  3. Gastro-intestinal System - toxins that are taken in by eating or drinking can be eliminated in the feces. This is particularly true in the case of "food poisoning," where the body defends itself by vomiting and diarrhea in order to remove the toxins quickly.

There are two very vital organ systems that have a direct role in  detoxication. In fact, detoxication is the main reason we have these systems. They are:

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