Looking for a One-Stop Detox Shop?
Mexico’s Sanoviv Medical Institute redefines
the medi-spa experience.
By Vonalda M. Utterback, CN
Sanoviv Is a modern holistic hospital and spa located along the Baja coast in Mexico, approximately one hour from San Diego. Although I found the spa at Sanoviv top-notch, it’s purpose is not to pamper—it exists to complement the hospital’s medical treatments and comprehensive health assessment, which generally emphasize detoxification. In fact, everything about Sanoviv—from the all-vegetarian, primarily raw food diet, to the quadruple-filtered water system, and the non-toxic building materials and furniture—is geared toward providing a detoxing environment.
Sanoviv’s founder, Myron Wentz, Ph.D., a microbiologist, researcher, and inventor of the gold standard test for the Epstein-Barr virus, believes true health begins at the cellular level. At the core of his philosophy is his conviction that the body has the power to heal itself when provided with the proper nutrition and environment and “relieved of its accumulated toxic burden.”
Enter Sanoviv. It’s a credit to Wentz and his beautiful facility that just being in the Sanoviv environment itself is detoxifying. Built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, every one of the private rooms has an open balcony providing a breathtaking view of the pounding surf. Although the rocky beach is not accessible, there is a walking trail, directly below the heated infinity pool, that overlooks manicured gardens and the ocean, inspiring even the most earnest couch potato to exercise.
Sanoviv caters to both the seriously ill, treating such conditions as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson’s disease; as well as anyone interested in prevention, a comprehensive health assessment, and a few luxury spa treatments on the side.
Taking the plunge
Not knowing exactly what to expect, but knowing that a little “clearing out” certainly couldn’t hurt, I enrolled in the center’s week-long detoxification program, which includes the four-night Complete Health Assessment (CHA). (The CHA is both a stand-alone program ($4,250 for four days) as well as a prerequisite for all of Sanoviv’s treatment programs.)
To help encourage emotional and mental detoxification, you are asked not to bring cell phones, laptops, or your work with you. And outside contact is discouraged with a $1.00-a-minute surcharge for any outside calls made from the facility. Packing, as it turns out, is a light affair: you are given organic cotton clothes, socks, and shoes to wear upon arrival. You bring only the clothes you need to dress in the day you leave, a supply of underwear, and a swimsuit—that’s it for the entire length of your stay. As a journalist, I initially felt a little lost without my laptop, email access, and cell phone, but I soon grew to appreciate the total immersion into “me” time.
It would be misleading to imply that the experience was entirely relaxing, however. In fact, at least the first two to three days of my visit were spent in a whirlwind of back-to-back tests and appointments. During those first few days, there isn’t much time for anything other than appointments and three raw-food, all-vegan meals (or juices) per day.
After all that running around, getting poked and prodded, you may be thinking you’d like to sleep in. After all, this is your vacation time, right? Well, don’t count on it. Sleeping in at Sanoviv is rarely an option. The day begins early (every room has a TV set to go on automatically at 6:15 AM) and everyone is expected to trot up to the nurse’s station for a “vitals check,” to have your blood pressure, blood sugar, temperature, and weight carefully recorded before breakfast, and to pick up your supplements for the day.
I found myself scurrying from room to room for such conventional tests as an upper body ultrasound, chiropractic consultation, chest x-ray, full blood and urine analysis (including cholesterol levels), thermography scan, and dental exam in their full-service, mercury-free dental office.
I also experienced more alternative diagnostic tests—iridology, for example—where the patterns, colors, and other characteristics of the eye are examined for general information about your health. Iridologists believe they can highlight systems and organs in the body that may be stressed or inflamed and predict developing health problems. My primary diagnosis was extreme stress due to the three rings present in the iris of both eyes.
I’m told each ring indicates increased levels of stress in one’s life. Three indicates a heck of a lot of stress. Note to self: Get back on a regular meditation program!
By the third day, most of my test results were in and I met with my assigned doctor to go over the results and obtain her recommendations for treatment. Declaring me “fit” for the detox program, I reluctantly agreed to the suggested three-day juice fast.
Mornings began with freshly mowed, I mean juiced, wheat grass (certainly an acquired taste, which I never acquired) and ended with fresh coconut water (to aid digestion). Juices throughout the day included a green juice with fresh organic greens, and a thick apple juice-based drink with psyllium (for bulk and fiber). In the middle of the day, just when I was aching for some real comfort food, an all-vegetarian warm mineral broth, tasting remarkably like chicken soup, appeared.
With some type of juice on the hour, every hour, and the broth drink in the middle of the day, I actually made it through to the end—with energy to spare. In fact, considering the regular lunch and dinner menu consisted primarily of mounds of organic salad greens, raw veggies, and a wide assortment of sprouts, I didn’t feel deprived or even all that envious of the diners on the “normal” diet.
Also after the first few hurried days, the really “good” stuff kicked in: scheduled spa treatments. During my time at Sanoviv, I received a fabulous pedicure, an excellent Swedish massage, a cleansing herbal body wrap, a gentle lymphatic drainage massage, a facial, thalassotherapy, and balneotherapy—all designed to aid in detoxification.
Water, water everywhere
New to me were the balneotherapy tubs and thalassotherapy. I loved my balneotherapy experience, which consists of a hot soak in a deep, jetted tub, with such healing ingredients as milk whey, seaweed, or powdered mustard added. Mustard or seaweed are added for their detoxifying properties. Milk whey makes your skin oh-so-soft and the aromatherapy smells downright good.
Thalassotherapy was coined in 19th century France from the Greek words “thalassa” meaning sea and “therapeia” meaning healing. Thalassotherapy’s main objective is to enhance immunity and increase blood circulation, as well as allow the body to absorb valuable minerals from the seawater.
In the four outdoor seawater pools, you alternate your time between two hot pools and two very cold ones—a water treading pool with a rock-filled bottom that comes up to your knees— and the final deep “cold plunge” pool where you submerge entirely to seal your pores back up and bring your blood pressure back down.
And of course, what holistic detox would be complete without colon hydrotherapy (colonics) and enemas? The theory being that since your body is shedding all these toxins, you need to help get them down and out. Everyone in the detox program is scheduled for colon hydrotherapy at the hands of a trained therapist, usually on an every-other-day schedule. On the days when you don’t have a colonic, you are expected to give yourself an enema in the privacy of your room.
When I had “spare” time, in-between scheduled medical evaluations, colonics, and spa treatments, there were numerous optional classes on everything from raw food meal preparation to how to grow your own sprouts and how to juice, along with daily yoga, meditation, and exercise classes.
Yes, it’s a busy time at Sanoviv. And you’ll leave with enough information, resources, and paperwork to make your head spin. But above all, Sanoviv is unique: Where else can you find such a plethora of diagnostic tools—both conventional and alternative, an accredited medical facility and hospital, along with the added bonus of a luxury spa—all in one place?