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Can you believe that it is that time of the year again? Those brittle winter winds and late-season snowstorms are ending, at least in some parts of the US. Soon, all over the country, there will be sunshine, rain, and new sprouts in the garden. A new season means new possibilities and, if you ask me, this year it is more important than ever to make the most of them! So, as we clean out those closets, dust out the garage, and make our homes and outdoor environments ready for the new season, let’s not forget a little spring cleaning for our bodies too!
How Do You Know You Need a Cleanse?
In every tradition, springtime is revered as a time of cleansing and renewal. In the Bible, the Song of Solomon says,” For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land!”
In both the Chinese and the Ayurvedic tradition, spring is a season of major renewal on all levels. It is the perfect time to cleanse the body in preparation for longer hours of daylight and more time spent working and playing outdoors.
In Chinese medicine, springtime is a time for intense rejuvenation, especially for the liver and the gallbladder. This season is known as the “season of mud.” Just like the muddy gunk that can accumulate on the bottom of your boots when the spring rains come, so too “sludge”, in the form of toxins, can accumulate in the body. In the Ayurvedic tradition, the internal gunk we aim to get rid of is called “ama.”
You may be someone who, rightly so, doesn’t have a lot of time these days. You may be thinking, “I eat a healthy diet, I exercise, I even meditate and pray. I don’t need to do a cleanse this spring!”
If this sounds like you, take a moment to answer the following questions:
- Do you suffer from chronic pain, achy joints, or gastrointestinal discomfort on a regular basis?
- Do you have “brain fog”?
- Do you get allergies or colds more than you’d like to?
- Are you frustrated because you don’t have the energy to do all the things you want to do in life?
- Have you been feeling just “out of sorts” as late?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may suffer from toxic overload. A toxin is a substance that can lead to damage in your body if left unchecked. Heavy metals, medications, bacteria, and viruses are all examples of toxins that can come from food, drink, and the environment. Emotional stress can also contribute to toxic load by lowering the immune system and increasing inflammatory responses and stress hormones. A spring cleanse can help with all of this and give you the pain-free energy you need again!
Preparing for Your Cleanse
There are some simple yet important “guidelines” you need to keep in mind when doing any kind of cleanse. They can help you get the most out of it and avoid the Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction, or the “detox flu.”
1 | Prepare your body for a cleanse.
Whether your cleanse lasts three days or two weeks, one of the most important things you can do is to prepare your body for the intense detoxing that usually comes with it. And the best way to do this is to ease your body, and especially your digestive system, into the experience. At least a few days before your cleanse begins, make it a point to cut the sugar, take a break from dairy, go gluten-free and stay away from red meat. In its place add lots of organic, nutrient-heavy vegetables like kale, sweet potatoes, and spinach as well as lighter proteins like chicken or fish. This will gently begin the detox process and alkalize your system overall.
It is also a good idea to lower your consumption of caffeine during this time. Why would you want to stop caffeine during a cleanse? There are a couple of reasons.
First of all, caffeine is acidic. During a cleanse, we want to take advantage of going alkaline in the blood and body since this will help to flush out toxins better. A 2007 investigation published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine is just one study amongst many which have proved that alkalinity is a major factor in healthy detoxification processes.
In addition, going caffeine-free will give your adrenals and your whole nervous system a much-needed rest. Resting the body is a key component of any cleansing process.
2 | Prepare your environment for a cleanse.
In addition to getting your body ready for intense cleansing, it is important to prepare your physical environment as well.
First of all, be sure that you have all of the supplies that you need before you do your cleanse. This way you won’t have to go to the store or order stuff online later and you can simply focus on healing. Some items you may consider are:
- Water. Do you have a source of fresh, filtered water for the duration of your cleanse? No matter what cleanse you plan on doing, adequate water intake is very important. H2O helps to flush out the toxins that will be released by other protocols during the cleanse.
- Food. Unless you are planning on water fasting during your cleanse, it is important to make sure you have enough organic vegetables, low-sugar fruits, juices, and light protein sources to keep you going for the duration. Again, getting these items beforehand will allow you the time to simply focus on healing later.
- Supplements and Supplies. Does your cleansing protocol rely on specific supplements or equipment? Make sure you order all that you need beforehand and have them readily available. We will talk about specific supplements and supplies for different cleanses in the next section.
In terms of regular supplements like multivitamins, many people choose not to take them while they are doing a short cleanse. You may find that your body is able to absorb everyday supplements better after you take a break from them for a little while. During a cleanse is the perfect time to do this. Of course, if you are taking medication or need supplements for a specific condition, be sure to consult with your natural health professional regarding their use during the cleanse.
What you remove from your environment is just as important as what you add in during this time. Some items that you may consider removing include junk foods, sugary drinks, coffee and caffeinated teas, any gluten and dairy items, and other unhealthy foods you may be tempted to consume.
Finally, many people like to tidy up their living space before embarking on any cleanse or fast. Make your space cozy yet organized and you will be surprised at how much better you are able to relax into the experience!
3 | Prepare Those Around You for Your Cleanse.
In addition, make sure to let those close to you know what you are up to. This is especially important for those whom you live with. Explain to them what a cleanse is and why you are doing one. Also, let them know that you may not be able to eat all the things you normally do and that you may need to rest more. Peace and quiet is helpful for most people during a cleanse.
By explaining what you are doing and why to those around you, you can help them feel less intimidated by the experience. They may even want to join you and do a cleanse of their own!
4 | Hydrate before you cleanse.
Upping your intake of fresh, filtered water is vital during your cleanse and also in the days preceding it. Studies since the 1990s have shown that increased water consumption can lower the risk of colon cancer and many other disease conditions.
According to experts, drinking at least half of your weight in ounces of purified water every day will help you stay hydrated. For extra support, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into your water as you sip. It is refreshing, helps to soothe the stomach, and is a protector for the liver.
5 | Prepare your mind for your cleanse.
You have prepared your body by removing gluten, dairy and sugar and taking in adequate water to get those detox pathways going. You have prepared your environment by gathering all the supplies you may need and removing items that may hinder you. You have prepared others by letting them know of your cleanse and why you are doing it. Now it is time to prepare YOU!
It is vitally important that you have the right mindset as you go into your cleanse. A time of cleansing the body can be a tender time emotionally as well. This is because emotional “toxins” often come up to the surface to be released as we get rid of the physical ones.
So how can you prepare mentally for your cleanse? The first step is to get clear on the logistics. Write down the specifics, i.e. the when, where, how and whys of what you are going to do, and place that information somewhere where you can read it every day.
The second step is to get into a healing mindset. Meditation, prayer, journaling, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and simply strolling amongst the trees at your local park to connect with nature are all examples of activities that can help you calm your mind and mentally prepare for what may be coming “out.”
Since a deep cleanse is something most of us engage in only once in a while, why not make the most of it by cleansing our minds and emotions at the same time?
5 Modalities for a Spring Cleanse
As I mentioned above, your Spring Cleanse can go anywhere from three days to two weeks or more, but a typical amount of time is about a week. Here are ten go-to modalities you can consider as you put together your own unique Spring Cleanse this season:
1 | Coffee Enema for the Liver
The use of enemas for cleansing and rejuvenating may seem a bit strange (and, yes, gross) to us in the West. In other countries, especially India, however, performing enemas for health is as common as brushing one’s teeth.
Enemas that use organic, green coffee (purchased specifically for this reason) are designed to give the liver a much-needed boost. Kahweol and cafestol are two superpowered phytonutrients found in coffee. They have the ability to stimulate the production of glutathione. They also have anti-inflammatory effects and help to activate detoxification at a cellular level.
If you would like to use this procedure to cleanse your liver, commit to performing at least one coffee enema a day. Be sure to drink plenty of extra water so that you don’t get too dehydrated. If you have a chronic condition, consider adding a coffee enema to your routine on a weekly basis or more.
Taking a liver support supplement that contains milk thistle can also be a great add-on liver-support protocol. “Silybum marianum or milk thistle (MT) is the most well-researched plant in the treatment of liver disease,” according to a 2010 Italian study. Milk thistle can also help remove mercury from the system.
2 | Lemon-Olive Oil “Shots” for the Gallbladder
The gallbladder works with the liver to produce and store bile between meals. This is important because bile is needed for the breakdown of fats. The detox “shot” outlined below contains key ingredients designed to flush the gallbladder and the liver of harmful toxins and give these hard-working organs a much-needed boost:
- Juice from 1 organic lemon
- Fruit and pulp from the same lemon
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 ounce raw, organic apple cider vinegar
- 6 ounces purified water
- Dash of cayenne pepper
Blend all the ingredients together and drink. Be sure to consume this shot on a fairly empty stomach. Also, do not eat for one hour afterwards. If you have gallbladder problems or you have had your gallbladder removed, sip the mixture slowly and aim for just a few ounces.
Gallbladder cleanses such as this one has been around for decades. The reason why is simple – they work! All of the above ingredients have been shown to contain phytonutrients designed to flush gallstones, detoxify, and protect both the gallbladder and the liver.
3 | Colonics and Enema for Colon Cleansing
Enema is a great practice for cleaning out the colon as well. Colonics are similar to enemas in that they rely on fresh filtered or distilled water. On the other hand, colonics are usually done at professional colonics centers. They utilize a continuous flow of water and target a larger area of the bowel. If you opt for colonics as part of your colon cleanse, be sure you connect with a center that is operated by a certified colonic technician and has sound sanitation procedures.
If you are already doing coffee enemas for the liver at home, they can also fulfill the dual purpose of cleaning out of the lower colon. Other substances you can use to gently encourage deep flushing of debris from this area are lemon juice, aloe vera, probiotic solutions using acidophilus or yogurt, and Himalayan salt (Epsom salt can also be used). Simply combine a small amount of the other substance with lukewarm filtered water, then put the solution into your silicone enema bag or stainless-steel bucket.
4 | Parasite Cleansing for the Gut
Did you know that millions of Americans carry parasites? Common forms of parasites such as Chagas, Cysticercosis, Toxocara, Toxoplasma gondii, and Trichomoniasis are easily transferred to humans through pets, the environment, contaminated foods, other people, and a hundred other sources. In fact, according to experts, there are over a thousand different kinds of parasites that can exist in humans! Yuck!
A periodic parasite cleanse is a must-do for anyone who wants to prevent and heal disease, including cancer. Most parasite cleanses rely on two specific herbs: black walnut (green hulls) and sweet wormwood. Two other herbs that can be great for getting rid of parasites are clove and Pau d’Arco.
The ayurvedic seed pod Mimosa pudica, also known as the “sensitive plant,” has gotten a lot of focus lately, and for good reason. According to experts, the plant has the ability to paralyze parasites, who then fall away from intestinal walls and are able to be flushed out. Mimosa also has the ability to repair the damage that parasites may have done at the cellular level.
Finally, there are some common whole foods that can help keep parasites at bay. These include garlic, oregano, and grapefruit (and grapefruit seed).
Most parasite cleanses encourage a simple diet like the one mentioned above, along with supplements or teas. Be sure to read recommended dosage guidelines for any herbal program you get and consult with your natural health professional. Note that it is not unusual for a professional to recommend prolonged usage of parasite cleansing herbs, sometimes for three to six months, to make sure that they have been eliminated completely.
5 | Cleansing the Kidneys
The kidneys may be small, but they are extremely important. Not only do they purify the blood, they also regulate blood pressure, ensure the proper absorption of vitamin D, help to maintain mineral balance, and keep your bones strong.
There are many substances that can flush and cleanse the kidneys. Simply increasing the amount of fresh, filtered water you drink can be of great benefit, according to a 2010 report published in the journal Nutrition Today.
In addition, the following substances can get rid of kidney stones, reduce inflammation, and help protect against potentially dangerous bacteria in that organ. Note that many of these substances may have a diuretic effect:
- Unsweetened cranberry juice
- Lemon juice
- Beet juice
- Celery root
- Chanca Piedra
Juices, supplements, and refreshing teas are all great vehicles for utilizing these substances to help your kidneys. If you are focusing on the kidneys for a short cleanse, make it a point to get at least a couple of the above in your system at least twice a day.
Cleanse Your Body and Feel Great This Spring!
There is no one way to do a spring cleanse. Some people like to focus on a specific organ system, such as the liver or the gut. Others like to go with the flow and simply choose a protocol that can gently cleanse the whole body.
Whatever kind of cleanse you choose as winter gives way to spring, one thing is for sure. After it is all over, a good cleanse will leave you feeling more vibrant, more energized, and with a clearer mind than ever before!