Cleansing 101: Ten Detox Tips

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We live in a time of immense change and the potential for extraordinary growth. It can feel overwhelming and out of control at times. We can feel off balance and sluggish. We might be stressed and having sleep difficulties. We can easily gain weight or have digestive problems and the list goes on and on… but we always have the option of turning inward and listening to our bodies, hearts, and the wisdom of nature. We can take that change surrounding us and use it to empower change within us.

It might be the perfect time for a cleanse – to let go and to give yourself a much needed rest, physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a naturopathic doctor, I have become increasingly aware that toxic overload contributes to many people’s health issues. I believe that toxins are blocking many people from living their truest lives. The cleansing of our mind of negative thoughts, behaviors, and memories is essential to health. Emotionally, detoxification helps us uncover and express hidden frustrations, grief, fear, and anger and replace them with forgiveness, love, joy, and hope. Physically for our bodies, taking a break from the obvious environmental toxins in our food can leave us feeling energized, renewed, and protected from disease.

So many of us may have wanted to cleanse but most of us do not simply create the time or space or we may feel intimidated by the myriad of choices from fasting to the master cleanse to colon cleansing. In the sea of detox regimes and ideas, I suggest getting back to the basics. There are simple things that we can do at home to start the process of detoxification.

Ten Simple Detox Tips

Wake-up Drink:
Drink 1 cup of filtered or spring hot water. Squeeze half of lemon with two pinches of cayenne pepper first thing upon waking (on an empty stomach). This is very simple but you would be amazed how many people say they cannot live without it once they start. The lemon stimulates your digestion and the cayenne enhances circulation and blood flow.

Contrast Shower:
Try your own at-home version of an old naturopathic hydrotherapy cure. Each time you take a hot shower follow it by a cold rinse (60 seconds). Personally, I do this every time I shower and can’t live without it. The “contrast” stimulates circulation, your immune system, and your ability to detox via your skin. Your pores will tighten and you feel invigorated and ready for your day. You can also do a sauna followed by a cold shower if you have access to one.

Shake it up:
Jump on a rebounder for 3-5 minutes at a time. This stimulates your whole body and is particularly useful for stimulating your lymph drainage system. If you are prone to allergies or cysts, this will be very helpful.

Fever Baths:
Take a warm bath in the evening and add one cup of epsom salts to sooth, relax, and detox. I encourage patients to work up a sweat by drinking 2-3 cups of hot tea while sitting in the hot bath. I love to use Yarrow flowers and ginger slices. Simmer some fresh ginger slices in water, tossing in one Tablespoon dried yarrow flowers and steeping for 15 minutes, strain and drink. Yarrow and ginger have been shown to stimulate sweating which helps the body release toxins. The minerals in the epsom salt have been shown to increase excretion of many stress hormones.

Take a News break:
Observe a news fast for 3-7 days, limiting toxic thoughts which can undermine your health. Make an effort to avoid news or other emotionally disturbing information from the internet, magazines, movies, newspapers, radio, and television. Detoxing these “stressful” exposures and replacing them with deep breathing, relaxing activities like walking or yoga or reading a book, can give your mind and body a much needed rest.

Spend time in Nature:
Take a break from your routine of being inside your home, office, or car and venture out to your favorite place in nature or a new place you have always wanted to go. Bring a journal with you and start listening to your body and what it is telling you. Surrounding yourself with nature and all its negative ions (which are positive for mood) will help destress and encourage your inherent wisdom of your body to come forth.

Detox Tea:
For at least a week, try limiting all your beverages to just water and herbal teas. This will ease the stress on your kidneys, help flush retained fluids in your cells, and help filter your blood and liver. I recommend drinking daily 6-8 cups of the following tea to help “crowd-out” less healthy beverages and to help maintain a state of fullness to assist in reducing your appetite, and to cleanse your liver and kidneys. This tea is best decocted (gently simmered), combining two Tablespoons per quart of water, prepared in the morning and consumed over the day. Combine and use equal parts of: Burdock root, yellow dock root, dandelion leaf and root, licorice root, fennel, and ginger.

Change your food routine:
Many of us unknowingly consume foods that we have reactions to or that cause more toxins to build up in our bodies causing symptoms like arthritis, headaches, water retention, and fatigue. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or sugar. I suggest looking at all of these or picking one that is predominant to take a break from. Often if we simply eliminate gluten containing foods (wheat, oats, rye, barley, spelt) and replace with brown rice, millet, or quinoa products, it forces us to change our eating habits and actually increases the variety of foods that we eat.

Detox your dinner:
Each night for seven days, prepare a simple meal of liver detoxifying steamed vegetables like carrots, broccoli, artichokes, beets, and onions along with a 4 ounce portion of protein simply prepared with a little bit of olive oil. Consider wild fish, organic lean meats, or lentils for your protein sources.

Detox your surroundings:
Decluttering and organizing your environment can help clear up your stagnant energy and free yourself up physically and emotionally. Let go of papers, clothes, and boxes that you no longer use. This creates space and helps welcomes new energy.

Each one of us must become an example of good health and healthy habits to inspire others to make healthy options. We tune up our cars and recycle for the environment, and we must regulary cleanse our bodies. Our bodies and the environment are reflections or mirrors for each other. As we clean up our bodies, we clean up the environment. If we all took it upon ourselves to cleanse, the world would be a lot cleaner place.

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