There are so many opinions about detoxing floating around that it can be difficult to sort out what is helpful. There are some who are passionately attached to specific practices as THE way to detox. Historically, many cultures do a type of internal ‘Spring cleaning’ as a way to clear out the accumulation of the results of Winter’s heavier, fatty fare and prepare one’s digestion for lighter meals and to boost the digestive process. Please take the following suggestions as my opinion when sorting through the process of “Should I or shouldn’t I detox.” Here is where I make the disclaimer that this is not a substitute for medical care nor am I making any claims as to the outcomes. If you have concerns regarding your digestion, please consider a consult with a healthcare practitioner or visit to an herbalist who is experienced in working with theses issues.
Let me be clear: I am NOT a proponent of the ‘purge’ method of detoxing. (You have heard of programs where vomiting and diarrhea are considered the benchmarks of a ‘good’ cleanse. These adherents feel that anything less than this is not really detoxing and you are wasting your time and effort.) Normally both the liver and kidneys rid the body of wastes and do a good job of it. When detoxing you want to SUPPORT this process, not put it into overdrive.
If you experience the following digestive issues, you may want to consider a detox: bloating following meals or feeling your meals are just ‘sitting there’ an hour after eating; passing gas/frequent burping, frequent heartburn; constipation/diarrhea or frequently loose stools, and crampiness in the abdomen.
The first step is to look at you diet. Frequent use of sodas, standing up while eating, having intense and upsetting conversations while dining, eating mostly prepackaged food and/or greasy food all contribute to digestive upset. I tend towards more the use of foods as medicine in addition to using bitter herbs such as burdock root, dandelion root, gentian, artichoke leaf, etc.
- increase the use of bitter and sour greens in your diet (bitter stimulates digestion, especially the liver and gall bladder)
- try some lemon juice in warm water with some cayenne powder first thing in the morning to get the digestion started
- use daily small amounts of fermented foods (does not have to be large amounts, just consistent usage) such as krauts, water kefir sodas and kombucha (these have the sour taste PLUS the good bacteria that your gut needs to stay healthy)
- take a daily probiotic with at least 50 billion bacteria and several different strains
- no processed sugar because it suppresses your immune response and encourages the growth of bad bacteria and yeast
- eat vegetables that contain constituents that feed the bacteria such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, raw sauerkraut, olives: 7-10/day, beets, turnips, squash, rutabaga, parsnips, celery, baby spinach, kidney beans, bitters such as: arugula, endive, dandelion greens
- consider the use of Milk Thistle capsules if you have recently completed a course of medication and want to support the liver in its’ elimination of the medication;
- use digestive bitters before meals to assist in digestion.
Often small changes yield the biggest results. If you want to learn more about good digestion or want to schedule a consultation with one of our herbalists, please click here.