Have you always wanted to try cleansing but have been intimidated by radical suggestions splashed all over the internet and stories of cleanses gone wrong?
Do you adhere to seasonal cleansing routines but sometimes feel you could use a little “house cleaning” in between seasons? Has hearing about all sorts of trendy cleanses piqued your interest, and you’re thinking about peeling back the layers a bit?
Conversely, maybe reading this article is the first time you have ever considered cleansing. Or, because you are not ready to bid coffee and alcohol farewell, you are shaking your head in an adamant “hell to the no!”
Whatever the case, a full-blown cleanse may not be something you are inclined to take on right now, and that’s OK! There are many productive ways to honor and rejuvenate your body that are not all-consuming or scary.
What causes toxins to build up in the first place? Diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors can get us into trouble, AND they are the same factors that can get us out of trouble when we take proper action.
Being pensive about the purification process can initiate cleansing.
On a personal note, I have been performing Ayurvedic cleanses for about 20 years and have noticed that even before I actively begin the cleanse process, I notice a shift in my being on a physical, mental, or emotional level. Cellular memory is so strong that just thinking about my upcoming cleanse starts detoxification!
What to Do First
Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on a slew of solutions to your problems all at once. Addressing your imbalances with an all-or-nothing mentality will only create stress and further imbalances. Instead, crawl, walk, and then run.
When faced with a situation where we are unsure what to do first, paralysis can set in. But have no fear—Ayurveda is here! Focus on one thing at a time. Is there a small, simple action you could take to help you get the momentum going?
Don’t underestimate the intelligent impact that simple diet solutions can have on well-being. Eat seasonally, as the body creates different digestive enzymes according to the seasons. Eating out of season can cause toxins to accumulate.
Kitchari helps rest and reset digestion, cleanse and heal the intestinal tract, and cloy toxins from the body. Try eating it one day a week, or avoid dairy, meat, sugar, and processed foods one or more days per week.
Thrive on any of these foods as long as you have no trouble digesting them:
- Fruit (avoid mixing fruit with other foods)
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats-olive oil, avocado, ghee, coconut oil
- Natural herbal decaffeinated teas
Some common foods cause intestinal distress and subsequent toxic build-up; fortunately, there are antidotes for them.
- Apples can cause gas/bloating—sprinkle cinnamon, cardamom, or fennel.
- Bananas can be mucous forming and clogging—sprinkle cardamom.
- Avoid caffeine—drink tulsi tea instead of black tea.
- Cheese is heavy and cold—sprinkle black pepper or chili powder, and eat at room temperature.
- Coffee can overstimulate the digestive tract—sprinkle cardamom, nutmeg (too much nutmeg can create constipation; go easy), or cinnamon.
- Grains contain gluten, enzyme inhibitors, and phytic acid that mess with digestion—soak grains for eight hours (or overnight), rinse, and drain. Then, cook with cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom.
- Milk is also a heavy, cold, mucous-provoking dairy—warm it up with a pinch of saffron and long pepper, and drink warm or at room temp.
- Nuts and Seeds also contain phytic acid that can anger your stomach—soak overnight, rinse, and dry roast at low temperature.
- Certain compounds in tea, including tannins, can irritate digestive tissue—sprinkle in ginger and cinnamon.
- Yogurt is another heavy and damp dairy—sprinkle ginger, cumin, and cardamom. Eat at room temp.
Imbalanced digestive fire (agni) can be too sharp (tikshna agni), too dull (manda agni), or variable (vishama agni) in nature. Spices, herbs, and ghee are a great way to support healthy digestion and prevent toxic build-up.
- Enkindles the digestive fire/agni without overheating
- Contains butyric acid, which nourishes intestinal cells
- Has a high smoke point making it less likely to burn and create toxins while cooking.
A combination of three fruits with an affinity for balancing vata, pitta, and kapha—haritaki for vata, amalaki for pitta, and bibhitaki for kapha, Triphala supports
Removal of toxins
Regular elimination without dependency
Respiratory system, circulatory system, and genitourinary system
Clarity of mind.
AVIPATTIKAR CHURNA (mixture of herbs or spices)
- Clears excess heat
- Balances pitta
- Supports healthy levels of acid in the intestines and stomach
- Soothes the esophagus
For digestive fire/agni that is too dull: Triphala, Trikatu, Ginger, Ghee
For digestive fire/agni that is too sharp: Triphala, Avipattikar Churna
For digestive fire/agni that is variable (sometimes too sharp, sometimes too dull): Triphala, Ghee
Overall, spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, cardamom, and turmeric* aid digestion. Sprinkle them on your food or add them as you cook. *Don’t cook turmeric.
Poor food combinations play a rogue role in effective digestion. In general, avoid eating fruit with other foods. Likewise, meat, dairy, and starchy foods are heavy in nature, so avoid eating them together because the body has difficulty digesting them all at once.
Healthy hydration habits are powerful. Drink half your ideal (healthy ideal) body weight in ounces daily. Drink more if you exercise and sweat, drink alcohol or caffeine, or live in an arid climate.
For hydration and electrolytes, mix together and drink:
Eight ounces water
1 teaspoon raw honey
Pinch of rock salt
Juice of half a lemon or lime
For many of us, the key to consistently exercising is to find something we enjoy doing. We’ll be more inclined to stick with it if we have fun doing it. “Dance like nobody’s watching!”
If you know you have difficulty showing up for yourself when it comes to exercise, enlist a friend to help hold you accountable. Find yourself an exercise buddy, and don’t break your promise of showing up.
You can also hire a personal trainer, get involved in a group sport, or seek one of many online dance or exercise routines—there is so much to explore.
Sleeping by 9:00 or 10:00 pm is ideal, as is rising by 6:00 am. The body detoxifies itself at night—we need to be asleep for it to get the job done!
Tongue scraping and oil pulling are daily rituals that can easily be woven into your morning routine.
The tongue is an excellent diagnostic tool. A gray, brown, or black coating on the tongue indicates vata imbalance; yellow, a pitta imbalance; and white, a kapha imbalance.
Locations on the tongue correspond to the organs. The left and right sides in the front correlate to the lungs. Behind those is the spleen on the left, the liver on the right, and the kidneys on each side in the back. The center front of the tongue corresponds to the heart, and then in consecutive succession, are the stomach, pancreas, and intestines.
Before brushing your teeth, scrape your tongue fourteen times from back to front, and rinse your mouth well.
Oil pulling kills harmful bacteria, some of which correspond to cardiovascular disease. So, yes, oil pulling is good for the heart too. Oil pulling also improves the health of the gums, benefits the sinuses, freshens breath, and whitens teeth.
After brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue, swish up to a tablespoon of unrefined organic sesame oil or coconut oil. Build up to 15 minutes of swishing per day. Get creative with your time management by doing it in the shower or while performing abhyanga, etc. One hour before or after a meal is best.
Get out in nature and commingle with the sun, trees, soil, water, and animals. Simply sitting outside in silence with eyes closed while listening to the wind, birds, animals, and other sounds of nature can have profound cleansing, healing, and rejuvenating effects.
Living, working, or socializing somewhere that is not supportive or is abusive can create a stressful, inflammatory environment where toxins can thrive.
- Assess your situation and be open to asking for help.
- Set boundaries.
- Surround yourself with uplifting, loving, kind, and supportive people—family members, friends, support groups, religious or spiritual communities, therapists, etc.
- Audio, visual, and written material consisting of violence, horror, and pornography is exceptionally toxic. Cleanse your environment of books, magazines, videos, etc., that contain disturbing content.
- Likewise, if social media and news channels provoke anger or anxiety in you, reduce the amount of content you absorb or avoid it altogether.
Benefits of Cleansing
Cleansing is a holistic approach that can do wonders to heal the gut, strengthen immunity, and improve every system in your body. It can also do wonders for the mind and spirit—more energy, clarity, and emotional balance are just a few benefits.
In addition, a cleanse can eliminate stored toxic fat that can be as much as 30 years old?! Fat-soluble molecules of emotion with old patterns, old dietary behaviors, and old cravings detoxified—WOW! A cleanse also
- Reboots and strengthens digestive fire/agni
- Sets you up to lose weight more efficiently as your body becomes a better fat burner
- Soothes and brings intestinal skin into balance so the healthy microbes can flourish
- Optimizes the GI tract, so it only absorbs what it needs, NOT toxins
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Supports personal growth and transformation.
WOW! Cleansing works on the upper digestive area to help with the digestion of tough foods like gluten, meat, and dairy. In addition, it enables the body to make pepsin—an enzyme in the stomach that breaks down food proteins—decongests bile ducts, increases bile flow from the liver, boosts duodenal enzymes (responsible for digesting gluten), and makes HCL (hydrochloric acid).
Last—But Not Least—Practice Patience
Remember, your imbalances did not happen overnight. They accrued over time, so it will take time for the ship to right itself. Radical shifts may initiate a temporary change, but a balanced, moderate approach will create lasting transformation. Patience grasshopper!