Q: I am hearing a lot about cleansing and detoxing, but I have no idea where to start. I am also too busy at work to do anything that is going to keep me in the bathroom all day long. Are there any cleanses I can do that will allow me to function normally?
A: I always find it fascinating how many times I get asked about cleansing during the time when the warm weather sets in. It’s not uncommon to intuitively feel that you need to ‘clean house’, so to speak. Your body desires cellular renewal and growth much like cycle of trees and flowers blossoming.
Spring is the time when the functioning of the liver is at its weakest, making it the best time to assist in this organ's healing. The liver is a major filtration organ and eliminates many toxins and chemicals out of your body. If you tend to get symptoms like seasonal allergies, headaches, constipation, fatigue, insomnia, and digestive disturbances, you would be a great candidate for doing a spring liver cleanse. Even if you generally feel healthy, a cleanse is an excellent way to kick-start your immune system, slow down cellular aging, and get you feeling more energy and vitality.
It can be confusing when trying to decide what liver cleanse is best for you. The average box cleanse that you may find in a health food store starts from seven days and can last up to 30. These cleanses usually contain a combination of herbs that help to support the liver. You could also seek guidance from a qualified health practitioner, who would create a customized plan where the timeframe and herbal concoctions used would be specifically geared to your own body’s needs.
Detoxing can cause some symptoms such as slight cramping. This is normal for rejuvenation and is caused by the gas produced during the cleansing of old mucus, fungus, viruses and bad bacteria. You may also feel more lethargic and weak. This is often due to blood going from the extremities and to the liver or any organ that needs attention. You may see skin eruptions, feel moody, nauseous, bloating, and other digestive symptoms like constipation or diarrhea.
It can be intimidating to begin a detox protocol not knowing how your body will respond to it. Even though there are many symptoms that can occur, it is a misconception that all cleanses will leave you attached to your toilet for days. Cleanses are different than taking a laxative. I do understand this concern as the average young professional cannot take many consecutive days off to purposely induce this clean-out.
One of the most important elements involved in detoxifying is listening to your body.
If you are feeling really icky from the protocol, ease off on the products and/or communicate to your practitioner. If we spent more time listening to our body, we often wouldn’t get to the place of needing a thorough detox. With constant demands, technology always in your face and fake foods occupying many shelves, the average young professional is listening less to what the body truly needs for optimal wellness.
To get you started, I am going to share with you my top three gentle liver cleansing protocols for the busy young professional:
1. Wholy Tea
Although it states it’s a whole body detox, it targets the liver and digestive system. You can have the recommended amount per day or drink less if it’s too powerful. It’s as simple as steeping the tea the day before and taking it with you to work. Two tea bags will make 4 litres (1gallon). This will last one person one week with the recommended guidelines. You can find this product in most health food stores.
2. Castor Oil Pack
Castor oil has been used for various detox purposes since ancient Egypt. When used externally, a castor oil pack increases circulation in and around that specific area of the body. The oil absorbs through the skin to underlying tissue and promotes detoxification and healing of those tissues and organs.
To detox the liver, lie on your back and place the castor oil pack on your liver, located just below the right rib cage bones. This can be done before bed each night.
**Suggested use is 5 days at a time.
Castor Oil Pack Ingredients & Instructions
- A piece of non-dyed cotton flannel cloth
- Organic Castor oil
- Plastic wrap cut 1-2" larger than the flannel
- Hot water bottle
- Protective sheets, towel and clothes (castor oil will stain your bedding and clothing).
Pour a small amount of castor oil in a microwave safe dish and warm at low heat for 25 seconds. Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping. Place the flannel over the affected body part. Cover the flannel with plastic and then an old towel. Place the hot water bottle over the towel pack. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes and up to two hours. Rest while the pack is in place. Keep it warm.
After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water (500ml) and baking soda (2 tsp) to remove any acidity from the skin. Discard the flannel and plastic. If you don’t want to make your own pack, many health food stores carry their own packs for easy use.
3. Eliminate the Offenders
For a simple place to start, you could choose to eliminate some common offenders for a few weeks that stress the liver. This will allow the liver to begin detoxification naturally.
The top liver stressors are:
Sugar, pop, caffeine, alcohol, artificial colours and flavours, trans fats, chemical products like scented candles, household cleaners, scented creams and washes can also create a toxic back up.
To help support the liver:
-Consume more alkaline foods
-Start your day with a squeeze of lemon in pure filtered water
-Reach for more organic, whole, fresh foods
-Minimize environmental toxins and chemical products
*Above information is not meant to diagnose or treat. Always check with your healthcare provider before beginning a detox protocol.