We are exposed to a plethora of chemicals, bacteria and other harmful pathogens on a daily basis. They are present in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the personal care products we use.
Although the human body is able to handle a good amount of these foreign invaders, over time, the internal organs, skin and other body systems can become overloaded with toxins, which can lead to illness and even chronic disease.
Regular internal cleansing is beneficial to help stay ahead in the game. Try the following steps for 3 days to a week.
Check with your doctor before beginning any detox program, and remember that these natural methods are meant to complement, not replace conventional medical care.
Begin a fast by abstaining from all solid foods.
This should last anywhere from 3 to 7 days, depending on your tolerance level. Instead, consume only liquid calories, mainly fresh fruit or vegetable juices, vegetable broths and herbal teas.
Avoid bottled juices as they contain excess sugar and sodium. Also, eliminate all coffee, soda, alcohol and other harmful substances for the duration of the cleanse.
Dr. Elson Haas, natural health guru and author of “Staying Healthy With Nutrition” calls fasting and cleansing the “missing link” in modern medicine. Abstaining from solid food for a time gives the body a break, and allows the internal organs time to heal and purge stored toxins.
Although the practice is somewhat controversial in the medical community, it is a time-honored approach to healing that has been practiced for centuries by many cultures and religions.
2. Water intake
Increase your daily water intake. As a rule of thumb, you should consume the liquid equivalent of about half your body weight in ounces each day. During a cleanse, you may want to increase that by as much as double to help flush out toxins that are being released by the body. Try purchasing a water dispenser, It will save you money in the long run.
As toxins are released by the internal organs, you may experience side effects such as headaches, nausea and even acne. A little extra water can help alleviate these symptoms. However, do not over-do it.
Drinking too much water can over-saturate your cells and cause hyponatremia, a condition that results in too much water in the blood. Use caution and listen to your body. Signs of hyponatremia include confusion, dizziness and seizures.
3. Cleansing herbs
Take cleansing herbs to help promote detoxification. Common detox herbs include:
- Cascara sagrada- Promotes peristalsis and elimination of the digestive tract. It should be taken at night either after the evening meal (juice or broth), or just before bedtime.
- Cilantro- A natural chelating agent. Fresh cilantro can be added to vegetable juices and broths to help promote heavy metal detox.
- Buckthorn- Helps to stimulate the production of bile by the gall bladder. It is also soothing to the intestinal tract and mildly laxative. As with cascara sagrada, it should be taken in the evening or at bedtime.
- Slippery Elm- Considered tonic, or nourishing and emollient, or soothing. It can be found in liquid extract or capsule form, and may be taken with juice or meals. Slippery elm helps heal the internal organs and alleviate gas, cramping and other side effects of detoxification.
- Aloe Vera- Taken internally it acts as natural laxative, and is beneficial for sluggish bowels. Externally it is healing and soothing for the skin, and may alleviate irritation caused by outbreaks.
Make sure you are participating in some form of physical exercise each day. Movement helps move lymphatic fluid and assists in the body’s natural detoxification process.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s New Food Pyramid, adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day in order to stay healthy.
Some examples of moderate exercise to try include: walking, biking, swimming and yoga. Avoid strenuous forms of exercise such as running and high-powered aerobics, at least during the cleansing period.
Take time each day to do a little mental cleansing and de-stress. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes either first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night to relax.
Meditation and breathing techniques such as those used in traditional hatha yoga or zen meditation can help you “de-clutter” the mind and feel more centered. Try this simple yogic breathing technique, called Ujjayi pranayama, to help you relax:
1. Sit up comfortably and close your eyes.
2. Begin to slow your breathing by slightly constricting the muscles in the throat. Your breath will make a soft hissing sound.
3. Empty all the air from the body. Inhale for 4 to 6 seconds. Allow your exhalation to be twice as long as your inhalation, 8 to 12 seconds. Repeat this for as much as 20 breaths.
End your cleansing by easing back into a normal diet. The first day consume only fresh fruits and vegetables. On the second day include brown rice or other whole grains. Continue to drink plenty of water.
Listen to your body and consume wholesome, fresh foods as much as possible. Consider this time a fresh start, avoiding junk food and other unhealthy substances as much as possible.
1. Dr. Elson Haas: http://www.elsonhaas.com/
2. Clayton College of Natural Health Herb Reference Guide: http://www.ccnh.edu/community/holistichome/herbguide/index.aspx
3. Wellness Directory of Minnesota: Cilantro: http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/detox/cilantro.htm
4. USDA: Food Pyramid: Physical Activity: http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/physical_activity.html
5. Yoga Journal: Ujjayi Pranayama: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2485