It’s Cleanse Season: Support the Bodies Natural Purification Process.
Many people come to me each spring wondering about what would be the best way to help their body cleanse after a long winter filled with filling rich foods. People will ask about cleanses from the store – usually with herbs that can be helpful to clean out the body or they may look to a particular diet – either one that will focus upon foods that will clean the body (especially the liver) or food that will purge out accumulated junk that built up during our long winters.
Spring cleansing is an especially big issue in Minnesota where the winters are long and dark. We spend the days in darkness retiring from all of the activity of summer. If you have lived here very long you will notice a bit of mania amongst the people here once it gets warm – first you may notice that we wear clothes that are a bit more summery than the weather supports – you will see people in shorts as soon as we hit 40! Or you may notice us trying to be outside as much as possible after we spent so much time indoors. You may also notice us filling those weekends up with outdoor activities. Our summers fill up fast.
Interestingly enough, Chinese medicine does not look favorably upon cleanses. We do therapeutic purges, but that treatment is very judiciously applied and only when patients show very specific signs. The challenge is that not everyone is alike, and for some a cleanse could be quite damaging. It could strip away the good that their body is trying to retain leaving them drained and tired.
If you feel that you would welcome more support as you move from winter to spring remember that our practitioners are here to help. Yoga is amazing at supporting your body’s ability to purify itself, as well as massage and acupuncture. If you do feel the need to clear stuck-ness, herbs can also be helpful, speaking to a trained herbalist who can make up the perfect formula for you would be a fantastic option.
For most people, the best thing for them would be to take a break from harmful or challenging foods. Try eating a very clean diet for a few weeks to give your body time to repair itself. The body is the ultimate healer. So if you were to take a few weeks break from the biggest offenders – milk, wheat, sugar, alcohol, other stimulants and processed foods, your body would probably show great improvement by the end of that time.
There are some foods that can be helpful in spring to support the liver. Springtime is a very important time for the liver – when it is most active and energized. Working with and supporting the energy of the liver during springtime is very good for your health. A fantastic food that supports liver function are beets. Beets can gently encourage the elimination of stool while simultaneously nourishing the blood – which is the other important job of the liver. Cleaning your diet while eating a beet or ½ of a beet a day would be a very helpful and supportive way to give your body time to cleanse itself and prepare for the activity and heat of summer.
Drinking a lot of water with lemon, lime or fermented cider vinegar can also be very helpful in spring. Sour flavor is one that is loved by the liver, so when you eat or drink sour products that makes it very happy! People often ask how much water to drink, and I generally advise them to drink enough water to make their urine very pale yellow and once it is clear, you have had enough.
You can also add gentle cleansing activities – winter is a time of retreat when it is important to slow down, but spring is the perfect time to start moving again. Remember to keep it gentle if you haven’t exercised in a while. No pushing yourself – that would just add more stress on your body and life. As your body gets stronger it will crave movement, and just listen to it.
You can trust your body!