Detoxification is a series of normal processes our bodies go through to eliminate toxins. It involves Two Phases- Phase One- makes fat soluble molecules more water soluble. Phase Two involves various proteins (enzymes) to bind these intermediate products so they can safely be eliminated through the bowel and bladder. From time to time we need to help our body out by doing a “Detox or Cleanse” program to eliminate excesses leading to many health problems.
That is why it’s important to do a slow, longer cleanse to allow both phases to process rather than fast cleanses (like the 48 or 72 hour) that often results in feeling worse rather than better. Don’t fall prey to quick cures or the one miracle supplement every one is currently talking about. Whole Foods & Herbs are the best most “natural solutions”. Supplements than are chemical derivatives of single constitutes may also not work as well as the herb in its whole form. Remember that Herbs are food containing vitamins and minerals so think of Herbs as Natures Vitamins!
Depending upon your age and lifestyle, we build up toxins from our environment, workplace, home and from what we consume- food, drugs, alcohol, etc. and what we apply Personal Care Products and toxic energies from others that cause emotional & mental stresses or poisons. People often ask- How often do we need to Cleanse? Our bodies may need to be cleansed on a semi-regular basis with the main goal to minimize exposure from toxins through healthy diets, exercise, reducing stress, drinking plenty of water and balancing our mental, emotion & spiritual states. Once or twice times a year is probably all most people need. The New Year is the most popular time people “detox” and a great place to start!
What are the Symptoms that you may need to Detox? If you are feeling sluggish, irritable, have sore joints & muscles, skin rashes, sleep problems, headaches, excess weight, constipation / diarrhea then you could benefit from a Total Body Cleanse!
How Do We Cleanse? Cleansing with herbal teas and encapsulated formulas are a great addition to the detox process but it should be done slowly, and with one organ system at a time to experience the full benefits.
Chakra Model- First, cleanse the Colon and the intestinal system, followed by the kidney & urinary systems; liver & gallbladder; blood & lymph; lungs & respiratory system and lastly the skin. Each detox program should last from up to a few days to a week or two depending upon your body’s individual needs. More exposure=long cleanse or more fequently (1 week every few months)
1. Colon Cleansing. It’s crucial to first focus on colon cleansing, rebuilding and toning to allow a clear passage of eliminated toxins and removal of stored fecal waste. Aromatic and Bitter herbs help to purge the colon (laxatives) then revitalize the intestinal system with toning and strengthening herbs for support with demulcent herbs & increasing bulk.
Laxative herbs can cause contraction of the bowels: Strong Herbs- Senna, Cascara, Rhubarb root, Buckthorn & Aloe juice….Mild- Triphala, Rose petals, Fennel & Licorice, to name a few. Use laxatives with caution as they may cause cramping and dependence if used too often.
Demulcent herbs like Marshmallow, Slippery Elm, Irish Moss & Aloe Vera juice help increase moisture and flow through the intestines and colon. It is also important to increase the bulk of the stool that help “scrape” the intestines by adding additional fiber to the diet such as rice / wheat bran, flaxseed and psyllium seed.
Detox Baths: Other options for gentle colon cleansing is the addition of magnesium as a laxative in the form of Epsom Salts. This is as simple as adding it alone or in combination with other salts (Dead Sea Salt, Pacific Sea Salt or Pink Salt)
2. The Kidneys are our body’s principal excretory organ that filters out drugs, toxins & metabolic waste from the blood. They are also important regulatory organs that help balance ph, calcium & vitamin D metabolism and electrolyte and fluid balance. Kidneys produce hormones that stimulate RBC production, helps regulate blood pressure and receives 25% of our bodies total blood volume. The health of all internal organs are dependent on the proper functioning of the kidneys.
Keeping your kidneys healthy is a matter of hydration, nutrition and proper hygiene. Drink plenty of good quality water helps to detoxify the kidneys by diluting the urine and concentrations of minerals and salts causing less irritations. Proper hygiene is also crucial to kidney and bladder health as most urinary infections are caused by bacteria from the colon.
When you do a “kidney cleanse” it is crucial to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Also, avoid high acid forming foods, excessive proteins, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Drinking kidney supportive herbal teas and taking bathes with essential oils are great detoxifiers and should be employed during a cleanse period (1-3 weeks).
Herbs for kidneys either support their proper function and/or are diuretics that help cleanse the bladder and kidney ducts. Burdock Root, Ginger and Licorice help to detoxify the kidneys and Cayenne, Fennel & Yellow Dock promotes proper functioning, while Fo-Ti does both. Diuretic herbs should also be added to your tea formula such as Boldo Leaf, Bearberry, Bilberry, Birch Leaves, Dandelion Leaves, Gravel Root (Joe-Pye), Horsetail, Hydrangea, Juniper Berries, Nettles, Kava Kava, Sarsaparilla, and Yarrow. Bathes are also a great way to help detoxify and help to relieve kidney stress. Add 8-10 drops of any 2 of the following essential oils: Cedarwood, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lemon, Juniper or Sandlewood.
Herbal Elements Kidney Detox Decoction Tea : Burdock Root, Ginger, Licorice, Sarsaparilla, Juniper Berries
Herbal Elements Kidney Detox Infusion Tea: Bearberry Leaves, Birch Leaves, Nettles, Horsetail, and Chamomile or Lemon Balm or Mint for taste
3. The Liver is the largest gland in the body and the major organ for the elimination of toxic waste. It has many other important functions such as metabolism of nutrients, hormones & waste; production of blood-clotting factors; storage of vitamins & minerals and the formation of urea. The liver also produces bile that helps emulsify fats and is then stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder and liver are interconnected with the health of one affecting the health of the other. Diets high in refined sugars, fats & cholesterol can promote gallstones and decreased liver function.
Cleansing the liver is very important to help maintain a healthy liver. The level of exposure to toxins- from home, workplace and environment- would determine how often cleansing is required. There are several methods to cleanse the liver like massage, flushes, enemas and herbal therapies. Most herbs used in herbal liver therapies are cooling & bitter and taken in teas, tincture or encapsulated forms. The following is a short list of herbs good for the liver; Burdock, Yellow Dock, Fennel, Goldenseal,Licorice Root, Oregon Grape, Blessed Thistle,Black Walnut, Borage Leaf, Fo-Ti, Boldo, Milk Thistle, Rosemary, Siberian Ginseng, Ginseng Turmeric, Dandelion Root, Baical Scullcap, Bupleurum, Chinese Rhubarb Root,Schizandra Berry , Licorice.
4. The Lymph and the Blood play important roles in detoxification in our bodies. The Lymph system is composed of lymph glands & nodes, the spleen, thymus and tonsils. It carries wastes that the cells excrete into the blood stream where it is detoxified and eliminated. Lymph contains white blood cells and antibodies that combat infections and remove infections. Blood supplies oxygen to all cells in our body, transports hormones and vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) If toxins build up in our blood and lymph, our health suffers and diseases like immune deficiency could result.
An important part of cleansing the blood and lymph are a proper diet, try adding onions, garlic, fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of fresh, clean water. Adding herbal teas & bathes will help flush out toxins & waste into the blood and lymph excreted through the urine.
Essential Oils for Baths: Lymph- Geranium, Juniper & Black Pepper
Blood- Rosemary, Cypress & Vetiver
Detox Infusion Tea: Elder Flower, Horsetail, Lemon Balm, Oat Straw & Red Clover
Detox Decoction Tea: Burdock Root, Cloves, Hawthorn Berry, Pau'd'Arco, Red Root & Sarsaparilla
5. The lungs are part of the respiratory system responsible for extracting oxygen from the air we breathe. Oxygen then combines with hemoglobin in the red blood cells and then carried to the rest of the body. The lungs have the greatest exposure of any organ to toxins from the environment.
There are 3 diseases that effect the bronchial tubes inside the lungs- asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Asthma consists of breathing difficulties and bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Both can be triggered by toxins, which can be reversible in their early stages. Emphysema destroys elasticity and is irreversible.
Detoxification for the lungs is an important step in keeping our bodies healthy by removing toxins, cleansing, and rebuilding. Herbal teas can be an essential part of any cleanse utilizing herbs that reduce inflammation & congestion and strengthen the lungs. Teas should be consumed 2-3 times a days for 2-3 weeks, longer if you are or were a smoker. Vitamin E oil has been shown to protect the fluid lining the lungs and can be a benefit to smokers and can be taken during a lung detoxification program.
One of my favorite herbs for the lungs is Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, a hardy, tall biennial with fuzzy leaves and bright yellow flowers. Mullein is a relaxing and antiseptic herb that lubricates and heals lung tissues. It is used for almost any respiratory problem and helps to maintain the acid/alkali balance in the lungs. Use Mullein with other herbs in teas such as Lobelia, Lungwort, White Horehound, Hyssop, Coltsfoot, Elecampane, Vervain, Nettle and Thyme.
Decoction Lung Tea: Licorice root, Bloodroot, Pleurisy root, Pau d'arco, Fenugreek
Infusion Lung Tea: Mullein, White Horehound, Hyssop or Vervain, Lobelia or Coltsfoot and add Mint or Lemon Balm for taste Add a pinch of Stevia or local honey as a sweetener if desired.
6. It has been said that “the skin is a mirror of what is going on inside of our bodies”, so take a look at your skin, what is it telling you?
Our skin is the largest detox organ that releases toxins through sweat, rashes or abscesses. The skin also protects internal organs like the kidneys, liver and heart from overwork due to toxin overload. Skin is made up of two layers- the Epidermis and the Dermis. The Epidermis is the outer protective layer that is only about a millimeter thick. Epidermal cells produce lipids (keeps skin moist), keratin and and vitamin D from sunlight. The Dermis is the inner skin layer composed of connective tissue and the proteins collagen and elastin which give the skin strength and elasticity.
You may need a skin cleanse if you have any of the following:
Acne, Age Spots, Sallow or Uneven Skin (poor liver function)
Wrinkles, Sagging or Dry Skin (free radical damage)
Puffy Eyes, Crusty Eyes, Dark Circles (over load of fluid wastes)
Rashes, Bumps and Sores (overload of unexcreted waste)
Chronically Chapped, Itchy, Oily, Scaly Skin (toxic overload)
A proper diet with limited processed foods and drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily can improve skin health and overall appearance. Drinking herbal teas can help flush out toxins internally and used externally as a skin wash on problem areas.
There are many herbs that benefit the skin, one of my favorites is PNW native Oregon Grape. There are many species of Oregon Grape- Mahonia aquifolium is the most popularly used and is the state flower of Oregon. They make an attractive landscape plant having evergreen, holly-like leaves and bright, yellow spring flowers followed by purplish-blue berries. Oregon Grape contains Berberine, a bitter chemical also found in Barberry& Goldenseal which gives them their yellow color. Oregon Grape Root has been used as a treatment for bacterial infections, diarrhea, gastritis and skin problems. It is effective for psoriasis, eczema, acne and allergic rashes as an external skin wash and internally for a short term (up to 3 weeks). Do use if you are pregnant, diabetic, have excessive heart burn or take anti-anxiety drugs.
Decoction Tea: Pau d'arco, Marshmallow, Dandelion Root, Oregon Grape Root, Burdock Root. You may want to add honey or Stevia to help with the bitterness. Drink 2-3 cups per day for 1-3 weeks depending on your skins condition. You should see a noticeable improvement.
7. Mental & Spiritual Cleansing. This is optional, but crucial to Body, Mind and Soul Trinity. This can be as simple or involved as you choose. Ridding yourself of emotional toxins- negative thoughts, feelings, doubt, fear, guilt, pain, angst, anxiety, low self-worth / esteem. This may be a ceremony, ritual, meditaion or prayer sessions that you do- mantras to promote positive thoughts, behaviors and being. Kindness, peace, joy, good will towards other. Sense of caring, balance you inner energy, not necessarily “religious” unless you choose it to be. Journal write, light candles, read inspiring books, poetry, etc. paint, draw, color, explore your creativity- learn, write, whatever is the real you.
Learn more, take my Detox for a New You class this Jan. 12th 2019 at Pierce College Puyallup, WA. See more at www.HerbalElements.net/classes/pierce
Please refer to the following websites to learn more about the detoxification processes: http://www.aimatdiscount.com/herbs-in-detox.html