Friday, April 29, 2011

Enhancing the Detox Experience

This article will also be available on the Total Cleanse website

Enhancing the Detox Experience
Sarah Reid, RHNC

Witch Hazel

Choosing to start a detoxification program of any kind often means a person has reached a crisis point. A long-term or sudden illness (either their own or a loved one’s), career change, marriage, divorce, death or new baby are all sparks to action and are intensely powerful driving forces to keep an individual “on track” through the program of choice. While your body has the ability to detoxify itself, there is so much extraneous matter entering our brain and body from inside and out that without support it is impossible for the body to achieve a fully “pure” state. A well designed program for whole body detoxification is cognisant of the nutritional needs the body has day to day while eliminating the majority of outside stressors. For the devoted or deep cleansers, however, there are several ways to enhance the experience and further support your body’s own healing process.

It is important to consult a physician before embarking on any cleansing program if you have pre-existing health issues, and some of the herbal recommendations should not be used in those with impaired kidneys, hypertension, heart palpitations or those on certain medications. When in doubt, consult a naturopath or holistic nutritionist before taking any herb.

For most individuals, adding nutritional supplementation has shown to be beneficial for detox plans. Adding herbal supplements (in tinctures, sprays, sub-lingual tablets or capsules) are a particularly potent method of increasing or supporting the body’s self-cleansing abilities at the hepatic (liver), blood, intestinal, and renal (kidney) levels. For general detoxification enhancement, cascara sagrada, milk thistle, alfalfa seed and dandelion are cornerstones of a herbal regimen. As always, increasing water intake is of equal, if not greater importance with these inclusions.

Milk Thistle

Specific body systems have their own particular “booster” herbs. For liver cleansing – one of the most important practices as the liver filters all the other toxins – milk thistle, dandelion, turmeric and goldenseal are particularly helpful in promoting bile production and cell regeneration, especially in the end stages of a detox regimen. Liver flushes should always be performed following intensive programs, as the act of detoxifying chemicals creates free radicals and damage to the liver cell lining.  Blood cell detoxification is often the first level of clearance that occurs with a cleansing diet, and is greatly assisted by including cayenne, witch hazel, peppermint and lemon. The cayenne and lemon may be added directly to pure, fresh juice or water, while the peppermint can be either chewed in it’s fresh, whole-leaf form or used like witch hazel in a tincture dropped onto the tongue. Renal herbs include those in the blood and liver categories, especially dandelion, and cranberry leaf extract is also beneficial.  

Cascara Sagrada

One of the most stressed pathways of elimination in detoxification programs is the intestinal and colonic route. This passageway is tonified and healed by including aloe vera (either juice or capsules), cascara sagrada, black walnut, white willow and marshmallow root. Any of these herbs should be taken just before bed, along with valerian or linden to promote the contraction and relaxation of the colon.

Given the intensity of toxic compounds in everyday food and environment, regular cleansing has become more crucial than ever before. Our ancestors probably knew the threat posed by toxins, and even though they were not as exposed to toxins as we are today, they included many organ-supportive herbs, which kept the level of toxins in their bodies within easily manageable levels. Herbs today should be part of the full detoxification process by aiding the organs that help in natural detoxification while the nutritional and lifestyle components are managed by the chosen protocol.

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About Me

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!