Spring cleanse: Why & How?
Spring brings a feeling of rejuvenation and renewal. We are ready to clean our surroundings and home, but don’t often think to set time aside to clean our internal environment, our body. A spring cleanse allows us to focus on self-care, lighten our diet and ease digestion, while supporting the body in eliminating toxin build up, restoring balance and increasing energy and vitality.
In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is a time to focus on rebalancing the body, clearing out excess and supporting digestion, liver and gall bladder.
It’s interesting that the spring plants and green shoots are typically used to support the liver. (Dandelion, nettles, mustard greens, arugula, cilantro, parsley)
Every nutrient and every toxin that enters your body throughout your gastrointestinal tract, your respiratory tract, or skin, must pass through the portal vein into the liver before it enters the blood for general circulation.
The liver is a complex organ and responsible for a myriad of functions including:
- Cleansing the blood, manages the chemicals in the blood, helps to remove bacteria from the blood
- Neutralizing and destroys poisons, disassembling chemical compounds for detoxification
- Metabolizing alcohol
- Aids in digestion through the production of enzymes and secretion of bile
- Manufacturing new body proteins
- Producing immune factors
- Storing vitamins, minerals, and sugars releasing when the body needs them
- Controlling the production and secretion of cholesterol and maintains hormone balance
- Providing a source of heat.
- Regenerating its damaged tissues.
The liver can continue to function after 90% of it has been removed, and it can eventually grow back to its normal size if no disorder weakens the organ. Show your liver love with massage, castor packs, greens and supporting herbal teas.
Because of the scope of the liver, it is often the focus of a detox or cleanse program.
Foods specific for supporting the liver:
- Bitter greens – dandelion, mustard greens, arugula, cilantro, parsley, use in salads or smoothies
- Lemon zest – contains limonin which supports the liver detox enzymes, add to water and salads
- Beets – contain betaine help to clear liver toxins and protect bile ducts, eat raw or steamed
- Cruciferous family – important for the phase 2 liver detox – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels, cabbage, Bok choy
- Sprouts and micro greens – concentrated amino acids and minerals, broccoli, radish, kale, alfalfa
- Turmeric – promotes bile and protects liver, add to tea or vegetables
- Gluten free whole grains and seeds – provide B vitamins necessary for liver
Our body is naturally self-cleaning and self-healing; internal detox is an ongoing daily process if our systems are functioning properly. We have several channels for neutralizing and eliminating toxins not only the liver:
- kidneys and urine
- digestive system and bowel movements
- lungs by exhalation
- lymph system moves cellular waste
- Skin and perspiration.
Taking focused time to spring cleanse, supports all of these channels.
If our body cleanses daily, why the need for a detox or cleanse program?
We are bombarded with an increasing amount of toxic exposure. Our babies are now born with a toxic load of more than 100 different chemicals, which they inherit in the womb because chemicals in our bodies cross the placenta. Our everyday lifestyles are exposing us to an accumulation of toxins, and we’ve hit the tipping point. People are experiencing health challenges that are directly related to the toxic overload, and the root of the problem is being overlooked.
Where do Toxins come from?
- Man Made- plastics, BPA, nonstick cookware, pesticides
- In air, water, soil – pollutants, fluoride and prescription drugs, pesticides – 80,000 registered
- Food and drinks- artificial colors & flavors, additives, altered fats, caffeine, alcohol, synthetic hormones, neurotoxins, chemical stabilizers, metals, sugar
- Prescription medicine and over the counter meds, vaccines, chemotherapy, radiation
- Personal care products- soap, shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, “fragrance”
- Dentistry- mercury amalgam fillings (David Kennedy, former president of IAOMT: “if someone has more than 4 amalgam fillings, their saliva is so high in mercury that they cannot legally spit in the toilet.”)
- Cleaning products, air fresheners, laundry soaps, dryer sheets
- Off gassing of home construction products- glues, treated woods, carpets, shower curtains, insulation
- Emotions and stress, grudges and bitterness
If your immune response is awesome, you have 2 or more BMs a day, eat primarily clean whole foods, regularly walk/exercise to stimulate lymph flow, your blood sugar is controlled, sleep 7+ hours regularly and you are stress free, your body can handle a good amount of toxins.
However, most people are over fed and under nourished, highly stressed, don’t move around enough, rely on caffeine or alcohol to get through the day, sleep poorly and are unable to detox sufficiently. Sometimes fat storage is actually a protective mechanism, so when people carry extra fat, they may have a high toxic load, and they’re actually developing fat stores to protect them from an onslaught of toxins in the bloodstream.
Indicators you might benefit from a cleansing program:
- back pain
- bad breath and body odor
- slow healing wounds
- chronic respiratory problems
- moody or irritable
- brain fog, poor memory
- low energy
- brittle nails
- sugar cravings
- unexplained weight gain
- bloating, constipation
What is the end result?
- More energy
- Less congestion and bloating
- Better sleep
- Greater feeling of wellbeing
- Reduce pain
- Reduce cravings
- Better concentration / Less Brain fog
- Clear skin
- Bright eyes
- Increased libido
- Weight loss
- Fast recovery from illness
- Bright eyes
What to expect while cleansing
- As toxins release, headaches and body aches can occur, drinking lots of water helps them to flush out quickly, allowing time to rest.
- Removing caffeine can cause withdrawal headaches, so take a couple days prior to your start to wean off, reducing by half each day.
- Constipation can occur and needs to be addressed or the toxins will recirculate. Increasing vitamin C and magnesium to bowel tolerance.
- If you’re doing at least a week cleanse, the first two days are the hardest, you start feeling better with more energy and focus by the third day and amazing by the end.
Supporting the elimination channels is the focus of cleansing to allow the body to release accumulated toxins and provide focused nutrition for optimal support of the elimination channels.
How to do an effective cleanse/detox?
- Focus on things you CAN control to reduce exposure to those toxins and chemicals that accumulate, removing the source as much as possible without freaking out and getting stressed. Stress will stop detoxification.
- Reduce exposure to chemicals and toxins:
- Replace toxic household chemicals with “green” cleaners- baking soda, vinegar, essential oils
- Get fresh air into your house every day
- Drink purified water out of glass – try to get ½ body weight in ounces
- Don’t use plastic with food, leaches with fat and acids.
- Choose food that is organic, non GMO, chemical‐free as much as possible (dirty dozen/clean fifteen=EWG.org)
- Remove EMF exposure during sleep – keep phone and computers in a different room
- Remove inflammatory foods (sugar, gluten, dairy)
- Eat easily digested foods (lots of fruits & vegetables), increase fiber so energy is spent on cleaning out instead of heavy digesting.
- Make exercise and deep breathing a daily part of your life
- Do some mild exercise every day to move lymph- walking, swimming, yoga, chair exercise, massage
- Rest, nap and make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep, dark with no distractions
- Stimulate skin- loofa or skin brushing
- Take time for yourself and destress – read, laugh, walk in nature, baths, sauna, yoga, music…
- Find joy in life, love, forgive, gratitude – this changes chemicals in the body and allows release.
- Support with nutritional supplements if needed.
What to Include in your cleanse?
- All vegetables (except white potatoes, iceberg lettuce and corn), locally grown, in season and organic
- Highly cleansing foods like artichokes, asparagus, beets, radishes, asparagus, and fresh herbs
- Coconut milk (full-fat, Native Forest brand) or unsweetened almond milk
- Focus on local and organic berries and seasonal fruits
- Legumes and beans, including lentils, but not peanuts
- Healthy fats in small amounts each day: avocado, unsweetened coconut, nuts & seeds, olive oil, coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
- Whole gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and brown rice
- Spices and herbs
- Raw honey, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar and stevia to sweeten (use sparingly if at all)
Antioxidants are needed for detoxification to be effective. Include as many of the following:
- Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Chaga tea and other medicinal mushrooms
- Onions, garlic, turmeric, avocadoes, tomatoes, parsley, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, squash, apples, oranges, peaches, bananas (Glutathione)
- Barley grass juice, wheat grass juice, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cantaloupe (Superoxide dismutase)
- Flax, chia, hemp seeds, walnuts, pecans, wild berries (Alpha Lipoic Acid)
- Cherries, citrus, currants, red peppers, kale, pine nuts, sunflower seeds (Vitamins C, E)
- Brazil nuts, sardines, oats, chia seeds (Selenium)
Purified water and herbal teas
- Reverse Osmosis, mineral, alkalized
- Dandelion, Tulsi (holy basil), nettle, chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, rosemary
Herbal supplements and teas can help specific elimination functions if extra support is needed:
- Blood purifiers – Burdock, red clover, Oregon grape, dandelion, sarsaparilla
- Liver support – Milk thistle, nettles, burdock, schizandra, dandelion, clover, garlic, horsetail
- Kidney support – Parsley, uva ursi, juniper berry, nettles, dandelion, goldenseal
- Lung/Respiratory support – Wild cherry, garlic, horseradish, mullein, mustard, horseradish
- Bowel support – Psyllium, slippery elm, fenugreek, marshmallow root, magnesium, Vit C, probiotics,
- Lymph support- Red clover, Echinacea, cleavers, prickly ash bark
- Skin Support – Elderflower, sage, ginger, capsicum, aloe
Complimentary therapies to support detoxification:
Drawing or Sweat Baths – Epsom salt, seaweed, clay, or ginger while sipping hot herbal tea to induce sweating
Saunas – far infrared, dry or steam
Alternating hot/cold showers– increases circulation and brings toxins through skin
Skin brushing – dry brushing removes dead cells and stimulates circulation and lymph flow
Tongue Scraping – removes bacterial buildup
Castor Oil – rub on are of liver, cover with towel
Lymph massage – light stroke massage along lymphatic areas (neck, collar bone, arm pits, groin, back of knees)
Rebounding – mini tramp jumping to increase lymphatic flow
Neti Pot – clearing congestion from the nasal cavity, allows for drainage
Deep Breathing – awareness breathing for replenishing air in lungs and expelling stagnant air, oxygen to cells
Enemas/colonics – clears any accumulated material from bowel, helps with dehydration.
There are different degrees of cleansing programs:
I recommend starting slow and building up to an all liquid/water/juice cleanse.
Mild Food – a gentle way to detox, less likely to experience symptoms of detoxing.
- Removing major allergy/inflammatory foods: gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, peanut, eggs, corn
- Eating mostly fruits and vegetables, raw or slightly steamed, cooked gluten free grains, minimal oil
- Chew well, support stomach acid with lemon water or HCL, bowel transit with herbs and probiotics
- Can be long term- cooked food slows down cleansing process, raw food increases it.
Accelerated Mild Food
- Eating raw fruits, vegetables and salads along with fresh juices or smoothies during the day and having a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
- All raw foods
Green smoothie / blended soups – whole food nutrients and fiber supplied, blending eases digestion, can be sustained for longer periods
- 40% fruit to 60% leafy greens, blend and enjoy!
- Faster toxin release, weight loss, symptoms can occur (headache, fatigue, nausea, constipation)
- Additional support for bowels to ensure toxins released are eliminated (vitamin C, Magnesium)
- Can be implemented several times a year.
Juice Fasting – concentrated phytonutrients, no fiber
- It is important to incorporate both vegetable, greens and fruit juices, not just sweet fruit juice
- Vegetable broths and herbal teas can be included and beneficial for targeting specific needs
- This can be very balancing and results in rapid detoxification, a fiber supplement and vitamin C and magnesium are helpful to keep bowels moving.
- Can experience symptoms of detox- headaches, flu-ish achiness, fatigue
Water Fasting– short term- 24 to 48 hours, no longer unless under trained practitioner supervision, good to consider doing once a month, improves hydration and boosts ongoing natural detoxification.
- Water or herbal teas
- Master cleanse- lemon water, maple syrup and cayenne – short term only, 24-48 hours, without medical supervision
**For all levels:
- Remove the most inflammatory foods: gluten, sugar and dairy.
- Reduce or avoid caffeine and animal protein during cleansing period.
- Remove all processed food during cleanse.
- Increase leafy greens of all kinds, seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs.
- Increase water and herbal tea intake.
- Listen to your body; prioritize rest so energy expense is inward focused.
Contraindications: fasting is not advisable for small children, pregnant or nursing mothers, frail or weakened, chronically ill and debilitated. Diabetics are encouraged to stick to cleansing programs including food, not just liquids unless monitored.
Example of a day while cleansing:
First thing in the morning drink: ½ of a lemon squeezed into a cup of warm water and sweetened with a little honey or green lemonade (blended with spinach or tender greens) . Wait 15 minutes before eating.
Skin brushing and shower
Breakfast: wait until you are hungry, then eat enough fresh fruit to satisfy you, chia pudding with berries or 1-4 cups of smoothie or fresh juice (decaf coffee or green tea is okay during this time)
Mid-morning: If you are trying to lose weight, only drink water or more juice or smoothie until Lunch. If you need to snack, have a piece of fruit. Drink one cup of dandelion or Tulsi tea.
Lunch: Have 1 cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa with 2-3 cups of steamed vegetables. OR have miso broth and a large salad with chopped veggies, seeds or avocado, or blended veggie soup. Eat enough to satisfy
Brisk walk and deep breathing
Mid-afternoon: If you need to snack, have fresh cut vegetable sticks – carrots, celery, radish, yam, cucumber, zucchini, etc. Have a cup of Tulsi tea.
Dinner: Drink water before your meal. If you didn’t have cooked grains and steamed veggies at lunch, enjoy them ideally before 7:00 PM. Otherwise, enjoy a cleansing and nutrient rich soup or raw veggie meal – Large salad; or chopped/shredded veggies rolled in lettuce or cabbage boats, and/or raw vegetable noodles. Drizzle with lemon juice and honey, or a little balsamic vinegar. Eat enough to satisfy your hunger in one sitting.
Wait 30-60 minutes before drinking anything after a meal. Try not to snack before going to sleep, only drink water or Tulsi tea.
Read, music or Epsom bath
*If blood sugar needs stabilizing, have ¼ cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds before bed
Cleansing Recipes to incorporate into your Cleanse:
Juices: Use a juicer or blend with a little water and strain liquid
Protein juice: 1 apple, 1-2 cup pineapple, 4oz alfalfa sprouts, 2 Tbs mint leaves – juice or blend well and strain.
Carrot Plus: 4 carrots, ½ cucumber, 2 celery stalks
Kidney juice: 2 carrots, 2 beets, 2 celery stalks, ½ cucumber, handful spinach
Potassium Vegetable Broth: good for energy, minerals and electrolytes
4 carrots, 2 potatoes w/skins, 1 onion, 3 celery stalks, ½ bunch parsley, ½ head cabbage, 1 broccoli spear
Cover with water in large pot, bring to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain solids, add coconut aminos or miso to broth and store covered in fridge. Drink during any time for cleansing benefits.
Smoothies: Blend all ingredients until smooth, drink and Enjoy!
- 1 Apple, ¼ c blueberries, ½ banana, 3 lettuce leaves, ½ c spinach, ½ c water
- 2 oranges, 1 pear, ½ lemon squeezed, 3 kale leaves, ½ c water
- 2 cup cantaloupe melon, 2 cup spinach
- 1 c strawberries, 1 apple, ½ c pineapple, ½ c dandelion leaves, 1 c romaine, 1 c water
Veggie Quinoa Salad
½ cup quinoa added to 1 cup boiling water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let bloom and absorb the water.
4 cups chopped baby greens: arugula, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 pound asparagus, cut in 2 in length
1 can chickpea, drained
Chop vegetables and Steam in a steam basket over boiling water. If you prefer to roast the vegetables, chop and toss with the seasonings and oil and place evenly on a baking sheet, then pour chickpeas over vegetables, cover with foil and roast at 375 for 20 minutes.
Combine seasonings and oil in a small bowl and toss with vegetables:
2 T olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp sea salt
Whisk the oil, lemon and spices together and pour over vegetables if baking. If steaming vegetables, cook until lightly tender, remove and toss with spice blend.
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, juiced, ¼ cup
2 tsp maple syrup
½ tsp onion powder
Whisk together or shake in a jar to combine.
To assemble: while still warm, combine the vegetables and chickpeas with cooked quinoa and chopped greens.
Toss with dressing and enjoy.
Shred a mixture of veggies: carrots, turnips, radish, beets, kohlrabi, jicama
Thinly slice cabbage and kale or add dandelion or arugula greens.
Add a shredded apple if desired.
3 T lemon or lime juice or cider vinegar
6 T water
½ tsp maple syrup or honey if desired
Season the salad with salt and pepper and your choice of dried herbs. Mix well with vegetables.
Eat as is or use as a filling in collard wraps, lettuce boats. Mix with cooked rice or quinoa.
6 almonds or pecans
Cut dates halfway through, take out pit and insert nut. Squeeze date around nut. Eat and enjoy.
Optional: dust nuts with cinnamon, salt or cayenne before inserting into date for added flavor.
Chia Seed Ginger Lemonade
1 quart pure water or tea of choice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 inch ginger depending on your taste
3 T chia seeds
2 T honey or maple syrup
Place lemon juice and slices of ginger in a quart jar. Warm the water just to a boil. Pour into the jar add honey and let cool.
Add the chia seeds and whisk or shake a few times to prevent the seeds from clumping.
Store covered in refrigerator.
Gluten-free Sandwich Bread
2 ½ cups millet flour – You can find this by BOB Red Mill brand
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ cups water
1 T cider vinegar
1/3 cup psyllium husks – you find these at the co-op
1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×5 bread pan with coconut oil.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the millet flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until mixed.
In another bowl, whisk the water, vinegar, and psyllium until blended. Let stand and thicken for about 5 minutes.
Add the wet mixture to the flour mix and seeds, if using. Use a rubber spatula and completely combine into dough. Gather into a ball.
Shape the dough into the loaf pan and smooth the top with wet spatula or your hands.
Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes until the surface is pale golden brown, dry and crusty. The bread will sound hollow when tapped. Cool for 15 minutes then remove loaf from the pan and allow it to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at a cool room temp for 2 days or refrigerate for a week.
*You may swap out different gluten free flour combinations (almond, oat, teff, buckwheat)
Curried Cream of Zucchini Soup – (Vita-mix or bender)
½ cup water or nut milk 2 cups zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
2 stalks of celery 2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil 2 tsp white miso paste
2 cloves of garlic 1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp sea salt Dash cayenne
1 avocado or ½ cup coconut cream
1 zucchini finely diced, for texture (optional)
Blend all ingredients except avocado, olive oil and diced zucchini until smooth. (Blend in Vita-mix for one minute if you want warm soup. Add avocado or coconut cream and blend again until creamy and emulsified. Pour into bowls and top with diced zucchini.
Variation: Omit curry and substitute 2 Tbs fresh dill (2 tsp. dry).
Spring Pesto Spread
cups young greens (arugula, dandelion, cilantro, spinach)
¼ cup walnuts or pumpkin seeds
¼ cup extra virgin pressed olive oil
1 garlic clove
Pinch sea salt
Add greens to a food processor or blender followed by the nuts/seeds, garlic and salt. Pulse to chop the greens and drizzle in the oil as the machine is running. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Chia Seed Pudding
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup plant milk
½ cup berries
Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and coconut for toppings
Blend the milk and berries together and then add the chia seeds and pulse the blender a couple times to mix well. Pour into a jar or covered dish and chill for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to eat, add honey and toppings, if desired.