Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Cleanse

I just encountered a press release selling a Chinese Medicine-Based 21-day Cleanse developed by an acupuncturist, Reiki practitioner, yoga instructor, feng shui expert, and behavioral neuroscience something-or-other.  Off the top of my head, there are half-a-dozen excellent Chinese Medicine diet books on the market that contain guidelines for cleanses - most notably The Tao of Healthy Eating and Healing with Whole Foods. Perhaps this program offers something new and revolutionary and  am not going to knock it unless I try it. In the meantime, here are the instructions to a similar cleanse program I give to my clients for a lovely 3-day spring detox.

Why Cleanse? Clearing your schedule for a cleanse allows you to watch, moment to moment, the cause and effect of food and lifestyle choices that often remain unnoticed. It also provides a time for reflection and fresh insights into how diet and lifestyle habits are serving to support or undermine our health.

5 Herbs for Cleansing

* Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), known for centuries as a liver cleanser, has been clinically shown to increase levels of glutathione, the amino-acid compound that's necessary for toxin removal.

* Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) supports the liver, the adrenals, and the immune system. It also acts as a gentle laxative. Licorice may not be appropriate for patients with high blood pressure, so consult your doctor before using it if you are at risk.

* Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) stimulates the gallbladder, the kidneys, and the liver.

* Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), a Chinese tonic herb, is a multitasker. "It's an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a liver protector. Talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure.

* Burdock (Arctium lappa), helps protect the liver and clears toxins that lead to skin eruptions like eczema and acne.

7 Detox Foods These foods harbor healing promise for those looking to detox--and they're safe to consume every day. Apples and grapes are high in fiber to cleanse the colon. The pectin present in apples helps detoxify the gut, while the phytonutrients in grapes support the immune system, which in turn addresses toxins in the body. Artichokes are a source of antioxidants and liver-supporting cynarin. Artichoke not only cleanses this organ, but also helps convert the inactive T4 thyroid hormone to an active T3, which helps to increase metabolism and weight loss. Artichoke also helps the liver decongest fats. Cranberries kill bacteria in the urinary tract and contain digestive enzymes that cleanse the lymphatic system. Leafy greens like chard, kale, spinach, dandelions, chickweed, and salad leaves not only are among the most nutrient-rich vegetables, they help purify the GI tract. Lemons contain antioxidant, antiseptic, and cleansing substances. Once ingested, lemon's alkaline effect helps counter excess acid, while its high vitamin-C content bolsters the immune system. Whey, a milk protein that's rich in amino acids, offers immune-system and bone support. Research has shown it also helps the body produce more glutathione, facilitating toxin removal.

The following is a recipe for a basic cleanse; you can follow it exactly or adjust it to meet your personal needs. It calls for a light diet, herbs to support organ function, and beneficial yoga poses. This cleanse provides the benefits of fasting without the hardships. When toxins are released from fat reserves during a fast, the body has insufficient nutrient support to rid itself of toxins. This may result in headache, fatigue, and other problems, so anyone tempted to fast should consult a physician.

As you cleanse your inner dwelling, take time to purge your outer environment as well. Do you slather yourself with lotion containing artificial colors? Fill your shopping cart with only non-organic foods? Bit by bit, you can lessen your body's toxic load, leaving more energy for battling factors you can't control.

We are creatures of habit, and can get into familiar patterns of eating, moving, resting, thinking, and feeling that aren't necessarily optimal. Spring cleansing challenges those bad habits and sets a standard for a healthier lifestyle.

8 ounces filtered water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons maple syrup
Dash cayenne pepper powder/concentrate 

2 teaspoons green superfood
1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice
8 ounces water
Three Day Cleanse
Drink plenty of filtered water each day, take a multivitamin, and allow time for extra sleep. Each day include 8 ounces of lean protein, fresh or steamed vegetables, and 4 servings of fruit, including 2 organic apples for fiber.

Morning: Drink 8 ounces each of Master cleanser and Cranberry Elixir. Take one tablespoon of cod liver oil and/or Omega complex oil, and 50 drops Schisandra tincture.                                                  
Yoga Pose: Cobra pose Lie on your stomach with legs outstretched. Place your palms on the floor near your rib cage. Inhale as you press your hands into the floor and lift your chest, keeping your hips anchored on the floor and pressing down with your pubic bone. Hold for 3 to 5 smooth breaths, then lower to the floor. Repeat 3 times. Cobra Pose puts pressure on the abdomen, assisting elimination. 
Afternoon: Take 2 packets of whey protein, 2 heaping teaspoons of ground milk thistle seed, and 1 cup of dandelion tea.                               
Clean up your environment. Swap your household glass cleaner, bathroom scrub, and floor wax for natural alternatives from the health-food store. Or save money by making your own greener cleaners with natural ingredients such as vinegar and borax.   
Evening: Drink 8 ounces of Cranberry Elixir., one tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil, and 50 drops of schisandra tincture.                        
Yoga Pose: Corpse: Lie on your back, feet and arms extended and comfortably relaxed. Let your weight sink into the floor, and relax everywhere. This pose keeps bringing attention back to the sensations of the body, so we get glimpses of where we're holding tension. Releasing nervous, mental, and emotional stress is of utmost importance when we cleanse.  

Morning: Repeat day one routine. Yoga Pose: Lying Twist. Lie on your back, your arms stretched out to the sides, in line with your shoulders. Bring your knees to your chest. Slowly let both knees fall to your left side; turn your neck and look to the right. Breathe for a few moments, then return your knees to center and repeat on the opposite side. Twists massage the internal organs, encouraging sound digestion, improving circulation, and helping to detoxify the organs.  
Afternoon: Repeat day one routine.  Commit to whole foods. Start with one or two packaged foods you consume most, or those most likely to be contaminated with pesticides (peaches, strawberries, apples, spinach, nectarines, celery, pears, cherries, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers).  
Evening: Repeat day one routine and Corpse Pose. 

Morning: Repeat day one routine.  Yoga Pose: Seated Forward Fold. Sit with your legs crossed, back straight. Slowly lean forward, relaxing your neck, shoulders, and spine into a  rounded position. Remain folded for 5 to 10 smooth breaths, rise up, switch the cross of your legs, and repeat. Forward folds put pressure on the legs, triggering the liver, gallbladder, and lymph channels and promoting proper elimination patterns  
Afternoon: Repeat day one routine. Reassess your beauty routine. Pick one or two products to swap for natural options. Start by assessing your skin cream, since the ingredients end up in your bloodstream.   
Evening: Repeat day one routine and Corpse Pose.

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