The first step to a gentle cleanse is to be sure that the bowel is eliminating effectively. We want to be sure that the toxins that the liver is working so hard to eliminate are actually being purged from the body. We don’t want them reabsorbed in the intestines due to a slow transit time.
How do you know if you have slow transit time? Do a beet or corn “challenge.” Eat one of these foods and then watch for it in your bowel movements. You should see the dark red from the beets or the corn in your stools in 24 hours. If not then you have a slow transit time and that is the first thing that we need to address by using gentle bowel movers.
The second step is to nourish the liver. There are many great herbs for this such as Schisandra, Milk Thistle and Turmeric. Dandelion root and burdock root are also two of my favorite liver support herbs. What is perfect for you depends on what other health concerns that you might have but in general most liver nourishing herbs are good for most situations.
For some clients, stronger liver clearing herbs might be warranted. As these herbs clear they can stir up the liver a bit. They should be approached a bit more cautiously for this reason. One of my favorite herbs for clearing is Buplureum and others I like to use are Blessed thistle and Oregon Grape root. I don’t do a one size fits all approach to cleanses as someone who is nursing needs a different protocol than someone who is anemic and low on energy versus someone who is agitated and irritable.
The last piece of the cleansing protocol can be daunting for some. Diet is key to a good cleanse. At a minimum we should try to eliminate processed foods such as chips, greasy foods like french fries, and heavy meat dishes. We should try to eat easy to digest foods such as porridges made of rice, lentils, or oatmeal and well cooked vegetables. While not everyone has extra time to spend in the kitchen if we plan ahead we can make our 2 week cleanse much more beneficial to our body.
For those who might not have the time or skill for food prep work I would suggest that you take advantage of local restaurants. Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and other ethnic restaurants can truly help you try new flavors that are supportive in a cleanse diet. See if you can order large batches of rice or lentil dishes (dahl) from an Indian restaurant. Try soups like Tom Ga Kai at Thai restaurants of Vegetable Pho at Vietnamese restaurants.
There is one basic recipe that we get from the Ayurvedic tradition (below) that you can have on hand the entire cleanse period so that you always have something handy to eat. It is also good to be well stocked in vegetables to try to help you add more to your diet.
If you are ready to try a spring cleanse and need a custom herbal formulation or support don't hesitate to schedule a consultation!
3 c Vegetable Broth
1 c dried yellow split peas/mung beans
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 1-2 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
In a frying pan heat olive oil and saute onions. Add spices and a dash of water and stir. Set aside until needed again.
In a soup pot combine the broth and mung beans. Heat to a boil and reduce to medium. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Add the seasoning from the fry pan and continue to simmer until the mung beans have taken on a porridge type consistency.
Personally I use a Instapot pressure cooker which makes this dish so quick and easy without having to check it along the way. Start to finish I think it is about 15 minutes. This is a very basic and rather bland dish. You can add other spices to it if you would like but be sure to include the turmeric, garlic, and ginger for its health benefits. Other flavors might be cumin with cilantro and lime, or cinnamon and cardamom can be delicious as well. If you aren’t into blending your own spices buy a curry blend from the store or a garam masala spice blend.