The first signs of Spring mark a new beginning, a time of new vitality. After a long, dark cold winter, Spring is a time to open our doors and windows, let the fresh air through, and clear out some of Winter’s accumulations. Even if you find your self in a beautiful warm climate, such as Florida, there is still a definite ‘change in the air.’ This time of transition provides an excellent opportunity to cleanse the body as well. Naturopathic physicians and other naturally oriented health care professionals suggest the use of a gradual step-by-step cleansing program, beginning with the colon, then focusing on the liver and kidneys and finally finishing with the blood and lymph.
An appropriate diet is the first step in any cleansing program. Fresh fruits and vegetables, raw, steamed and juiced, provide an excellent foundation. They are nourishing and easy to digest, with plenty of naturally occurring fiber. Skin brushing, jumping on a mini-trampoline and using a sauna are all part of the detoxification program. Taking some time to connect with the spiritual/emotional aspects of life are also important. To do ‘skin brushing’, purchase a long handled, natural bristle dry skin brush. Then, before a bath or shower, brush your skin in long strokes, always going from the extremity towards the heart. This exfoliates the skin and opens the pores! Then use Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap in the shower, and emerge with a tingling sensation!
When cleansing the body, it is best to start with the colon. A high fiber diet, plenty of clean filtered water and acidophilus (a colon-friendly bacteria) make for a healthy foundation in maintaining colon health. Herbs can be useful also. The aged bark of Cascara Sagrada is a mild laxative and bitter, which can help to remove accumulated debris from the colon. Cascara Sagrada meant “sacred herb” to the indigenous people who used it as a medicine in ancient times. When choosing Cascara, use a product that has been properly prepared to avoid possible irritating actions associated with laxatives.
Liver and Kidneys
In order for the body to properly detoxify, it is necessary to clean out the natural “filters” which accumulate toxins and become less effective. The liver and kidneys are the main filtering organs in the body. Dandelion, a common weed, is used both as a food and medicine everywhere in the world where it grows. It is a potassium sparing diuretic, which works to cleanse and support both the liver and kidneys. Other herbs such as the berberine rich Oregon Graperoot and Goldenseal, Milk Thistle (scientifically proven to be liver protective) and Turmeric, all enhance liver function. Celery Seed, Couchgrass, Parsley, Uva ursi, Juniper and Cranberry also aid the kidneys to cleanse and flush out toxins.
Blood and Lymph
Cleansing of the blood was considered so important to medical herbalists of old that they developed a special term to refer to herbs used for that purpose: “Alteratives”. Herbs used historically as Alteratives included Sarsaparilla and Yellow Dock. Other blood and lymph cleansers such as Red Clover and Burdock Root are perfect for helping to cleanse the blood. Finally, no spring cleaning article would be complete without Nettles. Used throughout Europe and naturalized in America, Nettles are rich in iron and minerals. They aid in spring cleansing and also offset spring seasonal allergies.