It seems that everywhere we turn there is another herbal cleanse protocol or product being marketed. With that marketing often comes a lot of misinformation about cleansing. Let's look at a few principles that can help you to make the most of this practice.
Less is More
First, let's look at the natural processes of our bodies. Before the wonders of the interweb and packaged products, our ancestors cleansed their bodies. As each spring came, they naturally increased the quantity of leafy greens, vegetables and fruits in their diets thus flushing out the metabolic sludge of the long winter. It was an annual affair that took place in a completely natural way. These days, admittedly, we're living in a somewhat less pristine environment. Add to that the fact that our diets contain significant amounts unnatural and even potentially-toxic ingredients and I think one could make the argument that we should cleanse a little more often than once a year. However, I am often surprised at how often some people cleanse.
I have had people come to me for naturopathic services that are cleansing as often as once a month. At the same time, most folks so dedicated to frequent cleansing also tend to be dedicated to an extremely clean diet that would make even people that actually were "paleo" scratch their heads. So, how often should we do a cleanse? I'd say if a person is eating a really clean diet, twice a year (spring and fall) should be adequate. If someone wants to do it three to four times a year...well, OK, I won't give them grief for that. Anything more than that is, in my professional opinion, unnecessary and may even be harmful. "So what if a person isn't eating a really clean diet?" you may ask. Well, if that's the case...start eating a really clean diet.
So, How Do I Do It?
As I said, for millennia our ancestors cleansed their bodies just by eating the green foods they had available naturally. So can we do the same thing?...Just up the veggies a bit and call it good? Unfortunately no, we can't. Why not? Because the veggies we're eating aren't the same veggies our ancestors were eating. If you could get into a time machine and go back to a dinner party a thousand years ago (and no one burned you at the stake for dressing so weird) you'd notice that all of the veggies tasted markedly different. They would be much stronger in taste...bitter even....much too strong to be enjoyed by a pansy-palleted 21st century homo sapien.
You see, for that past several hundred years clever humans have been selectively breeding plants to taste better....more sugars, fewer alkaloids and less fiber. This process has accelerated to the point that now, in the enlightenment of the 21st century as we bask in the glow of ever more powerful science and technology, the plants we eat aren't merely selectively bred to be more palatable, they're actually genetically engineered to be that way! It wasn't bad enough to have food scientists...now we have food engineers! Yikes! The broccoli you eat today doesn't compare nutritionally or as an internal cleansing agent to the broccoli grandma used to eat. Wheat, once the staff of life, is now a genetically-modified crutch of cripples...not good.
So what do we do? We eat herbs, that's what. Why? Because no one has yet invented herb scientists and herb engineers. And thank heaven for that! Cleansing herbs still, for the most part, taste pretty lousy. That's a good thing. It means they still contain the phytochemicals our bodies need to cleanse and heal. Adding herbs to our daily diets also adds hard-to-find nutrients. But that's a topic for another day. :0)
Is it supposed to hurt this much?
I am often astonished at the intensity and invasiveness of some of the herbal cleanses being disseminated on the internet. If part of your cleanse involves spending time curled up on the bathroom floor in the fetal position wishing you were dead, it's probably stronger than it needs to be. If you have to call in to the office from your bathroom to tell them you won't be in...probably too strong. Remember, the point of this process isn't to punish the body or cause it undo stress. The point is to cleanse it...naturally. While a good cleanse may slightly increase your reading time in the bathroom, it shouldn't interrupt your life enough to keep you home from work.
Don't just cleanse, restore!
Cleaning things up is great but if you really want to do your body some good, you can also nourish and repair the organs. Herbs like milk thistle, cleavers and chamomile can provide wonderful, restorative support for the liver. Nettle seed, Astragalus and Rehmannia nourish and support the kidneys. Marshmallow or slippery elm soothe and protect the gut and herbs like burdock or dandelion root are high in inulin, a molecule which feeds and supports the beneficial bacteria in the intestines. These organs work hard and deserve a little TLC a few times a year. Cleansing herbs actually tend to be tonics that increase the function and output of the organs. After the cleanse, it's a really good idea to feed those organs the restorative plants they need so they can re-build and heal.
So How Do I Get Started?
Funny you should ask...
(WARNING: SHAMELESS COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!)
We at HomeGrown Herbalist have, for years been selling a really nice little Herbal Cleanse Kit. It contains everything you need to naturally cleanse your body inside and out. It also contains supportive and restorative formulas to reward your body for a job well done. I'd recommend doing it once or twice a year...particularly this time of year as winter ends and spring begins. If you want to do it 3-4 times a year, that's OK, but honestly it probably isn't necessary if you're eating right.
Click Here For More Information on the HomeGrown Herbalist Herbal Cleanse Kit and get a substantial discount just because I'm a nice fellar.
Have a great day!