This is a time of immense change and great potential for extraordinary growth, but at times, it can feel overwhelming and out of control. You may feel off balance and sluggish, stressed out and have difficulties sleeping. You might easily gain weight or struggle with digestive problems. The list goes on and on. But you can take the change surrounding you and use it to empower change within you by you turning inward and listening to your body, your heart, and the wisdom of nature.
It might be the perfect time to cleanse, if you are ready to let go and give yourself a much needed rest—physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a naturopathic doctor, I have become increasingly aware that toxic overload on all of these levels contributes to many health issues.
I believe that toxins are blocking many people from living their truest lives. The cleansing of your mind of negative thoughts, behaviors, and memories is essential to health. Emotionally, detoxification will help you uncover and express hidden frustrations, grief, fear, and anger, and replace them with forgiveness, love, joy, and hope. Physically, taking a break from the obvious environmental toxins in your food will leave you feeling energized, renewed, and protected from disease.
Here are 10 simple things you can do at home to start the process of detoxification.
1. Start Your Day with a Wake-Up Drink. First thing upon waking, and on an empty stomach, drink 1 cup of hot filtered or spring water with the juice from half of one lemon and two pinches of cayenne pepper. The lemon stimulates your digestion and the cayenne enhances circulation and blood flow.
2. Try a Contrast Shower. Each time you take a hot shower, follow it with a cold rinse for 60 seconds. This at-home version of an old naturopathic hydrotherapy cure stimulates circulation, your immune system, and your ability to detox via your skin. Your pores will tighten and you’ll feel invigorated and ready for the day.
3. Shake It Up. Jump on a trampoline for 3-to-5 minutes at a time. This stimulates your whole body and is particularly useful for stimulating your lymph drainage system. If you are prone to allergies or cysts, this will be very helpful.
4. Enjoy a Fever Bath. Take a warm bath in the evening and add one cup of Epsom salts to soothe, relax, and detox. You can increase the benefits of a fever bath by drinking 2-to-3 cups of hot tea while in the bath to work up a sweat. Try this recipe: Simmer some fresh ginger slices in water, tossing in one tablespoon of dried yarrow flowers. Steep for 15 minutes, strain, and drink. Yarrow and ginger have been shown to stimulate sweating, which helps the body release toxins.
5. Take a News Break. Observe a news fast for 3-to-7 days to limit toxic thoughts, which can undermine your health. Avoid news or other emotionally disturbing information from the Internet, magazines, movies, newspapers, radio, and television. Detoxing these stressful exposures and replacing them with deep breathing, relaxing activities like walking or yoga, or reading a book, can give your mind and body a much needed rest.
6. Spend Time in Nature. Take a break from your routine of being inside your home, office, or car, and venture out to your favorite place in nature or a new place you have always wanted to go. Bring a journal with you and start listening to your body by recording what it is telling you. Surrounding yourself with nature and all its negative ions (which act positively on your mood) will help you de-stress and encourage the inherent wisdom of your body to come forth.
7. Drink Detox Tea. For at least one week, try limiting all of your beverages to just water and herbal teas. This will ease the stress on your kidneys, help flush retained fluids in your cells, and help filter your blood and liver. I recommend drinking 6-to-8 cups a day of the following tea to help "crowd-out" less healthy beverages, maintain a state of fullness, reduce your appetite, and cleanse your liver and kidneys. In a quart of water, combine 2 tablespoons of each of the following and gently simmer the tea: burdock root, yellow dock root, dandelion leaf and root, licorice root, fennel, and ginger. Multiply the recipe accordingly to make larger batches, and drink it throughout the day.
8. Change Your Food Routine. You may unknowingly consume foods that you have allergic reactions to or that increase toxins in your body, causing symptoms like arthritis, headaches, water retention, and fatigue. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and sugar. I suggest taking a break from all of these foods, or pick one that’s predominant in your diet and take a break from it. Often by simply eliminating foods that contain gluten (wheat, oats, rye, barley, spelt) and replacing them with brown rice, millet, or quinoa products, you can change your eating habits and actually increase the variety of foods you enjoy.
9. Detox Your Dinner. For seven nights, prepare a simple meal of liver-detoxifying, steamed vegetables like carrots, broccoli, artichokes, beets, and onions, along with a 4-ounce portion of protein simply prepared with a little bit of olive oil. Consider wild fish, organic lean meats, or lentils for your protein sources.
10. Declutter Your Surroundings. Organizing your environment can help clear up your stagnant energy and free you physically and emotionally. Let go of papers, clothes, and boxes you no longer use. This creates space and helps welcome new energy.
Just as you tune up your car and recycle for the environment, you must also regularly cleanse your body. Your body and the environment are reflections, or mirrors, of each other. As you cleanse your body, you cleanse your environment. If everyone took it upon themselves to cleanse, the world would be a lot cleaner place.
© 2012 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies