Spring Cleaning: Not Just For Your House
Posted: May 20th, 2011
With its long nights and shorter days, winter is a time of reduced activity. We tend to be more sedentary and spend more energy on simple things like tying to stay warm. It makes good sense to the body to sleep a little more, eat a little more and get some rest during the wintertime. Then spring arrives, stirs our blood and bodies, and awakens our dear plant friends! The promise of new potential arrives. There are many ways that we can help our bodies adjust well to the changing of the season. You know, spring-cleaning isn’t just for our houses!
Please don’t misunderstand, I do not feel that the body is dirty and needs to be cleansed. I do feel that our bodies have a lot to contend with: a diet that is higher in processed foods and preservatives and lower in nutrients, continual contact with pollutants of many types, and usually less rest and more stress than any of us would choose. With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense to give the body an occasional break.
A “break” usually includes eliminating the things that are hard on the body such as sugar, alcohol, coffee, processed foods, and poor quality fats such as potato chips and fried foods. It is important to maintain proper elimination of the skin, bowels, kidneys and liver during this time. Getting good rest and light exercise are also helpful.
A break can be as simple as eating some edible spring greens from your yard or garden. If you spray pesticide, try a friend’s yard. Spring greens stimulate the liver and digestive system. I like to think of them as waking up the body to the change of seasons. They include herbs like dandelion, nettles, burdock, chickweed and red clover. These herbs can be eaten straight from the yard or chopped up small and added to a salad.
Dry brushing the skin is an excellent way to remove dead skin cells, increase circulation, and stimulate the immune system. Dry brushing is best done with a natural bristle body brush before a shower or bath. All brush strokes should move toward the heart.
Psyllium seed is high in soluble fiber making it a wonderful bulking laxative, able to absorb toxins and excess cholesterol in the digestive system. A usual dosage of psyllium seed husks is one teaspoon mixed in an eight-ounce glass of water or juice one to three times a day. Follow the psyllium with 2 eight-ounce glasses of water or herbal tea.
Bentonite clay is a natural mineral clay that can bind with toxins in the intestinal tract. It is best used with water and can be taken in addition to psyllium seed husks. Bentonite can also be used as an external mask to pull wastes from the skin. Use it on the face, or over the liver, kidneys, or any problem area.
Fasting is best done as the season warms up and the body does not need as much energy to focus on staying warm. I generally suggest fasting for those who are feeling healthy and strong. Again, it is important to support the eliminatory organs by stimulating the liver, taking baths, dry brushing, having a bowel movement every day, and drinking cleansing herbal teas and clean water. Consult your health care practitioner if you are intending to fast and have major health concerns.
Just as important as the actual fast is how you begin and end it. Start off slow with whole, organic, fresh foods. For those with low blood sugar, it is best to stick with simple foods through the duration of the fast. Others may wish to eliminate all foods and drink only fresh juices or herbal teas. Fasting can give one the chance to change unproductive eating habits and choose a lifestyle more supportive of health. I suggest gathering some good information before beginning a fast. Good books to read include “Fourteen Day Herbal Cleansing” by Laurel Vukovic and “Natural Therapy for Your Liver” by Christopher Hobbs. A professional consultation with an Herbalist on our staff is an excellent way to make sure your spring cleanse is done right.