Spring is finally here on the Eastern Shore! It took long enough – now what? According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the cleansing season.
We each react differently to this seasonal shift, and in fact, I have a client who dreads springtime; there is too much drama, too much chaos. The sun is out and we are compelled to come out into the world also to meet its challenges. To make room for the new growth, creativity and action of spring, cleansing practices help to remove debris and stagnation built up through the long, cold winter. In the same way that you spring clean your home, take an opportunity to cleanse and rejuvenate your body!
While there are many cleanse programs available, such as juicing, fasting, or eating raw fruits and vegetables, these methods can feel intimidating and extreme. The good news is that there are more subtle and gentle techniques that you can use to support your body in clearing toxins.
Why should you consider incorporating cleansing techniques in your life?
Your body is an incredible organism that has a natural built-in filtration system to help you get rid of toxins, the harmful substances that have a negative impact on your health. The primary organ that helps to process excess toxins is your liver. Your liver is a powerful filter for toxins, but it’s worth noting that you are exposed to more toxins than any previous generation. This influx of toxins comes from pollution in the air and water, toxic ingredients in beauty care and household cleaning products, electric and magnetic fields from technology, and more.
Some common symptoms of an excess toxic load in your body include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Back pain
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.)
Here are some gentle cleansing techniques to try this spring so that your body will begin to eliminate toxins more effectively and efficiently, and keep you feeling ready for anything.
- Dry Skin Brushing
Dry skin brushing specifically helps to activate the lymphatic system that resides directly underneath your skin. You can think of the lymphatic system as the stream that helps to get rid of toxins. When you activate your lymphatic system, it helps move toxins more efficiently through your body.
This cleansing practice is best done before you get into the shower. To get started, you’ll need to buy a dry skin brush or glove (look in your local health food store or online). Your dry skin brushing practice will only take about three minutes. Starting at your feet, brush your skin in a circular motion up toward your heart. Work your way up your entire body. Then, using the same circular motion, brush both of your arms—starting from the hands.
Once you are done, hop into a hot shower to experience the full benefits of this gentle cleansing practice. Skin is the body’s largest organ. As you can release toxins through your skin, this exfoliation method also supports healthy detoxification through your skin.
- Greens Powder
While I recommend increasing the amount of green vegetables in your diet as a great place to start, I know it can be difficult to get the variety of concentrated nutrients that you’ll find in a greens powder supplement by eating alone. The concentrated vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (such as polyphenols, terpenes, and organic acids) that are found in a complex greens powder are helpful for gently opening up detoxification pathways and supporting liver cleansing. Most greens powders contain sea algae such as chlorella and spirulina, which are phytoplankton from the ocean that have antioxidant effects in the body. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, which assists in heavy metal and pesticide detoxification.
I like to add one scoop of greens powder to a cup of coconut water with half a fresh lemon in the morning. This is a great way to jumpstart your system and help the body cleanse the liver & kidneys. Drink your greens powder either in the morning or mid-afternoon as a gentle way to boost your energy levels. (Though not for the faint of heart – I love Amazing Grass Elixir Brain Blend with a blend of fermented and easy-to-digest greens like wheatgrass and alfalfa, adaptogenic herbs that help the body deal with stress, and plant extracts like matcha, lion’s mane fungi, and chocamine that may help with concentration and clarity.)
- Yoga & Breath Work
The movement and breath work in Yoga can help gently cleanse the system, oxygenating and rejuvenating the whole body. Gentle twists can, in fact, help “wring out” the organ systems and help them release the last remaining stuck areas. Deep yogic breath fills the entire lungs with fresh pure oxygenated air and each exhale releases toxins. In addition to cleansing your lungs, this form of breath work also helps to oxygenate your cells, which helps to purify your blood. While most people’s everyday breathing is shallow and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), this full yogic breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows the body mind spirit to rest easy releasing built up cortisol thereby allowing other hormonal systems to rebalance.
Massage and bodywork stimulates the release of metabolic waste products stored in the cell tissue. The circulation resulting from massage enhances oxygen exchange among local tissues and improves colon drainage capability, this is a good addition for helping escort impurities out of the body. Integral to detoxification, the lymphatic system sequesters circulating threats in the body and aids in their elimination. Thus, draining the lymph nodes of accumulated toxins with lymphatic drainage massage removes blockages and improves their cleansing function. Drinking plenty of water will allow for the elimination of waste products from the body, thus detoxifying the cell tissue and boosting the immune system.
- Salt Baths
Skin is a toxin carrier and what better way to flush the toxins out than have a nice detox bath. Soak up daily in warm water with Pink Himalayan Salt, Sea Salt, or Epsom salt and a few drops of your preferred aromatic oil to draw toxic waste swiftly out of the pores. Bath salts are beneficial to health due to the presence of minerals in them, primarily magnesium. A salt bath helps relieve stress, detox the body, sleep well, improve blood circulation and decrease blood pressure. Since magnesium plays a crucial role in all intracellular physiological functions, a deficiency in the mineral can lead to various neuromuscular, cardiac and nervous disorders. It helps you sleep better, maintain healthy heart rhythm and blood sugar levels, and regulate hormones. The sulfur in these salts can help in the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, which plays a major role in methylation, a biochemical process in the body involved in almost all of its functions.
- Infrared Sauna
An infrared sauna helps to increase your blood circulation and stimulate your sweat glands to help get rid of toxins. They also heat the body from the inside out, raising your core temperature and driving toxins and heavy metals out of the largest organ in your body—your skin. Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: near, middle, and far. These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment. Near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function, middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation, and far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes. If you are new to using an infrared sauna, start slowly by going in for 10 to 15 minutes. Eventually work your way up to 25- to 45-minute sessions, three to five days per week.
There are many different ways to support your body’s detoxification process. These gentle cleansing techniques help maintain your health and prevent disease. “Gently” press the reset button and start experiencing the many healing benefits of cleansing toxins from your body this spring!
*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
About the Author
Freya Farley is Evergreen’s Executive Director and an Acupuncturist at the Wellness Center at Evergreen. Her practice focuses on Women’s Health and Fertility, which at its essence is the manifestation of balance and health within the body. Along with acupuncture, and herbal medicine, Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies mind and spirits. She offers private consultations & treatments as well as a weekly Community Acupuncture Clinic. The presence of yoga throughout Freya’s life has influenced and informed her ongoing path of health and wellness and she offers Open Studio morning yoga sessions to join in her practice – (free to those registered in another class!).