When I am away from work on holiday, I begin to dust the cobwebs out of the corners of my life – I organize my desk, clean behind the fridge, and perform minor feats of home maintenance I normally don’t have time for.
Cleansing is like a holiday; it gives the body a break, a time when it can do more than just keep up with the toxic burden – a time of rejuvenation. Detoxing is about allowing your body to heal and repair. It starts with the digestive tract, but benefits all the cells of the body by providing a chance to throw off toxins, mucus, excess water and other sludge.
I’m assuming that since you are here, you are thinking about your health and are ready to make some changes, if only for the length of your cleanse. Let’s focus on how to choose a cleanse that will best serve your needs and provide a comfortable detox with optimal benefits to you.
Considerations when choosing a cleanse:
Why are you Cleansing? Often people have a particular goal or expectation for their cleanse: lower cholesterol or triglycerides, lose weight, improve an existing health condition, alkalize the body, or change eating habits for the better. Other goals for cleansing involve the healing of a current mild/chronic health situation (ie. low immunity, lack of vitality/energy, high yeast or parasite levels). Having a goal can help you choose the type of cleanse that is best for you.
Generally, a cleanse stimulates the systems of elimination (colon, lungs, kidneys, liver) to increase their output, moving toxins out of the body. This stimulation improves the ability of blood and lymph to carry nutrients and wastes to and from cells, resulting in a cleansing of the body’s tissues.
Removing toxins from the body can be as simple as adopting a healthy diet, or as strident as a month-long juice fast. There are literally hundreds of cleanses on the market to choose from, and thousands of variations based on personal preferences.
Many pre-packaged cleanses in stores focus on a specific organ or goal: kidneys, liver, lungs, weight-loss, or quit smoking, to name a few. Before embarking on these specific types of cleanses, it is best to prepare the elimination channels of your body with a general purpose detox. Attempting to cleanse while your channels of elimination are blocked up is like neglecting to open the window before you throw out the night-waste. Toxic material needs an escape route from your body, and plenty of water or fiber can help to carry it out. If your channels of elimination are blocked, your immune system will have to deal with the extra toxic load by storing it again; you don’t want that extra junk from your kidney cleanse ending up in your gallbladder!
Another benefit of preparing the body with a general purpose cleanse is increase the efficiency of your cleanse, or to cut your cleansing time down, sometimes by as much as half! This is why we often recommend a 12-day detox or similar cleanse before a candida program, to prepare the body and improve the effectiveness of all that hard work and will-power we exercise during a cleanse!
Is this an appropriate Time to Cleanse? Don’t start a cleanse during an infection, injury or other acute health problem. When you are sick, your body needs all its energy to heal. In fact, sometimes being sick is a mini-detox in itself, when the body chooses to throw off toxins – Yay, free cleanse! Let the process happen naturally and don’t push it. Put off your program until you are infection-free or all healed-up.
Maybe you want to cleanse to improve a pre-existing chronic health condition? Hey, awesome! Chronic conditions often respond best to gentle, slow cleanses because they allow the most time for healing without overtaxing your resources. A healthy diet full of plant foods that is low in sugar and processed foods is the best cleanse for those with chronic health conditions. You have probably already read up on your condition; it is important to have enough information so you can recognize your limits and have a safe, comfortable cleanse.
A time to avoid detoxing is during pregnancy, and most cleanses are not appropriate for breast-feeding mothers either, because toxins can be excreted in breast-milk. A healthy, plant-heavy diet is always an acceptable program during pregnancy or lactation, to benefit mother and baby.
One last time-based reason to put off a cleanse is an imminent holiday or event where you will be expected to partake in feasting and merry-making. Weddings and cultural holidays usually involve a high level of temptation in terms of tasty foods. This is why January is a good month to cleanse, since it is after the Winter Holiday Season.
How Deeply do you want to Cleanse? Have you cleansed before? If this is your first cleanse, I recommend going easy. There is nothing like an overly-powerful, stomach twisting, bowel-cramping first cleanse to make a person swear off detoxing for life! Always go for a gentle cleanse your first time.
Again, the very gentlest method of cleansing is to improve your diet and increase the amount of water you consume. An effective detox for those with health issues, or those who like a long-term, gentle cleanse, is Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee, 2-4 cups daily, for 1 month or more. Combined with a healthy diet, dandelion root coffee is a superb daily detox and improves the cleansing ability of your liver and kidneys, opening those channels of elimination while providing a mineral boost.
If you’ve done a detox before and are ready for something more strident, consider that longer-gentler is always better than short-intense. Use your intuition, listen to your body, and seek additional guidance from your natural practitioner or herbalist.
I look forward to hearing about your personal choices and progress; no matter what you choose, don’t forget to tell us about it in the comments or on our Facebook page!
For those of us who are starting a Candida Program, I have a specially-dedicated Candida themed blog coming up next week. Healthy New Year to You!