I am loving this new creation: a combination of chocolate chip cookie dough, with a lavish layer of chocolate and peanut butter drizzle on top! No baking required, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free and Peanut-free, too. These are made using soy peanut butter (Wow Butter), but could also be made with any nut butter that is solid at room temperature. Continue reading “Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie & Peanut Butter Bars Dessert”
A mid-winter cleanse includes lots of warm, savoury foods and flavourful spices, tangy ferments and relishes, hearty meat stews and other energy-generating nourishment to carry you through the cold season feeling cozy and satisfied.
Because of the cold temperatures, a cleanse is preferable to a fast at this time of the year. We will look briefly at the difference between cleansing and fasting, and make sure we understand the purpose of a cleanse and what results we can expect.
The Purpose & Benefits of Cleansing
What is the purpose of a cleanse?
The purpose of a cleanse is to give the body a ‘break’ from irritating substances long enough to allow a healing process to occur, which naturally induces the release of toxins (a colloquialism for unhealthy substances that accumulate in the body). During this process, inflammation is reduced, tissues are rebuilt, and the optimal functioning of the cells and organs of the body is restored. The focus of repair in a cleanse almost always includes the digestive system.
Repairing my digestive system?
Healing the digestive system means lessening inflammation, which allows granulated tissue to form over cracks, holes and fissures in the lining of the intestinal walls, much like a scab forms over a wound on your hand. Underneath the scabs, the tissue is regenerated and replaced until the lining is whole once again. Compare this process to an injury on your skin, from the initial bleeding and swelling, to the formation of a natural scab band-aid, to the repair process occurring unseen underneath – and when the scab falls away and the tissue is whole again, perhaps with a little temporary or permanent scar tissue. This process happens exactly the same in your intestines.
What causes this damage in the intestines?
The short answer is: Inflammation. Inflammation occurs because of a number of reasons, most of which have to do with irritating substances that cause an immune reaction, and others that create the right environment for damage to occur. Inflammatory substances include immune-triggering particles of food, undigested proteins being the primary culprit. Foods you are sensitive or allergic to can also trigger your immune system. When you trigger the immune system you get inflammation. On our skin, this looks like itching, burning, redness, swelling, heat and pain; there may also be hives or eruptions. This irritation also occurs in our digestive system when we consume an inflammatory substance.
Improperly digested food is a major culprit in digestive inflammation
Sometimes when our digestion is poor, we are unable to break food down properly, and some of these large, undigested particles are the culprits in intestinal immune reactions. Cleansing resets our digestive systems, providing the enzymes and acids needed to metabolize inflammatory food particles into useable nutrition.
I will talk more about what happens when we have an inflamed, porous digestive system (aka “leaky gut syndrome”) in another blog about food, absorption and the immune response.
A cleanse is a digestive reset that heals the digestive system, at the same time encouraging the removal of toxins from the tissues, lessening inflammation. The major benefit of cleansing is that a healthy digestive system allows you to use all the nutrition from your food for building up your strength.
So, what are my options for cleansing?
If this is not your first cleanse, and you have less than 5 days, you can try a warm liquids fast.
Fasting is going without solid food for more than 1 day. I recommend fasting for less than 4 days unless supervised. In mid-winter, fasting should be less than 3 days in duration, with many warm beverages (hot water, tea, broth or warmed juice) to provide warming energy and easily assimilated nourishment to the body. Because the process of digestion creates a lot of the internal heat we use for warmth, going without digestion for a few days in the winter can be a very chilly experience! Be sure to drink as many hot beverages as you like to stay warm.
The lemonade cleanse falls into the fasting category. Be sure to drink your lemonade warm if you are going to do this fast in winter, and keep the duration under 3 days.
All fasts require a 2-3 day period during which you slowly reacclimatize your body to solid foods, starting with lightly cooked vegetables and adding heavy food such as dairy and meat later.
For beginners and experienced cleansers who want the very best cleanse, the fresh food cleanse is an ideal diet with perfect nourishment for the body. It is a better winter option than fasting, with a longer duration, somewhere between 10-30 days.
The Fresh Food Cleanse consists of drinking water, juice or broth and consuming a variety of lightly cooked fresh vegetables, whole grains and protein for meals. This cleanse has the advantage of allowing the cleanser to feel full and satisfied, while providing alkalizing nourishment to the body. A daily piece of domestic fruit is allowed, healthy uncooked oils are encouraged, and limited quantities of nuts and legumes are allowed. This type of cleanse can be continued indefinitely – indeed, it is the optimal way for a human being to eat!
The fresh food cleanse can be customized to your dietary preferences – Gluten containing grains can be avoided if desired, and animal products are optional for vegans.
A paleo diet is similar to the fresh food cleanse, except foods that have entered the human diet in the last 10000 years are eliminated – grains and legumes, potatoes. You may wish to try the paleo diet if you find that grains and starchy legumes do not agree with you.
To learn about the foods that are eaten/avoided on a Fresh Food Cleanse, read this blog about the Candida diet (it’s the same diet, without the candida supplements).
I will be doing a 30 day fresh food cleanse and including the Kodiak Biorenewal kit supplements, to help me heal and cleanse at the fastest rate, for the first 14 days.
This post explains when to continue with the second half of the Candida program. For an excellent survey that helps assess your current candida levels, go here. For part 1 of the Candida Cleanse program, read Candida Free Phase 1.
Hello Candida Cleansers! By now you have been living a healthy lifestyle for a full season! I hope it’s been a positive experience for you and you are enjoying some of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Often by this time we have developed a taste for healthy foods – craving spicy, sour or savory snacks instead of sweet. This is the phase where many people feel they are ‘over the hump’: they’ve challenged their cravings and created a new food-attitude!
It’s also possible you are not as craving/symptom-free as you had hoped you would be by now. That’s ok – it happens to the best of us. If you are still struggling with Candida symptoms, we will discuss what can be done below.
Firstly, let’s assess our candida levels and see where we stand. Follow the link to the Wild Rose Candida Questionnaire – Short Version. Go and take it now. The numbers have to be added up manually (something Wild Rose is working on).
Our goal on the Candida cleanse is to remain below a score of 20(females) or 15(males), taking the quiz each week for 4 weeks in a row.
Did you add up all your numbers? If you scored above a 20 for females or 15 for males, it would be best to continue on the Candida diet for another 2-4 weeks and then take the survey again. If you scored below these numbers for a full 4 weeks, you can skip ahead to the section titled Candida Cleanse Phase 2 below.
If you are having trouble keeping your candida in check, see if any of these statements are true for you:
I’ve been cheating here and there… If it’s been more than once every 2 weeks, it’s likely you should stay on the diet for another 4 weeks. Cheating indicates you still have cravings, which are a sign of lingering candida.
I still crave sweets, breads, yeasts, beer/wine or peanuts. If so, you will want to extend the first phase by continuing the diet for another 2-4 weeks. Having cravings indicates candida is still alive in your system and is trying to get you to give it up. It’s also a good sign, because it may mean you’ve got your candida on the run, and you’re about to kick this thing.
I’m still experiencing candida-related symptoms. Use the questionnaire to tally them up for you. Appreciate where you have improved and make note of what symptoms remain so you can keep your eye on them. Symptoms indicate the presence of candida. Continue on the diet for another 2-4 weeks.
I want to give up. Don’t give up! Freshen up your diet with some new recipes or foods. There are always new foods you have not tried before. Make sure you are getting a full range of vitamins and minerals, lots of fresh water and create a support strategy for when you are feeling especially tempted. Don’t forget to stay full and nourished.
Use Ferments to Beat Cravings. True Ferments such as Real, Live SauerKraut (from the health food store not the super market) are useful to reduce the craving for sweet foods. Use it as a condiment, or just eat it straight out of the jar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, 2-3 times per day. This will help to reduce your cravings, retrain your body, and give your mouth something flavorful to enjoy, all at the same time.
If your questionnaire numbers were below 20 (females) or 15 (males), you are likely ready for phase 2. Great work! Take a moment to feel proud, smug or just happy – then read on.
The second phase of the Candida program consists of adding back in some foods that were taboo in the first phase. The amount of each food is important, and the number of times you can consume it in a week is important as well. This is an opportunity to observe your reactions to these reintroduced foods. After all, you may even end up deciding you are better off without them!
Dairy: you can now have 1/2 cup of dairy, twice per week. Not 1 cup once per week, or 1/4 cup 4 times per week! Over doing the frequency or amount will set you back to phase 1. Fermented dairy is an exception (see fermented foods below).
Flour: you may also have up to 1/2 cup flour, twice weekly during phase 2. Again, be mindful of the amount and frequency. This can include products that contain flour but are otherwise candida-friendly (no sugar or yeasts).
Fermented foods: the best part of phase 2: you can have ferments again! Delicious foods fermented with bacteria and NOT yeast add another level of flavor to our diets. In fact, fermenting foods can increase the amount of a food you are allowed to eat – ie. dairy. You can eat more yogurt (real, living yogurt with no additives) even if it goes above your weekly dairy allowance! Same goes for kefir.
There is no limit on the amount of fermented foods in phase two; they are important to provide colonies that rebuild your intestinal flora.
The best choices in ferments include:
Kefir – absolutely the best, probiotic kefir restores the flora of your GI, recolonizing with the bacteria that provide useful digestive, nutritive services. Kefir also contains a strain of yeast that competes with candida, but does not colonize the body.
Yogurt – not as strongly probiotic as kefir but definitely still a wonderful staple. Be sure you are not dealing with a dairy allergy; you can also make your kefir and yogurt from sheep or goat milk to lower the allergic potential. With special care and some experimentation, you can even make kefir and yogurt from nut milk, although the texture will be different.
Kim chi – fermented vegetables; a delicious, spicy pickle condiment originating in Korea where it is a staple food eaten at nearly every meal.
Saur Kraut – a popular European fermented cabbage condiment – when buying fermented vegetables, make sure Lactobacillus cultures are present and that the condiments were not just made by adding vinegar. Look for living ferments (I advise buying them from a reputable health food store).
Kombucha – get medicinal grade, full-strength, fully fermented kombucha and add it to drinks. Avoid homemade kombuchas (we don’t always know whats living in there!) and also avoid the flavored, soda-pop like bottles of kombucha available as a beverage; the sugar in them is almost never fully fermented. Medicinal strength Kombucha should not taste sweet, but strong, like vinegar.
Remember to make note of your reaction to the above mentioned foods, and be mindful of your portions. It’s a good idea to continue taking the Candida Short Questionnaire each week to make sure your numbers don’t go back up.
We will spend another 4-8 weeks on Phase 2 of the Candida Cleanse, so dig in, get comfortable, and enjoy some nice tangy fermented foods!
As always, feedback stories and experiences are encouraged in the comments section below.
Below is a brief over-view of the Candida cleanse. It consists of a dietary lifestyle change, and herbs/supplements to remove yeast and fungus from the body. The diet (without herbs/supplements) is safe for almost anybody, and can be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women as well. The herbs and supplements are generally safe for healthy individuals; you may wish to discuss them with your Healthcare Allies (naturopath, herbalist, MD).
Get Back to Life Through Eating
The dietary restrictions are based on avoiding simple carbohydrates (sugars, starches) and focusing on an abundance of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Complex carbs take longer to break down into glucose, and provide a steadier supply of blood sugar and less fuel for bodily yeasts.
While avoiding simple carbs will starve candida, we are not interested in starving you. Eating until you are full and staying satisfied is important, and snacking is encouraged. Eating a wide variety of foods from plant and animal sources is encouraged. Enjoying diverse and plentiful proteins and healthy fats is also encouraged. Try to buy whole fresh foods (vegetables, fruits, grains and meat) so you know exactly what you’re eating, and always check the ingredients of processed foods for the following items.
What to avoid: Especially for the first 30 days, it is imperative to avoid these foods entirely.
|– All flour and products containing flour
– All dairy and dairy-containing products, with the exception of butter
– Sugar or sweeteners of any kind
– All yeast or food containing yeast/yeast extract, including foods and beverages fermented with yeast
– Peanuts, citrus fruits (except lemons), melons, tropical fruit, grapes and mushrooms (except medicinal mushrooms), dried fruit- Wine, BeerLimit these foods:
Handful-sized amount of non-tropical fruit daily (peaches, plums, berries, apples, pears)
Up to 2 cups of coffee with no cream or sweetener
Up to 2 ounces of hard alcohol (distilled 40% or greater) per week
About 20% of the diet is protein foods, the other 80% complex carbohydrate foods. The exception to the rule is fish, which can be eaten as often as you like. This ratio creates an alkaline environment, undesirable to yeast.
|Protein Foods||Complex Carbohydrate Foods|
|Animal proteins which do no contain additives (preservatives, colors, added flavors or sugar)Plant proteins (beans, legumes, grains)||All nuts and seeds except peanuts
All vegetables and root vegetables (limit potatoes to 2 potatoes per week)
All leafy greens (salad-type vegetables)
Some websites try to scare you, saying it is all over if you slip up just a little! This is so unfair; don’t let it discourage you from trying a candida program. If you slip up by accidentally ingesting the wrong food, or through giving into a moment of craving, don’t stress about it. Just go back to the diet, and do your true best. Remember, you are doing this for your own well-being, and not to prove anything to anybody and not as a form of self-torture.
The length of your candida program will be decided by your healthcare practitioner and you based on your progress. The more you stick to it, the quicker it will go by, and the more you will learn to love the foods that make you feel so good!
Herbs and Supplements to Enhance and Comfort
The easiest way to do a Candida cleanse is with the pre-boxed kits they sell at health food stores. I recommend this for first-time cleansers because it takes all the dosages and guess-work out of the equation; it makes it easy to choose between the hundreds of combinations of herbs you could take if you decide to make your own formulas. You will want to stick to a program for at least 1 month, so make sure your cleanse kit lasts that long – you may need to buy 2. Always read the instructions on your kit! Below is a brief guide to many common ingredients and approaches to removing yeast/candida.
Common Components in a Candida Cleanse:
1. Antifungals: Herbs/Supplements to speed along the die off process
For this, I am using the supplements provided in a pre-boxed Candida kit, plus the Easy Anti-Candida Potion Tea recipe, and Candida 30x homeopathic
2. Antioxidants & Protectives: protect your body from toxins as they are released.
A combination antioxidant is best, with Vitamins A,C,E and flavonoids from fruit. Milk Thistle is a supportive hepatoprotectant and antioxidant for the liver.
3. Carminatives & Digestive Aids: make the process more comfortable, they soothe the mucous membranes of the digestive system, prevent excessive gas, bloating, and cramping, and increase the breakdown and absorption of food nutrients.
I will be using a wide-spectrum digestive enzyme (1-3 capsules before each meal), and taking probiotics in whole foods form (home-made sauer kraut and kim-chi) as well as an acidophilus-bifidus probiotic capsule (strength 24 billion) before bedtime. Ginger is my stand-by for stomach upset or cramping, taken as a strong tea of the fresh root.
4. Support your liver and other eliminatory organs in their task of sorting and removing the waste – milk thistle, dandelion, nettle, diuretics, tonic laxatives
I am using andrographis, a bitter digestive / general tonic, 1 capsule before meals. CL herbal extract is a kidney-supporting tincture I will use, as well as LBT3 (a bowel tonic), to keep things flowing smoothly.
5. Provide physical and emotional support for your personal needs: blood sugar balancers, mood relaxers, and enzymes (ie Candizyme) that breakdown acetylaldehyde, the toxin commonly released by the die-off of yeast (reduces symptoms such as fatigue and headache).
For my blood sugar (to reduce cravings) I’m using 200mg Chromium, twice daily. I take a Rhodiola root capsule (500mg) twice daily to keep my mood up, and I have Candizyme on hand in case I feel a headache or brain fog coming on.
I hope this information is helpful to you in setting up your own cleanse, however you choose to do it. Please take a moment to tell us about it in the comments section below, or share on facebook in our Candida-Free New Year cleanser’s group. Cheers!
Cravings, Tastebuds & Satisfying Snacks (To Get You Through the First Month)
Cravings can be the most difficult part of beginning a cleanse. If you are like me, food offers a lot of comfort. The first week of detoxing is often intense, resisting desires for old favourites like breads or sweets. Stay strong – a lapse in your program now can bring those cravings surging right back to the surface! This is why a ‘clean break’ from junk food is best. Rest assured, though: cravings do not last forever. After the first 4-7 days, cravings fade daily, with each day being easier than the last.
Herbs to balance blood sugar may help dull cravings by maintaining an even keel in your glucose levels. They are a good idea in the beginning of a cleanse for those who experience cravings. Chromium picolinate or Chromium GTF (400mg daily) and B-vitamin complex (50mg daily) increase your ability to adapt to new blood glucose levels, and so minimize cravings.
Flower Essences can be helpful as well, especially if you draw emotional comfort from food, and feel a little lost or blue without snacks to help you cope. A great Flower Essence for cravings is Iris, for those with a tendency to hypoglycemia, using sweets to repress creative urges or to substitute for the natural high of inspiration. Other Flower Essences specific to cravings are Evening Primrose (prone to overeating), Self Heal (relying on food to heal a lack of confidence), and Snapdragon (always needing to chew or nibble for comfort). The Three Yarrows of protection, especially Pink Yarrow, are useful when we use food to create a shield around our emotionally oversensitive selves (ie. eating to avoid having to talk to strangers in social situations).
An important part of cleansing is creating desire for new and unique foods by changing our tastebuds. This means exposing yourself to flavours you may not have considered in the past. Many people who get a bad case of candida are predisposed to it by their eating habits. Most of us crave simple carbs, in the form of sweets and starches – and these are the fuel yeasts love. We just can’t seem to stay away from them, and this is one reason candida sufferers often require more than one cleanse in their lifetime. When we learn to love foods that are rich in people-nutrition, candida cannot thrive. In the interest of changing our tastebuds, it is important to avoid sweet flavors, even artificial sweeteners or non-sugar sweets. Instead, we can learn to desire savoury, spicy, tangy, umami (meaty) and sour tastes. Here are a couple of crunchy, rich, and flavourful snacks that can help you become addicted to savoury and lose the sweet-tooth:
Ready-made snacks that can be enjoyed on a candida cleanse include: salted kettle potato chips, fresh veggies, olives, Corn-Nuts (plain salted variety), salted and buttered
popcorn. Some treats to placate the occasional sweet craving include lemon in sparkling water, herbal tea ice cubes, flavoured perrier, hot chaga-latte (recipe coming soon!), chai tea, vanilla tea, peppermint tea, and cinnamon sprinkled on anything.
Treat yourself to these unusual flavours, and don’t forget to stay full. You can do it!
366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans and Grains, Andrea Chesman, Penguin Books 1998.
Flower Essence, Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution, Terry Willard, Wild Rose College of Natural Healing, 2007.
Starting off a Candida cleanse with a general detox serves multiple purposes:
1. prepares the exit channels of the body to handle the mass of toxins that will be leaving during the program
2. clears out excess mucus and material from the GI tract, to enhance absorption of nutrients, and leaves behind an environment unsuitable for yeast
3. shortens the duration of the candida program, sometimes by as much as half
As if the reasons above are not enough, a good detox will also allow our lymph to flow optimally, and begin us on our way to balanced blood sugar. All this makes a detox a great first strike for our program.
It also gives us a milestone; after 12 days of detoxing I feel clear-headed, alive, and proud of the accomplishment – which is a wonderful way to start the candida program!
My first enthusiastic urge was to make my own 10-day tea-based detox, along with the diet prescribed in Candida cleansing. This is fine and good; however, when I cleanse, I can get cranky (especially in the first few days). The intial detox will be the time during which some of us (me, maybe you, too) will deal with our worst cravings; so, I’ve decided having to prepare teas everyday is going to be an extra stress I can do without!
For the purpose of keeping it simple, I will be using the Wild Rose 12-day D-tox; it’s an easy to use, pre-boxed detox kit so it requires little effort on my part. It’s also familiar to me and I know how my body reacts when I use it. There are a number of great detox kits in your local health food store, I don’t endorse any one in particular, and I would love to hear which one you have chosen on facebook or in the comments section below.
Another way I can make this detox effort-less is to plan a menu and prepare frozen meals. I plan a large meal for each day, a few sides for lunches and breakfasts, then fill in the corners with cooked or fresh veggies, nuts and seeds, and my daily piece of fruit. For a peep at my menu, click here. I like to double the freezable recipes, then store them for those nights I don’t have time to cook.
1. Be mentally prepped for those first few nights of cravings (flower essence!)
2. Say a sweet goodbye to my favourite food, goat cheese with cranberries (I’ll think of you often, then, not-so-much)
3. Get a promise from my life-partner not to eat junk-food anywhere near me
4. Have my low-effort detox plan, and my squirrel stash of ready-to-eat foods
5. Stay busy: fill the time I normally get cravings with fun activities (for my first night of cleansing, I’m drinking a kava concoction and whiling away the hours reading fortune cards with my dear old friend Miriam)
I believe I am prepared to embark on the first leg of my cruise into Candida-Free land! The next blog will be about cravings and snacking and will be out tomorrow. Look out for Candida-Free Phase 2: The Candida Program sometime before January 17th. Cheers!
It can be hard to know what to cook when you are new to cleansing. Even experienced cleansers can have blah days, feeling uninspired in the kitchen.
Here’s a sample menu for the first few weeks of the candida cleanse. Most of these recipes can be found in 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains by Andrea Chesman. I modified a few of them to fit the cleanse; I will post more, full-length recipes in the future as I modify and try them out.
Candida Menu/Grocery List:
Sushi (Sushi rice, Seaweed sushi wraps, Avocado, Pickled ginger, Cucumber, Crab meat, Candida-friendly mayo, Green onion)
Polenta (Medium-grind cornmeal, Butter/olive oil, salt)
Crunchy Chickpea snacks (Uncooked chickpeas, Hot sauce, Ground cumin, Garlic powder)
Carmelized Onion & Kidney Bean Spread (olive oil, salt, pepper,onions, hard-boiled egg, cooked kidney beans)
Smokey Corn & Kidney Bean Salad (can corn, can beans, 3 colors of bell peppers, scallions, 2 tomatoes, lime, parsley/cilantro, chipotle en adobo)
Risotto with Butternut Squash(onion, garlic, rosemary, Arborio rice, butternut squash, miso, salt and pepper)
Chinese Fried Rice (2 eggs, black sesame oil, onion, Chinese cabbage, carrot, garlic, white rice, braggs amino acids, bean sprouts, peas, scallions, pork or shrimp)
Blackbean & Sweet Potato Cakes (3 sweet potatoes, can blackbeans, chives or scallions, cilantro, 2 eggs)
Chilli (Onion, green pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, can red kidney beans, can crushed tomato, ground beef)
Lentil Burgers (Dry green/brown lentils, brown rice, cumin, onion, carrot, garlic, coriander)
Granola (Rolled oats, barley, and spelt; toasted wheat germ, slivered almonds, nuts, coconut shreds, coconut milk, vanilla extract)
Hummus (Garlic, chickpeas, tahini, lemon, scallion/green onion, parsley)
Rose Sauce (Can of tomato paste, coconut milk, can peppers, garlic powder, onion powder)
Tomato Coconut Cream Soup (Coconut milk, basil, can tomato paste, garlic/onion powder)
Pizza Popcorn (Popcorn kernels, Butter, Tomato paste, Garlic powder, Italian seasoning)
Sauteed Brocolli and Cauliflower with Chickpeas (Broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, olive oil, 6 anchovy fillets, parsley, cooked chickpeas)
Coconut Squash or Mushroom Soup (Coconut milk, squash, candida-friendly soup stock, onions, miso, shitake, enotaki, lion’s mane mushrooms)
Tomato, Bean Arugula Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette (garlic, ACV, can white kidney beans, 4 large tomatoes, large bunch of arugula, sweet onion, capers)
Apples & Onions (Apples, onions, salt, pepper, chipotle powder, butter)
Green Chips (Leafy greens, olive oil, s&p, spices, almond butter)
Kim chi (chinese cabbage, green onions, ginger, garlic, non-iodized sea salt, daikon radish)
Additional foods stuffs to buy: raw nuts (for nut milk) – almonds, cashews; pistachios, plain almond yogurt, frozen corn, frozen peas, bacon, tuna, rotisserie chickens, easy to cook meat pieces, 1 pot roast, spinach to wilt and freeze, coconut meat for vegan bacon, coconut oil, apples, fresh vegetables, chia seeds, coconut oil, coconut milk, tomato paste.
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!
Anti-Fungal Teas Can Fast-track Your Candida Program
Many of the traditional herbal teas we consume for flavor or other benefits provide anti-candida effects. Two of my favorite anti-fungal teas are Pau d’Arco and Lemongrass. While there are many effective maintenance teas that are good for in between cleanses, these two herbs are especially powerful anti-fungal agents, best used as part of a targeted cleansing program. In fact, consuming them regularly during your cleanse can cut the length of your program in half!
The most efficient and pleasant way to consume Pau d’Arco bark (Tabebuia avellanedae & spp.) and Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus & spp.)is as a strong decoction (a water extract made by boiling the herb). A standard infusion will not extract the necessary phytochemicals, and is a waste of good herb. Instructions are given below for a simple, concentrated tea that can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks – although it’s likely you will be drinking it faster than that!
Pau d’Arco has a very weak bitter/bland taste, easily overpowered by other flavors, making it an excellent base for any other beverage you enjoy. It is a powerful anti-microbial effective against a myriad of fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Lemongrass tastes, to my tongue, just like the Lipton Lemon Iced Tea mix my Mom made for the family when I was a kid, but much less sweet. It lends its flavor to this tea, masking the pau d’arco and providing a refreshing lemony tang. Lemongrass has anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties. It is commonly used in Thai cooking and has GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) rating from the FDA in the United States.
Please note: While both of these herbs in appropriate doses are very safe, I would not recommend them (or cleansing in general for that matter) to pregnant women.
Instructions for the ‘Anti-Candida potion‘ appear below. Consume 1/2 cup – 1 cup of this simple tea throughout the day for the first 3 months of your Candida cleanse. This recipe makes 2 liters, which stores easily in a juice jug in the refrigerator; 2 liters provides 8-16 daily doses, so you only have to make it 2 or 3 times per month.
You can add 1/2 – 1 cup daily to other liquids such as soup, coffee, or tea. Can be consumed straight as an iced tea or reheated. I usually just put mine in my water bottle and enjoy it as a weak tea all day.
Easy Anti-Candida Potion
1/2 cup loose pau d’arco dry bark, shredded
1/2 cup lemongrass stalk (fresh or dry), shredded
2 liters & 1/2 cup water
large pot for boiling (glass or ceramic is best but stainless steel will do)
Put herbs in the pot and pour water over them. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool; strain and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
While this tea is clearing the terrain in your colon, be sure to repopulate with healthy bacteria (sometimes called ‘probiotics’). These little guys are essential to your digestion and immune system; they are found in traditionally fermented foods such as real sour kraut, kefir, true yogurt, and kim chi. More on fermented foods and the friendly bacteria later!
Western Materia Medica Course Manual by Terry WIllard Cl.H., PhD, Wild Rose College, 2011.
Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Cymbopogon citratus, stapf (Lemon grass) Gagan Shah, Richa Shri,1 Vivek Panchal,2 Narender Sharma,3 Bharpur Singh, and A. S. Mann, J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011 Jan-Mar; 2(1): 3–8.
Luck, Love and Blessings to you! I am starting a Cleansing Program in 2013, and invite you to take part. It is a fabulous way to begin our new year by clearing out some of the accumulated toxins from 2012. Please follow along on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KodiakHerbalMedicine or on the ‘Candida-Free New Year‘ page of this blog.