Spring is right around the corner, the time of year when the Earth awakens after the long winter months. It seems as though nature comes back to life in the spring as flowers start to bloom, birdsong fills the sky, and the Sun shines brighter once more. Not surprisingly, we humans also seem to come back to life during the Spring after the many months we’ve spent hibernating during the darkest and coldest days of the year.
It is natural that so many of us feel the urge to cleanse the body, mind, and soul in the spring to wash away the stagnation that has accumulated throughout the winter. The spring represents a time of hopefulness and rebirth as we prepare to enter the warmer and most energetic times of the year.
Cleansing is a word we hear a lot in the health and wellness community, and often refers to intense protocols that involve purging the body of toxins. The intense cleansing protocols that we see on the market are designed to push the body to detoxify quickly and intensely which can cause unwanted side-effects such as irritable bowels, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and sleep issues just to name a few. The truth is that our bodies are naturally capable of cleansing themselves without any intervention. The role of our “detoxification” organs is quite literally to rid the body of toxic metabolites through the bowels, kidneys, liver/gallbladder, sweat glands, and lymphatic tissue.
We know that it can feel good to be actively helping the body along with its natural detoxing processes, but we propose doing so in a much gentler and less stress-inducing way using cleansing herbs that would traditionally be indicated for cleansing during the spring season. Approaching detox with a gentler approach will reduce potential side-effects and work with the body to help remove stagnation and toxic build-up.
Have you ever noticed which plants are the first to emerge after the Winter months have passed? Next time you are out for a walk take a moment to notice the herbs that might be starting to poke up around you, many of these plants are the traditional medicinal “Spring Tonics” that would be used for gentle springtime detoxing.
Nettles: Stinging nettles are a nutritional powerhouse due to their high mineral content. This prolific herb is commonly used for gentle detoxing and to tonify the body in the Spring. Nettle leaf is both a depurative and a diuretic, meaning that it helps to clear the body of accumulated toxins by processing them via the kidneys. Nettles are commonly indicated in the treatment of eczema, dandruff, and gout due to their ability to purify the body. You can consume nettle leaf as a tea, but the fresh leaves can also be cooked and eaten just like any other hearty leafy green. They are delicious stir-fried or added to soups and stews!
Dandelion: This pesky weed is surprisingly one of our favourite detox herbs in the Spring! The root is a powerful liver detox herb that promotes the flow of bile which not only helps to relieve constipation, it also helps to clear the liver of toxins. Alcohol, cigarettes, pharmaceutical drugs, and even our own hormones all get processed through the liver and eventually get dumped into the bile where they can be eliminated from the body via the bowels.
Dandelion root supports this process by encouraging bile flow and regular bowel movements. Dandelion leaves are considered a diuretic, stimulating the kidneys to remove toxins in the urine while also maintaining proper mineral balance in the body, making them useful in cases of edema or fluid retention. The leaves and root together are incredibly therapeutic for many conditions including acne, eczema, gout, and arthritis.
Cleavers: This herb is a lymphatic tonic, helping to move and clear stagnant lymph fluid from the body. Cleavers are very useful for clearing toxins associated with edema and the lymphatic system, and therefore are also great for supporting the immune system especially in cases of tonsillitis. Traditionally, the fresh juice from cleavers was consumed as a spring tonic and was also eaten as a vegetable, gently cooked like spinach. Just like our other cleansing herbs, cleavers can be used to help clear toxins contributing to dandruff and eczema as well as cysts.
Chickweed: This herb is another nutrient dense spring tonic containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, as well as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. Often used topically to relieve skin conditions, this herb is also a mild laxative and alterative making it useful for gentle detoxification. Chickweed can be consumed internally as a tea, as a fresh juice, or eaten raw in salads.
In addition to using cleansing herbs to support your spring cleanse, we also recommend including the following foods into the diet:
Anti-oxidants: Foods high in antioxidants include berries, black grapes, onions, and pomegranate. Use these to help clear free-radicals from the body.
Soluble fibre: Soluble fibre binds to the toxins excreted through the bile and helps to eliminate them from the body through bowel movements. Foods high in soluble fibre include beans and legumes, oats, flaxseeds, and apples.
Brassicas: This group of vegetables have powerful liver cleansing capabilities, and support your liver detoxification pathways. Brassicas include broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower.
Water: One of the most important things to consider while doing a cleanse is staying hydrated. Consuming lots of water is critical in ensuring proper detoxification as it allows toxins to be cleared from the body via the kidneys and keeps our bowel movements nice and regular.
Yin Yang water is a Traditional Chinese Medicine remedy for constipation, you can easily prepare this by filling a jar halfway with water and letting it sit at room temperature overnight and then adding freshly boiled water to the remainder of the jar the next morning, consume while it is still warm. Drink this daily to keep hydrated and support regular bowel movements.
We have a few in house made products we designed to support a gentle detox.
Cleanse tea: A gentle cleansing tea that supports liver detoxification, moves the lymph and cleanses the blood. This tea is helpful after Winter, moving into Spring after eating heavier foods and feeling stagnant. It will help to reduce allergy symptoms, support skin health and elimination of toxins.
» Nettle leaf: This nutritive herb helps to purify the blood, reduce allergies and inflammation and is rich in vitamin C and iron.
» Red clover blossoms: Another nutritive and cleansing herb that relieves lymphatic congestion, soothes dry skin and enhances liver detoxification.
» Burdock: A bitter root that supports the liver and helps elimination via the bowels and kidneys.
» Dandelion root: Stimulates bile production and release, aiding digestion and regular elimination.
» Cleavers: A spring herb that moves the lymph, reduces inflammation and increases urination.
Elimination tincture: An all around blend to help support the body in proper elimination. In this process we help move the blood and lymph and support the liver to clear toxins. Herbs cross so many boundaries and many additional benefits come along with these herbs including: high mineral content and gut health support.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): A gentle and supportive liver herb known for its ability to restore liver cells and protecting the liver from toxins
Cleavers (Galium aparine): A spring herb that moves lymph, reduces inflammation and increases urination
Nettle leaf (Urtica diocia): This nutritive herb helps to purify the blood, reduces allergies and inflammation and is rich in vitamin C and iron. Through its depurative and diuretic actions it is a popular cleansing herb
Burdock (Arctium lappa) : A bitter root that supports the liver and helps elimination via the bowels and kidneys
Calendula (Calendula off.): This herb has been recommended for its cleansing abilities specifically for the liver and gallbladder and is helpful in healing the gut lining and improving digestion.
Last but certainly not least
Milk thistle capsules: We recommend taking these capsules on a regular basis if you are exposed to toxins whether through work or lifestyle and dietary choices. It is traditionally known to protect the liver from toxins, high in antioxidants and extra support to renew liver cells, something the liver is already great at doing but milk thistle gives extra protection.
If you are thinking about doing a spring detox with cleansing herbs, stop by Apotheka to chat with one of our trained Medical Herbalists or Holistic Nutritionists to get some further support, we love to help!
As always, we can make a custom tea or tincture designed especially for you to support your cleanse while ensuring proper safety and minimal side-effects.
Written by Leah Schmutter
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