The Natural Medicine Cabinet: Cleansing
Want your body to work more efficiently? Want to sleep better, wake up rested, and be free of digestive upset? Want to get rid of that lower belly pooch? Yeah, don’t we all.
These are just a few of the great reasons to undertake a cleanse. Skin problems clear up, chronic illnesses are healed, and energy goes through the roof. Personally, I think that’s worth a period of time specifically dedicated to your health.
Types of Cleanses
The number of cleanses is large and growing, with four major categories.
The first type is your typical cleanse that pushes lots of fiber and water through the body to force the bowels to release their excess waste.
Generally they won’t require a major change in diet, but rather emphasize taking a fiber supplement.
The second type is a liquid fast, where you restrict everything but water, or choose only juices/smoothies.
The third is a modified diet, where you consume only raw food or vegan food for most or all of the day.
The fourth type is a procedure, such as colonics (either at home or at a facility).
There’s something to be gained from each, though I’ve never gone the colonics route (who has time when you have three little kids?).
After extensive reading, I chose Colonix by Dr. Natura. This is a powder that you add to a beverage (you guessed it, I added mine to my green smoothie) and drink quickly.
There are ancillary products like Paranil to remove parasites and Kleritea, a mild laxative.
I didn’t use either product, preferring at the time to use bentonite clay to absorb more toxins in the morning and senna tea in the evening.
To answer everyone’s first question, it tastes fine. Mostly like bananas, with a bit of anise. Now, I’m not a fan of black licorice, so I had to get used to the flavor.
However, when I saw how effective it was, I stopped caring about the taste. Suffice it to say that my bowels became clean as a whistle within 48 hours. The whole process was gentle; there was no rushing to the bathroom.
If you’d like to read (and in some cases see) in graphic detail what has come out of people, be sure to read the testimonials on the Dr. Natura website.
Pros: Easy, fast, gentle
Cons: Doesn’t address the problem, can be expensive
I have a friend who regularly undertakes water-only cleanses for a week at a time. She insists that you stop being hungry after the second day and it’s difficult to start eating again.
This friend, whom I love dearly, is delusional. Or perhaps she doesn’t love food like I do.
Either way, ain’t no way I’m taking on water-only with my active lifestyle. Three kids, an hour of exercise (or more) per day, and work? Not. Gonna. Happen.
However, I have done liquid-only cleanses. The most famous is the lemonade diet, also known as the Master Cleanse.
If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that I love the Master Cleanse lemonade. I drink it before breakfast most mornings (warm) and it really helps to get the system going.
I prefer to have a bowel movement each day before consuming solid food, and I’m positive that this drink helps speed things along.
The Master Cleanse is simple, but the ingredients need to be exactly right.
First, purified water. That is, filtered at minimum, not plain tap water. Next, organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed. If you’re going to try to make do with a plastic squeezy lemon, don’t bother. That juice isn’t alive anymore, and it won’t help you.
Third, cayenne pepper. Fresher is better, so buy a new bottle before you start the cleanse. It’s significantly more potent, I promise. Fourth, and most importantly, Grade B maple syrup.
Grade B is important because it’s not refined in the same way as your grocery-store shelf syrup. It retains its minerals and amino acids. Grade B syrup contains manganese, zinc, B2, B5, B6, B12, vitamin A, biotin, and niacin.
When you start the Lemonade Diet, you’ll drink only the lemonade for anywhere from a few days to one month. It’s a serious commitment, so you must be mentally and physically prepared or you’ll hit the wall.
Personally, I’ve gone in thinking I’d manage a month and not made it through three days. That’s what I get for deciding on Monday night and starting Tuesday morning. I hadn’t made a real decision, just tried to power through by sheer force of will.
Pros: Easy, fast, tasty
Cons: Requires great strength of will, ingredients can be hard to find
For me, juicing is a great way to great lots of nutrients into my body quickly. Juicing is nourishing in a way that solid food can’t be.
Because you’re getting the good stuff without the fiber to load it down, the micronutrients get to work quickly, healing and purifying the blood and organs.
To get past the mental difficultly of not chewing (you won’t believe the effect this has on the brain, it’s a challenge), some people choose to call it “juice feasting”. Yeah, ok. I’m a keep-it-real kind of girl, and that just feels like lying to myself.
Next week I’ll have some great juicing recipes for you, as well as recommendations for juicers, so be sure to check back.
Pros: Tasty, really feels like insides are cleansed, massive amounts of energy
Cons: Detox symptoms can be strong, expense of lots of produce, time-consuming to make juice and clean juicer
Want to do liquid only but can’t do all juice? Totally understandable. Some people choose to do juice until dinner time, and have a green smoothie when you need to chew.
Modified Diet Cleanses
I try to live a “modified diet” which is diametrically opposed to the Standard American Diet (SAD). One of my favorite ways to cleanse is a raw food diet.
Eating raw foods is a great base for everyone’s food intake. I strive for 60% raw foods each day (by calories).
When you want to step it up and give your body all the enzymes and fiber without undertaking days of juice only, this is a great compromise.
By definition, raw food is consumed at temperatures that won’t denature the nutrients. Generally raw foodists strive for 105 degrees Farhenheit or less, though some go up to 115 degrees.
Another great option is the Daniel fast. While the rules for the fast vary, it’s best to stay on the strict end.
Pros: Many options and recipes available, easy with abundant produce
Cons: May feel deprived without cooked food, time consuming, equipment (such as a dehydrator) are expensive
A Daniel fast is taken from the book of Daniel in the Christian Bible. Though the verses that spell out Daniel’s fast are somewhat murky, it is a vegan fast that includes some cooked foods.
OK foods for a Daniel fast include fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains, healthy oils, and water.
Essentially you need to avoid all meat and dairy, fish and eggs, sweetener, leaven (yeast), and non-water beverages.
While this should be the base to any healthy diet, it’s great to take some time (usually 21 days) to focus on no sugar and no yeast, as yeast feeds on sugar. If you have problems with candida, this diet could be your miracle cure, just be sure to keep fruit to a minimum.
Pros: Least restrictive fast, offers good variety, reinforces good dietary habits
Cons: Like all fasts, it requires discipline
External Colon Cleansing
Lastly, colonics. These are known by a variety of names, such as colon cleansing, colon irrigation, or colon hydrotherapy.
If you have one in an office, you’ll go in and lie down. The hydrotherapist will connect surgical-grade tubing to a machine, and will insert it gently into the rectum.
Generally between 40-80 quarts of water will be used to wash away the impacted waste and mucoid plaque that have hardened onto the walls of the large intestine.
While I’ve never had this procedure done myself, friends say it is absolutely painless, save perhaps some slight cramping and gassiness.
Pros: Quick, no clean up, feel lighter and healthier
Cons: Expensive, must carve out time for appointments
Finally, there’s the option of at-home treatment using a colema board, a 5 gallon bucket, and surgical tubing.
This is a home enema, which is slightly different than a colonic. The water likely won’t make up it up the entire 5+ feet of the colon, but it can loosen waste like the hydrotherapy.
You should really have someone to help you with this process, because it’s not easy to insert anything into your own rectum, especially lying down. Someone better REALLY love you to stick anything up your butt!
Pros: Privacy, follows your own schedule
Cons: Expensive set-up, clean up (enough said)
Any or all of these cleansing options might be for you. Take whatever method you think will work best for your body and lifestyle and run with it. While it’s not always easy, it’s worth it to feel better and be healthier inside and out!