Of course you can do a D-tox anytime of the year, and we recommend doing one with each change of the seasons, but if you are going to pick one time of year to detox, let it be in the spring. Why? Well there are several reasons for this, but the major one is the natural cycle of cleansing and re-growth we see in nature at this time. A good full body detox program or cleanse should include the intestinal tract, urinary tract, liver, gallbladder, and the blood and lymphatic system. It should also include a wholesome diet focused on alkaline forming foods. All that being said, the center of any detox or cleanse should really be the liver.
I like to consider the liver as ‘the inner alchemist’. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in, or rub on your skin, and that’s just some of its over 500 different functions that are vital to life. It does all of this in its deeply hidden alchemical laboratory, turning raw bulk material into the golden nectars that run our body. The physiology of this is pretty well understood. It is done by groups of enzyme systems. This enzyme disassembly system is done in two phases. Phase I either directly neutralizes a toxin such as caffeine via cytochrome P 450 or it modifies the toxic chemical to form an intermediate compound which can be neutralized in phase II. People who have either Phase I or Phase II compromised livers have been shown to be more susceptible to environmental carcinogens and other diseases. By following a detoxification program 2 to 4 times a year, you can reduce the burden of toxins in the body and reduce your vulnerability to environmental pollutants. Detoxification diets are preferable to fasts because they don’t overload these fragile processes. Eliminating too many toxins too quickly can overburden the system. A good detox diet will provide nourishment for the whole body to function well and also provide the key nutrients to bind toxins, and the bulk fiber that will help move them through the system.
From an Oriental energetic point of view, the springtime rules the liver and its functions. This means you get a bit more assistance from it in the spring than any other time of the year. Energetically it also reflects several emotions: anger, jealousy, envy, and competition are the most prominent ones. This is a two-way street, with a weakened liver increasing the tendency towards these emotions and increased levels of these emotions can then in turn weaken the liver. Yes, this creates a negative, downward spiral that can feed on itself.
So how can we keep your inner alchemist happy? Well it comes down to the same basic tenets of natural healing: eat right, drink good clean water, cleanse regularly, reduce negative emotions, breath clean air, and do moderate exercise. Of course in modern life, especially in large cities, this is not always possible to keep in balance, so we often need help. By doing a regular detox cleanse you can significantly ease these problems of imbalance.
This does mean a number of dietary restrictions during a cleanse. No flour products, no dairy products except for butter, no tropical fruits, dried fruits, sweets, processed foods, or preservatives.
As far as detoxifying the liver goes, two of the best herbs are: dandelion and black radish.
Dandelion: is a slow, but excellent liver cleanser. It is not used for fast dramatic liver action, but as a constant slow liver cleanser. Drinking a cup of dandelion ‘coffee’ once or twice a day for 1-12 months can do wonders for the liver. It will also tone up the hepatic structure, remove liver ‘stagnation’, improve digestion, decongest the portal system, and remove problems resulting from ‘heat’ rising to the skin. In Chinese medicine, it is considered one of the best remedies for reducing ‘liver fire’ and ‘fire poison’ (abscesses, boils, sores etc.).
Black radish: reduces bilirubin in the body and thus relieves liver stress. Black radish is excellent for helping Phase II of the liver detoxification system. It has been heavily used for hepatic drainage. It has also been used for liver related headaches.
As far as foods are concerned, any food that has a slightly bitter flavor is great for assisting liver function. Salads are also a great way to celebrate spring.