toxicity, cleansing, herbal detox,

Cleansing: Seasonal Housecleaning

Cleansing: Seasonal Housecleaning

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

The shift from a rural to urban society and the advent of central heating and air conditioning has blunted the significance of seasonal change. Most of us note the weather only in the brief time needed to walk from our house to our car or from our car to the next building. Seasons seem to be measured more by which sport is dominating the scene than by the thermometer.

This was not always so. I recall a time when life’s activities were dictated by the change of seasons. Spring was the time for preparing the soil and planting crops, summer the time for putting up hay, mending fences, painting buildings and repairing equipment.

Fall saw us busy with the harvest, putting up food and fuel for the winter, and replacing storm windows and doors to keep out the coming cold. Winter was largely devoted to doing what was necessary to survive: shoveling the walks, plowing the driveway, and feeding the livestock, which could not graze in the pastures as they did during the rest of the year.

One of the seasonal rituals was housecleaning. This was most noticeable in the spring when a thorough cleaning took place. Curtains were washed and hung out to dry, rugs were taken out and beaten, and the interior of the home was cleansed from top to bottom. The process was repeated to a lesser degree as we made the transition between the other seasons.

A bit of the “spring housecleaning” ritual survives today, but it is rarely performed with the intensity of the past. Perhaps we would be seeing fewer allergies and infections if our homes were being thoroughly cleansed with each change of season.

I know each of us would be healthier if we were to get in the habit of cleansing our bodies on a regular basis, using the change of each season as a reminder to do so. Just as dust and dirt creeps into a home day by day, so toxins gradually accumulate in our body. As dirt and grime accumulates in a home it becomes visible and demands a cleaning. Unfortunately, the toxins that build up in our bodies are invisible and can easily be ignored. Over time, however, the cries of the body for cleansing will become progressively louder. Just as a home that is cleaned on a regular basis will remain a pleasant environment in which to live, so will a body that is routinely cleansed.

Virtually everyone knows when a house is dirty and in need of cleaning. Unfortunately, few people know how to tell if their body is toxic and in need of cleansing. Ideally, however, a house will be kept clean and not become so dirty that the need for cleaning is obvious. Preferably the body will be cleansed regularly and not become so toxic that symptoms are created to point out the need to do so.

Toxins enter the body from many sources. Each breath we take carries undesirable chemicals into our system from the air around us. Nearly all potable water is contaminated with chemicals from agricultural and industrial runoff and additional chemicals added for purification. Over 10,000 chemicals are approved for use in food processing and storage, only a handful of which have ever been tested for their effects on human health.

Our society apparently believes “if people don’t die within days of consuming a substance it’s not a problem.” This is simply not true. Ingesting a little bit of poison each day is not conducive to long-term wellness.

The incidence of cancer in the United States during the decade of the 1950s was approximately one in twelve, meaning that one out of every twelve people could expect to develop cancer sometime during the course of his or her lifetime. Today the incidence of cancer is one in four, and it is being said that by the end of this decade one out of every two people will develop cancer. Other factors are involved, but the level of exposure to toxic substances certainly plays a major role.

Non-food products such as household cleansers, cosmetics, pesticides, and petroleum derivatives also take a toll upon the body. Aluminum and plastics often leach into foods and beverages from containers made from them.

The body is designed to rid itself of toxins in several ways. Toxins may be released in the stool and in the urine. They may be discharged through the skin, especially through perspiration, and in the hair. Chemicals can be eliminated though the lungs and sinuses. Even tears and saliva can be vehicles for carrying toxins away from the body. Sadly, the toxic load is often too heavy for the body to handle on an ongoing basis.

As toxins accumulate in the body, cries for cleansing will begin to appear. These include symptoms as diverse as headache, fatigue, mental fogginess, joint pain, sinus congestion and drainage, backache, insomnia, and mood swings.

It is much easier to keep a house clean if dirt is not allowed to enter. Likewise it is easier to keep the body cleansed if toxic exposure is minimized. That is why I encourage the use of shower filters, air filters, and non-toxic personal care items and cleaning supplies. It is why I encourage label reading and recommend that foods or condiments that contain words that are difficult to pronounce be put back on the shelf rather than into your body.

Housecleaning begins with daily chores like making the beds, sweeping the floor, and washing the dishes. Cleansing should also begin with routine daily measures. The first is the habit of drinking enough pure (reverse osmosis or distilled) water to keep the urine pale. Drinking 16 ounces of water over a 15 minute time period mid-morning and mid-afternoon is very helpful. This bolus of water optimizes the function of detoxifying organs such as the liver, kidneys, salivary glands, tear glands, and sweat glands.

Engaging in an activity vigorous enough to induce light perspiration each day is another important step in routine cleansing. It is estimated that the body contains two and one-half million sweat glands, which excrete several pounds of toxic waste daily. They are constantly at work, but a burst of perspiration helps to flush the tiny sweat ducts and improve the efficiency of the system.

Maintaining regular intestinal function is a third aspect of daily cleansing. While some practitioners advocate enemas as a way of bowel cleansing I have always been of the opinion that the intestinal tract was designed to be a one-way street. It is true that with neglect the bowels can become so impacted that enemas must be employed to evacuate them, this should be viewed as a drastic measure in response to a crisis rather than something to be employed routinely.

Ideally, the bowels should empty at least twice daily. As raw materials come in, waste should go out. Adequate intake of water, fiber, and nutrients such as magnesium is necessary for this to be accomplished.

Just as a home that is well maintained needs a periodic general cleaning, so the body needs a periodic cleansing. Fasting is the cornerstone of total body cleansing. I advocate a two-day (48 hour) water fast quarterly to allow the body to successfully dump toxins that have escaped the daily routine of water flushes, perspiration inducing activity, and bowel elimination.

You should consume nothing but pure water during the duration of the water fast. If you find it impossible to do so, apple slices are acceptable. As always, you should drink enough water to keep your urine pale. Basic vitamin, mineral, and amino acid nutrients should be provided. It is helpful to energize the water to minimize the fatigue that may accompany the process. Several devices are available to do so.

The fast should be broken by a light meal of raw or lightly steamed vegetables. A typical water fast would consist of a routine Friday evening meal followed by taking in only water until Sunday evening, at which time a vegetable salad may be eaten. The regular diet may be resumed on Monday. Interestingly, people often find that they do not care to return to many foods they had been consuming prior to the fast, preferring a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

If a longer period of cleansing is desired I recommend that a juice diet (often mistakenly referred to as a juice fast) be followed for an additional five to seven days. Fruit juices should be avoided during this time, as they are prone to trigger spells of hypoglycemia. The most common juices utilized are a combination of carrot and celery diluted 1:1 with pure water. The juice of vegetables such as green beans, parsley, zucchini, broccoli, and cabbage may be added if desired. When coming off of a juice diet, raw or lightly steamed vegetables should be eaten for two days before adding other foods back into the diet.

Once a year a “spring cleaning”, a 60-day course of cleansing supplements, should follow the water fast. The supplements I recommend are pau d’arco, vitamin C, and a combination of cleansing herbs. Pau d’arco is a South American herb with antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Additionally, lapachol, a substance found in pau d’arco, enhances the burning of toxins within cells. The amount to be taken is 900 mg. of the inner bark or 40 drops of the extract twice daily.

Vitamin C should be taken as an ascorbate, which is a non-acidic form. It should be taken to bowel tolerance, meaning that the amount to be taken is determined by increasing its intake until the stools become loose then maintained at the amount at which the stools once again become firm as the intake of vitamin C is decreased.

A cleansing herbal combination includes substances such as cascara sagrada, garlic, black walnut, fenugreek, and dandelion. Two capsules are taken twice daily.

It is not unusual to experience mild aching, fatigue, or mental dullness as toxins are mobilized from tissues and carried by the bloodstream to the excretory organs. If the aching, tiredness, or fogginess is significant it is best to decrease the intensity of the cleanse and allow the body to dump toxins more slowly.

People who have heavy toxin loads from exposure to industrial chemicals or drugs should approach the cleansing process slowly. Likewise, people who have diabetes or are prone to hypoglycemia should fast only under the supervision and guidance of someone knowledgeable in the process and the manner in which the body may respond to it.

I am confident a body that is kept clean will be able to resist disease much more effectively. The long-term health benefits are not the only reasons to cleanse the body, however. A cleanse frequently results in a state of enhanced energy, increased mental clarity, and an improved sense of well-being. Is it time you got on the “fast track” to wellness?

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