Spring Detox For The Mind, Body And Soul
Spring has sprung! We just sauntered through the Spring Equinox, the exact moment when there’s precisely an equal amount of day and night. It’s the beginning of the new astrological year and the birth of spring. During spring season, we slowly leave the dark winter nights that moved us inward to a more upward movement. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as in other holistic traditions, we follow the ebbs and flow of Mother Earth; she leads the way, always.
In spring, we begin to develop a real sense of rebirth and renewal in ourselves, imitating nature as she reawakens with new buds and blossoms. Spring is the season of the wood element in TCM, and is governed by the liver and gallbladder. It’s the perfect time to release all the old emotions that are rooted in anger, resentment, and frustration that build up through the winter season. It’s a spring-cleaning of winter’s darker energies. We thought it was the perfect time to focus on the importance of spring detoxing, and how it can help renew your mind, body and soul in more ways than one.
Let’s briefly examine the two organs that dominate spring: the liver and gallbladder. The liver is the main organ, like a commander, that diligently does all the work to detoxify your system on a daily basis. It is said to assist the body in over 500 functions. Everything that we intake, meaning liquid, food and medication, has to be filtered by the liver. Its task is to eliminate everything that is not useful to the body. It governs not only our hormones, but also our cholesterol levels and body weight. It endlessly works to keep all things in balance: detoxifying our blood, metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; producing the bile necessary to digest fat while storing vitamins, minerals and iron. You can see why supporting this main organ allows your body to reset, giving it a little restful break. The gallbladder stores the bile the liver produces and releases it when necessary, partnering up to work together. The gallbladder works to clear out the toxins of the metabolism from the muscular system. It works to remove muscular fatigue and various aches while also ensuring the quality and duration of our sleep.
You have a few options to play with in how you detox depending on your work schedule. You can remove all processed foods from your diet for a couple of weeks, or drink only detox juices (and broth soups) for 2 to 3 days to really get things moving (which is like a fast). You can similarly add a detox juice in the mornings if you are eating over the course of two weeks. Think of plenty of greens that are lightly steamed or sautéed with a dash of salt and squeeze of lemon (all sours are welcomed) to keep your diet simple. These two lists, provided by Freedom Chinese Medicine, make things very clear for us (and do remember to buy organic products when possible):
What To Avoid:
- Refined cane sugar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Artificial additives & preservatives (check for numbers on food labels)
- Hydrogenated oils, often added to snack foods
- Avoiding processed food altogether can be an easy way to avoid the above 4 items.
- Non-organic meats & dairy that may contain hormones, pesticides & antibiotics in their feed.
What To Embrace:
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens [cruciferous vegetables], carrots, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, beets, onions, and garlic
- Fruit, especially potassium-rich bananas
- Whole grains
- Organic/ Biodynamic dairy & meat (very difficult to find)
- Nuts & Seeds
- Beans & Legumes
- Blackstrap Molasses, Organic Raw Honey (small amounts) or similar natural sweetener
- Olive oil or coconut oil
- Fresh herbs & spices [turmeric]
What you can likewise add are a few herbal teas or infused water that aid the liver & gallbladder:
- Teas: Nettle, Dandelion, Matcha Green Tea, Green Tea and Milk Thistle
- Drink one glass of warm water with ½ a lemon first thing in the morning or
- Drink one glass of warm water and a tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
- Drink more water in general, and if you can electrolyte-enhanced water
Just by adapting your diet for a period of two weeks (or even one week), you will greatly assist your body in renewing itself by not overloading it with processed or greasy food, alcohol and heavy toxins. A two or three-day juice detox on the weekend really jump starts the process when you have an opportunity for more rest than usual, slowing down activities while your body cleanses itself. We’ve gone into the benefits of juicing and blending smoothies in this article if you need more details. The detox juice recipe below from Dr. Taz is pretty easy, with two others that follow to add some juicing variety.
BEST PARSLEY SMOOTHIE RECIPE
- 5 Tablespoons of organic parsley/cilantro
- 1/2 organic cucumber
- Handful of fresh organic greens
- 1/2 of a lemon (peeled and seeded)
- Add a little raw honey if it’s too bitter for you
- Add 1/2 banana if you like a “smoother” smoothie
Blend until desired consistency with coconut water, almond or coconut milk
Helping your body during the detox phase with a bit of loving self-care will do wonders for you. You can take Epsom salt baths, get a message or an acupressure/acupuncture session to get the ‘chi’ or life force flowing throughout your body to release stagnant or stuck energies (while also targeting your liver). Your body will absolutely love these extra add-ons during your detox period.
You will not only be cleansing and flushing out the toxins in your body, but also moving out emotions that correlate with these organs. Welcoming and embracing the very things that uplift your spirit and bring joy into your life are vital to the process, such as walking in the forest, visiting an idyllic location in nature, or doing yoga and meditating (anything that uplifts you). Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, nutritionist, and author of “The Detox Solution,” offers insight into the emotional imbalances we can find:
“While bolstering Liver/Gall Bladder health can help move nearly all emotions and stressors, the following emotional discords are directly related to these organs according to Chinese Medicine wisdom:”
- Inability to forgive
- Lack of assertion
- Letting go of old habits or pain
- Unfulfilled desires
“In contrast (and more importantly), the emotional signs of healthy Liver/Gallbladder Qi flow include:”
- A forgiving spirit
- Even-temper/go with the flow
- Willingness to let go
If you feel like going in depth and acquiring more information, consult this website for the 101 of detoxing; it will answer all your queries. We hope this encourages you to participate in a little spring detox this year. And guess what? Even one or two days will do wonders for your body, mind and spirit. The benefits you gain are weight loss, glowing skin, improved digestion, healthy sleep, and increased energy to name just a few. We’ll leave you with a short detox video to support you. Happy spring-cleaning!