There are many ways to help the body to cleanse, and I'm a firm believer in making this a way of life rather than getting into a regular cycle of over-indulgence followed by a guilt-induced detox. It's important to understand the process of detoxification. We are essentially trying to liberate toxins from the cells, into the lymphatic system, and out of the body via the lungs, skin, kidneys, liver, and finally colon, whilst supporting the whole system.
Detoxification is a delicate balance of pushing and pulling, and must be done at a sympathetic rate to avoid a healing crisis or herxheimer reaction (traditionally experienced as headaches, nausea or skin complaints). Obviously it goes without saying that processed foods must be cut out and replaced with fresh, organic produce, but here are some other ways to aid a detox.
1. Flush your system by drinking up to 2 litres a day of filtered water daily. Ideally use a Reverse Osmosis filter, which removes not only chlorine and fluoride (both of which are toxic to the body) but also oestrogen, which is a massive endocrine disruptor and is prevalent in nearly every part of modern life (not only from plastic bottles, and BPA in tin cans, but more worryingly in our recycled water supply as a residue of the contraceptive pill). It's beneficial to meter your water intake throughout the day. Gulping pints at a time can actually flood the kidneys and brain, causing hyperhydration. We're currently on a water drive in my house. I've noticed that my children have forgotten how to be thirsty and are drinking very little. We've set an alarm to go off hourly to remind us all to have a drink, and as a result our thirst is increasing! Remember that even green tea is a diuretic because it contains caffeine, which will irritate the bladder and cause dehydration as the body tries to flush it out.
2. Bathe in Epsom Salts. When I was younger, my best friend's Mum had arthritis. She always had a huge bag of epsom salts in her bathroom. I used to think this a little odd, but now I swear by the power of epsom salts, aka Magnesium Sulphate. Magnesium is necessary for nerve and muscle function in the body, and is great for reducing inflammation. Sulphates are necessary for healthy joints, skin and nervous tissue. The skin is our largest organ of detoxification. During a bath Magnesium and Sulphate are easily absorbed into the blood stream via the skin, replenishing supplies and enabling the body to flush toxins out by sweating. Adults can tolerate 1kg per bath. I buy mine in 25 kilo bags on ebay. You can add fresh grated ginger to your bath to increase the sweat factor, and if you don't have a whole-house water filter add some bicarbonate of soda (make sure it's aluminium free) to negate chlorine and increase alkalinity. For a brilliant body scrub mix epsom salts with coconut oil!
3. During a detox, you're asking your liver to work extra hard. It's always a good idea to support this organ by doing a liver pack. The work of Edgar Cayce proves that castor oil is a miraculous substance. It promotes healing, reduces inflammation and improves immune function by increasing lymphocytes and cell cleansing fluid in the lymph. Castor oil molecules are small enough to be able to permeate the skin, and positioning the pack over the liver is gently stimulating. Coat some unbleached flannel with organic cold-pressed castor oil and cover the area over the liver (from under the breast to the bottom of the ribs on your right hand side front to back). Wrap the area with cling film (castor oil is heavy and will stain clothing and furniture). Finally, warm gently with a hot water bottle, and rest for between 20 minutes to an hour. Ideally repeat this process for 3 consecutive days every week, but avoid during a period.
4. Use a FAR infrared sauna. I was lucky enough be given a grant from Yes 2 Life to buy a FAR infrared sauna. FAR infrared rays are like those emitted by the sun. These rays easily penetrate several centimetres through the skin, warming subcutaneous tissue and liberating toxins stored in body fat. It's important to shower after a sauna to wash off toxins which will otherwise be reabsorbed. Saunas are safe to do every day, but be patient - take your time to work up to longer sessions and greater heat.
5. In addition to water, drink herbal tea and green juices. It's not just what you're pulling out, but what you're putting in! If you flood the body with goodness it will become more alkaline and more able to detoxify. Green juices deliver a quickly absorbable, dense hit of powerful live enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Because the fibre has been removed, the body can assimilate this goodness without being taxed. Herbal teas can be a good addition in winter when the body craves warmth. Fennel is particularly helpful in supporting the kidneys, whereas Pau D'arco is great for eliminating candida, strengthening the immune system and supporting the liver (as well as having powerful anti-cancer properties).
6. Improve lymphatic function by dry skin brushing (always towards the heart), rebounding (otherwise known as jumping on a trampoline!) and exercising.
7. Take Coffee enemas. All of the above will tax the liver and liberate large amounts of toxins. Coffee enemas will encourage bile production and aid the liver in processing and eliminating toxins.
Using some of these techniques will help to avoid or relieve the discomfort sometimes associated with a detox, instead bringing clarity, increased energy, and focus!