13 Herbs For Detoxing

Mixed Salad © by the Italian voice

My cat, Kelly, loves to eat my asparagus fern.

She is detoxing.

I learned from Dr. John Douillard of Lifespa in Colorado that new greens which emerge from the ground in the spring are meant to help us cleanse our intestinal tract after a winter of eating heavy insulating foods. There are specific steps in an effective detox:  Which Detoxing Steps Are You Missing?

In order to detox well, you need the right diet and practices that will support the cleansing of your system.  In addition, there are herbs that are especially effective for removing the toxins that make you sluggish and create disease.

These are 13 Ayurvedic herbs for an effective detox and rejuvenation program (1)(2):

  1. for cleaning the lymphatic system, where our immune system is located: manjistha. According to the Ayurvedic Encyclopedia, manjistha is one of the best herbs for blood purification and for detoxing the liver of environmental toxins which are increasingly a reason for poor health. It also cleans and regulates the liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys, all organs which are important parts of the digestive system, and is anti-cancer and anti-tumor.
  2. for repairing the mucus membrane of the gut, which becomes dysfunctional when clogged by heavy foods: turmeric. Turmeric helps relieve the mucus buildup that comes from eating heavy foods, regulates the metabolism, is a natural antibiotic that improves intestinal flora and purifies the blood.  It improves IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease and all inflammatory conditions.
  3. thinning the bile so that toxins do not get backed up in the liver forcing them into the body where they will be stored in fat cells: beets, fenugreek, cinnamon.
    • Beets improve lymph, liver and gall bladder functioning and act as a laxative as well.
    • Fenugreek is a rejuvenating herb that improves liver function and diabetic symptoms.
    • Cinnamon is a strengthener: it strengthens the metabolism, one’s constitution and the individual organs of digestion: the liver, spleen pancreas and kidneys.
  4. cleansing the liver  for proper processing of fat soluble toxins: amalaki, guduchi, barberry.
    • Amalaki cleans the intestines, stops stomach and intestinal inflammation, and improves the symptoms of diabetes and gastrointestinal conditions.
    • Guduchi is a blood purifier that improves digestion. It supports the immune system.
    • Barberry is a kind of decongestant in that it reduces fat, reduces congestion in the stomach, regulates liver functioning and destroys toxins in the body.
  5. cell regeneration: shilajit. Shilajit restores oxygen and nutrition to depleted cells and strengthens the immune system.
  6. balancing blood sugar: gymnema sylvestre removes sugar from the pancreas and restores pancreatic function and making it one of the most important  Ayurvedic herbs for diabetes.
  7. restoring digestion: ginger, black pepper, long pepper. These three herbs all act on digestion to stimulate and restore the digestive fire.

These are all important and useful herbs for anyone seeking a strong digestive detox. I have personally used then and have been very pleased with the improvement to my well-being. They are worth considering as part of a detoxification plan.

(1) Some herbal information obtained from the Ayurvedic Encyclopedia.

(2)These herbs are part of Dr. John Douillard’s Colorado Cleanse.

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Which Detoxification Steps Are You Missing?

secret summer herb garden © by woodleywonderworks

Are you aware that detoxification is only part of the process of rejuvenating yourself?

Detoxification is necessary when toxins build up in our bodies to a point where the pathways of the body become clogged so that nourishment and detoxification are not able to occur naturally.

Getting rid of toxins and restoring balance consists of 2 objectives:

  1. clean up the digestive and immune systems
  2. restoring cell and digestive functioning.

One of the best detoxification experts is Dr. John Douillard of Lifespa in Colorado. He is also the author of Colorado Cleanse which details in a very readable way why you need to detox and the steps necessary to remove toxins from the body and restore optimal functioning. Dr. Douillard’s excellent detoxification program that both detoxes and rejuvenates the body.

These are the steps for an effective detox and rejuvenation program:

  1. cleaning the lymphatic system, home to most of our immune system. The lymphatic system is found in the inside of our intestinal wall and extends to all the lymph channels of the body including the lymphatic systems the drain the skin and membranes of the body of toxins. When the lymphatic system is compromised, our immune systems cannot do their jobs.
  2. repairing the mucus membrane of the gut. Part of the lymph system is the mucus membrane of the gut which is very responsive to digestive imbalances. The imbalances show up either as constipation or diarrhea depending on whether the imbalances are drying or creating congestion. These imbalances then damage our immune functioning.
  3. thinning the bile.  When there is congestion in the mucus membranes of the intestine, toxins do not get processed by the intestines. Instead they back up to the liver which thickens the bile which in turn congests the bile and pancreatic ducts. The result is that fats cannot be digested, fat soluble toxins cannot be processed and digestive enzymes are not as available to do their job. This compromises both the immune system and digestion.
  4. cleansing the liver for proper processing of fat soluble toxins and digestion of fats so that they of not end up stored in fat cells throughout the body.
  5. cell regeneration. When you have a build up of toxicity in the body, nutrition and oxygen do not reach the cells causing them to starve. Cell regeneration helps restore nutrition and energy to the cells of the body.
  6. balancing blood sugar. With all the concerns about diabetes, most of us worry about blood sugar levels which when stabilized make it easier it use fat stores as fuel for the body, in addition to preventing a long-term chronic diseases.
  7. restoring digestion. It is necessary to restore the necessary digestive enzymes for proper digestion to support the health of the body. They can become damaged when your system is our of balance.  

So often we think that taking a pill will detox us. And it may help somewhat. However we need to engage the larger problem of getting out of balance and restoring ourselves to be really healthy.

Unfortunately, all the environmental toxins we have now makes detoxification a must for good health.

Disclosure: the author has an affiliate relationship with Lifespa and is also a customer.

Detox with Triphala

Indian gooseberry Creative Commons License photo credit: prashantby

Detoxing is a great way to help your body become healthy.

A great herb for regular detoxing is the well-known Ayurvedic herb, triphala. Triphala, known as the three fruits, is one of the most important herbal combinations in Ayurveda.

It has been used for thousands of years and as a result its benefits are well-known. Triphala is the combination of three different herbs: amalaki (pictured above), haritaki and bibhitaki. Since it is designed to rejuvenate the body, it falls into the category of Ayurvedic rasayanas, which are important rejuvenating herbal preparations.

The Benefits Of Triphala

There are important reasons why this combination of three herbs was developed and why it is one of the most valuable herbal supplements in Ayurveda:

  1. the three herbs target the balancing needs of the three doshas or bioenergies: vata, pitta and kapha
  2. triphala is gentle, in its balancing actions, and can be taken over a long period of time.
  3. imbalances can vary over time. Triphala in targeting all three doshas is targeting all imbalances not just ones that you have today.

What does each of these herbs do?

  • amalaki targets pitta imbalances – associated with digestion. Amalaki, also known as Indian gooseberry, has antiviral and antimicrobial effects. It supports the immune system and can be helpful for some forms of cancer, diabetes and some types of arthritis.
  • bibhitaki is astringent and used as a laxative.
  • haritaki supports the nervous system, helps with respiratory ailments, is a laxative, and generally improves the digestive tract.

Deepak Chopra, an Ayurvedic doctor, MD, and founder of the Chopra Center in California decries how each of the three fruits balances one of the Ayurvedic body types or doshas in his write-up on Triphala:

  1. amalaki balances pitta because it is cooling to the body. Pitta is the warm bioenergy which is balanced by cooling.
  2. haritaki is a very strong laxative and balances vata. Constipation is a sign of imbalance in the data bioenergy associated with movement.
  3. bibhitaki balances kapha by reducing mucus in the body. Kapha is the bioenergy associated with the structure of the body. When out of balance kapha created sluggishness and increases mucus in the body which can slow digestion and create congestion in other parts of the body.

By supporting all three doshas in the body, triphala is a great all-purpose balancer that has no side effects and can become part of a long-term wellness program.

Why Triphala Benefits HSP’s

Because of their nervous system challenges and other genetic diseases, highly sensitive people have to find gentle but effective herbal supports that enable them to reduce nutritional and stress toxins in their bodies. That is a tall order.

HSP’s cannot control every aspect of their lives. Using herbs like triphala can help restore some balance to a balance-challenged HSP. Triphala is one of the herbs that can make a huge difference in wellness when combined with other positive health practices.

Additional Information:

Wikipedia – Triphala

Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Center Information on Triphala

Dosha Test

Vata Dosha

Pitta Dosha

Kapha Dosha

17 Bitter Foods For Cleansing

Bitter Melon © by t.ohashi

The American diet is unbalanced.  It consists of predominantly sweet and sour foods according to MAPI, the Ayurveda health center in Iowa.  As a result our bodies are unbalanced and we often feel sluggish and unwell.

Bitter foods promote a natural cleansing of the body.  By including some of the bitter taste in our diet, whether in specific foods or herbs like turmeric we are cleansing our bodies each day.

The Six Tastes For Each Body Type

Ayurveda recommends that we include all six tastes in our diets: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. Although we need to have some of each taste for balance and to avoid cravings, each body type needs more of some tastes and less of others.

The balancing tastes for each body type are as follows:

Vata body type (thin build): sweet, sour and salty

Pitta body type (medium build): sweet, bitter and pungent

Kapha body type (heavyset build): bitter, pungent and astringent.

A healthy diet for each body type would focus primarily on foods that balance them, but ensuring that the other tastes are represented through spices and seasonings.

What Bitter Foods Do For You

Bitter foods as you can see from above are important for people with medium and heavy builds.  They are less critical for people who are thin.

So what does the bitter taste do for you? According to well known Ayurvedic doctor  Vasant Lad,

  • the bitter taste is anti-toxic. It is antibacterial and antiviral so it helps with cleansing the body
  • the bitter taste kills germs
  • the bitter taste relieves burning and itching sensations and helps with skin disorders
  • the bitter  taste reduces fever
  • the bitter taste improves the firmness of the skin and muscles
  • the bitter taste helps digestion and relieves intestinal gas.
  • the bitter taste dries the system and reduces fat, bone marrow and elimination.
The bitter taste also affects our emotional and mental state. It causes us to withdraw from worldly concerns and become more introspective and less attached. Too much bitter taste can lead to aversion and cynicism.

Bitter Food List

The following is a list of 17 bitter foods:

Jerusalem artichoke

bitter melon

burdock root

dandelion greens

eggplant

kale

sesame seeds

castor oil

sesame oil

chocolate

dill

cumin

fenugreek

neem leaves

saffron

turmeric

coffee

The Bitter Taste And HSP’s

Bitter foods are a great way to naturally cleanse the body.  However, in excess it can lead to increased isolation which HSP’s do not need.  Therefore unless you are on a weight loss diet which bitter foods can help, eating the bitter taste through herbs and spices may be most helpful.

Turmeric: 18 Ways To Good Health

Turmeric © by Steven Jackson Photography

It is amazing how great health can be as close as our kitchen spice rack.

For thousands of years, food and herbs have been used for their healing properties. Some herbs are almost worshipped for their healing gifts.  Turmeric is one such herb.

Some herbs are valued solely for their medicinal properties. Neem would be an example of a plant used primarily for medicinal purposes.

Turmeric is different, however. It is an important cooking herb as well as a medicinal remedy.  In India, curry is one of their most common dishes and it usually includes turmeric.

Why is turmeric such a wonder herb? Turmeric is one of the few healing herbs on the world that has such a comprehensive list of benefits that it is considered a pharmacy unto itself. (Neem is also.)

Turmeric is a purifier. It is most frequently used to purify the blood which helps prevent blood clots. Since the blood circulates the entire blood, all of the purification capabilities of turmeric removing bacteria and free radicals mean that more oxygen and nutrients can get to the cells and the lymph system can do its job of removing wastes better.

Turmeric has the following effects on the body:

  1. alliterative.  Turmeric doesn’t just treat a medical condition, it also restores health.
  2. analgesic.  Turmeric reduces pain.
  3. anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is used extensively to heal wounds and improves arthritis symptoms.
  4. antibacterial. Turmeric has many properties which help with wound healing.
  5. anti-tumor, which means that in cleaning the body, tumors are less able to grow.
  6. antiallergic. Turmeric help with food and other forms of allergies.
  7. antioxident. Turmeric has the ability to clean up the free radicals created through stress and lifestyle choices.
  8. antiseptic. This is another of turmeric’s wound cleaning properties.
  9. antispasmodic. It relaxes muscles which reduces digestive and menstrual cramps.
  10. astringent. Turmeric dries out the tissues removing toxins, fat and excess fluid.
  11. cardiovasular. Since turmeric cleans the blood, the heart will be pumping cleaner blood and staying healthier over time. It’s anti-inflammatory properties reduces the occurrence of platelet clumping, which can cause blood clots and other problems.
  12. carminative, which means it reduces gas in the body
  13. cholagogue, which means it stimulates the gall bladders production of bile.
  14. improves digestion. Turmeric stimulates a sluggish digestion causing food to be properly digested and preventing the toxic buildup of undigested food.
  15. diuretic. Turmeric has astringent properties that remove excess fund from the body.
  16. vulnerary, refers to the ability to heal wounds.
  17. cleans the blood.
  18. supports the reproductive system.
Turmeric had strong wound healing properties and has been used to treat the following serious modern illnesses:
  1. arthritis
  2. cancer
  3. std’s
  4. alzheimer’s
  5. diabetes
  6. MS
  7. HIV
  8. illnesses related to the digestive system including IBS, indigestion, URI, kidney infections, gallstones, hemorrhoids, liver disease and food poisoning
  9. illnesses from blood toxins
  10. skin diseases including leprosy.
Turmeric is an herb that is safe and inexpensive to use and can be a very useful herb for keeping  toxins from taking hold in your body, which can set the stage for chronic disease and fatal illnesses like cancer. It is a great way to help heal existing diseases like arthritis, diabetes and digestive problems.
When combined with the Ayurvedic herbs tulsi and triphala for long term use, turmeric offers deep cleansing and rebalancing of the body.
Turmeric is a phenomenal herb that is worth taking every day to maintaining great health.
For More Information:

9 Ways Mangistha Destroys Toxins In The Body

wild madder close-up

Would you like to know that your immune system is functioning well and able to protect you?

Manjistha is a wonderful Ayurvedic herb that does just that.

Manjistha known as rubia cordifolia is a climbing medicinal plant found in the Himalayas. It’s roots are used to create the medicinal supplement known as manjistha. Manjistha is a multi purpose healer which addresses many conditions and symptoms. However, its most important role is the reduction of toxic reactions caused by detoxification sometimes called a healing crisis.

When toxins are loosened in the body they can enter the blood and other parts of the body causing serious damage. In addition, when detoxification happens too rapidly, various “healing” reactions can take place including psoriasis and ulcers as described by Vaidya Mishra, an Ayurvedic healer.

Manjistha is considered the best herb for blood purification since it supports detoxification when toxins can be removed from the liver and enter the blood stream. Toxins can also be found in the blood when the various channels of the body are closed preventing the normal processing and removal of toxins from the body.

Many of the conditions helped by manjistha involve the blood and organs that affected by blood and blood toxicity. These are some important conditions that benefit from using manjistha:

  1. skin diseases. Manjistha heals a variety of skin problems including eczema, psoriasis since the skin is a detoxifying organ.
  2. menstrual problems. Manjistha treats menstrual conditions since it purifies the blood.  It helps post-natal healing of the uterus.
  3. blood resolution. Manjistha regulates blood clots, blood pressure, cleanse the blood and treats heart disease.
  4. immune system
  5. removes renal and gall stone stones. Manjistha cleans and regulates the pancreas, spleen liver and kidneys which all have a role to play in digestion and toxin removal.
  6. urinary system disorders
  7. tumors. Manjistha destroys both benign and malignant tumors.
  8. some forms of herpes. Manjistha can treat herpes that is in the bloodstream.
  9. diabetic ulcers of the leg. Manjistha can help heal this debilitating condition.

Manjistha is a very useful herb for people who have eaten toxic diets for a long time, are suffering from toxic emotions and people who are in the process of detoxifying their bodies. It is a wonderful support for the immune system since it eliminates toxins that could become overwhelming to the immune system and increase blockages in the body.

Using manjistha is a great way to reduce the potential for serious illness.

What Are You Doing About Toxins In Your Brain: 10 Reasons To Detox Now

Herb Garden © by OakleyOriginals

Have you ever felt really sluggish after winter?

Have you ever noticed how when the seasons change you feel a need to restore and rejuvenate your body?

The balance in our bodies changes with seasons. Our agricultural system provides many foods year round regardless of the season, which is why we often act as if nutritionally there is only one season.

That thinking can get us in trouble because our bodies naturally want heavier, insulating food during the winter which creates congestion in our bodies and creates the need to restore our constitutional balance.

It is very important that we understand the detoxification process because otherwise we may think we are detoxing when in fact our approach skims the surface.

My favorite book about detoxification is Dr. John Douillard’s Colorado Cleanse. He has a very accessible way of writing which makes it easy to understand detoxing and a very specific but flexible system to do so.

You may already understand some of the reasons why you need to detox but there are others that you probably do not. This book was an eye opener.

Here are some of the insights I gained from reading his book:

  1. detoxing is now a necessity because of the severe pollution in all areas of our environment with chemicals, plastics, carcinogens of various types, heavy metals and carbon emissions.
  2. pollutants build up in the body causing impaired functioning and damage to our immune systems, weakening us over time. They can lead to chronic as well as severe diseases and premature aging.
  3. toxins can damage the pathways of the body. This means that oxygen and nourishment are blocked from  reaching our cells and therefore, our cells can become undernourished. To be truly healthy, our entire system needs abundant oxygen and nourishment.
  4. during the winter months, we eat heavier foods because they are warming and insulating. Those foods can build us and interfere with our digestive systems. It is no different that accumulation in your house.  At some point it becomes disabling.
  5. the liver can become overwhelmed and when it does it does not process the toxins. It send the toxins back in to the system to be stored in fat cells.
  6. fat cells in the brain can store toxins just like fat elsewhere in the body.
  7. the digestive system can handle a variety of foods including those that are hard to digest. If digesting food is a problem then a detoxification and restoration process would be helpful.
  8. Research shows that 95% of the body’s serotonin production comes from the digestive system. This New York Times article discusses the second brain and serotonin.
  9. Toxins trapped in our cells can include mental and emotional toxins weighed down by a sluggish and overloaded body. Processing emotions is an important part of health and if affected by our health regimen.
  10. stress is processed in our digestive system. So if our digestive system is compromised we may develop stress related diseases and have reduced resilience to life’s challenges.

Taking care of your health involves regular detoxification and restoration of your  body especially the digestive system.  When you do your body and emotions should feel lighter and you will be a lot happier.

I highly recommend Dr. Douillard work as a great way to learn about your body’s needs for higher quality of life.

Disclosure: I have an affiliate relationship with Dr. Douillard’s Lifespa.