As the weather starts to warm up, I get many enquiries about performing a “cleanse”. While I’m not a huge proponent of a big, overhauling herbal detox, Spring can be a nice time to put a little focus on opening up the body’s natural detoxification pathways so that we can begin the warmer months feeling clear, calm and a little lighter.
The body uses 4 main processes to eliminate toxins and waste; perspiration via the skin, expiration via the lungs and urination and defecation via the kidneys, liver/gallbladder and GIT. If these systems are working as they should be, the body is well equipped to handle the day to day ‘cleansing’ that is required for us to be healthy and happy. However, if these processes are compromised our health can decline as toxins begin to build up or be reabsorbed into our system, increasing the toxic load and thus burdening our organs and blocking our elimination channels.
Of course, like anything health related, it all starts with the basics. Your diet and lifestyle are the foundations of good health and good detoxing. Perhaps the most simple and effective detoxification aid we can employ is drinking good quality water! A nutrient dense, organic (where possible) and whole food diet is also essential to keep detoxification channels open. You’ll also need to be moving and sweating on a regular basis.
Luckily, our herbal apothecary includes many different botanical medicines that focus on these systems and the removal of wastes. If you have struggled through the winter with skin issues, persistent coughs and colds, sluggish bowels or recurrent UTI’s, now is the time to focus on renewal and regeneration of these detoxification pathways so that this can be your brightest Summer yet!
To assist the integumentary system (your skin!) with detoxification, an herbalist may use depurative herbs such as Burdock (Arctium lappa) or Nettle leaf (Urtica doica folia) to aid in the elimination of metabolic waste products in the body. Circulatory stimulant herbs such as Ginger (Zingiber officinale) or Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may also be useful to increase blood flow to the skin to aid with healing and regeneration.
Often we experience more colds and flus during the winter months when viruses thrive. Expectorant herbs such as Angelica (Angelica archangelia) or Elecampane (Inula helenium) have a strong affinity with the respiratory system and can help the lungs to expel wastes. Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) is a well-known respiratory tonic and can help to tonify the lung tissue. Suffering from a 100-day cough? Mullein is often indicated in cases where a persistent, sore cough is present.
When it comes to a sluggish digestive system, bitter herbs are used, as the bitter flavours stimulate the digestive juices to increase enzymatic actions. Herbs such as Gentian (Gentiana lutea) or Blue flag (Iris versicolor) can be very useful when digestion is weak. It may also be necessary to focus on herbal medicines that support the liver and gallbladder, enhancing the work of enzymes and bile flow in poor digestion, liver insufficiency, cholelithiasis (gallstones) and constipation.
For the urinary system, herbalists use diuretic herbs such as Celery seed (Apium graveolens) or Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) to support the kidneys in excreting wastes. Chronic urinary infections can also be managed using supplement and herbal support including a urinary specific probiotic and soothing herbs like Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) or Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva).
If you are looking to move into Spring with vitality, I’d love to help you on your journey! Please get in touch to organise an Herbal Medicine Consultation. I am available in the AHARA HEALTH Clinic every Friday. For booking details visit the AHARA HEALTH website.
WORDS: Tamara Welsh | Herbalist