The Detox Toolbox: Spring Cleanse

girl blowing on dandelionThis year’s transition from winter into spring has been funny, hasn’t it? Usually March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb but this year it seems the exact opposite was true. Although the mornings here in PA are still quite brisk, it does finally feel like spring is here to stay…at least for a little while.

Out with the old, in with the new.

In most cultures, springtime is associated with new beginnings, new discoveries, reinvention, and cleansing. The last of the fallen leaves from last autumn return to the earth as new buds form on the branches, migratory birds start to return home for the season, and hibernating animals awaken from their long slumber and get ready to begin their new season with a fresh start.

It’s like that for people too. Even though we don’t physically hibernate during the winter (although some us do fly south for the winter), our bodies do hunker down and store nutrients (often in fat cells) for the winter. When it is colder, many of us tend to want warmer, richer, more comforting foods to warm us up from the inside out. Our bodies store a high percentage of the nutrients absorbed from these foods in our fat cells, which also help to regulate the body temperature. When the weather starts to get warmer, we don’t need the extra fat anymore for insulation and our bodies start craving more cooling, lighter foods.

sneezeDuring the spring, our bodies also start producing more mucus, which is why many people get runny noses or have bouts with the common cold (separate from seasonal allergies) during the spring. Mucus is not necessarily a bad thing (if it is clear). The body produces mucus to keep the delicate tissues lubricated and protected from invading toxins and environmental pollutants. If something gets in that the body recognizes as foreign, it then produces more mucus to help the body expel the unwanted visitor. Hence the runny nose. In the winter, the air is so dry and cold (from the climate outside, lack of fresh air circulation indoors, forced air heating systems, dirty ducts and filters, etc) that our mucus membranes and passages tend to get dehydrated and can’t produce enough mucus. This makes us more susceptible to toxins and pollutants which can lead more severe illnesses. So in the spring, the body tries to overcompensate by producing extra mucus (also called “reactive” mucus) in an effort to re-lubricate the passages and expel any pollutants that might have accumulated. It is just one of the body’s ways of cleaning house.

Spring cleaning is not just for your home.

springWhen we eat heavier, more cooked, richer foods during the winter and pair that with medicines we may take from having winter illnesses, a lack of exercise, overindulgence during the holidays, and inadequate consumption of water we get overworked organs and built-up toxins. The body does store nutrients in its fat cells but guess what else gets stored in fat cells? Toxins. So, spring is a great time to do a cleanse to help the body return to a healthier state.
The body attempts to go through its own natural detoxification process every spring. If we lived in a perfect world with no stress, no pathogenic microorganisms; and we all ate perfect diets, never got sick, and got adequate amounts of physical activity and hydration on a daily basis, then we would not need do a cleanse or use any other tools from our detox toolboxes to help the body along. But that’s not the case. It’s not the body’s fault. It knows what it was designed to do. However, the mind and bad habits often get in the way of letting the body do what it was meant to do. So if we can start working with the body instead of against it, things can get back on track much easier.

What is a cleanse?

A cleanse is just what it sounds like: it is a regimen that cleanses the body of toxins and other unwanted matter from the inside out. There are as many different ways to cleanse as there are different types of toxins. Some are powders you can mix into beverages, others are herbs in pill or tea forms; others rely on juicing alone or eating one type of food for long periods of time; others require eliminating certain foods from the diet for a period of time, then reintroducing it later on…some rely on certain foods alone with no supplements or other tools.

Cleanses also typically involve some kind exercise (toxins are excreted through sweat) and meditation or spiritual practice (to release stress and other emotional toxins which can be just as damaging as physical toxins).

There are also different cleanses to cleanse different organs: the liver, the colon, the intestines, the pancreas, even the skin. 

There are so many different pre-packaged cleanses out there I don’t expect you to be able to know which one is best for you (unless you are an expert in exotic herbology of course), or if it is something that is even safe. The same can be said about cleanses as is said about diet: no single one is right for everyone, because everyone’s needs are different.

I believe that cleansing should be done with professional guidance from a holistic practitioner (like myself) who is trained in different cleansing/detoxification methods. This way, your cleanse will be tailored to your specific needs and can be adjusted along the way based on your progress throughout the program.

Ongoing cleansing should be part of life.

sauna thomas wanhoffI don’t believe that a single cleanse can solve all the problems built up during a lifetime, or even a season of unhealthy eating and living. It’s just like with skincare: you can’t just go to the spa for a single facial, go home and use poor quality skincare products that are wrong for your skin; and then get upset that your skin doesn’t look as good anymore as it did right after the facial. You have to do your home care. It is the same with detoxification. A periodic cleanse, or body wrap, or ionothermie treatment, or far-infrared sauna visit is great, but if you don’t maintain the rest of the time with proper dietary and lifestyle choices you will not have lasting results. In fact, you will probably do more harm than good.

Do you want my help to kick off your spring cleanse?

In addition to my holistic nutrition and aesthetics education, I have completed additional training in several different modalities of detoxification. I can work with you one on one to set up a program that will help you cleanse based on what your body’s needs are: whether you want to lose weight in time for summer, clear up a foggy mind, calm down crazy hormones, improve chronic pain, get rid of Candida overgrowth, and more. Check out my 90 Day Reset and Recharge program or schedule your HH Hash it Out session today.

*Image 4 credit: Thomas Wanhoff

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