Cleansing – A New Year’s Priority

milk thistle, dandelion root, red clover, garlic, elecampane I’ve always made it a practice to really enjoy the holiday season. So from Thanksgiving until the New Year, I eat pretty much whatever I want. I enjoy all the festive foods, and I always know that many of them really aren’t that good for me and that I’ll probably pick up a few extra pounds. So after the new year begins, I make cleansing a top priority.

Many of the things we eat routinely can not only be “not good for us,” they can often be toxic. Add these effects on our bodies to the others we encounter every day (smog, air pollution, industrial pollutants, household cleaners, food preservatives and dyes, chemical fumes, car exhaust, normal metabolism, poor elimination of food, waste products in the blood from illness or disease, …) and we can see that we can really bombard our with toxins. The consequences are inevitably further disease or debility. Cleansing (detoxification) should be a recurring part of our normal routine.

Periodic cleansing has been included in recorded history for millennia. Traditional health practices of many nations – Chinese, Europeans, Ayurveda, Native American, Asiatic Indians – practiced and still continue some form of detoxification. In early American history, the Pennsylvania Dutch ate wild greens like lettuce and dandelions and other herbs in the spring to cleanse their bodies after a long winter of heavy foods. Native Americans used black teas made from yaupon hollies to produce sweating and bowel evacuation. One writer even suggests “nature herself seems to suggest the importance of detoxification … many of the plants that burst forth in early spring are cleansing in nature.”

There are many ways to cleanse. The program you choose may last only a day or two or a week or two. It may even take the form of a recurring dietary change. Most of us know of foods that seem to “go right through us … a hint that they may be added to our personal cleansing program. And some foods seem to work for most everyone – e.g., fresh cherries, available in early spring, have a definite cleansing effect on the bowels and help eliminate the uric acid buildup linked to heavy meat consumption and diseases like joint problems or gout. Fasting often accompanies detoxification regimens as well, but we’ll make that the subject of a future article.

I personally enjoy using herbs and herbal combination to cleanse. The phytonutrients in many of the herbs encourage the body to detoxify naturally. And as a rule, we should be sure to cleanse the eliminative organs (kidneys and liver) and the blood and lymphatic systems, as well as the intestinal system.

Combinations for the organs should include herbs such as milk thistle, burdock root, barberry root bark, and dandelion root. Adding lecithin and amino acids to your diet are also helpful especially for the liver. The blood and lymph glands also benefit from the dandelion and burdock, and combinations for them should include red clover, Oregon grape root, butcher’s broom, garlic, pau d’arco bark, and yellow dock. Cleansers for the intestine include natural laxatives like cascara sagrada and senna leaves, high-fiber “scrubbers” like psyllium hulls, and parasite killers like artemisia, black walnut hulls, and elecampane.

Regular cleansing and detoxifying (at least two to four times per year) along with good nutrition, exercise, and proper supplements will add quality to your life and ward off many of the diseases that rob us of real joy. Our improved distribution systems make most foods available to us year-round, so we tend to forget the cycles of nature. But this year, start your “Spring cleaning” early and start with your body. Good health and God’s blessings!

— Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Alternative Health Clinic and Market, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: [email protected] or visit