What is a Cleanse?
A body cleanse is essentially an intentional, directed expelling of toxins from the body and improved functioning of body systems.
Cleansing naturally occurs due to:
- increased support for the body’s innate cleansing operations and elimination organs
- removal of toxins from the diet
- supplementation of nutrients
- ideally, all of the above
You may already be experiencing some cleansing effects from having added superfoods into your diet with Level 1 of the Superfood Challenge. That’s Awesome! And here’s why:
- Accelerated weight loss
- Increased energy once toxins are removed from the body
- Accelerated health upgrades (e.g. reversal of dis-eases and increase of energy, focus, and response times)
- Reboot of your body’s elimination systems (easing detox reactions and quickening removal of toxins)
- Lifestyle upgrades (quick and easy change of habits)
- Greater body awareness: ability to quickly sense what foods are nutritious and body supporting, and what foods are health degrading
How Your Body Cleanses
Your body does a lot of its deep cleaning processes while you sleep.
When you aren’t requiring energy to fight or flight, your parasympathetic system can activate and clean up whatever messes were left behind from the day’s battles and do more intensive repairs at the organ and cellular levels.
You can support your body’s natural cleansing operations by:
- Adding nutrients to your diet
- Gives the body more energy for cleansing
- Enables the body to replace toxins at a cellular level with the upgraded nutrients
- Removing toxins from your diet
- Resting, reducing stress, sleeping: activating your parasympathetic system
- Not eating for 3 hours before you go to sleep enables your body to be cleansing rather than digesting while you sleep!
- Supporting your elimination systems by making sure they are clean and functioning at optimum levels
- Flushing stored toxins out of your body
- Drinking water and eating gelatinous fiber is important for the flushing process
- Taking a gentle, gradient approach to cleansing
Ideally you don’t overwhelm your body’s elimination systems with a fast release of toxins from their storage places.
- If you push your cleansing too hard and too fast, you may not have energy for daily activities, or you may experience strong detox reactions.
- Unless you are facing a life-threatening illness, there is no reason to rush the body’s natural cleansing operations – slow and steady wins the race!
- If you need to win the race faster, work with a skilled health care practitioner and get support for daily life activities while you focus on cleansing
Types of Cleanses: A Gradient Approach
If you’re new to cleansing and upgrading your health, we recommend you start with the bare minimum of cleanses and slowly work your way down this list of types of cleanses. We love to do a cleanse once a quarter (usually timed with the equinox and solstice seasonal changes).
The more times you cleanse, the better awareness you will have of your body’s natural rhythms and needs. Trust your instincts on which cleanse to do and when.
Bare Minimum: Removal of Toxins and Addition of Nutrients
You’ve been doing this already with the Superfood Challenge by adding in superfoods (Level 1) and removing toxins (Level 2). At a bare minimum, keep going with this approach. Add in even more raw superfoods and remove more toxins from your diet.
Even with this bare minimum approach, you can expect to experience these 4 Stages of Upgrading Your Health*
Stage 1: Add raw superfoods into your diet; lower quality foods still smell good and taste good.
This is a time of exploration as you are adding more variety of foods to your diet and thus new ways of meeting your nutrient requirements (some of which may not have been sufficiently met in a long time). Pay attention to your energy levels after raw superfoods vs. after cooked, processed foods.
Stage 2: Lower quality foods smell good, but don’t taste quite the same.
You start to wonder if they changed the recipe because now it tastes like cardboard or otherwise not as satisfying. This is a time to actively look for alternatives to the lower quality foods you crave. Making your own cooked versions with high quality ingredients, making raw versions, and reading ingredients labels so that you can buy the highest quality version available in the market.
Stage 3: Lower quality foods smell good, but taste terrible – you have one last time eating them.
In this stage the lower quality food smells good enough to try it, but in comparison to the other options you’ve been exploring in stage 2, it isn’t nearly as good: it tastes terrible, it lowers your energy, and you may even notice some toxic reactions to the food (stomach ache, acid reflux, hardened stools). You feel even more committed to finding and using the alternative higher quality foods.
Stage 4: Lower quality foods smell like “not-food”.
Now when you smell those previously delicious aromas all you can sense are the toxins and low quality ingredients – there is little to no trigger to want to eat what you’re smelling. In this stage you’d rather make your own version of that food or have something else entirely different or nothing at all. Because of this you’re more likely to travel with your own food sources than rely on what’s offered to the general public.
*how long it takes to move through each stage depends on the body – just stick with this bare minimum approach and you’ll get there!
Targeted Body System Cleansing
This type of cleanse is for you when you feel pretty good about the toxins you’ve removed from your diet and you’re ready to support your body’s elimination organs even more before going deep to the cellular levels. Cleansing specific organs makes the upcoming Whole Body Cleanses even easier later by paving the way for toxins to move quickly out of the body once they are released at the cellular level.
If you think of your elimination systems like the air and oil filters on your car, you can see how important it is to clean them out periodically so that any new toxins are easily caught before circulating through the rest of your body.
This also applies for old toxins being ushered out: these elimination systems need to be working well, otherwise the toxins being pulled out of the cellular level float around in your blood and lymph (especially), causing icky detoxification symptoms while your body tries to usher them out.
Lungs & Sinus
Getting clean oxygen into your body helps at every level. If you are experiencing bronchial, sinus, or other breathing issues, you may be limiting the rejuvenation of your cells. Here are several ways you can cleanse your lungs and sinus and get more oxygen into your body:
- Eat more Rhodiola Rosea (it’s in Chocolate Bliss) to support bronchial passages in your lungs
- Use a Neti Pot to cleanse your sinuses daily
- Exercise outside in natural, clean air (ideally around trees and green plants), breathing deeply
Many toxins are absorbed by and expelled from your skin. Make it easier for this large elimination system to do it’s work with any of the following:
- Remove toxins from your skin, including antiperspirant deodorants and beauty products and sunscreens made with parabens.
- Use natural, healing options to keep your skin clean and fresh, like:
Lymph & Blood
Your lymph system is a combination of channels of clear fluid and lymph nodes that helps to clean your blood. Your blood delivers nutrients to your cells and carries toxins away from them.
Challenges with your adrenal glands (stressed out, trouble sleeping, waking up in the middle of the night) often indicate a blockage in your lymph system.
You can support your lymph system’s flow with any of the following:
- Dry skin brushing. Before you take a shower, use a stiff bristled skin brush and lightly brush your skin from your toes towards your groin (where major lymph nodes live), from your belly button down to your groin, and from your belly button up towards your arm pits (where other major lymph nodes live).
- Vitalize Herbal Lymph Cleanser dissolves the “crud” that clogs lymph valves, allowing the fluid to flow freely and you to sleep through the night. Learn more about how your lymph and adrenals and sleep issues are all related (and resolved) with this video Managing Stress & Sleep Issues
- Rebounding, bouncing, walking, and gentle movement are excellent maintenance for your lymph system once any clogged valves are cleared. Specialized lymphatic massage can also be extremely helpful for remedying any lymph system issues.
Your body eliminates excess toxins and waste daily through your digestive tract. If you don’t have regular poo, this is an important system to cleanse before doing any of the other cleanses. Here are some ways to keep your digestive tract functioning optimally:
- Eat Chia Gel, Aloe or Flax Gel to give your colon soothing fiber that binds toxins and removes waste.
- Do a Salt Flush to remove excess waste from your colon.
- Use Oxypowder to remove excess waste from your colon.
- Find a therapist to give you a colonic or do an at-home enema.
If you’ve consumed too many toxins, and especially if you’ve had not enough water, your kidneys may be forming calcified stones and need some extra support for eliminating them. Use herbal remedies to cleanse your kidneys, such as:
- Andreas Moritz describes in his The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse book a 20-day kidney cleanse that uses a specific list of herbs and how to brew and take them.
- You can often find kidney cleanse teas in natural grocery stores (look in the tea section for Traditional Medicinals brand as one option). And you may find Uva Ursi herb in capsule form.
- You can also make an infusion of nettle leaf and horsetail herbs – great diuretics that gently cleanse the kidney without losing electrolytes.
The horsetail is a bit bitter, so the nettle leaf helps to balance it. I get all my herbs online from Mountain Rose Herbs. To make an infusion of leafy herbs put 1 Cup of the herbs (1/2 cup each) in a quart size glass jar with a lid. Fill the jar up with boiling water, close the lid and cover the jar with a towel to keep in the warmth as it sits for about 4 hours or overnight. Strain the liquid (compost the leaves) and you’ve got infusion! Drink it throughout the day. Kept in the fridge it will last for about 2 days. You can also drink this infusion as an ongoing maintenance for your body.
Liver & Gallbladder
Your liver is the major filter for toxins in your body, and if it’s clogged, then other cleanses can get a little complicated because the liver has to work harder to process the toxins you are likely to release in a cleanse.
In 2009 I did a series of Liver Cleanses based on the guidance in Andreas Moritz’s awesome book The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse. I got a lot of gallstones out and was complete after 5 months of doing the cleanses on a monthly basis. I did the liver/gallbladder cleanse once again last year because I felt inspired and called to do it. I didn’t have much come out which was confirmation for me that my liver is doing great.
When you get the book The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse, you’ll be amazed to read about the many health conditions (like allergies, asthma, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, sore muscles, skin disorders, cancer, MS, Alzheimers, and more!) that may be indicators of excessive gallstones clogging up the liver. Yes, gallstones are formed in the liver and then some make their way to the gallbladder.
If you’ve never done a liver cleanse, you’ve eaten processed foods, or you have some dis-ease symptoms that are bothering you, I highly recommend doing a round of liver cleanses.
Whole Body Cleansing
This type of cleanse is excellent if you don’t have any particular elimination system that seems to be causing you trouble and you want a more general cleanse that addresses your whole body at the cellular level.
Whole Body cleanses and Fasting are a bit easier if you’ve already done Targeted Body System Cleansing or you do some of the things listed above to support your elimination systems while on a Whole Body Cleanse.
Juicing and Green Smoothies
Drinking lots of fresh, organic juices, especially green juices will cleanse your whole body at a cellular level and give your digestive tract a break. This is particularly helpful if you are experiencing any colon issues like leaky gut or hemorrhoids.
Raw Until Dinner
Eating raw foods for breakfast and lunch and then having a warm, healthy, cooked meal for dinner is a great way of gently cleansing with raw foods without overwhelming your body or your lifestyle. This is such an easy cleanse that you may even adopt it as an ongoing maintenance lifestyle (we do).
Eating only raw foods all the time is an excellent cleanse. At first it may produce dramatic results, and over time you can develop it into an ongoing lifestyle. Some say eating 100% raw is a great 7 year cleanse. Some prefer to always eat this way for their whole lives. If you choose to use this way of eating for more than a cleanse, be sure to learn more about adding in superfoods and herbs to get the highest quality nutrition into your diet all the time.
Inflammation is the common cause for most dis-eases, so eating foods that reduce inflammation can often reverse dis-ease symptoms. Here are some foods to emphasize:
- Primal Digest Enzymes taken between meals and before bed (without food) are used by the body to fight inflammation wherever it exists in the body.
- Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) reduce inflammation (Omega 6 EFAs increase it). Eat more Omega-3 rich foods like Chia Seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds
- Take natural Vitamin C daily
- Eat alkalizing foods, especially greens.
- Use inflammation-reducing herbs like Turmeric, Cat’s Claw, and Aloe.
Chelation is the process by which a substance, in this case botanical herbs, attach to and facilitate the rapid elimination of accumulated chemicals or metals free floating in blood, lymph fluid or residing in deep tissue.
If you are eating a healthy diet and still unable to achieve your ideal body weight, it may be that your body is holding on to fat as a storage place for chemical and/or metal toxins that you may have been exposed to over time (like pesticides, antibiotics, petroleum products and amalgam tooth fillings). Often first ushering out the toxins enables your body to then release the fat.
Use the Chem-Free and Metal-Free herbal chelation formulas to usher out these heavy metals and chemicals, after you are sure that your digestive tract and lymph systems are working normally so that the chelated metals and chemical have a clear exit path.
De-Calcification & Parasite Cleansing
If you’ve eaten a lot of acidic foods (like sodas, processed foods and animal meats), you may have some bad calcium deposits. This can show up in the form of arthritis, brain fog, kidney stones, and many other inflammatory ailments. These calcification deposits are also often the home to parasites that use up the nutrients intended for your cells and reduce your energy and alter the effects of your metabolism.
To do this type of cleanse follow these steps:
1. Dissolve “bad calcium” deposits by eating MSM, zeolytes, Shilajit, and/or citric acids (lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar).
2. Boost your immune system with natural Vitamin C, Cat’s Claw herbal decoction, Reishi, Chaga, garlic
3. Kill the parasites with wormwood, cloves, black walnut hull powder and zapping technologies
4. Receive deep tissue body work to break up any calcification deposits.
There’s a lot more that can be said about de-calcification and parasite cleansing, and David Wolfe has covered these topics in detail in his Longevity Now programs.
Fasting cleanses may be harder to do while working out or carrying on daily life activities. These cleanses give your body either bare minimum or nutrient-rich support with minimal energy expense. They require the space to have more rest as you are basically reducing energy spent on digesting so that the body can do its natural repair work.
Juice Fast / Feast
For a Juice Fast or Juice Feast you eat nothing but juices. Ideally this is a lot of green juices. For a Juice Fast, you only drink when you’re hungry. For a Juice Feast, you load your body with as many micro-nutrients as possible by drinking about 4 or more quarts of green juice a day (emphasizing the dark leafy greens).
You may have heard of this as the lemonade cleanse. It’s essentially drinking this mixture of lemon juice, warm water, molasses and cayenne. And that’s it. No other foods but water. You drink the lemonade whenever you’re hungry – ideally at least 5-6 times a day and probably more.
The idea is that by giving your body the bare minimum nutrients to survive your body will do it’s job of cleansing, while you can still go about your daily activities.
It works. And it’s a very intense and tough cleanse to do. I don’t recommend it for newbies and frankly, I doubt I’ll do one again. Dan and I did this 10 day Master Cleanse in 2010 and I was so tired of the taste of lemons by the end of it, I was really ready for other foods. The results were good; the process was just more challenging than I care to repeat.
Here’s the blog post where we talk more in depth about our experience on the Master Cleanse (with some great tips and recipes on ways to support yourself while cleansing and additional thoughts for how to come out of a cleanse).
A water fast is best done with some supervision and with little to no activity since you aren’t taking in any nutrients. This is really putting your body into hyper-cleanse mode by not taking any energy to digest. It’s a time for lots of rest and waiting for the body to do it’s natural cleansing operations. This works best if the body already has a good store of nutrients to work from.
If you’d like to learn even more about cleansing (and see the cleansing recipes we’ve used), check out our post from our First 10-day Cleanse: All About Cleansing.