Posted by: sakalaradiance | February 18, 2009

Spring Cleansing?

Renew Yourself This Spring



Ayurvedic healers highly recommend periodic internal cleansing as a way to maintain good health and prevent disorders from taking root in the physiology. Just like you regularly flush out the plumbing system in your home or change the oil in your automobile engine, periodically helping your body flush toxins out thoroughly is a good maintenance technique that will help organs and systems stay more efficient for a longer period of time. Especially after the age of 40, when your body’s own cleansing and rejuvenating capability starts slowing down, supporting it with a cleansing regime is important for ongoing health and vitality.

The Seed and Land Theory of Ayurveda

Proper digestion is crucial for health. When digestion is efficient and complete, all of the food you eat is either converted into nutrient fluids for absorption into the body, or flushed out as wastes. When the digestive process is incomplete or inefficient, partially digested food matter is left behind in the digestive system. This substance, called ama in ayurveda, becomes toxic to the physiology if allowed to stay in the body or build up over time. Ama is not only inherently toxic in itself, it also clogs the channels of the body, further disrupting the flow of digestion and leading to an escalating cycle of toxin build-up. Ama is fertile ground for infections and disorders to germinate, take root and flourish. Ama build-up is considered the first stage of imbalance in the physiology. If not addressed, disorders invariably follow.

The digestive process leaves behind toxins either when you eat foods that are not fresh, natural or suited to your constitution and digestive capability, or when you follow eating routines and practices that are not ideal. Eating processed or artificially flavored foods and foods that are grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers can lead to toxin build-up. Drinking iced water or ice-cold beverages douses the digestive fire and causes ama to be generated. Eating heavier foods after sundown, eating a new meal before the previous one is digested, or eating when stressed or working also impact digestion. For help with choosing foods that are best for you and for ayurvedic digestion guidelines, read our “Eating for Balance” articles.

How to tell if you have ama build-up

It is best to visit an ayurvedic healer and have him or her assess your ama levels. The following are general indications that you may have an accumulation of toxins in your physiology:

1. Your tongue has a white coating in the morning when you wake up.
2. You yawn after a main meal and just want to curl up and snooze.
3. You feel tired and lethargic all day long, even though you eat well and sleep well.
4. Your appetite is poor or you crave junk foods.
5. You feel a general lack of motivation or zest for life.
6. You feel “spaced out” and your mind is cloudy.
7. You experience abdominal bloating and gas, especially after a main meal.
8. You feel heavy and congested or constipated.
9. You have a general sense of malaise, with vague aches and pains.

If you experience three or more of the above on a regular basis, your physiology would probably benefit from a cleansing regime.

Pick foods that are best for your constitution and needs for balance, as well as the strength of your digestive agni. Stick to lighter, easier-to-digest foods from the choices you do have.Our food recommendations for Vata, Pitta or Kapha balancing diets is a good starting point.Eat whole, fresh, natural foods, organic if you can get it. Buy your produce fresh, and consume it quickly.

Eat cooked foods, warm or at room temperature.

Drink lots of warm water through the day. Accompany meals with small sips of warm water as needed. A detoxifying “tea” is even better. Coriander, cumin, fennel and ajwain (carum copticum) are digestion-enhancing spices to choose from. Here are suggestions for detoxifying herbal waters for the three doshas:

Bring two quarts of pure water to a rolling boil. Add the herbs/spices listed below, turn off heat after a couple of minutes and let steep for about 15-20 minutes. Strain and pour the water into a thermos. Drink the tea through the day, especially 15 minutes after a meal. Throw out any that remains after 6.30 pm, and make a fresh batch the next morning.

Vata: 1/2 tsp cumin seed, 1/4 tsp ajwain seed, 1/2 tsp fennel seed
Pitta: 1/2 tsp cumin seed, 1/2 tsp coriander seed, 2 fresh mint leaves
Kapha: 1/2 tsp cumin seed, 1 clove, 1-2 slices fresh ginger root

If you can find fresh Tulsi (Holy Basil), add a leaf or two to the water for all doshas. Tulsi is known for its ability to cleanse the physiology of environmental toxins.

Include lots of cleansing fruits and vegetables in your diet. Barley water or rice kanjee, made by cooking a small amount of grain with a large quantity of water (1/2 cup to 10 cups) are also wonderful cleansers of the digestive system and the urinary tract. Greens, daikon radish, bitter gourd, cabbage and celery are examples of cleansing vegetables. Cooked apples and pears are a great way to get elimination going in the morning. Prunes, pineapple, papaya and pomegranate are other fruits that aid digestion and cleansing. Herbs such as cilantro, mint, fresh ginger and lemon are also helpful for cleansing and purifying the digestive system.

Cook with digestion-enhancing, detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, ajwain, fenugreek, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon and fennel. Add the turmeric to foods as they are cooking, and sauté other spices in ghee or olive oil and pour over prepared dishes for the best therapeutic benefit. Digestion-enhancing lassi, made with some of the herbs and spices mentioned in this section, is an excellent choice for a lunchtime beverage.


Now in traditonal Ayurveda, they would tell you to avoid all junk food, caffeine, processed foods while undergoing a cleanse, but the reality is that that course of action isn’t always plausible. I try to adhere to many of these dictates, but when I feel that I’m not on my best behavior, I’ve found something that helps me out. It’s a product I found at Whole Foods called Michael Tierra’s Tri Cleanse by Planetary Herbals and it’s the only internal cleansing product that I’ve found with Triphala in it. Triphala is an ancient Ayurvedic formula consisting of Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, and when combined are powerful warriors against toxins and disease.


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