Spring is in the air and everything that meets my gaze from the budding crocuses to the flowering blossom makes my heart sing with optimism. The promise of new growth, a fresh start and a little more warmth in the air stirs us out of hibernation and into action. It’s the perfect time for turning our attention to spring-cleaning within, so the next three blogs will all be around the subject of detoxification, a corner stone of naturopathic practice.
In the first of this detox trio, I’ll be sharing some facts on the importance of optimum hydration and physical detoxification protocols that impact profoundly on the health of our internal organs.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY DETOXING?
Our bodies are constantly under siege from toxins. Some are by products of normal body functions, some are ingested, such as caffeine and over the counter drugs, and then there are environmental pollutants like mercury in fillings or flame retardant chemicals in soft furnishings.
All these factors increase the toxic burden on the systems and organs of our bodies. But I’m happy to report that we can take steps to neutralise and discharge accumulated waste and build up of toxins by supporting the body’s own elimination channels: the bowel, liver, kidney and bladder, skin and mucous membranes, lungs and the lymphatic system.
NO.1 IS WATER!
It cannot be overstated that staying hydrated is the best and most essential rule of the elimination process. Drinking water should ideally be filtered or distilled so that it is clear of toxins as much as possible. Drink 2 litres a day, every day. I recommend a fascinating and educational book that I am reading at the moment called Your Body’s Many Cries for Water in which the author F. Batmanghelidj explores the health values of drinking plain, simple water for the maintenance of personal health.
The therapeutic use of water as a healing agent goes right back to Hippocrates circa 400BC. The basic theory is simple – cold water reduced fever and inflammation and slows down metabolism, hot water relaxes blood vessels and opens pores to better allow elimination of toxins via the skin. When we alternate between the two, we stimulate blood flow, which increases oxygen and nutrients to cells and promotes lymphatic drainage.
Epsom salts baths are a wonderful way to remove toxic waste through the pores of the skin. Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts in a warm bath and have a soak for 15-20 minutes. Treat yourself to an early bedtime, switch off all technology, relax in an Epsom salts bath and slip into clean sheets – you’ll have a good chance of a great night’s sleep.
The next morning you can wake yourself up with an invigorating, life giving cold shower!
Ishnaan is the science of hydrotherapy from the east. The benefits of cold water showering and swimming are well
Alternating hot and cold to move the blood and lymph. 30-60 seconds as hot as you can and then the same for cold. Do up to 7 repetitions each way and try to push the limits
each time in terms of temperature. End on either hot or cold.
HYDROTHERAPY FOR THE BOWEL
Ok, so now we’re going to get right down to the bottom of it, so to speak!
Think about the build up on the inside of your household pipes and then imagine many years of a similar scenario inside your own colon and bowel – pretty yucky huh? If you feel sluggish or suffer from brain fog, if you keep getting sick or are constantly tired, if your tongue is coated and you
get headaches, these could all be signs that you have a toxic build up in the body.
There are two main ways that we flush waste material from the bowel using the solvent action of water:
Enemas can be easily carried out at home and there are two main types:
Chlorophyll enema – targets the bowel, healing the mucous membranes and cleansing the lymphatic system.
Coffee enema, the ‘king’ of enemas – targets the liver, one of our main organs of detoxification. It is worth mentioning that for most people who are intolerant to drinking caffeine, it is ok as an enema because the coffee bypasses the digestive tract and goes straight to the liver (although best not done before sleep as it may be stimulating).
Colon Hydrotherapy (colonic irrigation) needs to be carried out by a competent practitioner who is A.R.C.H qualified as the water goes higher up the colon than in an enema. Colonics
are especially beneficial if you suffer from constipation or IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) as they re-educate the bowel to return to normal shape and function. It’s a deep clean, emptying pockets of impacted faeces, removing excess mucous and generally giving the colon a good cleanse and tone.
Regular use of enemas and colonic hydrotherapy will prevent the waste from building up again. Our guts are full of beneficial bacteria and it only takes 18 hours for the mucous membranes of the colon to become fully repopulated.
The lymph system is a network of thin-walled vessels that transport fluid throughout the body somewhat like blood in veins. It is hugely important for immunity. It doesn’t have a pump like the cardiovascular system has the heart, instead it is mostly reliant on our own movement and breathing to
promote proper lymph function, hence the importance of exercise.
Cleavers are a wild plant that has long been taken therapeutically for the lymph system and the are best picked around about now. Here is a recipe for making Cleaver Tea.
The lymphatic system is near the surface and responds well to massage techniques that promote lymphatic drainage.
Dry skin brushing: Brush the entire surface of your skin with a stiff bristle bush or a loofah before showering or bathing. Brush in small circles, always towards the heart, ending
with wide clockwise circles around the belly button.
Massage techniques for cleansing were often shared by Yogi Bhajan in his classes, here’s one he taught in 1992 in Espanola, New Mexico.
Reflexology is an ancient tool for stimulating the internal organs and systems by working with specific points on the feet to balance the body in a natural and deeply relaxing way.
YOGA FOR CLEANSING
Yogi Bhajan said “Meditation is your first habit. Every human should meditate to keep the mind clean. Meditation is nothing but cleansing the mind through a process……you take a bath to clean the body; you meditate to clean the mind. There is nothing more to it.”
Check back in next month for part two on detoxification where I will be sharing my knowledge on the power of foods to cleanse and heal.
YOGIC NUTRITION is a regular feature written by Anna Ranprem Kaur, a Kundalini Yoga teacher with more than eight years of experience, now also in her second year of a diploma in Nutrition Therapy and Naturopathy. In this monthly blog, Anna will share knowledge and explorations as she moves forward on her journey in nutrition. www.annakundaliniyoga.co.uk