Holidays are over and it's time to get back into the usual routine. Naturopath Lyn Craven advises a safe and effective detox to boost your energy and vitality
Have you over indulged over the festive season? If so, then you might want to consider a detox.
Detoxing does not necessarily mean eliminating solid foods - living off water and lemon juice is not something I recommend. Even juice fasting needs to be taken on board with care and monitored.
Christmas festivities tend to make many people overindulge in all those rich foods that are so very tempting! Not to mention perhaps more alcohol with all the parties. But if you skimp on exercise and spend more time socialising and over eating, you don't just gain weight. Your entire system becomes slow and sluggish with the excess dietary consumption meaning more toxins are floating around in your blood.
Traditionally, many cultures used to give their body a "spring clean" at the end of winter. This revitalised all the cells, and assisted in regenerating healthy cells in every tissue/organ and body system. The same principles apply at any time of the year when your body is simply overloaded and you feel tired and sluggish, or wish to lose weight.
Some well known herbs used in Western cultures to assist in detoxifying the system are dandelion, burdock and sarsaparilla. These herbs cleanse the blood; in fact the old herbalists referred to them as "blood cleansers".
But to ensure that all eliminatory systems are working efficiently and to improve your metabolic activity, a regime incorporating specific homoeopathics along with correct herbs is recommended. This can bring about a deep cellular level cleansing, bur bear in mind that it will take approximately 120 days to cleanse your body's entire cellular matrix.
These remedies, usually only prescribed by practitioners, will also promote endurance and energy.
When you detoxify your system, you may initially experience headaches, nausea, or bowel changes for a couple of days or so. This is more apparent if your system is really toxic and sluggish after a long period of eating incorrectly or ingesting toxic substances or even drugs. Most people, though, don't experience any unpleasant effects and find that when incorporated into a healthy fresh food diet consisting primarily of vegetables, salads, fruit, lentils, beans, a few whole grains, fish and free-range chickens/eggs they begin to feel lighter, and can experience more clarity of mind and mental focus. Energy levels begin to improve and the immune system is greatly enhanced. The liver is freed of all toxicity, which assists greatly in any cases of fatty liver. If you have experienced sweet cravings you will find your taste buds will begin to balance and your minerals and vitamins will be absorbed more efficiently which, in turn, improves your mineral profile - in this case chromium absorption, to combat sweet craving.
Anyone experiencing fluid retention, especially if a hormonal imbalance is present, can benefit from a detoxification as the entire urinary system is cleansed and freed of ketones, any bacteria and other toxins. The liver is responsible for conjugating all hormones so if you have indulged, or you have experienced chronic illness, the liver cannot do its many tasks efficiently. The bowels will be relieved of toxins such as worms, parasites and a build up of waste if over eating has occurred. More restful sleep and greater ability to withstand external stresses are other beneficial outcomes.
Remedies to support your adrenals and nervous system can be incorporated depending on your individual needs and lifestyle. If you have experienced stress over a period of time, these organs will be under functioning and if you are aiming to lose weight, you will struggle to succeed. Stress can and does occur over the festive season! Some people take on too much and others party into the wee hours for days.
Your adrenals will need supporting if your hormones are out of balance; rather than focusing on increasing the hormone that appears to be low, it is better to improve the whole systemic function of the body, and detoxification can help you achieve this result. Often the body's hormones will readjust, particularly if the imbalance is due to stress. Again, it is an individual thing with each person; if a case is chronic then other supporting remedies maybe be needed to obtain the best results. No two people would be treated the same on a detoxification regime - some people have a very low stress threshold.
Detoxification is intended, first and foremost, to cleanse the body of waste and rubbish that it no longer needs, right down to the cellular level. Anyone wishing to lose weight needs to be aware of this since crash diets actually put more stress on your body and encourage a state of toxicity. The body will naturally adjust to its 'normal' weight for you if you eat sensibly and follow a detoxification regime and exercise! You will feel more energetic and healthier.
Many medical people do not think 'detoxifying' our system is worth considering. The attitude is that the body is quite capable of working for itself and eliminating toxins that are not required. Yes, I agree the body is capable of doing these things, but if we over indulge or have poor dietary choices, over time we exhaust the normal capacity of the respective organs to function efficiently. If we assist our body with correct diet and lifestyle choices and appropriate remedies, we can support our eliminatory channels to improve their function, and restore and regenerate the cellular matrix of the body without any side affects.
Timeframes also vary with each person since we have widely diverse symptoms, disorders or lifestyle factors to consider.
Some people want quick fixes but there is no such thing when it comes to health and especially in detoxification. It is often best to go slowly for long-term results; consistency and patience are the keys. After all, if poor dietary and lifestyle habits or stress have been present for many months or years, no one can expect a miracle turn around in one or two weeks. As I mentioned earlier, it could take three months to cleanse the cellular matrix! And if you've been stressed for some time before the festive season partying, it may only compound the situation.
I recommend regular massage, aromatherapy, lymphatic drainage or Bowen therapy to assist in relaxation and balancing the body's energy - all these therapies are excellent in supporting cleansing of the body's cells and stimulating the lymphatic system. They will also alleviate stress and anxiety, which are toxic emotions interfering with the metabolic function of the body on all levels.
If you have had a very poor diet then I would recommend mineral/vitamin supplementation to build up any deficiencies that may be present. It is always a good idea to get a full blood count so you can see if you are lacking in iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, B12, and any other minerals the doctor is happy to test you on. If you feel your hormonal system is out of balance, then obtain a full hormonal blood test for LH, FSH, oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid and adrenal levels.
This gives the naturopath a very clear indication of what is happening and assists in your detoxification regime.
I often encourage people to have a hair analysis test since this will not only show the levels of minerals in your body, but also the ratios between relevant minerals, including some toxic metals. Great results have been observed over time and people have experienced an increase in energy and clarity of mind, and weight loss often appears much easier.
Anyone exposed to toxic substances of any form, including household cleaners, pesticides, or chemicals used in the work environment will benefit from detoxification. For example, hairdressers who don't wear gloves will absorb chemicals from colouring products and bleach through their skin, which then becomes a toxic overload to their system. Anyone working at a petrol station will be exposed to industrial chemicals - the list goes on.
Detoxification will allow you to eliminate some of the toxic substances that you may have inhaled, ingested or taken into your body via the skin. Even aromatherapists can experience a toxic overload with constant application of essential oils during several daily treatments every week since the oils are very potent and highly concentrated.
It is essential to drink up to 1.5 litres of water a day to flush out toxins. The beauty of the homoeopathic remedies I mentioned earlier is that you can add some of them to this quantity of water each day and drink them during the course of the day - how easy is that! I recommend you see a qualified naturopath who can formulate herbs and homoeopathic remedies with expertise to assess your nutritional requirements, thereby offering you a personalised health regime.
So now is the time to consider a detox, as it is always much easier in summer with the array of tropical fruits, berries, and wide variety of salads and vegetables. Give your body a well earned break from toxins and see how good you feel! You can still eat out, relax and have fun but with more awareness of what you choose to eat!
Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing, meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 16 years experience in natural therapies