The TCM guide to Spring Cleaning: Body – Mind- Soul

Written by Dr Isaac Eliaz, the following protocol outlines the benefits, requirements and phases of a seasonally inspired detox. Based on TCM seasonal shift philosophies, there is no better time to detoxify and eliminate toxins from your body than as the seasons shift in Spring and Autumn. As we are celebrating the first day of Spring in Australia, why not treat your body to a natural, holistic and health cleanse with the guidance of Dr Eliza.

Article via FAIM by Dr. Isaac Eliaz

According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Spring and Fall seasons provide the best opportunities for deeply detoxifying and cleansing the body of harmful impurities that have collected in our organs and tissues over the past months and years. Fundamental philosophies in TCM state that the energies which manifest as seasonal changes in our external environment are also reflected in the body, and spring offers a unique transitional period of time when internal energies rise and expand, providing movement and growth to carry us away from the conservation and stagnancy characterizing the energies of cold winter months prior. This expansive energy helps to move things to the surface and expel some of the body’s burden of toxins in preparation for the high activity of summer, and this energy of upward growth toward the sun means emotions and issues stored deep within the past also have an opportunity to be released. With a little preparation and mindfulness, the forces of renewal and rebirth that are so pervasive during the spring season can be harnessed and used to greatly benefit the body, mind and spirit during a spring cleanse.

In TCM, spring is related to the wood element and to the liver and gall bladder. As such, the liver is the focus of the spring cleanse. As we detoxify the liver, however, we also need to make sure that other parts of the body – especially those involved in secretion and detoxification – are well supported. Otherwise, we may experience toxic backups with symptoms such as constipation, digestive disturbances, respiratory congestion, headaches, and others. With both of these goals in mind, the process of detoxification necessarily includes drainage and elimination. Drainage is the discharge of toxins and waste products from the organs into the system – while elimination is the actual removal of these waste products through the urine, feces, sweat, skin, and respiratory tract.

A spring cleanse can be as short as 3 days, or as long as 21 days, but I find that 10-14 days is optimal for most individuals. You might choose to start with a preparation phase, followed by a middle segment that is more intense, and wind down your cleanse by repeating the preparation phase. But however you plan your detox, a fresh healthy diet with a focus on organic, seasonal vegetables, should always serve as the foundation. Aim to increase your intake of organic green vegetables – whether steamed or raw – while limiting high sugar fruits during this time. And of course, boost your liquid consumption. This can be in the form of water, herbal teas, or vegetable soups or broth.

Another excellent detoxification tool I use is a simple lemon and olive oil drink. This is a particularly good option for your spring cleanse, as the acidity helps to contract your liver, while the olive oil works on you gall bladder. It’s easy to prepare: Simply cut one organic lemon into pieces (seeds removed) and mix with 1.25 cups spring water, along with a tablespoon of olive oil, in the blender. Then strain the contents, but not too much, as you still want some of the pulp to remain – and drink before bed on an empty stomach.

Not only will this support the gentle discharge of toxins from your liver, but many of my patients have found that it improves their sleep as well. (For those with liver issues or a high toxic burden, however, I always recommend that the lemon and olive oil drink be started at a reduced dosage of only 1/4 the general mix.)

Beyond diet, one of the best things that you can do to optimize your cleanse is to exercise. The beautiful spring weather provide us all with ample opportunity of outdoor activity – and a simple 30 minute walk each day can go a long way toward boosting your health, whatever time of year.

See the Cleanse Food Program

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