Friday starts our fall Detoxification, and I’m reminded that not everyone really understands what this is all about and why in the world we choose to do this a few times a year. So here is both a reminder to get on board if you want to join us (get your “stuff” by Thursday at the latest) and an explanation…..
The liver and kidneys break down “toxic” chemicals that are in us and then the kidneys and gi tract help eliminate those now-broken-down chemicals. (Our saliva, tears and sweat also help eliminate a little, but it’s comparatively a small amount). Chemicals of all sorts get disposed of this way; hormones, neurotransmitters, pesticides, you name it.
Most traditional healing systems recommend doing supportive cleanses at least a few times a year to help the body do it’s job. These have been shown to improve immune system function, relieve the body burden of inflammation, improve brain function and generally help you feel back in balance. If we were in India (or even Edison NJ!) we could revel in 3 weeks of traditional panchakarma, which is a healing/detoxification process that includes special diet, special exercises, personally-designed oil massages, dry skin brushing, enemas and purgatives. It’s a full time job!
Instead, we’ll be doing a 10 day elimination diet aided by a medical food that is designed to improve the liver’s function. If you’re thinking you might be having sensitivities to foods (gas, bloating, IBS-type symptoms), this short elimination might help you figure out what the culprit is. If you’re thinking you’re drinking too much coffee or alcohol, and need to slow yourself down, this is a great way to start, since you’ll be off them for the duration of the detox. (Don’t panic: green tea is still approved, so you don’t have to survive a major headache from withdrawal!)
If you’ll be joining us, take this week to prepare: make sure you have plenty of fresh veggies on hand, along with some interesting spices and herbs, especially turmeric, fennel and cinnamon–these aid in digestion and will help the detox. Load up on garlic and onions, as they are also helpful. Plan on making beans and lentils. Most importantly, get all the greens and cruciferous veggies you can lay your hands on, as these are a big part of the eating plan half way through the detox. Don’t forget fall squashes; they’ll help fill you up on veggie-only days (delicata for breakfast, yum!).
Start drinking more water during this week, to get yourself ready. The kidneys flush out the breakdown products, but they need fluid to do it. If you’re used to running around half-dehydrated, as many of us do, drinking enough during the detox will be a challenge. Practice now!
And this fall, I’m going to suggest that we all add a daily practice to our detox. I learned about this first from an older patient of mine, and then had the opportunity to practice it in my favorite yoga class. It’s a system of “youthing” called the Five Tibetan Rites. Supposedly, Tibetan llamas (the people, not the animals!) do these exercises daily; they taught them to a British military guy who brought them back to the West. What I know is that my older patient (in her 80’s) has been doing them most days for 30 years, and she’s doing great!
The movements are easy, and best done slowly. Only takes maybe 15 minutes to do them all. Don’t do more than 21 repetitions of each. For specific info, go to these sites:
- For a free download of a poster so you don’t forget which is next: click here
- For a more detailed print version, including some variations, click here Don’t get too involved with the warnings at the beginning of this document; the diagrams you want to see are at the end.
- For a video explanation and demonstration, click here
I’m hoping we’ll each do these exercises each day of the detox. They will help boost our immune capacity, rev up any flagging energy, and mostly just help set us up with a quick, easy movement practice that we can all do regularly from here on!
One last note: if you’re wondering about doing the detox cause you’ll be busy, or whatever, just know this: I’m still going to do it despite the fact that I’ll be traveling the final few days. I’ll be teaching in CA, and will be attending a reception for faculty during day 8 of the detox! The good news is that it’s with a bunch of Functional Medicine docs, so the food will still be something I can eat; just need to steer clear of the bar….Now just have to plan what to take on the airplane!
So happy Fall Equinox, and here’s to the start of MIB’s 9th year!