We don’t hesitate to change the oil in our cars every 3,000 miles. Failure to do this simple maintenance routine can destroy the engine or shorten the life of the car. For the human body, it’s just as important to keep it tuned up through regular purification or detox programs.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient East Indian science of maintaining health, our bodies are divine vehicles that need seasonal “oil changes” to maintain properly running systems. When the body is thrown out of balance because of a crazy schedule, harsh diet, or emotional challenges, the digestive system is compromised and toxins called ama are produced. Without this timely purification, all sorts of symptoms can set in, including fatigue, headaches, skin problems, colds, allergies, mental fog, muscular aches, and depression.
Biologically, nature supports cleansing the body in the spring. When the warm weather melts the snow, this same warmth also opens the channels in the body, allowing impurities to flow out. But the volume of toxins may be so great that the channels of the body become clogged.
According to Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, a leading authority on Ayurvedic medicine, detoxification is multifaceted. It means not just isolating the physical body, but also taking the person’s mental and emotional state into account. Because of this, it is important to have some guidance and support from an experienced health professional.
Dr. Mishra points out that there are many levels of toxins in the body. “I am seeing more damage from detoxification than from the actual toxins,” he says. In addition to ama, which clogs the nervous system, Dr. Mishra says there is also something called amavisha—ama that begins to move to deeper tissues of the body, causing disease; garvisha—ama from ingestion of heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics; and Indravajrabhjenya Visha—electromagnetic toxins from computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, and electrical overload.
Many clinics use heavy castor oil and senna for detoxification, but according to Dr. Mishra, this extensive purging causes damage to the system. “There is a saying in North America: ‘no pain, no gain.’ These purgatives are like Drano to the colon, yet many believe it is good for them. In terms of purification, this is absolutely false,” he says.
Whenever highly acidic toxins like amavisha and garvisha are released from the liver and fat tissues, they can destroy the friendly bacteria in the colon. In addition, if the channels are blocked, the toxins are reabsorbed back into the liver and colon, creating more problems.
“Detoxification should be holistic in nature,” says Dr. Mishra, “not just focused on one aspect. It takes a special nutritional program toprepare the body for detoxification to ensure the channels of elimination are not damaged. We gradually clean the intestinal walls a little biteach day until gradually you bind the toxins.”
Four-Week Spring Detox
The following is a gentle detoxification procedure from Dr. Mishra. It opens all large and small circulatory channels, evacuates unwanted material, rejuvenates the physiology, and relaxes one mentally and emotionally.
Drink 1 liter of Spice Water each day. This clears out deposits of amafrom deep within the tissues and cells without harming the channels.It also helps to reduce acidity.
Boil 2 quarts of water and pour into a thermos. Add:
1/4 teaspoon marshmallow root (not the confection)
1/8 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 pinch deglycerized licorice
1/8 teaspoon Indian sasparilla
1 whole clove (crushed)
2 mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon of the herb Arjunaan (optional, for emotional support)
Let the spices and herbs steep for 30 minutes. Drink 1/2 cup of the water eachour throughout the day. Drink warm or room temperature. Don’t eat thspices. Discard after 6:00 p.m.
Make Spice Water fresh each day.
Include Detox Soup in your lunchtime meal.
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
1/4 cup white daikon root
1 cup zucchini or yellow squash
1 tablespoon whole organic coriander
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaf
1/8 teaspoon kalonji seeds (optional, or substitute fennel)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 quart pure water
Salt to taste
Fresh lime juice
Gently boil all ingredients, except the lime juice, to a well-cooked consistency. Remove from heat and squeeze lime into the soup. Eat only at lunch time.
Drink this digestive beverage between lunch and dinner using the following proportions.
40 percent fresh papaya
40 percent fresh sweet pineapple
20 percent soaked prunes or figs
Add a little water and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.
Triphala is a highly regarded supplement that you can take to rid the body of ama. You can take it for several months—or for a lifetime. Take 1 or 2 tablets at nighttime with a glass of warm water.
Clay to Remove Impurities
Apply a pure clay such as Moor, green French, or Ayurvedic to the skin directly above your liver for five minutes a day (morning only), then rinse off in the shower. The clay draws out impurities. You can also apply clay all over your body for a total mind-body rejuvenation.
During this time, avoid heavy, cold, salty, and oily foods, such as ice cream, cheese, fried foods, sugar, cold yogurt, and tofu. Include coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fennel in your diet, along with clarified butter or ghee. Favor fresh fruits, organic vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and sprouted almonds. If you need caffeine, green tea is recommended.
Exercise each day, and avoid daytime sleep.
Panchakarma (an intensive Ayurvedic detoxification and elimination treatment) is recommended only when your pH level is at least 6.5. Then the body can safely do a deeper level of cleansing. The above tips should help prepare for it.
Bonita Carol is a licensed massage therapist and certified panchakarma technician.