Whew! I am currently on day six of the one week cleanse. I am feeling good. A little on the slow side today, but that is a natural side effect of the body doing so much janitorial work on the inside. I have been strictly following the brown rice and steamed vegetable diet – no fat, minimal protein, not even salt or pepper. On one hand, this diet makes cooking a snap: you don’t have to agonize over what to have at your next meal, but one soon realizes that the pleasures associated with cooking – experimenting with foods and flavours, discovering new herbs and spices, trying new methods of preparation, fall by the wayside.
However, the pros seem to outweigh the cons: I am extremely clear-headed, calm, grounded, and have a surprising amount of energy for someone who is consuming less than 500 calories a day. Not to say that it is at all a sustainable way of living. It would be impossible to obtain all of the nutrients that the body requires in so few calories, but once in a while the body does miraculous things when it gets a break from digesting the regular amount of food we consume everyday.
I thought in addition to my simple diet, I would throw a few herbs in to compliment and assist my organs in clearing out the sludgy cobwebs. And since I have never really talked about herbs and herbal medicine, I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity!
There are a wide variety of herbs that have a stimulating, and therefore beneficial effect on our major detoxification organs: the liver and the gastrointestinal tract. The liver plays a key role in detoxification because it neutralizes chemicals from the external environment, filters the blood, manufactures bile, and goes through a variety of enzymatic processes to both break down, and create, compounds necessary for human life — cholesterol (the “good” kind), glutathione, and various hormones. The digestive system, to a large extent, controls what is absorbed from the food we eat and what is excreted once our food has been broken down and utilized, respectively. Keeping our digestive system happy and functioning as it should, improves our ability to push the garbage out of our systems – critical at all times to our health, but especially when cleansing!
These herbs can be purchased at your local health food store for less than the cost of those “detox kits” in fancy boxes, and lasts twice as long. If you cannot find everything on this list, simply use the ones available to you, keeping them in the amounts prescribed below. (Ensure that the herbs you are using are certified organic – you don’t want to be adding pesticides and chemical fertilizers into your super clean bod!)
You may find it helpful to bring a measuring spoon with you to the store so that all you have to do when you get home is dump all the bags into a container and mix. Simply combine all herbs in proportions listed. Store tightly covered in a glass jar(s) in a cool, dry place away from direct light.
4 Tbs dandelion leaf (kidneys)
3 Tbs dandelion root (liver, gallbladder)
2 Tbs burdock root (blood, liver, gallbladder)
3 Tbs milkthistle seed, crushed (liver, gallbladder)
3 Tbs cleavers (lymph, kidneys)
4 Tbs lemon balm (digestive tonic, nervine)
4 Tbs pau d’arco (blood, parasites)
4 Tbs horsetail (kidneys, skin)
5 Tbs red clover (blood)
2 Tbs chickweed (lymph, colon)
2 Tbs angelica root (liver, digestive tonic)
3 Tbs yarrow herb (liver, gallbladder, blood, gen. tonic)
5 Tbs nettle leaf (kidneys, blood, general tonic, nutritive)
4 Tbs plantain (skin, lungs, gastric system, internal healer, antiseptic)
To make tea: bring one and a half cups spring or distilled water to light simmer on stove (water should be moving but not bubbling). Use a non-metal pot if possible. Add two teaspoons of mixture and let simmer for about 10 minutes, keeping lid on pot. Strain into cup.
Whatever formula you use, the tea should be taken between meals. Drink one cup of detox tea per day for 3 days, then 2 cups per day for one week, then 2 -3 cups per day until mixture is finished.
Now I know what you’re thinking: this stuff must taste like the bottom of a lake. But I would choose to compare it to hay. It is certainly “earthy”, but by no means unpalatable. I kind of like, actually.
You can drink this concoction during a cleanse like the one I mentioned in my last post, or while you are eating a “normal diet”, but it is advisable to limit or avoid sugar, dairy, processed foods, fatty foods, flour and caffeine. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, lean protein foods (beans, lentils, fish, organic chicken, nuts), whole grains and healthy oils (flax, olive, hemp or a combination). Remember to drink plenty of water everyday to help flush your system of the toxins you are liberating from every cell.
Which reminds me…it’s time for another cup!
Tea Recipe by: Peter Quenter, herbalist and homeopath.