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I wish I could say that spring was springing here in Southern Ontario but as I write this most of the province is preparing for yet another brutal winter storm. And while the weather refuses to cooperate we are forging forward with our detox plans.

It’s been a long time since my husband and I embarked on a spring cleanse. Before the arrival of our son we diligently completed one every spring and felt amazing afterwards. Since his arrival life has become a bit more hectic/stressful and we’ve become far more dependent on substances like caffeine and sugar (started as basic survival and morphed into addiction). It wasn’t until this year that we both felt “ready” to take on this challenge again.

For many people spring is the time of year that to ditch clutter, clean house and be rid of things that no longer serve us. This urge and concept extends outside the home when we decide to undertake an internal spring cleaning. In many traditional healing system spring is the time for renewal after a sluggish and long winter. We shed some pounds, ditch our comfort foods and get moving again.

I am not going to go into the explanations and details of what exactly a cleanse is and how our bodies detoxify. I wrote a blog post on that a while back so I highly encourage you to check it out.

Our Spring Detox Plan- Herbs, Food and Lifestyle

Signs You Need a Detox

You’re human. Okay I’m joking, but also not really. As inhabitants of this planet we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis through our food, water, air, household  and personal care products, furniture and other household items (like carpets, mattresses, paints etc).

Unfortunately we live in a toxic soup where our bodies are constantly being bombarded with off-gassing chemicals, endocrine disrupters, pesticides, pollution, heavy metals and so much more. Seriously the list seems never-ending. Every day I read more and more articles like this one and I’ve come to the conclusion that none of us are “safe” from these substances. Unless you live remotely, have built/made everything in your house yourself and don’t come in contact with society, you are being exposed.

All kidding aside, there is a list of symptoms that strongly suggest that you could benefit from a detox this spring.

  • fatigue
  • mental fatigue (brain fog)
  • difficulty concentrating/focusing
  • struggles with mental illness (depression, anxiety etc)
  • moodiness
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches/pains
  • joint pain
  • lowered immunity (sick frequently or for long periods of time)
  • headaches
  • digestive upset (bloating, gas, indigestion) on a regular basis
  • acne, psoriasis, rosacea, itchy skin
  • cravings (addictions to sugar, caffeine, alcohol, treats)
  • bowel movement issues (constipation/diarrhea)
  • difficult losing weight
  • bad breath and/or body odor

So remember when I joked about needing a detox because you’re human? Now you can see what I’m talking about. I would be hard pressed to find a single person that doesn’t have at least one of these symptoms if not multiple. Personally I can check off at least five of the above.

 

Food Choices

Beets

Generally speaking you will want to eliminate all foods that are difficult to digest, are potential allergens, highly processed and/or potential toxin sources. This is a list of what we are eliminating/modifying for our spring cleanse.

  • gluten containing grains
  • dairy products
  • soy and soy containing products
  • sugar (all forms)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • processed foods
  • high glycemic index foods (ie potatoes)

 

In addition to this we will be focusing on:

  • increasing consumption of dark green leafy vegetables
  • increasing consumption of water (with lemon juice added)
  • increasing consumption of nourishing herbal infusions
  • healthy probiotic rich foods
    • kombucha (up to 1/2 cup daily)
    • coconut milk kefir (instead of my usual milk kefir)
  • oil pulling each morning

 

When you are doing your shopping ensure you check the ingredients list. Things like barbecue sauce seem safe until you read the labels and realize they are about 1/3 sugar! Soy sneaks into EVERYTHING to always ensure your meat products don’t contain soy. As an interesting aside, soy sensitives/allergies are on the rise because of it’s overuse in processed foods

A note about coffee… this can be a hard one to give up. It will be for me as I have quickly become accustomed to a couple of cups a day. But caffeine drastically reduces nutrient absorption so it needs to go; at least for a while. Kombucha in small amounts (1/4-1/2 cup maximum) is okay.

 

Herbs

You will always find health practitioners that are argue that our bodies are capable of eliminating waste all by themselves and you don’t need herbs to support this process. While that is true to some extent, I believe that during a time when the body is trying to eliminate a toxin heavy load that it could use a bit of extra support. You will be undertaking massive food changes during this time so why not make the detoxification process as efficient as possible? Herbs can help you do that.

It should also be mentioned that many of the toxins we are exposed too are deeply rooted in our bodies and are not easy to eliminate. In fact, after a full and successful detox you will not be completely “toxin free”. I believe that the use of herbs will make the process more efficient and help you to eliminate a broader range of toxins. Plus your organs of elimination (liver, intestines, gall bladder, lymphatic system etc) will be supported by the herbs so the job of eliminating doesn’t take a negative toll on them.

Goldenrod

Basic Herbal Formula

  • Depuratives – 3-5 herbs
  • Lymphatics – 1-2 herbs
  • Diuretics – 1-2 herbs
  • Bitters – 1-2 herbs
  • Warming herb – 1 herb

In general when I formulate I like to use 4-5 herbs (usually 5) in my tinctures/tea blends. With this in mind my goal is to always choose herbs that cover more than one category. For example pick a herb that is a diuretic, lymphatic and depurative. This makes for efficient formulating.

Herb Suggestions

General Depuratives

  • Burdock root (Arctium spp.)
  • Elecampange root (Inula helenium)
  • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus)
  • Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Soapwort (Saoponaria officinalis)

 

Cholagogues/Bitters*

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)*
  • Burdock root (Arctium spp.)
  • Elecampange root (Inula helenium)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)*
  • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus
  • Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)*
  • Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Centaury (Centaurium erythraea)*
  • Boneset (Eupatorium perforliatum)*
  • Bugleweed (Lycopus americanus)*
  • White horehound (Marrubium vulgare)*
  • Gentian (Gentiana lutea)

 

Yarrow

 

Diuretics 

  • Queen Anne’s Lace herb/root (Daucus carota)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Elecampange root (Inula helenium)
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)
  • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus
  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Yellow bedstraw (Galium verum)
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria
  • Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
  • New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
  • Yellow/White sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis/alba)
  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Dandelion leaf/flower (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
  • Burdock root (Arctium spp.)

 

Lymphatics 

  • Horsetail (Equisetum vulgare)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Boneset root (Eupatorium perforliatum)
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)
  • Yellow bedstraw (Galium verum)
  • Elecampange root (Inula helenium)
  • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus
  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)
  • Yellow/White sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis/alba)
  • Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
  • Stinging nettle herb (Urtica dioica)
  • Burdock root (Arctium spp.)

 

Warming Herbs

The amount of warming herb you will use will vastly differ depending on your choice of plant. For example turmeric isn’t nearly as pungent as cayenne. Be cautious that you don’t add too much heat. My favourite warming combination is turmeric (10%) and ginger (5%). Cayenne can be used up to 2% but most folks only need 1%. Garlic is a delightful option but it WILL take over the flavour of your entire tincture (be forewarned friends).

  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale

 

Our Formula

While I wish I had an abundance of all of these herbs in stock in my herbal clinic, truth is I just don’t. Sometimes you have to work with what you have, yes?

  • Dandelion root – 20%
  • Goldenrod – 20%
  • Stinging nettle – 20%
  • Red clover – 18%
  • Plantain – 20%
  • Cayenne – 2%

 

You can follow my progress during this cleanse/detox on both Facebook and Instagram. If anyone else is planning on detoxing this spring email me so we can help support each other through this!

Happy cleansing,

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