Dr Sarah Brewer in her book, Total Detox Plan says, “Detox helps to rid the body of potentially harmful chemicals, as well as improving the function of important elimination organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestinal tract and skin. It is especially vital for people under stress, or those who feel tired all the time, run down, have a low immunity to illness, or a tendency towards allergies, headaches, dry itchy skin, increased mucus production and poor concentration.”|
Detoxification is also not about following a program for a period and then forgetting about it, it should become a practice and to get benefits of this self-cleansing method.
How to Detox
Need a detox, you can either go to any of the wellness centers or practice it at home. A detox program can last from three days to three weeks. Most naturopaths recommend biannual serious cleansing ritual fortified with small detox programs every month. The main aim in detox is to reduce your toxin intake. That means you need to swear of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, refined sugar, too much salt and artificial preservatives. This is achieved through simple dietary changes. Secondly you need to flush out existing deposition of toxins in your body through various toxin elimination therapies that are organic and follow tenets of ayurveda mostly.
Dr Sarah Brewer explains “Detox involves starting a long term program to rid your body of toxins through relatively simple dietary changes. After deciding on the dietary and internal cleansing supplements for detoxification, you must boost the program with some therapies.” Some of the popular therapies include body brushing, body massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, meditation and yoga and colonic irrigation for purging. A sauna or a steam room session is also good for some people to get rid of toxins through excessive sweating. “Detox brings with it a number of desirable benefits including improved health and immunity, mental clarity, extra energy and vitality,” she adds in her book.
However before you get onto a full-fledged detoxification plan, you can get your body ready with an easy to follow cleansing routine.
Instead of your regular morning tea or coffee, start the day with a glass of warm water with a dash of lemon juice and honey. Whenever you feel a craving for tea or coffee, substitute it with a glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice. Or go for herbal tea like chamomile. Try to drink at least two litres of water throughout the day. The week that you follow the detox routine, avoid milk and dairy products, fried food as well as wheat-based food and butter, margarine or desi ghee for cooking. Use olive oil or groundnut oil. Go for steamed or baked vegetables. Go easy on using oil in your food.
Besides your dietary changes, add light yoga movements and meditation to bring a sense of calm to yourself. According to Shahnaz Husain, a leading aesthetician, yoga along with proper breathing exercises benefits the over all health of the body by cleansing accumulated wastes and toxins. She adds that daily practice of proper breathing can help you get rid of problems like insomnia, loss of appetite and poor circulation. On the beauty front you can add dry body brushing to your pre-bathing ritual. Says Blossom Kochhar, leading aromatherapist and MD, Pivot Point, “Body brushing enhances the blood circulation below the skin which in turn helps to cast off toxins like lactic acid, carbon dioxide and other chemicals.”
Various Detox Therapies
When eliminating toxins from your body you need to follow both internal and external cleansing regimes. Listed here are few therapies and cleansing routines that are prescribed in the detox centres that you can follow at your home.
· Juice Fasting: Fasting has been one of the oldest methods followed by our ancestors for cleaning our bodies from the inside. This actually allows your digestive tract to take rest and draw and flush out stored toxins. While earlier naturopaths advised water only fasting. But it was found out that this often this led to toxin overload and harmed body’s natural metabolism. That is why most doctors today advice you to opt for fresh fruit and vegetable juice fasting. Generally single or two fruit or vegetable juice are recommended, which should be taken throughout the day in small quantities. Shahnaz Husain advocates once a week juice fasting with fruits like orange, apple, pineapple, carrots, tomato and lemon.
· Diet: While fasting is used for faster detoxification. But if you cannot get by the day without a solid meal, then mono diet is another way to detox. In this form of diet you are supposed to eat just one form of food, barring wheat, heavy spices and too much salt. This can be combined with your juice fasting. Raw, steamed, boiled or lightly baked vegetables, along with boiled potatoes or little rice is good way to get into mono diet. However try to eat just one meal a day to help detox faster.
· Detox Breathing and Meditation: Says Jane Alexander in her book The Weekend Healer, “This powerful breathing exercise will help you eliminate the toxins you are releasing and strengthen and tone your entire system.” Start your breathing exercise by inhaling slowly and deeply. Don't overstrain in any way. Then exhale abruptly, as if you are sneezing. While you do so, your abdomen flatten naturally. Continue this cycle for as long as you feel comfortable. As it takes quite a lot of energy, in the beginning you may not be able to manage more than a minute. But practice regularly even when you are not following any detox program. Another way to purify your mind is to meditate at the beginning and end of each day. This will release your stress and anxiety.
· Exercise: Yoga and light aerobic exercises are often recommended during a detox program. Not only they help toning your body but they also help you sweat. And naturally the more you sweat the more toxins you are secreting out from your body. Most naturopaths recommend twenty minutes of exercise with fluid movements for the cleansing routine to be effective.
· Dry Skin Brushing: Regular skin brushing helps in stimulating your lymphatic system as well as get rid of dead skin cells. This imparts a natural glow to your skin. Spend 5 to ten minutes every day in skin brushing before your bath. Using long smooth strokes brush your feet, toes and soles and then the front and back of your legs. Always brush upwards and towards the groin. Then move on to brushing your buttocks and lower back, then go to your hands and arms. Brush across your shoulders. Use downward strokes to brush your chest and back of your neck. Finish off with brushing your abdomen and stomach area using circular clockwise action. Always use a long handled, natural bristle brush for this or a natural loofah.
· Massage: A good body massage is a great way of not just relaxing but activates the lymph glands and allows proper blood and lymph circulation. While the ideal would be to go for some massage treatment, but you can even do it at home. However in case of massaging, you should always start with your shoulders, going to arms and hands, torso and finishing off at the legs. A true detox massage uses mostly kneading and tapping actions. Remember to use long strokes when massaging. However do not use twisting action.
· Aromatherapy: The essential oils used in aromatherapy are very effective in releasing toxins from your body. You can use few drops of essential oil like fennel, juniper, geranium, rosemary, chamomile, and pine. Any of these oils can be used either with your massage oil or in your bath along with Epsom salt for a relaxing and rejuvenating effect.
Side Effects of Detox
Quite often when you begin your toxin elimination routine, you may be beset with few external sign of internal detoxification. These problems vanish after a day or two. In the first two days of starting your program you might get headaches and feel more cold than usual. But do not worry. These are signs that your body has started its cleansing process. You feel cold as your body starts adjusting to the lesser amount of food that you are eating. However you will feel better by the third day of your program. As part of caffeine withdrawal symptom you might feel more irritable than usual, but then again this is just a passing phase. Quite often but not necessarily always you might notice little red rashes or even full-blown pimples. This is also another way that our body throws out toxins. Also during this phase you might get stronger body odour, bad breath and coating on the tongue. As you know that skin is our biggest excretory organ, so stronger smelling sweat means better flushing of the toxins. One of the best ways to beat this problem is frequent body and mouth washes. However this generally goes away by then end of first week of your program. You may even feel this less in your subsequent detox programs.