This month sees the arrival of the spring equinox on the 20th March. The spring equinox is the most powerful time of the year to detox our bodies.
The spring equinox is the point in the year at which the Earth’s axis begins to tilt towards the sun. It is the point where we move from the dark into the light and from the winter into the spring. We see signs of renewed life all around us as a result of the increased warmth and light, don’t we?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), at the time of the spring equinox the alignment of the planets causes our energy to switch from hibernation state to a more open energy that allows us to cleanse.
At the spring equinox we are also moving into the wood element, according to Chinese medicine, which is all about the liver. It’s a great time to cleanse our liver that works so hard for us every day. This liver is also the planner of the body – it governs purpose and vision.
So how can we make the most of this forthcoming opportunity to set us up for our plans for health and wellbeing for the year ahead? Well here are five tips to get you on your way for your detox this Spring Equinox!
Let your body detox through symptoms
Around the time of the forthcoming equinox it is possible that our bodies will try to cleanse more. This could take the form of rashes, excess mucus production masquerading as a cold, vomiting or diarrhoea for example. If we let our bodies cleanse without suppressing the symptoms, we can often feel better than before we started!
What’s the best way to do so? Number one is rest! How many of us actually do this when we are ill? It’s not acceptable in our fast-paced modern society to rest when you have “just a cold” for example. But our bodies need to conserve energy to cleanse themselves of anything unwanted, so let’s give them a fighting chance.
Fresh air, daylight and hydration are also important when we are trying to cleanse. If you are resting in bed, open the window so that you have a flow of fresh air coming into the room. And for your daylight prescription, 20 minutes a day of daylight straight into the retinas can be invaluable.
We hear the phrase, “feed a cold, starve a fever” don’t we? But the phrase is actually, “If you feed a cold, you’ll have to starve a fever.” Digestion takes energy and if we are not feeling like eating at that time, we should listen to our bodies – they are trying to conserve energy for healing. Give the body that energy by resting, hydrating and either fasting or keeping our diet as simple and as liquid as possible. This will allow the body the energy it needs to heal more rapidly and effectively.
Hydration is the foundation for detoxification
We cannot cleanse effectively if we are dehydrated. Hydration is essential for detoxification. It allows waste to exit our cells. It’s also essential for the flow of lymph which helps to filter unwanted substances from the blood. It aids the circulation of the blood which takes waste away from our cells and brings nutrients and oxygen to them. It allows us to form urine for excretion of unwanted substances and to eliminate toxins via our bowels. It allows us to take in nutrients from our food.
Pure water is essential to every single cleansing process in our bodies. But I rarely meet people who are taking in 2 litres of plain, still, pure water on a consistent daily basis. If this resonates with you, use this month to start building up your hydration levels in line with the advice in my blog on hydration.
Using your diet to detox
Use this month to work on moving away from ready-made processed foods and towards fresh and whole foods. Maybe thinking about switching to organic fruit and vegetables that are free from toxic pesticides. Also have a think about moving to organic meat. Do we want those nasty toxic substances that go into non-organically produced meats’ feed inside us, such as antibiotic residues which we know can destroy our gut flora? The same applies for eggs – maybe use this month to switch to organic eggs too. Have a think about the source of your fish – is it Wild Alaskan, from the least polluted waters, or is it full of mercury residue?
If you are vegan or vegetarian think about consuming more wholefoods, such as freshly prepared shortgrain brown rice or pulses. It can be easy to have an unhealthy vegan or vegetarian diet that is full of processed or microwaveable foods.
All of us will do well to stop using the microwave. Microwaves change the structure of whatever we put in them to the point where our bodies don’t recognise it as food or drink, rather as a toxin that we need to get rid of.
Have a think about whether you have any foods in your diet that are stressful to the body such as gluten and dairy, or toxic to our bodies such as damaged fats, sugar or salt.
The change of the seasons is also a time to think about eating local and seasonal produce. Our bodies need different foods in the autumn and winter than they do in the spring and summer.
Fasting for detoxification
Fasting is not suitable in pregnancy or breast feeding, for people with eating disorders, for diabetics or people with kidney failure unless under supervision, for people on medication unless your prescribing physician states that you can stop your medication for the duration of the fast, nor for those people who are very weak, very depleted in energy or significantly underweight.
If you are not in any of these categories, you could fast for 1-3 days without supervision over the spring equinox. If you are a beginner to fasting and haven’t got a clean diet already, you might want to think about a simple fast like a mono fast, where you eat only one food for a day.
A shortgrain brown rice fast is a nice one for beginners. If you can’t bear the thought of just eating plain shortgrain brown rice for a day you could add some good quality cold-pressed, dark glass bottled, organic extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon for flavour (which technically isn’t a mono fast, but whatever gets you through the day!). Use a pound of dried organic shortgrain brown rice, soak it in some filtered water for around 8 hours and then cook it well in plenty of filtered water for an optimal hydrating effect. Refrigerate and eat hot throughout the day.
You could also choose a single vegetable or fruit (although if you have candida or blood sugar issues you might want to stay away from a fruit fast because of the amount of fructose it will introduce). You want about 3 pounds in weight of the one fruit or vegetable, spread throughout the day. Grapefruit is a great choice as it helps the liver to detoxify effectively. Other ideas include lightly steamed (3-4 minutes) broccoli, carrots, apples, pears or grapes.
Make sure whatever you choose is organic. Also eat in a state of calm with no distractions and chew your food well to maximise digestion so that more of your energy can go towards cleansing instead of trying to digest.
Other options include juice fasting and water fasting for those of you who already have a clean diet and are ready to really cleanse! I recommend that water fasts are done for 24 hours unless under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist. For a juice fast I recommend 1 or 3 days without supervision. When you give the body the chance to cleanse, you can get all sorts of reactions as it lets go of those toxins.
If you are doing a 1 day fast you will need to do 2 days beforehand to walk into the fast and 2 days afterwards to walk out of the fast. This means eating less protein rich foods, cutting out animal produce and processed foods, eating more wholefoods (so no refined carbohydrates like white rice or white pasta) and increasing your intake of raw fruit and vegetables during that time. If you are doing a 3 day fast you will need a three day walk in and out.
Ideally you want the day before and after your fast to be a day where you are eating only raw fruits and vegetables if you are doing a juice or water fast. Breaking a fast with heavy meals can shock the body, leading to a stress response, and stop the cleanse that you have worked so hard to produce!
Natural detox techniques and aids
Do some detoxification techniques to aid elimination whilst on a fast. If you start to allow your cells to cleanse but you are not excreting your waste efficiently, you can do more harm than good and feel dreadful. Enemas and castor oil packs are two naturopathic techniques that offer a great way to ensure that the waste gets out of the body.
Having a gentle stroll in nature or some yoga can help to move your lymph, enabling those toxins from your cells to move and be processed by your liver. A pinch of cayenne pepper in some freshly squeezed lemon or lime can help to move circulation to ensure that your blood is getting those toxins from lymph into liver for elimination.
The other thing is to rest! If we aren’t resting we are thwarting the bodies attempt to use its energy to get those toxins out. Give yourself time off if possible whilst you cleanse over the equinox, perhaps even go away somewhere peaceful.
And remember that just the sight and smell of food can stimulate digestion even if we aren’t eating, so it’s not a great time to socialise around food or be cooking for family so bulk cook beforehand if you have to cook for the rest of the family so that you aren’t having to cook during your fast.
With under three weeks to go until the biggest cleanse of the year, preparation is key to making the most out of this opportunity to give our bodies a really good spring cleanse!