Time to Detox
Features on detoxing traditionally appear in magazines and colour supplements around the beginning of the year, but this isn't normally the correct time for a body cleanse. Rather than the harsh winter months, it is often better to detox in the spring, when our physiologies are usually stronger and there is an abundance of spring foods such as green leafy vegetables, which are ideal to take as part of a detox.
A "detox" can mean many different things; it may simply consist drinking more water than usual, or it can be a planned diet often involving an element of fasting, modifying what you eat and using certain herbs. For more extreme detox regimes or for people in poor health it may be best to seek the guidance of a professional, such as a medical herbalist.
Signs that you may need to detox include skin problems, fatigue, bad breath, headaches, bloating, frequent colds, urinary tract infections and a thickly coated tongue. If you come into contact with a lot of chemicals (eg tobacco smoke, air pollution), drink a lot of tea and coffee, eat junk food often or don't get much exercise, it may be that you could benefit from a detox. Cleansing your system of toxins in a focused, structured way helps give your body a break from digesting and assimilating food. This brief vacation offers the body a chance to renew itself with the aim of increasing energy levels, feelings of vitality and clarity of mind.
People typically detox for a few days. Longer detoxes require more structure and specific professional advice appropriate to the individual. One example of a detox is a one-day fruit detox. A fruit such as grapes, apples or pears is chosen, and only that fruit is eaten during the detox day, along with two to three litres of water.
Preparation for success
One Day Fruit Detox
Preparation is very important for a successful detox - one that is both effective and kind to your body. It is important that you do not undertake a detox suddenly, nor during a period of stress, illness or overwork. Firstly you need to focus on the efficacy of the body's exit routes for toxins - the bowel, the urinary tract and the lungs, and ensure that each is functioning smoothly. Every day the bowels should move, up to three litres of fresh still water should be drunk and at least 10 minutes exercise should be enjoyed - ideally in the fresh air. For instance, in the days leading up to the fruit fast, eat simple food such as soup and steamed vegetables before removing all food except the fruit, and gradually re-introduce foods back into your diet afterwards. Make time for plenty of rest, relaxation and gentle activity and aim to keep your life as simple and as stress-free as you can during the detox. Abstain from sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, salt-packed foods such as ready meals and crisps, wheat, dairy and animal fat during your detox time.
Couple of days before:
Start cutting down on stimulants, sugar, salt, animal fats, alcohol and any junk or processed foods and increase the intake of fruit and vegetables. Drink 2 to 3 litres of water per day. Take more exercise.
Relax and de-stress. Eat simple meals of steamed vegetables, salads, soups and fruit.
: Choose from fruit such as pears, apples or grapes and eat as much as possible of the chosen fruit throughout the day. Drink 2 to 3 litres of water. Relax and rest.
Have fruit for breakfast and plan to break your detox at lunchtime with a simple meal of fruit and vegetables. Reintroduce heavier foods gradually.
Cleansing plants, supportive herbs
It is the liver that has the task of metabolising the toxins that we encounter on a daily basis, and herbs traditionally supportive of this organ are often employed when undertaking a detox. The seeds of the much-studied
) can be eaten and
Vogel's Milk Thistle Complex
also contains artichoke and dandelion which help the liver metabolise fats. Goldenrod (
) is traditionally used as a kidney tonic and many use
Vogel's Solidago Complex
to assist with the flushing of toxins once the liver has processed them.
There are many other plants which herbalists use to help the body cleanse itself, such as burdock root, yellow dock, red clover, echinacea, cleavers, marigold and alfalfa.
Aloe Vera juice
is also a popular choice as it aids elimination, is rich in nutrients, such as amino acids, and the precursor to B12, which is rare for a plant.
is a traditional "detox" tea as it contains high levels of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and silica and is traditionally used in spring to cleanse the body.
Salus Stinging Nettle Juice
contains the juice from freshly harvested certified organic or wild grown plants, and is a good alternative to picking your own.
See your health professional if you plan to detox, especially if you're on medication, pregnant or have a long-term condition.
Supplement of the Month: Vitamin C
As early as the mid 18th century lemon juice was known to prevent scurvy in long distance sailors, but it wasn't until 1928 that the active substance in the juice was identified as Vitamin C or, to give it its scientific name, ascorbic acid. Now we know that Vitamin C is active throughout the body and has multiple applications, from cardiovascular support and immune health to the formation of collagen (a protein found in connective tissue), allergy management (C appears to be a natural anti-histamine) and eye protection. Many of these applications are due to the fact that Vitamin C is the body's primary water-soluable antioxidant, which means that it helps fight the damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals), especially in those areas which are mostly water, such as inside cells.
Though water-soluble, Vitamin C also helps protect blood lipids (fats) and cholesterol from oxidative damage and owes much of its versatility to the fact that it helps the body recycle other nutrients such as Vitamin E and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant associated with liver health, male fertility and eye health. Current RDA - the EU's Recommended Daily Allowance defined as the minimum needed to avoid a deficiency - is 80mg, but most nutritionists suggest higher doses with regards to specific therapeutic purposes and especially for those exposed to tobacco smoke (eg around 25mg of C is consumed with every cigarette smoked)and other toxins such as industrial and traffic pollution. Unsurprisingly, Vitamin C is one of the most widely supplemented vitamins and is commonly used in multivitamin formulas (see Special Offer below). It comes in many
strengths and forms
, which is a form more suited to those who find C irritates their digestion due to its acidity.
If you needed another excuse not to mow the lawn, you can say you're saving the dandelions. Rich in minerals such as calcium and potassium, the humble
is also a source of vitamins A, C and B, particularly B-complex vitamin choline. The choline content, plus the various bitter substances in dandelion root are thought to be responsible for dandelion's enhancement of bile flow - something herbalists have known for generations. Bile helps break down fats and cholesterol in the small intestine, and for this reason alone dandelion is often a popular choice for those looking to control their weight and aid detoxification.
Herb of the Month: Dandelion
Dandelion also has a long history as a diuretic - indeed, its French name is
, which means 'wet the bed'. It is the leaves which are normally used as a diuretic. Medical herbalists normally use
and dandelion leaf differently according to the different properties of parts of the plant, but some commercially available products often have both parts, such as Vogel's fresh herb tincture. Salus produces a
fresh Dandelion Juice
Symingtons Dandelion Coffee
(made from roasted roots) is a long-standing favourite for many looking for a nutrious, caffeine-free alternative to coffee. And if you really don't want to mow that lawn, try picking the young leaves of the plant, washing them and adding them to salads. Pick them now in the spring when they aren't as bitter, though some people quite like the older leaves sauted like spinach.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, are on any medication or have a medical condition, always consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
Offer of the Month: 20% Off Solgar Multivitamins
20% Off Solgar Multivitamins throughout April both instore and
Offer includes favourites such as high potency VM-75, multi-nutrient complex V2000 and Solgar's Advanced Antioxidant Formula.
In March, Woodland Herbs celebrated 10 years of trading with two days of festivities. A big thank you to everyone who joined us and sent us their best wishes. We aim to be around for the next 10 years and thank you for your continued support.
Cautions and Contraindications:
This newsletter does not substitute the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend you consult your GP or Medical Herbalist before self-treating with herbs and/or supplements.