It's been a long spring ... but what an opportunity for self care! I've written a series of posts about building a detox plan that works for you ... reducing the sources of chemicals, the importance of creating a strong nutritional foundation, and herbs that help your body process waste. The last piece requires a bit of contortion ... of both the mind and body.
Detoxification and elimination pathways work best when we are relaxed. Under stress, our bodies prioritize more "vital" functions required for running from or fighting threats - even if those modern threats are more like deadlines or mortgage payments. In order to encourage detoxification, it is important to take a pause from the hectic pace of many of our lives, even for a moment or two. This can look like 15 minutes of yoga in the morning (check out https://www.doyogawithme.com/ for an amazing collection of videos), ten seconds of focused breathing each hour (set a timer!), or taking a lunch-time or after-dinner walk. Switching to "rest and digest" mode during meals and snacks (ie. not eating on the fly, taking a moment to express gratitude for the food, being mindful of the experience of eating) will help promote not only good digestion, but also better detoxification ... it's all part of the same system!
Waste products are eliminated from our body through a variety of steps. Fluid from between cells is picked up by the lymphatic system and ultimately returned to the blood stream. Blood is filtered predominantly by the liver and kidneys, where waste products are processed and sent to the organs of elimination - primarily the bladder and the colon. We also eliminate through sweat, lungs, saliva, tears, even menstrual fluid. Anything we can do to encourage the movement of lymph, the circulation of blood, and the healthy functioning of all the organs of elimination, the better! Here are some options ... during a focused detox, it's a good idea to do at least one of these every day:
1. Dry Skin Brushing: Purchase a natural fiber brush or loofah sponge. Each morning after rising brush your entire skin surface very lightly with the brush/sponge. Making small circles, and moving always towards the heart, try to cover as much of your body as you can, including the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, your neck and belly. Have a loved one do your back! The entire exercise should take no more than one minute. The goal is less to exfoliate, and more to stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluids and blood.
2. Alternating Showers: Generally shower in slightly warm water, as opposed to hot, in order to decrease dehydration due to open pores. At the end of your shower, however, increase the water temperature so that it is hot, but bearable for 3 minutes. Finish your shower at a temperature that is as cold as possible, but bearable for 1 minute. During the hot and cold phases, direct the stream of water at the middle of your back. You can repeat the alternation ... but always end with cold!
3. Home Constitutional Hydrotherapy: Take a hot bath (you can include Epsom salts). After exiting the bath, wrap your entire torso in a sheet soaked in cold water → it should be as cold as you can stand it, and wrung out so it is not dripping. Go to bed under warm blankets; stay well wrapped up until you are warm.
4. Saunas: Sit in a sauna for 15 minutes, or as long as it takes to develop a fluid sweat. Take a cold plunge bath or brief shower, then re-enter the sauna. Do up to four cycles, always finishing with cold. Make sure to consume plenty of water throughout.
5. Castor Oil Packs: Fold an old towel or shirt so that it covers the liver area (between the soft belly and chest area on the right side of the ribcage). Soak the pack in castor oil so that it is well saturated but not dripping. Apply the pack to the area and cover with a heat source (you may want to place a layer of plastic between the pack and the heat source). Leave in place for 30-60 minutes. Ideally, leave any remaining oil on the skin to be absorbed, or you can make a paste from baking soda and water to clean the area. The pack need not be washed; store in a glass or plastic container for the next use; simply ensure saturation before reapplying. * castor oil stains; make sure you protect your clothing, linens and upholstery
Even outside of a structured "detox" plan, any or all of these strategies, when practiced regularly, can support your waste removal mechanisms, helping to keep your body lighter, more efficient, and energized. Enjoy!