Every season can pose its own potential health issues, and for many people, winter is often most challenging. Many of the world’s traditional medical systems have long recognized that weather and seasonal changes have direct impacts on our well-being, and as such, make strategic health recommendations to help people thrive in their external environments. By incorporating appropriate foods, nutrients and health practices into your daily program, you can align yourself with these seasonal transitions so that they work in your favor instead of putting a damper on your health journey.
According to the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), every season correlates to different “elements” or organ systems within the body. The winter correlates with the water element, and thus the kidneys and bladder. From a Western Naturopathic perspective, cold weather puts stress on your adrenal and thyroid glands, tends to make the blood more acidic, and causes a build-up of lactic acid, which can lead to sluggishness, muscle and joint pain, and arthritis.
Both Eastern and Western Naturopathic medical systems agree that the transition from winter to spring offers an ideal opportunity to shed extra weight and gently cleanse accumulated toxins from the body. This excess build-up can be the result of numerous factors. The main culprits include unhealthy diet, poor digestion, lack of exercise, winter dehydration, our own metabolic processes, and environmental pollution.
In TCM, spring corresponds to the liver and gall bladder. A gentle spring cleanse effectively supports the liver’s vital detoxification processes, eliminates toxins stored in organs and tissues, helps shed excess weight, alkalizes the body, and gets your circulation and energy moving. Additional benefits include improved digestion, reduced inflammation, balanced blood sugar, and better immune function. A cleanse can be as short as three days or can be up to a month or longer, but I find most people are successful with a gentle 10-14 day program.
In my practice, I recommend the following supplements during a cleanse and throughout the year for improved health and vitality:
Medicinal mushroom formulas: Help to remove toxins and metabolic waste build up throughout the body; support immunity, digestion, vital energy and overall health.
Modified citrus pectin (MCP)/alginate formula: Helps to gently remove heavy metals and environmental toxins from the digestive tract and circulation; combats inflammation; improves cellular health and immunity. For more information about modified citrus pectin, download a comprehensive wellness guide at www.mcpreport.com.
Phase II detox formula: Contains sulfured amino acids, and detoxifying herbs and nutrients such as cilantro, dandelion, milk thistle and others for in-depth removal of stored toxins; combats free radicals and fights inflammation with potent antioxidants; supports organs of elimination, and boosts vital energy.
Comprehensive herbal digestive formula: Complete, non-habit forming digestive support with herbs, nutrients and enzymes to help improve digestive function and combat occasional digestive discomfort.
More information about this digestive formula.
Probiotic formula: Improves digestive and overall health by reintroducing healthy probiotic flora to the digestive tract, which boosts immunity, improves nutrient assimilation and supports overall health.
The benefits of a gentle spring cleanse can extend far beyond the physical elimination of toxins, resulting in improved mental clarity and emotional stability, balanced blood sugar, increased vital energy, and greater strength, flexibility and stamina. You can maximize the benefits of your cleanse by taking some time each day to meditate and reflect, stretch or do yoga poses, take a gentle walk in nature, and rest. By caring for yourself in this way, you may experience positive transformation on multiple levels, the way the coldness and inactivity of winter gradually give way to new growth, warmth and energy in the spring. A seasonal spring cleanse should be a gentle, life-supporting experience, so relax, enjoy and renew!
Cucumber, kale, kelp, spinach, parsley, broccoli, sprouts (soy, alfalfa, etc.), sea vegetables, green drinks
Avocado, capsicum/pepper, mustard greens, cabbage, okra, celery, onion, collard greens, radish, red onion, ginger, endive, garlic, arugula, tomato, butter beans, soy beans, white haricot beans, green beans, beet root, lettuce, chia seeds, lemon, lime
Artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrot, chives, zucchini, leeks, new red potatoes, peas, rhubarb, watercress, buckwheat, spelt, lentils, tofu, almonds, most herbs and spices, olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil
Originally published in March/April 2012