An Ayurvedic Cleanse

An Ayurvedic Cleanse

Many people treat their cars better than their bodies. They’d never consider putting a coke in their gas tank and yet all sorts of dubious things end up in their mouths. Even if we have good intentions, sludge builds up in the physiology over time. This gradually leads to chronic health issues. But that sludge can be flushed periodically. This flushing is known as a cleanse. Consider it routine maintenance.

Want to know if you have crud buildup? Just look at your tongue. Is it perfectly pink? Or does it have a white overlay? Just in the middle back or all over? This is one indication of “ama” or gunk buildup. (The tongue also shows some other issues.)

There are lots of possible cleanses you can do out there, from simple water fasting to complex and expensive programs. But most are designed to do one thing and are not very integrative. Few recognize differences in body type leading to benefits for some but imbalance and side-effects for others. You need to understand your particular type and what is suitable for you first.

For example, an extended fast or raw vegan diet is detrimental for those with a Vata constitution. But they can have benefits for another body type.

This is from Ayurveda, the Indian science of health. It takes a whole body approach. From this perspective, you both clean things out and restore balance based on your physiology. Then the body can maintain health.

Recent science has been backing up some of these ancient practices. Our gut biome or the balance of digestive bacteria within make a big difference in how well we digest. It also affects our mind and moods. Turns out the digestive system has more neurons than the brain in our heads, hence the term “gut brain.” They’ve also discovered the issue of “leaky gut” where stuff that should be eliminated leaks out of the digestive system to get deposited elsewhere.

On top of the gradual buildup of crud, the cycles of time also influence our health. Seasons of the year have certain qualities, like winter is dry and cold in many places. Over the season, those qualities build within. If we lack those qualities, this can be balancing. But if we’re prone to excess, for example dry skin, winter can make it worse. Thus, Ayurveda recommends a cleanse in the spring and fall to clear up seasonal imbalances.

But trips to an Ayurvedic clinic or spa for treatment can be costly. Some people go on long trips to cheaper places in India but this requires care and research.

Now you can buy at-home cleanse kits such as Douillard’s “Colorado Cleanse.” However, a pre-packaged kit doesn’t recognize our personal balance points that have somewhat different treatment needs. Most don’t have the knowledge to adjust their program correctly to their current body. A consultation and a customized package based on your specific needs is much superior.

For example, I had excess heat. A standard oil like sesame will increase that heat. But an alternative oil like coconut offers similar benefits with a cooling effect. Depending on degree, we can make a blend to combine the benefits of different oils and moderate effects.

Even better is to add therapies that aid the cleanse, especially in the second phase. Not only is a warm oil massage quite delicious, it can be deeply healing. Moreso if the practitioner is awake. I recently did such a program at Amrit Dhara.

The art of these long-tested programs is surprising. For example, in a juice fast you often have 2-3 days of cravings from cutting sugar and low quality carbs. But on these programs, the Sugar Balance herbal blend cuts the usual cravings, smoothing the process.

Another example is taking ghee (clarified butter) first thing in the morning during a diet without fat (Phase 2). This causes the body to burn unnecessary body fat (in the context of the cleanse) without effort. It was very effective for me.

A good program is full of details like this.

For an at-home cleanse, it’s good to read instructions carefully and have support. Because of the thoroughness of the treatments, they can be time consuming. There is a simplified diet, herbal formulas, hydration therapy, liquefaction, tissue treatments, and more. Follow the links above for more information.

If you’d like an introduction to Ayurveda as a whole, I can recommend Dr Lad’s book Ayurveda, the Science of Self Healing. I’ve been referring to this small book for decades.

Diets really don’t work. Many of us need to change our lifestyle to support health & well-being. Yet that can be difficult. Not only do we have strong habits and unhealthy influences around us but the foods we eat culture a gut biome that wants more of the same. Unless we change our biome, we’ll find unconscious drivers pulling us off the path.

A cleanse is a great way to reset. With time off from bad habits and a moderate cleaning out, it’s much easier to develop better habits and begin anew. We’ll see how well I do. (laughs)


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  1. Hey David, how about a before and after photo of you since your cleanse? I’d be interested in hearing more about what changed in your body. I start my cleanse in 2 days with Amrit Dhara and also spending the 5 middle days of the 15 there with 3 friends. Looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing this info with others who might be helped. My 80 year old parents are doing it along with me and it will be interesting to see what happens there!

    1. Hi Sohlea
      Thanks for starting the ball rolling on this one. It was your invitation to the presentation that started it here.

      I did take before and afters of things like my tongue but I’m not inclined to share that. (laughs)

      The big ones here was I’ve run hot for years and had a big clearing of that. I lost a surprising amount of weight. A lot of ama cleared (but not all). Some big releases and openings and the Divine embodiment process changed.

      The heat was creating a skin issue that has eased up but may take another later to clear. Have not tested it in the world much yet because I had only 1 day between the cleanse and a retreat. But am noticing what the body wants has changed. The desire for some foods has fallen away – in a good way. 😉

      The big thing here is giving it lots of time. You have to work out how to fit all the details into a schedule that works for you. I did the treatments in the morning, for example. I continued that in ph2, getting the therapies in the afternoon. My co-participant did part in the afternoon, shifting to all on ph 2. They go a bit faster once you get into the flow of it but at first, it’s time consuming and you may want to create your own checklist for your sequence. Like I dry-brushed while I swished and did the pranayamas during the wait after oiling.

      Happy to email about it as you go along if you want and we can chat about it after too. Really well worth it but I was ready to get back into it at the end. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing a bit about your process David. I’ve also been running hot since menopause and have had some skin issues too (rosacea) that already shifted some by getting off heating foods for a few weeks and the cleanse starts tomorrow.

    I’ve created space in my life for it and now imagine sitting in the bathroom all oiled up and doing pranayama to fit another pair together. Not sure I’m that overheated though! Appreciate the reminder that there are a lot of steps. Bought groceries today so ready on the food front.

    There are 4 of us doing it at the same time and going to Saltspring in the second stage so lots of support.

    I appreciate your sharing and look forward to talking more about it.


  3. Adrian

    Hi david. In my research there seems to be a consensus from doctors and legitimate studies that poor stomach lining can responsible for 80-90% of our body related health problems. Ive tried many cleanses, mostly herbal, albeit not the one you speak of.
    What i have found is the Colema Cleanse to be one of very few that actually remove most if not all of the rubbery muscus plaque and the black thar from our stomach lining. The stuff that blocks most nutrients from entering our system. Its pretty intense in terms of the 2 week regimen one needs to follow but the 20yrs of reviews and forums on it were proof in my eyes that it works… + the common sense logic of how and why it works is a no brainer. Lots of water, lots of soaking = lots of toxins and sludge removed. The way many see it is, if your cleanse isnt pulling out rubbery chunks and long tails of black thar it is doing very little for your gut. All the good bacteria in the world doesnt help nutrients get past these if present.
    Colema works with all types who are brave-serious enogh to pull off the recommended protocol.

    1. Hi Adrian
      I would frame it a bit differently. Digestive issues contribute to a large % of issues. Mainly because it’s a primary way we get nutrients and energy. But there is no one-size-fits all answer because people have different bodies with different inclinations.

      I’ve seen the material on the kinds of cleanse you describe. Remember that the stomach requires a heavy mucous lining because its a high-acid environment. There may be some benefit to occasionally refreshing that. But as you describe, this is an intense process for a single benefit.

      Ayurveda takes a different approach. They seek balance in the physiology and avoid harsher treatments as that can create imbalance. They also view that “ama” or waste gets stored all over the body so they culture a gentle whole-body approach that draws this out and flushes effectively.

      Ayurveda is also conscious of the bodies energetics (prana) and is also designed to clear the nadis or energetic channels while flushing the physical system. A whole-body/ systems approach is ideal. And Ayurveda has been tested for thousands of years.

  4. On the broader topic of cleanses, it’s worth making note of a tendency I see in some cultures around this topic.

    There is a subtle tendency to see our bodies as “full of toxins”, “polluted”, “drowning in ama” and so forth. This is not a healthy approach. The body does an amazing job of self-maintenance.

    Our bodies do tend to collect a bit of extra sludge over time, so it can be valuable to clean house periodically. But we don’t view our house as a cesspool because it has some dust-bunnies and a carpet stain or 2.

    Our mental attitude towards our body can have a larger effect than any cleanse. If you struggle a bit with body image or expectations of perfection, you may find a practice like culturing gratitude valuable.

    Our bodies are remarkable vehicles for life but can use a little maintenance occasionally. Our mind is the same way. 🙂

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