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)