Time for Pre-Winter Detox!
In herbal tradition, spring is the time for liver cleansing and detox—a sort of “spring cleaning” for the body and its systems. However, autumn is also a great time for cleaning the body and mind, in preparation for the slowdown of the winter season (and indulgent holiday meals) and to help fortify your immune system as the winter cold and flu season peeks over the horizon.
Naturopath Christopher Vasey, N.D., offers simple, practical advice on cleansing the liver in his latest book, Liver Detox. He explains how the liver is key to the optimal health of the whole body and explores exercises, massage, and safe herbal remedies and supplements, such as rosemary and dandelion, to detoxify your liver at home, revealing how these techniques will also have immediate benefits for your immune system. Many of Vasey’s other books can help support your autumn cleanse, such as Optimal Detox, Natural Remedies for Inflammation, and The Acid–Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health.
If you are looking more toward cleansing your mind, rather than body, before the dark days of winter, I highly recommend Jason Gregory’s recent book Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox. As he explains, our undivided attention is something we are rarely able to give for reasons ranging from digital overload to the cultural conditioning of equating busyness with purpose. He details how to fast your mind just as you would your body to overcome this modern mental overload, as well as alleviate stress and anxiety and produce a calmer mental state. His techniques for fasting the mind combine cognitive psychology with Zen, Taoist, and Vedic practices. He also offers methods for digital detox and ensuring a good night’s sleep, a major support for healing cognitive impairment and restoring a state of balance.
On the subject of fasting, The Transformational Power of Fasting by herbalist extraordinaire Stephen Harrod Buhner is an excellent guide for beginners and advanced fasters alike. He explains what to expect during fasting physically, emotionally, and spiritually and provides complete step-by-step guidelines on preparing for your fast, how long to fast, and how to end your fast. He also explains how our body is evolutionarily designed to fast and how fasting can help or heal many chronic conditions far beyond your digestive system.
On a final autumn cleansing note, as Ellen Evert Hopman points out in Secret Medicines from Your Garden, filled with seasonal herbal advice, now is the time to harvest the roots of one of Nature’s gentlest blood and liver cleansers: Burdock. Look for healthy first-year plants (those that didn’t put up a flower stalk this year). She advises us to soak the root in salt water or vinegar and then soak again in fresh, clear water for about ten minutes to improve the taste. Then chop and sauté the roots. It is excellent not only as a liver cleanser but also for skin eruptions such as acne.
Happy fall cleaning everyone! And happy spring to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere!