As the season of birth, spring is the ideal time to clear out the past and begin anew. The annual rite of spring cleaning is not only appropriate for our homes and environmental surroundings, but also our minds and bodies. The goal of the spring season is to release tension, clear energetic channels, and make space for new growth. The leafy greens and fresh herbs that are seasonally available in the spring are also ideal for circulating qi and detoxifying the body. Dietary cleanses and fasts are beneficial for purging the toxins and excess waste that have accumulated in the body following a winter diet of rich and heavy foods. In addition to their therapeutic effect on the body, cleanses also offer mental/spiritual benefits.
There are several options for cleanses, varying in the types of food consumed and the duration of the cleansing period. In general, cooked foods tend to be less cleansing and gentler on the body’s digestion than raw foods and juices. If you are new to fasts and cleanses, you may want to start off with a simple cleanse of eating only steamed or lightly cooked vegetables. For a more rapid cleanse, incorporate raw fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, cabbage, and apples. Another type of cleanse consists of juices made from fruits, vegetables, or greens like wheat grass. The most cleansing option is a complete fast, which involves only drinking water. Fasts and cleanses should be performed with caution, especially for weak individuals or those with poor digestion (e.g. pain, gas, bloating, loose stool, etc.) A simple cleanse of 1-2 days may be better tolerated by those individuals. More robust body types may benefit from longer periods of cleansing.
Here is an example of a “lemonade” juice cleanse from an excellent reference, Staying Healthy With the Seasons:
Stanley Burroughs' Master Cleanser
2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1-2 Tbs. 100% maple syrup
1/10 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 ounces spring water
Drink liberally (8-12 glasses) throughout the day.
If you carry this cleanser with you, use a glass jar as toxins may be leached from a plastic container into the drink from the acids in the lemon.
Rinse your mouth with water after drinking, to protect your teeth from the sugars and acids of the lemon and maple syrup.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002.
Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy With the Seasons. New York: Celestial Arts, 2003.
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