BY SUSAN M. GRIFFITH-JONES
Ayurveda, an ancient medicinal art from India has been prescribing detoxification (detox) and internal cleansing for thousands of years. This system believes that balance is the key to good health and thus aims to correct any existing imbalance using the body’s own natural organs to flush out toxins.
Methods to do this are never forceful or painful, but simply use natural ways to eliminate what the body does not need. Impurities embedded in the tissues can thus be released without compromising or disturbing the quality and functions of the organs and tissues in general.
Accumulation of toxins create drowsiness, depression and lethargy among others, so Ayurveda recommends internal cleansing at every change of season and especially in the springtime when nature is rejuvenating itself. A prescribed Ayurvedic diet rich in vegetables and organic foods supports the process of detox as input that does not aggravate an already existing imbalance.
As this holistic approach results in the organs becoming more alert, intelligent and capable of detoxifying the body on a day-to-day basis, the detox program creates a situation in which the body’s internal cleansing system becomes stronger so that the body can continue to detoxify itself effectively even after the treatment is over.
There are three different types of toxins that can impact the physiology, namely ama, amavisha and garvisha.
Ama is the most common type and is the waste product of incomplete digestion. Sticky, white and foul smelling, it forms in the digestive tract when the food you eat is not digested properly.
It is usually caused by eating:
- unsuitable foods,
- too much or too little,
- before the previous meal is digested,
- left overs, processed, old or fermented food
or by going to sleep on a full stomach.
If ama continues to be produced over a long period of time, it can settle elsewhere in the body, blocking the shrotas (micro-circulatory channels) and disrupting the flow of nutrients as well as the body’s natural waste removal systems.
It develops when agni (Sanskrit, fire), the digestive heat that resides in the solar plexus, is either weak or irregular. By enhancing agni through dietary changes or by taking Ayurvedic herbal supplements and drinking a lot of water, the digestive system itself can burn off simple ama and clear it from the body.
Amavisha is a more reactive form of indigestion that is more dangerous and garvisha comes from outside the body. Environmental toxins such as chemicals, preservatives, poisons, air and water pollution, genetically engineered foods, synthetics and chemicals in clothing, synthetic drugs, chemicals in household cleansers, and heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and asbestos lead to its accumulation.
Since toxins have to leave the body through the shrotas (micro-circulatory channels), their optimum health must be considered at all stages of detoxification so that they do not rupture when toxins are removed.
Every Ayurvedic detoxification program has three steps: preparation, cleansing and post-cleansing therapies.
Preparation, that should take around 15 days, is the most important part of the program where the imbalances of the person as well as the balancing of the agni, whose well being is directly responsible for our digestion, immunity, vitality and clarity of mind are taken into account.
Subsequently, a complete program of 45 days of cleansing treatment for all types of toxins takes place, where the first and foremost priority is to improve elimination.
This full internal cleansing process may be achieved alone or with a supervisor to guide. Performing a self-detox is not highly recommended, because the nature of the toxins in the body may be harder to release than one imagines, especially if the toxins have already manifested themselves in the form of fevers and body pain.
People who have ama and only small amounts of amavisha can also do self-detox safely, otherwise it is very important that you consult with an trained expert to receive individualized recommendations for a suitable detox program.
Post-detoxification is the optimum time to take Ayurvedic elixirs that rejuvenate the body and stop aging. With toxins cleared out of the organs and channels of the body, the body is more awake, energized and alert and can utilize their benefits more than ever before.
PREPARATION FOR SELF-DETOX (15 Days)
1. Avoid ama and garvisha producing foods such as leftovers, dead foods that include packaged, canned, frozen foods, nonorganic, those grown with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and ones with chemical additives.
2. Eat ama-reducing foods. Favour vegetarian foods that are lighter, warm, cooked and digestible. Avoid heavy dairy products such as cheese or yogurt (although lassi is good); foods that are fried or oily; raw foods of any kind; heavy desserts; and foods with refined sugar and honey as these are harder to digest. Avoid yeasted breads and dry breads such as crackers. Freshly made flat breads, freshly made soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and freshly made grains are ideal.
Certain fruits, vegetables, grains and spices are especially helpful in detoxifying, namely:
Fruits: cooked prunes, figs, apple, pears, pineapple and papaya.
Vegetables: cooked leafy greens, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
Grains: quinoa, barley, amaranth, rice and kanji (rice water).
Spices: ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel and fenugreek.
These help open up the channels and support the flow of toxins from the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver.
3. Choose foods according to your body type or imbalances. This will help regulate your agni.
4. Drink plenty of hot water throughout the day to flush toxins out of the body through the urine.
1. Get enough rest.
You may need more sleep while detoxifying. It’s also important to go to bed early (before 10 p.m.) and get up early (before 6 a.m.) Practice Meditation regularly.
2. Exercise each day
Gentle exercise such as Yoga asanas purify and enliven different organs of the body, as well as enhance digestion and elimination. Walking for 20-30 minutes is ideal in the early morning especially helping to move toxins out of the body. Pranayama breathing exercises are excellent for cleansing the respiratory system and other organs. During the preparation for detox and the actual cleansing program, it’s best to avoid strenuous exercise.
3. Massage daily
Warm oil massage is one of the most important purification procedures and you can do it every day on your own, followed with a warm (not hot) bath with added essential oils of Niaoli, Sandalwood and Eucalytpus. Herbs added to the oil penetrate the surface of the skin and reach the deeper layers and tissues.
3. Good Eating habits
1. Do not fast or skip meals during any part of the detox program.
2. Eat at the same time every day so your agni can “fire up” for the meal.
3. Eat your main meal at noon and lighter meals at breakfast and dinner.
4. Eat while sitting down in a settled atmosphere, paying attention to the food when you eat (no TV, no phones, no reading).
5. Engage in pleasant conversation with friends or family (no business meetings or emotional discussions).
6. Eat only when the previous meal has been digested (no untimely snacking as this really disrupts digestion). Eat only when you are hungry again.
7. Sit quietly for a minute at the beginning of the meal (saying grace before meals is one way to do this), and wait for a couple of minutes after eating before leaving the table. This gives your digestion a settled start.
8. Leave a little space in your stomach at the end of the meal to give your digestion room to function.
SELF-DETOX PROGRAM (45 days)
Take a few weeks or more to gradually cut out tea, coffee, alcohol, processed food, junk food, fizzy drinks, sugar and foods containing it, fried and fatty foods, meat, gluten grains and dairy products, replacing them with light, warm, cooked vegetarian foods. Freshly made soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and whole grains are ideal.
Drink plenty of hot water or Detoxifying Tea through the day to flush toxins out of the body through the urine.
7am Lemon Tea – Squeeze half a lemon into a 10 oz. glass and add one tablespoon of maple syrup (Grade B) and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Top up with hot water.
8am Carrot & Apple Juice & Stewed fruit
9.30am Ginger tea
11am Vata or Pitta Tea or other Herbal Digestive Tea
12 md Ginger pickle
Choose 3 vegetables – (Asparagus, Butternut squash, Carrots, Celery, Eggplant, Fennel, Green beans, Mangetout, Red pepper, Yellow Pepper, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Zucchini) that should be steamed lightly and eaten with grain – (Brown Basmati rice, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Barley or Bulgar Wheat) and sauce – liquidize some dhal or vegetable soup and season with a little rock salt & black pepper.
3pm Carrot & grape juice
4 pm Vata or Pitta tea or Herbal Digestive Teas
6 pm Ginger pickle
6.30pm Evening meal
Vegetable soup or dhal. Season with a little rock salt and black pepper Digestive herbal Tea
9pm Bedtime Tea Take 2 Triphala tablets to keep the bowels moving or other herbal bowel stimulant.