(This post is for you, Emily.) I am getting ready to begin my semi-annual two week internal cleanse and the results are always so great I know that I must commit to doing it once again this spring. It’s the perfect time of year as we transition to longer days and the earth thaws out and sprouts anew after another winter. During this cleanse I restrict my diet, eat very cleanly, no alcohol, plenty of yoga, and rest. Here is a summary of what I do. It’s kinda long. It’s based on Ayurvedic principles (yoga’s sister science), and John Doulliard: The 3 Season Diet, A Yoga Body Diet, and www.lifespa.com.
- Throughout the whole cleansing process take ayurvedic herbs which help support the cleansing process. Take 2 Blood Cleanse 2x/day and 1 Liver Repair 3x/day with meals. You can get all at lifespa.com, banyanbotanicals.com, or with a local ayurveda practitioner.
- Eat 3 meals/day to get the body into fat burning, detox mode. No snacks. If you need a snack the first few days, eat an apple.
- Drink as much warm water as you can each day.
- Do yoga at least 10-15 minutes per day. It really helps get the toxins out and get rid of icky feelings. I prefer an hour per day and plenty of yin and restorative yoga but I love my yoga.
- Take epsom salt baths. They’re relaxing and draw the toxins out of the body through the skin. I’m sporadic with this.
- Massage skin with skin oil before or after shower. Ideally use ayurvedic massage oils. I love the oils from diamondwayayruveda.com (they’re local to SLO and we sell them at SDY). I’m sporadic with this.
- Choose a two week period where you can take it easy and won’t be in overwhelming social mode. This is really important as you might bite someone’s arm off at a party or social gathering. The best times of year to cleanse are spring and fall. I usually do it the end of March and the end of October each year. I’ll be going from March 24-April 8 this spring.
- About 2 weeks before your first official cleanse day buy everything “not fresh” you’ll need. See shopping list below.
- One-two days before your first official cleanse day, plan your meals for the entire cleanse, buy good, healthy, farmers market food, cook it, and have it prepared so it’s easy once you begin. I usually make a big stew, buy a bunch of avocados and rice cakes, apples, apple juice, and roast some beets. I usually have to shop again for veggies and the post-cleanse halfway through the main cleanse phase. See my favorite vegetarian meals post, many of these are perfect for this cleanse or can be easily modified.
- I recommend not eating out during main part of cleanse. Even if you eat cleanse friendly foods I’ve noticed it slows my digestion and I don’t feel as good. That being said, sometimes it’s unavoidable and I think it’s important to be nice to oneself when embarking on something like this. I ate out the first few times I cleansed at Thai restaurants and Natural Cafe and now I don’t.
- To continue on that note, I’ll say it again, be nice to yourself. This is a healing process. If something isn’t working, then you can change it. I try to set an intention and write down why I’m doing a cleanse before I embark and keep a journal throughout. When I feel crappy, which you will at least one day in this type of process, I look at my intention and goals, and am reminded that this is something I want to do. I can often make minor adjustments that help me feel better without going off the cleanse completely or making myself worse. Having a friend or supportive person to talk to about this process is crucial. My boyfriend saved me from jumping off the cleanse wagon and eating a cheesecake at a Halloween party last year. I was so thankful.
Day 1-4: Pre-Cleanse Phase “This Isn’t So Bad”
- Kiss and say goodbye to cheese for a while.
- Eat rice, beans, soup, salad, seeds, fruit, whole grains, oats, quinoa. No crap: processed foods, crackers, fried food, sugar, white flour, minimal fats/oils, caffeine, dairy. I traditionally go vegan but if you need more protein stick to lowfat versions of chicken or turkey.
- Eat 1-2 raw beets/day, shredded into a salad is good.
- Eat as many apples as you can.
- Drink a glass of organic, fresh apple juice with each meal. The beets and apples help heal and prep the kidneys, gallbladder, and liver so they are ready for major detoxification during next phase.
- Drink 1-2 cups green juice/smoothie each day. Odwalla works, fresh/homemade is better. Julia’s juice at Farmer’s is Da Bomb!
Days 5-11: The Main Cleanse “Why Am I Doing This Again?”
- Add 1 trikatu or cool digest with each meal (more ayurvedic herbs). Cool digest if you tend to get heartburn. Trikatu otherwise. Or any digestive herb you prefer.
- Eat non-fat khichadi w/seasonal veggies for each meal. While khichadi is preferred because it’s easy to digest and has a good amount of protein, you could technically do any fat-free rice & bean dish with steamed veggies. The fat free diet gets your body into fat burning mode so as long as you’re getting some easy to digest nourishment, you’re fine.
- (Optional Crazy Stuff Part 1): You can drink increasing amounts of warm ghee in soy/almond milk each morning. It’s called internal oleation and it helps loosen impurities and get them out as well as flushes bile from the liver and heals the liver. This is probably the worst part of this cleanse. If you feel nauseous with a certain dosage go back to the previous dosage and stay there throughout. Take it as soon as you wake up. Day 5 – 2tsp; Day 6 – 4 tsp; Day 7 – 4 tsp; Day 8 – 6 tsp; Day 9 – 8 tsp; Day 10 – 8 tsp; Day 11 – 10 tsp. If you’re unsure of this part comment here for support or work with an ayurvedic practitioner please!
- (Optional Crazy Stuff Part 2): Take 6-9 tsp of castor oil in the evening of day 11 after a light, early dinner. It’s easier to take with grapefruit or orange juice and you can suck an orange after drinking it. This will evacuate your intestines of all the toxins that have been loosened up. It’s not fun, but many health experts agree that a lot of our disease stems from our digestion. Again, if you’re unsure of this part comment here for support or work with an ayurvedic practitioner please!
Days 12-14: Post-Cleanse “Thank God I Survived”
- You will be so excited to eat something different! I once spent three hours cooking all this great, vegan food, and couldn’t eat it because my appetite had shrunken so much. Rice cakes and avocado are my favorite cleanse friendly treats during the Pre and Post Cleanse Phases.
- Same as the Pre-Cleanse Phase except don’t worry about the beets, apples, juice, or green juice unless you like them.
- Drink lemon water with meals.
- Take cool digest or trikatu (or any digestive herb) with each of three meals according to the following: Day 12 – 2/meal; Day 13 – 3/meal; Day 14 – 4/meal.
Continue taking 2 trikatu or cool digests with meals. I admit I get kind of sporadic with the herbs here.
Continue with seasonal eating and try to stick to wheat, dairy, and sugar free.
- Herbs & Oils (online) – Cool Digest/Trikatu, Liver Repair, Blood Cleanse, Ayurvedic massage oil, Castor Oil (optional). You can get all at lifespa.com, banyanbotanicals.com, or with a local ayurveda practitioner.
- Food (SLO Co-op) – Split Mung Beans, White Basmati Rice, Spices, Epsom Salts, Ghee, Soy Milk
- Veggies (Fresh) – In season veggies, avocados, stuff for pre/post cleanse stew/salads
This is pretty much it. If you’d like to learn more about why this all works, I’d recommend the reference materials mentioned above from John Doulliard: The 3 Season Diet, A Yoga Body Diet, and www.lifespa.com. I keep a journal throughout my cleanse and try to keep track of what is working and what isn’t so that next time it’s easier. It really helps. I also try to cleanse the mind during this process with journaling and meditation. If you are seriously considering doing this or another cleanse for the first time, I’d be happy to support you through comments on this blog post, and I would recommend starting with a shorter version of this (maybe 3-4 days total). I also recommend checking out lifespa.com for a supported short and longer cleanses. These are what I started with and only after doing them supported with Dr. Douillard online am I now comfortable enough to do them on my own.
Happy Spring Cleaning!