Cleansing: Just Another Bullshit Trend or Necessity in Today’s Modern World
These days, you can’t scroll through social media without some sort of mention of a detox or cleanse. As the wellness industry continues to grow, more and more programs, promising us a laundry list of benefits are popping up.
Like it or not, we are living in a time of quick fixes, fad diets and clever marketing where we are bombarded with a non-stop screen of information telling us how to live – or buy our healthiest life.
While I could go off on a tangent on this topic, I will stick to the point and talk cleanses.
So what’s the deal? Do we need to cleanse – or is this just another clever buzzword trend, telling us we aren’t good enough and need to spend money? Weren’t our bodies designed to cleanse themselves?
The truth is, while our bodies have the innate ability to cleanse & process waste materials, often, poor food choices, stress, genetic predisposition, unbalanced hormones, and poor digestion, lead to the accumulation & spread of toxins throughout the body, resulting in physical & mental disease.
Add the polluted environment we live in, our fast-paced lifestyles, our tainted food and water supply and the lack of unbiased education on proper nutrition and we are left with the sad reality that most of us could benefit from at least a yearly cleanse.
Physical signs you might need a cleanse include:
• Thick coating on the tongue
• Low energy throughout the day
• Body aches and pains
• Uncontrollable cravings
• Foggy mind – difficulty focusing
• Bad smelling breath, odor and flatulence
• Constipation and/or diarrhea
• Digestive difficulties of any kind, gas, bloating, burping,or heartburn
• Difficulty listening to what your body needs (sleep, food, rest, exercise, etc.)
So what is the right cleanse? With so many cleanse options out there, it can be overwhelming.
While I don’t believe in any one sized fits all solution, after reading up on several different cleanses, I turned to the Vedic Science of Ayurveda.
Whereas modern medicine tends to focus on helping you manage the symptoms of your health problem, Ayurveda teaches the importance of digging deep to get to the root of the problem, empowering people to make healthy choices and reclaim their wellness on a physical, emotional, physical and spiritual level.
This 5000+ year old system of healing takes into account the unique chemistry of each individual and offers a variety of practices and diets that fluctuate with the season and our natural evolution.
Ayurveda emphasizes diet as the foundation of all healing therapies and views food as the most important form of medicine. It is said “When diet is correct, medicine is of no need; when diet is incorrect, medicine is of no use.” But this food is only medicine when properly digested and converted to nutrients our body can absorb.
In Ayurveda the metabolic / digestive fire - Agni, in Sanskrit fuels digestion, absorption, and assimilation into the GI tract, as well as the exchange of nutrients at the cellular level.
This Agni is often weakened by poor lifestyle choices and our external environment, leading to poor digestion of food, allowing undigested food to build up as toxicity in our body. In Ayurveda this toxicity is called Ama in Sanskrit and is described as a heavy, sticky, foul smelling substance in the body also described as the first stage of disease.
To rid the body of this built up toxicity, Ayurveda diagnoses a cleansing process called Panchakarma.
Originally designed to bolster the health and longevity of royalty, Panchakarma is said to rejuvenate the body both physically and emotionally and purify tissues on a deep level.
So exactly what is Panchakarma? Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word meaning “5 treatments”, and refers to the process of cleansing the body of toxic materials accumulated from poor nutrition and environmental toxins, through 5 cleansing methods.
It is said to restore balance to the all organs and channels of elimination (colon, sweat glands, lungs, bladder, urinary tract, stomach, intestines), increase digestive capacity; remove built up toxins from the intestinal lining; alleviate congestion from the body & mind; enhance energy & feelings of wellbeing; and help heal & soothe the intestinal wall.
While the “5 treatments” of Panchakarma have evolved over the years to adapt to the modern Western world, modifying some of the more extreme cleansing methods such as Bloodletting and Therapeutic Vomiting, the goal and outcome of modern day Panchakarma is the same: complete detoxification on a cellular level.
Because I truly believe in many other Ayurvedic principals, I decided to team up with an Ayurvedic specialist who has been studying and sharing Ayurveda for over 30 years to design a Modern Day Panchakarma Kitchari Cleanse.
But before, I become just another person pushing some wellness trend, I am going to experiment by trying the cleanse and documenting results along the way.
So what exactly does this cleanse entail?
1) Ayurvedic Diagnosis - Assessment of tongue & pulse, digestive patterns, cravings, health goals, medical history, mental characteristics, skin, metabolism etc. to determine unique dosha makeup.
2) Colon Hydrotherapy and Abhyanga - A gentle colon cleanse using water along with a stomach basti using a warm, dosha-specific herb infused oil.
3) Abhyanga: A neuro-lymphatic massage to jump starts the cleansing process and regulate every part of digestion.
4) Nasya: The administration of medicinal oil to ears and nose to help clear the sinuses, throat and head and balance the mind.
5) 3 days of Kitchari, Ghee and Ayurvedic teas. Kitchari is a combination of White Basmati Rice, Mung Dal (Split Yellow Mung Beans), Ghee and a unique blend of spices that create a simple balanced meal. Because Kitchari is satiating and easy to digest & provides adequate nourishment in the form of a complete protein, it keeps blood sugar stable, resulting in more fat burning, clarity and energy and less irritability, headaches, and hunger associated with more extreme fasts.
6) Shirodhara Massage: A gentle massage where a warm herbal oil is poured in a thin, steady stream to the point between the eyebrows. Shirodhara, is said to expand awareness, alleviate stress & anxiety, reduce headaches, improve quality of sleep and purify the mind.
While I haven’t been a supporter of many of the popular cleanses in the market today, I truly believe in the power of Ayurveda, so am excited to embark on this journey. Just please don’t invite me to any delicious dinners or tempting gatherings. :p
As mentioned above, I will be documenting my experience with this cleanse as I go and sharing my experience in a future blog post. And don’t you worry, I will continue to keep it real and quite possibly overshare all the cringeworthy details. Wish me luck! 😊