written by Raulla S. Mitchell
Have you ever thought of trying a “detox”? It’s a pretty loaded word – there are lots of different kinds of detoxes or cleansing programs. Natural, holistic, or integrative healthcare practitioners may custom design a detox program for you based on the state of your current health. There are endless books on the topic. Detox packages may be purchased OTC at health food co-ops, spas offer “detox” on their menus, and you’ll find DIY detox tips on Pinterest boards.
Some are gentle though deliver effective long lasting results while others fall into the overhaul category, and may not be as safe, particularly if changes are abrupt and extreme. It comes down to the question of how you look at your well being and lifestyle long term.
I fall into the kinder, gentler camp when it comes to integrating dietary and lifestyle modifications. I think incorporating elements of a gentle detox regime into your daily life is an excellent opportunity to shift into healthier living without disrupting your body chemistry or bringing about short term results only, and at risk that I regard as undesirable. For example, results such as immediate weight loss related to detox may be initially thrilling, but cannot be maintained long term, and in fact, may be in part responsible for the weight gain subsequent to coming off a detox regime. Then you’re back somewhere behind square one! No one wants that.
So, let’s assume we don’t suffer from any major chronic illnesses that require supervision by a medical professional, and we’re going for a gentle detox, one that we can begin now, and continue on a regular basis if we choose to. Nature’s seasonal transitions (spring and fall) are ideal times for detoxification to cleanse mind, body and spirit from
- dietary toxins: refined foods and carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, alcohol, caffeine, processed sugar, high fat meat and dairy, etc.
- environmental toxins: in our air, soil, water, cleaning and personal care products, clothes, etc.
- emotional and psychological toxins: chronic stress, anxiety, worry, juggling too many balls in the air, lack of relaxed “down time” and regenerative sleep
Detoxification is best supported synergistically from the inside out and the outside in. Gentle modifications to our diet and lifestyle have the potential to create the canvas for a healthier you. When we cleanse our liver, kidneys and skin, we cleanse the body’s primary organs responsible for the elimination of toxins.
What is one very simple dietary treat we can add to facilitate our body’s own capacity to detoxify?
There are many at-home DIY and spa detox formulas out there using a mix of:
- herbal teas
- fresh vegetable and fruit juices
- high fiber raw fruits and veggies
- kits at your local co-op
- colonics (administered under professional supervision)
- hydrotherapy (steam baths, saunas)
- meditation and relaxed visualization exercises
Again, some may be more jolting to the system than others, depending on your usual diet, lifestyle, and weight. It is my philosophy that a gentle detox is most helpful and effective, both in the short and long term.
I love adding dandelion tea to my diet for a simple effective nutrient-rich detox. You may start at any time, and continue it 365 days a year. Drinking dandelion tea is not a dramatic modification, although if I could select only one absolutely amazing herb, it would definitely be dandelion. Your dandelion detox may be part of your ongoing diet and lifestyle. Over time, the cleansing properties of this amazing herb will be noticeable in the clarity of your skin.
Note: This is not a weight loss detox, although you may notice weight loss due to dandelion’s
- diuretic properties which aid in the loss of excess water
- stimulative properties shown to rev up a slow metabolism
As an “astringent diuretic”, dandelion supports weight loss by removing excess water WITHOUT depleting potassium levels. In “the way of herbs”, herbalist Michael Tierra states “Dandelion is one of the finest diuretics known, at least equal to any known drug medicine.” There is no other diuretic that I know of that does not deplete necessary potassium in your body.
This dandelion detox will help to
- cleanse your liver and kidneys to eliminate toxins from the blood
- drive the circulation
- break up obstructions of your spleen, pancreas, gallbladder, bladder and kidneys to facilitate proper “chi” or energy flow
- directly benefit your stomach and intestines by stimulating the flow of bile to improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients
- rejuvenate your capacity for exercise which holds forth the promise of positive chain reactions if incorporated as a daily part of one’s lifestyle
During periods of transition, seasonal and lifestyle, we may experience stressed immune systems, and derivative acute illnesses such as colds, sore throats and flu. Our bodies are asked to adjust to changing climates and environmental conditions, and it’s essential to support our natural ability to do so. Internal cleansing of the liver and kidneys will strengthen and support optimal functioning of all the body’s organs, improving your immune system and overall health.
Dandelion does all this as an amazingly powerful alterative (blood purifier) herb.
Renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, in her beautiful book “Family Herbal” praises dandelion’s talents “The entire plant is restorative and rejuvenating.” Just what we need during seasonal transitions to “kick start” our constitutions, and to be our best, everyday.
Dandelion is a plentiful source of
- vitamins A and C to nourish, strengthen and restore a weakened or stressed immune system, and we know how fabulous these vitamins are for our skin
- mineral supplements calcium and magnesium to calm the nervous system during times of transition, relaxing our nerves to encourage a good night’s sleep, during which most healing and rejuvenation occurs
- iron, to increase vitality and energy which may otherwise be lowered because frankly it can be exhausting to adjust to transitions of all sorts – new seasons, new jobs, new relationships, new places, new lifestyles,…
In addition to its alterative detox properties, dandelion has been shown to
- function as an effective partner in regulating blood sugar imbalances resulting from a poor diet and lack of exercise, particularly when combined with ginseng and/or ginger
- prevent high blood pressure
Are you beginning to see why I think of dandelion as a miracle herb? I’m quite reticent to refer to any herb in isolation as a “miracle”, but dandelion is just so incredible, it does seem like a miracle to me!
Sipping a cup of dandelion tea from one to three times a day will aid your body to gently detoxify. It will not require you to forgo any of the foods you love, although we do suggest you
- Eat “colorfully” – lots of fresh fruits and veggies – to increase your dietary fiber and maintain a balanced diet. I’d suggest 3-5 colors per meal. You can’t get that many colors from meat and potatoes, so you know what to do!
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily to support the flush of toxins fromy our body. It’s best to drink this water between meals rather than during meals. If you must drink water during meals, one glass should be sufficient. It’s better for your digestive system if you don’t drink excessively during meals, and room temperature is better than chilled or ice water.
- Reduce your intake of sugar, refined carbs and caffeine. Spring and summer fruits are so fabulously sweet and juicy that I find I naturally gravitate to them more than to sugary desserts that I admit I indulge in as comfort foods during the cold winter months.
Sipping dandelion tea throughout your day is one little detox secret which, unlike many other detox plans, requires no discipline or dietary depravation. It’s merely an addition to what you’re already doing!
Dandelion tea (decoctions of roots and infusions of leaves and flowers) is an excellent way in which to benefit from the detoxification properties of this cleansing and nutritive herb, as the water with which the tea is prepared supports the flush of toxins from our system. What could be better or simpler?
If you have a local source for organic dandelion, that’s ideal. If not, organic dandelion or a ready-made organic dandelion tea at your local food co-op or store are great options. Many grocery stores now carry organic dandelion tea in bags. Do NOT pick dandelions from a fertilized yard or curbside to prepare your tea. Toxic chemicals in fertilizer present a serious danger to your health. Please make sure your source is reputable and organic.
Can I add sweetener to naturally bitter dandelion tea?
If you find that dandelion tea has a slightly bitter taste, try adding a little honey or molasses, the latter is high in B vitamins which support your immune and nervous systems to help keep you healthy and calm during a detox. You may also mix it with sweeter herbal teas such as licorice. I love my dandelion tea mixed with licorice or ginger and a dollop of honey. Ginger is an excellent herb to add to any other herbal tea, as it helps to rev up the healing properties of the primary herb.
The health of your liver is exemplified in a clear and radiant complexion. When one suffers from skin inflammation, eruptions, eczema and sallowness, it may be indicative of less than optimally functioning liver and kidneys that are temporarily experiencing challenges in ridding the body of toxins. When I was a student living and working in Paris in my 20’s (no, that’s not me – I’m a brunette, but we’re sister spirits), I admittedly consumed way too much strong coffee, had less than a stellar diet, and was inundated with coursework and research (stress), my skin suffered from sallowness and eruptions which bothered me, because clear healthy skin has always been so important to me. I wish I’d known about dandelion then!
Dandelion can help flush out toxins, get everything moving more freely through our system, and improve the strength and vitality of our organs of elimination, resulting in more beautiful and healthy skin. You gotta love an herb that promises and delivers beautiful healthy skin, because when you feel great in your skin (bien dans sa peau), you feel great period. And, we all know it’s a wonderful feeling!
Healthy liver, kidneys and skin. They work together. Let’s take care of them as if they were inseparable, because they are, and dandelion tea makes it so easy!
Oh, one more thing…isn’t there always one more thing? While you’re going through any detox, I think it’s important to take long warm or hot baths (hydrotherapy) to cleanse our skin, the largest organ of our body. Why not sip your dandelion tea while taking a bath? It just makes sense to cleanse from the outside in and the inside out – cover all bases! Okay, you’re all set now.
If you have questions or comments about detox, cleansing, dandelion, or hot baths, or anything you’d like to share about your experience with detox, please leave them below, and we’ll be happy to share your comments and answer your questions.