Posts Tagged ‘detoxification’

Gentle Daily Detoxification

April 26, 2011

Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM

Last week I wrote that Oriental Medicine does not recommend specific spring detoxification however; there are some gentle detoxification methods that can be easily incorporated into your daily life. One is drinking warm water with the juice from half an organic lemon squeezed into it first thing in the morning.  (Lemon is sour and supports your Liver).  If the lemon irritates your stomach, just drink the warm water without it. If you are constipated, or your stools are hard or your evacuation feels sluggish this will help, especially if you also have a glass of warm water before bed. Warm water does not mean room temperature. The water must be heated, not to a point of hot, but definitely warmed. Another method is dry skin brushing.

Dry brushing removes surface dead skin cells and stimulates the lymph system which removes a lot of our body’s waste.  Poor lymphatic drainage contributes to arthritis, cellulite and high blood pressure. This technique can be done year round.  If you are not currently doing it, this is a great time to start.

All you need is a bristle brush with a long detachable handle.  Most health food stores carry these brushes.  The brush must be used when it, and your skin is dry.  (It is advisable to wash the bristles in warm soapy water every 2 weeks).  Brush your body once daily prior to a shower or bath. The whole process only takes 5 minutes.  If you do this daily, it is also good to take a few days break every month so your body does not become lazy, similar to the pulsing method while taking supplements. The technique is rather simple: always brush toward your lymphatic glands.  There are several throughout our bodies but the two main areas are near the groin and underneath the clavicles.

Be gentle with your skin.  If you brush too strongly, you could scratch or irritate your skin and not engage your lymphatic system, which is just shallow to your skin’s surface. First, start at the soles of your feet, then the tops and the ankles, move up your legs. Use long strokes on your legs toward the upper inner thigh.  Brush your fingers, hands and arms towards your shoulders. On your buttocks and back, stroke towards the front to follow the lymph system. For your abdomen, use circular strokes from right to left – following the direction of your colon.  Be gentle on your chest, the skin is thinner here – again, you are stroking towards your clavicles.

Areas to avoid include genitals, nipples particularly if you are a female; areas of skin which are infected or broken, eczema, psoriasis, and areas of bulging painful varicose veins. This method is not to be used on the neck or face because the skin is too fragile.

After your shower or bath, you can massage into your skin essential oils diluted in a carrier oil such as sweet almond, sunflower or sesame oil.  You can use a single essential oil such as cypress, which is wonderful for detoxification or blend it with juniper and lemon or grapefruit in a very small concentration. Both of these citrus oils can be skin irritants and make you more sensitive to sunlight. Do not use them if you will be in the sun.

Examples of possible essential oil blends which assist the lymphatic system with 1 ounce of carrier oil: 6 drops cypress, 3 drops juniper, 1 drop lemon or grapefruit.  Use this blend daily for not more than 3 days consecutively. To make a gentler blend you could try 3-4 drops of cypress and 5-6 drops of lavender, not to exceed 10 drops total.  Experiment with the oils and discover what suits you.  Cathy has pre-blended oils for the bath and individual essential oils on her Iris Herbal website.

I admit I do get out of the habit of dry skin brushing at times.  When I remember to start again, I feel better and my skin looks healthier.  Having a human body can be a lot to take care of!  I hope you are enjoying Spring, this wonderful season of rebirth, and use some gentle detoxification if you feel it is appropriate.  Always remember to check in with yourself. You are usually your best authority.

Lisa Goodstein, DOM
505-­501-2130
www.goodmedicineassociates.com

Spring from the Perspective of Oriental Medicine

April 19, 2011

Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM

Spring – plants and trees are growing, perennials are poking out again, trees are bearing new beautiful leaves and buds. Depending where you live, this has been happening for a while, or maybe it is just starting. From a Chinese Medical perspective – the Liver is the organ associated with Spring. It is common for a Liver imbalance to be aggravated in this season which makes this a perfect time to support your Liver by eating foods and herbs which benefit this very large and important organ. The liver consistently cleanses our blood, removes toxins and is responsible for the smooth flow and regulation of Qi and blood throughout our bodies. This organ is associated with the color green, movement that is outwards and upwards (like plants at this time of year), and the harmonious interaction of an individual with their external environment.

If you live in New Mexico, this time of year is also known for the wind. Yes, we hear it howling daily, have sand and dirt blowing in our faces, and we navigate around the tumbleweeds in the roadways. Our skin is dry, eyes are irritated and headaches may come and go. Wind also affects us on an emotional level. An East wind affects the Liver the most in Chinese Medical theory and generally causes headaches and neck stiffness. If you are experiencing discomforts due to this weather pattern, it is very likely you have a Liver imbalance. Herbs that could help you include milk thistle, yellow dock, blupleurum, nettles and other herbs which Cathy has discussed in previous weeks. A small amount of foods with a sour taste is beneficial for our Livers. Another ailment you may experience with the wind is a dry annoying cough. For this, the easiest remedy is to poach a pear and eat it while it is still warm.

The topics of these blogs have lately been about detoxification, because from a traditional western perspective and the Judeo-Christian calendar, Spring is the time of year to perform cleansing rituals. This includes cleaning our homes as well as our bodies. In Chinese Medicine these ‘cleanses’ or ‘detoxifications’ are not part of the philosophy because our bodies continually experience detoxification on a gentle daily level. The only time it is appropriate to purge is when we have to rid ourselves of a toxin – this can be in the form of something we ate, an infection, or parasites. It is used only when we need to quickly treat an acute situation.

If you are experiencing headaches, lethargy, irritability, or body pain – you could have a Liver imbalance. A consultation with an Oriental Medical practitioner, Naturopathic doctor, or Ayurvedic practitioner would be useful to clarify your situation and offer you remedies to bring you into balance.

Lisa Goodstein, DOM
505-­501-2130
www.goodmedicineassociates.com

Addressing the Emotional Aspect of Detox with Essential Oils

April 12, 2011
Anytime we change our habits, add or subtract food groups, look at how and when we eat, and/or start a detoxification process (however modest) emotional issues are going to arise. Our emotions (which some folks call feelings with a story) are inextricably linked to our thoughts and to bodily sensations (both “positive” and “negative”…what we often call “symptoms”).  Although much of our culture treats our minds as “ourselves” and our bodies as the “mules” which haul “us” around, we are really whole and indivisible beings. Those of us reading this know that intellectually (myself included), but doing any kind of detox will bring home this truth, as old “stuff” gets liberated during the release of toxins, and we get to “deal with” whatever we’ve back-burnered, or let slide into our subconscious.
Essential oils, which are very concentrated plant distillations (yes, they do come in other forms, but the vast majority are steam distilled), offer us a unique melding of the physical, emotional and “spiritual” (unseen dimensional/non-specific to any religion) aspects of herbs. They contain chemicals that are biologically “recognizable to our bodies (and some of these can be toxic or toxic at high doses) and which, if used properly, interact with our own bodily chemistry in beneficial ways. Because essential oils usually have agreeable (or at least “interesting”) scents, we tend to inhale them, and the same chemicals interact with our brain chemistry which can affect our mood, almost always in a positive manner (the main caveat here is you must like the scent, or at least not find it offensive). As we begin to “feel” an effect from inhalation, our souls are engaged….leading to an enhanced ability to both face our shadow aspects, as well as to let in more joy.
So here begins a journey into the physical and energetic effects of approx. 20 essential oils that are useful in assisting us with detoxification (and which are affordable and safe). I’ll start with 5 oils in this blog and the blog entries after I get back from my journey east…the next two blogs will be guest–edited by Lisa Goodstein , DOM.
Bergamot is a cold-pressed oil from a citrus tree, and is the magical ingredient of Earl Grey tea. It is very helpful in releasing tension, irritability, frustration and repressed emotion, especially unexpressed anger. A gentle, calmative, Bergamot is uplifting to the spirit and emotions. {anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, digestive and nervine tonic}.

Atlas Cedar

Atlas Cedar

is a distilled oil from the true Cedars (unlike what we call  Cedars, which are actually Junipers!) With a lovely deep scent this oil imparts strength and determination while dealing with difficult situations. { lymphatic decongestant, anti-microbial and general tonic}.
Roman Chamomile helps relieve nervous stress especially in the solar plexus region. Much like its herbal tea counterpart (though much stronger in both effect and aroma) Chamomile brings calm acceptance of our limitations. {analgesic, anti-inflammatory, gentle sedative, anti-spasmodic and digestive}.
Clary Sage brings inspiration and restores clarity of purpose. Its uplifting scent is gently euphoric, helping to restore balance when over-stimulated and experiencing mental and emotional fatigue. {anti-microbial, antispasmodic, digestive and uterine tonic}.

Cypress

Cypress

is excellent for general detoxification on the physical level, while supporting change on the emotional level. Its clean scent imparts strength to relinquish what needs to be let go, while lending stability and optimism for renewal. {anti-microbial, astringent,antispasmodic, and decongesting to the lungs, lymphatic system and prostate}.
Using these essential oils in the bath is an easy way to introduce aromatherapy into your self-care routine. You only need to use 4 to 10 drops of essential oil (mixed into a teaspoon of vegetable oil, or vodka, or dish soap) and add to a tub of warm (not hot) water. Relax, and let the scent and the energy of the oil relax or invigorate you. To read more about these and other essential oils, go to Iris Herbal Essential Oil Info Portal. To purchase these or any other essential oil, you can visit the Iris Herbal website or call Cathy on the phone toll-free @ 877-286-2970 (useful if you are just ordering one or two essential oils and would rather pay less shipping). For those who would like their bath oils already mixed in vegetable oil (or emulsified in a coconut base so that the blend completely disperses into the water) please go HERE. Enjoy!

Implementation: Part 3

April 5, 2011

Sometimes we make a plan and our body has another idea entirely.  Whenever we “do” detox, whether deliberately or because our body is ready and just goes for it, emotional issues seem to pop up. Many healers believe that any toxic residue has an emotional component…and this will be the  topic I’ll address next week, and how essential oils can assist us.  However, today I will finish this section on implementing with the last 10 herbs that I mentioned in my first blog on herbs, tinctures and essential oils to use for detox.

Mullein: best known for its use in bronchitis, this herb is a lung decongestant and tonic for the respiratory system (soothes inflammation). Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb and let sit, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this 3 times daily.

Elecampane: this herb is used much like Mullein, and adds an anti-microbial property as well as being a digestive and appetite stimulant. Now this is not a typo: pour a cup of cold water over 1 teaspoon of shredded root and let sit for 8 to 10 HOURS. Heat up and drink very hot 3 times daily.

Licorice: because this herb has an effect on the endocrine system (certain chemical components have a structure similar to steroids), it is both very useful and must be used carefully. Licorice is helpful for adrenal gland support, bronchial issues, peptic ulcers, arthritis, various viral infections, and is a mild laxative. Take only 1/2 teaspoon of the root; add to 1 cup of water; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This sweet tasting herb should NOT be used in the following situations: pregnancy, breast-feeding, low blood potassium, or when high blood pressure from sodium retention is present.

Osha: this wonderful southwestern mountain root is useful for all respiratory and throat issues, especially at the first signs of illness, and to help clear the lungs after one has quit smoking. Excellent in children to help prevent middle ear infections, and for anyone to help restore the stomach after illness/vomiting.  Natives chew the root. For the less brave: take 1 oz. (weight) of the herb and let sit overnight in 32 oz. (volume) of water. Drink 2 to 6 oz. of this infusion as needed.

Yerba Santa: another southwestern herb used for asthma, bronchial infection and hay fever. A gentle expectorant, and some varieties are also good for bladder infections. Bring 32 oz. of water to a boil and pour over 1 oz. (by weight) of herb. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 oz. 1 to 4 times daily. (Thank you, Micheal Moore, for info on Osha and Yerba Santa).

Elder Flower: a good-tasting remedy for inflammation of / heavy mucus and infection in the upper respiratory system. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried flowers and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.

Peppermint: this favorite herb is actually not so good for small children (can use a bit of spearmint instead), but excellent for older children and adults to deal with nausea and all digestive issues.  Also helpful in reducing fever, uterine cramps, migraines that are worse with indigestion, and tension in general. Most folks have this available in tea- bag form; however, many times they are old and have lost much of their potency. Take a heaping teaspoon of the herb, put it in your mug, and add a cup of boiled water. Cover the cup with its saucer (yup, that’s what they were originally for) and let steep for 10 minutes. Drink this as desired.

Prickly Ash: stimulating to the lymphatic and circulatory systems; excellent for chronic problems of the skin where there is poor circulation (varicose veins) and rheumatism (inflammation of muscles, joints, connective tissue).  Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.

Yarrow: this is an excellent herb to reduce fever by bringing the body to a sweat and breaking the fever. It also stimulates digestion, tones blood vessels, helps deal with urinary tract infections, and externally is used to stop bleeding.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb; let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 or more times a day. Drink hot for fevers, and cool for internal bleeding. Some experts advise to NOT use if pregnant.

Barberry: major liver and gall bladder tonic (including inflammation and stones); also for enlarged spleen. Especially useful for debilitated people to both strengthen and cleanse the whole system. A  mildly laxative digestive tonic. Put 1 teaspoon of the bark into a small saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.  Drink 3 times daily. Do NOT use if pregnant.

Implementation, Part 2

April 1, 2011

Before I continue with the list of herbs, let’s look at storage of herbs, and some basics about tinctures.

Herbs need to be stored in airtight, opaque jars in a cool, dark, dry place. Light, heat and oxidation degrade the quality of herbs as their constituents evaporate, oxidize, and other otherwise lose their potency. Powdered herbs will only last about 6 months or so; same with tea bags! (They have a use by date stamped on the bottom…and yes, many of mine are past their prime). Whole dried leaves (the best way to home dry, as the more a leaf or root is pulverized, the more surface area is exposed to the air) can last a year; whole dried roots up to 3 years. Alcohol-free extracts (usually glycerites) last 3 or so years, and alcohol extracts or tinctures can last 7 (or lots more) years.

Any of the herbs from yesterday, today, or this weekend’s lists can be (used, made or bought as) tinctures. The dosages of store-bought should be on the label. If a range of doses is given, the middle dose is usually for a 150 lb. adult. If you are making tinctures at home, check out the books offered through Iris Herbal  HERE  to find a good text to help you make and use herbal tinctures correctly and safely. You can also call the Iris Herbal office (toll-free 877-286-2970) and talk to Cathy about buying single herb (or ready-made combinations and/or special blends) tinctures (with all the new FDA regs, this is no longer possible online through the shopping cart).

Nettles: a very versatile edible herb; it is an astringent good for discharges (especially hay fever, diarrhea, nose bleeds); a alkalyzing diuretic; and useful for arthritis & eczema. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let steep, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do 3 times daily.

Burdock: another very useful plant disparaged as a weed; it aids liver, gall bladder and kidney function, and is especially good for the treatment of systemic imbalance that manifests as skin problems (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff), arthritis and gout. Put 1 teaspoonful of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

A note about dosages: before I continue, the amounts to make and use have so far come David Hoffmann’s The New Holistic Herbal and reflect a robust relationship between human and plant. When first taking any new herb, you may want to half the dosage and start with once a day, and work up to larger dosages. Sometimes taking herbs can exacerbate a symptom, often referred to as a “healing crisis” as toxins are discharged (and the body is supported in dumping metabolic waste). Some herbalists are gung-ho here and exhort the patient to press on. Since we are doing “gentle detox” my advise is to slightly back off, drink more water, go to sleep earlier, continue cleaning up your diet, and calmly persevere. Also, when a herb is specifically for digestion, take your tea  just before eating; otherwise, (in general) take the dose 45 minutes 1/2 hour before a meal.

Oregon Grape/Mahonia: this root is a bitter tonic for impaired salivary and gastric secretions (especially for difficult fat and protein digestion); is a stimulant to liver protein metabolism; and is an anti-microbial for both the skin and intestinal tract. Prepare like Burdock; take 2 to 4 oz. in the am and before retiring; do this for at least 2 weeks. (Thank you, Michael Moore).

Sarsaparilla: this alterative is good for systemic tonification, especially where there is chronic skin irritation and problems, rheumatism, herpes, gout and deficiencies in the adrenal and gonad hormone production. Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

Yellow Dock: another wonderful weed! For all chronic skin eruptions and complaints, especially when accompanied by constipation; also for jaundice from liver congestion. Make and use as for Sarsaparilla.

Cleavers: excellent tonic for the lymphatic system; good for swollen glands, cystitis, and skin conditions. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this three times daily.

Red Clover: fabulous herb for children (childhood eczema, whooping-cough, mono) and for adults (chronic skin problems and infections, increases lactation). Pur a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of herb; infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Take 3 times daily. DO NOT use if PREGNANT.

Red Root: good for lymphatic congestion, especially accompanied by sore throat, inflamed spleen, and/or fluid cysts in sexual organs (male or female). Use like Sarsaparilla.

Echinacea: this is our premier anti-microbial herb; good for all infections anywhere in the body (use at first sign of upper respiratory problems). Also beneficial to tendons and ligaments (in chronic inflammation) and for any swollen areas on the skin (whether due to septic cuts or insect bites. For acute symptoms it’s easier to take a tincture (up to 40 drops per hour) and in chronic conditions, see Sarsaparilla.

Calendula: this flower is useful both internally: ulcers, mouth sores, indigestion with gall bladder pain and fungal infections; and externally: inflammation due to bruising, minor burns and sprains, as well as fungal problems. Pour a cup of boiling water on 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herbs and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

Herbs That Assist Detoxification

March 29, 2011

This blog topic could easily be a book…which means that although this won’t be comprehensive or in great detail, you will find the creme de la creme of the basics…call it “detox cliff notes”…

An herbal approach to detoxification is based upon the premise that our bodies are self-healing; that we already have an amazingly effective and astoundingly complex array of detoxification systems “built-in;” and that our job is to augment our innate abilities by:  first, support the whole body’s process of elimination (and not just the colon, which is what many pre-made cleanses do); second, apply specific support for overly taxed organs and third,  alleviate any symptoms (and address any pathologies that may be present).

For digestion issues and the colon, we want to assist the break down of food (try a simple herbal bitters recipe of Gentian, Ginger and Cardamom {used as a tea or a tincture; the last 2 are also available as essential oils and can be diluted and rubbed on the stomach} ; or you can use Anise, Fennel, and/or Cumin Seeds {chew the seeds, make a tea, use as tincture or essential oil} as both flavorings and to assist in digestion) as well as deal with constipation, or even slow evacuation (mild, safe, not too intense Yellow Dock and Dandelion Root; for more stubborn cases, try Cascara Sagrada).

For the kidneys and urinary system, we can use a gentle diuretic (increases the flow of urine) to move fluids out of the body, which is especially helpful in cases of edema (swelling) or to remove toxins more quickly. Herbs that do this without causing imbalance (unlike drugs, these herbs contain potassium; however, a little goes a long way) are Chickweed, Dandelion, Parsley and Nettle leaves. Notice that these are “spring tonics,” often considered weeds (well, maybe not parsley, but how many of us really eat it?), and are edible as “pot-herbs” (cooked like any greens), in salads, or used medicinally in the form of tea or tinctures (alcohol extract). Many folks recommend using the juice of half a lemon in warm water upon arising.

Hepatic herbs are those which assist the liver and gall bladder in their many functions:  Dandelion root, Beets (yes, the food), Turmeric ( the main spice ingredient in many curries) {all of these can be used as food, a simmered tea or as a tincture} and Milk Thistle seed, which is available as either a tincture or a standardized extract which comes in the form of a capsule.   Alteratives are what used to be called  blood cleansers and are the class of herbs that gradually restore the proper functions of the body which then increase health and vitality. These include Burdock, Oregon Grape, Sarsaparilla and Yellow Dock roots, Cleavers, Nettles and Red Clover, as well as seaweeds and garlic.  Essential oils that stimulate and aid the functioning of our liver include Angelica, Carrot seed, Chamomile, Cypress, Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary. They can be used individually or in various combinations as a massage oil or bath oil. {Infomercial: check out www.irisherbal.com offerings in health enhancement, massage and bath oils, as well as individual essential oils, and the essential oil info page which gives great detail on how to safely use essential oils}.

Lymphatic tonic herbs assist in the movement and drainage of our lymph system.  They include Burdock, Dandelion and Yellow Dock roots, as well as Red Root, Echinacea root and Calendula (usually taken as a decoction or simmered tea, or as a tincture). There are many essential oils that are useful in this category: Lemon, Grapefuit, Carrot seed, Coriander, Spruce, Frankincense and Laurel {infomercial # 2; check  HERE for 2 massage oils for the lymph system}.

For the  Lungs we can increase the flow of mucus (mucolytics) to help move out phlegm and ease breathing. For this I  find essential oils to be easy and effective, as either a salve or by vaporizing a few drops of essential oil in a pot of boiled water. Good oils for this include Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Laurel, Rosemary, Lavender, Camphor and Peppermint. In the herbal realm, we can use an expectorant (again, help loosen and expel mucus) like Mullein, Elecampane,  Anise seed, Licorice, and great southwestern herbs such as Osha  and Yerba Santa. Any of these herbs can be used as a tea or tincture.

When dealing with the skin, we have a few avenues open to us. We can use diaphoretics (aid the skin in the elimination of toxins through perspiration) which include Elder flower, Ginger, Peppermint, Prickly Ash and Yarrow (as teas, decoctions or tinctures) as well as the use of 2 herbs which address the skin/liver connection which are Barberry and Yellow Dock. Besides dry brush massage, alternating cool and warm showers (which stimulate the lymph and the skin) there are also the judicious use of saunas, steam baths (where we can add essential oils) and  hot springs, baths in our homes (where we can add bath oils, clay and/or apple cider vinegar)and sunlight (either the addition or removal).

WHEW!  In the next few weeks we’ll be exploring heavy metal detox, using supplements as part of our detoxification program, plus the emotional aspects of detox, and 2 guest blogs by Lisa Goodstein, DOM on the Chinese/Eastern take on this subject.

Internal Cleansing: Our Organs of Elimination

March 23, 2011

If fasting is about paying attention to what goes into our body (and any kind of detoxification program starts with what food we eat), then cleansing is paying attention to the other end of the equation: what comes out (or not), as well as what gets assimilated in between.

This week I’m going to briefly describe how 5 of our major organs are always involved with detoxification, which is just a part of life. We eat, we digest, nutrients are (hopefully) absorbed, and we deal with the by-products (wastes) of innumerable chemical processes throughout our bodies.

The colon hosts several pounds of friendly (ideally 85% of the total)  bacteria that are true workhorses: they help digest food, manufacture vitamins, and play a major role in our immune function. Our colons also do the heavy lifting of eliminating solid waste. Most problems in our colons (including constipation) develop when we are out of balance: too little fiber; too much “toy food” and not enough real food; too much sugar (which feeds the “bad” micro-organisms like Candida) and not drinking enough water.

Our kidneys filter waste from our blood in an amazingly complex dance. Good nutrition is essential for their job; too much animal protein (especially the poor quality of corn fed confined animals fed antibiotics) stresses the kidneys as they labor to remove excess uric acid. Sometimes lack of Vit. K and other nutrients can result in the back up of inorganic minerals, causing kidney stones. Again, we are talking about a healthy body in balance, and the health of one organ affect the health of all organs.

I recently read that if we had to build a factory to represent our liver, that physical plant would cover 2,000 acres! This is because our liver performs so many complex tasks: making antihistamines, cleansing blood, neutralizing and eliminating toxins, metabolizing fat, dealing with the cholesterol process, making and storing red blood cells, and helping with digestion, bile, our immune system and the balancing of hormones. No wonder out deeply toxic environment is putting such a strain on this precious organ. If we strive to lower the chemical burden, through eating organic real food and filtering out water, we will assist our liver greatly.

Our lungs provide us with a process that is constant from our first breath to our last: the bringing in of oxygen to the red blood cells, and the removal of waste products like carbon dioxide. A good practise is to slow the breath, breathing as deeply as possible, and completely exhaling the air, including that bit that seems to hold on at the bottom of our lungs. You may have to use your diaphram consciously to do that.

Not everyone realizes that our skin is an organ of elimination. And yet not only is it our largest detoxifier, it can act like another set of kidneys and cleanse up to a pound of impurities a day. Our skin also assists our lungs in respiration, doing about 15% of the intake of oxygen and release of CO2 that our bodies need. Our skin tone, elasticity, lack of or appearence of cellulite (which is toxic waste lodged in the skin’s fatty tissues, often due to a sluggish lymphatic system), and lack of or appearance of acne/excema, etc. are all indicators of our entire body’s health. Problems that show up on the skin can be caused by food senstivities, allergins, problems in our lymphatic system, an over-burdened liver, poor food assimilation (and that can be due sometimes to the lack of digestive enzymes), and auto-immune disorders.

Last but never least is our lymphatic system, which is not a discrete organ but a network of lymph vessals and glands throughout the body that helps detoxify and drain areas of our body that are not well perfused with blood. Many of us find as we age that our lymphatic systems get a little sluggish, perhaps due to not enough exercise (the ‘pump” of this system is our legs striding and our arms swinging). A 20 minute walk per day will help, and some folks like to do dry brushing as well (using a dry natural bristle brush, lightly brush your skin from the extremities toward your heart). This is especially beneficial before a shower as it helps remove dead skin.

Tune in next week for herbal specifics (tinctures, teas, essential oils) to assist our bodies’  in their daily detoxification. And happy Spring!


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