Article

Spring Cleaning the Body - Detox: What it is, and what it isn't.


Date: March 20, 2017 Posted by: Dafydd Monks

Spring is properly here. 

We're in the light part of the year - the weather is much more clement, spring flowers are starting to bloom, and my bees are flying. 

My dispensary however is in a shocking state. I've been pressing tinctures that were made last autumn. With teaching and other comittments I've not had time to clear up after myself as I should. It needs half a day or so of my time to 'Spring Clean'. 

But what about my body? I have spent the past weekend teaching/instructing people in using herbs for family health. And as I was doing so, I kept emphasising the importance of keeping the channels of elimination open enough to 'detoxify' the body. 

Detox - What it is and what it isn'tObviously, there is no such thing as a 'detox' on its own. That is why we have organs of elimination - the lymphatic system, the kidneys and most important of them all, the liver. In Chinese medicine they consider the liver to be the main organ much as we consider the heart to be the main organ of life. But think about it: The heart is effectively a mechanical blood pump - the liver is where metabolism - the very cornerstone of our function as living things occurrs. 

Arguably (as per the image above) you could say that if the organs of elimination stop working, we just die. And there's a certain amount of truth to that. But that's only half the story. The liver is like the factory and scrapyard of the body. It builds stuff and takes old stuff apart to be either recycled or thrown out (eliminated). But our environment - both inside the body, and outside of it in modern life - tends to be so toxic, through pollution, diet, exposure to contaminant chemicals, and our sedentry lifestyle, gives the body's organs of elimination a lot more work to do in order to keep its internal environment 'clean'. So, under the weight of work placed upon it, it cuts corners, skimps in places and doesn't clear some of the detritus of our ongoing metabolism as it should.  

This is where a 'detox' comes in. And this is where herbs come in. Simple herbal formulations can help the body's organs of elimination to function more effectively and give us a hand getting on top of the dross and clutter that the body shoves away in its dark corners. It is also amusing that a lot of the herbs that are best suited to this process are at their best in the spring time. 

The challenges of detoxifying the body are generally: 

  • Improve circulation, so nutrients are being brought to the tissues and wastes taken away

  • Improve lymphatic drainage and processing - same effect as above

  • Tone the kidneys and improve their efficiency at filtering the blood

  • Tone the liver and improve its ability to break down metabolic wastes and other undesirable contaminents. 

Those four actions give you a 'detox' or metabolic spring clean. It also happens that they map perfectly with four of the herbs that are at their best in spring time. So, check back soon for part two of this article on a simple mix you can make with springtime plants you can easily find in order to give your body its own spring clean!

As a Medical Herbalist it is my job to support people in all aspects of using herbs to improve their health from simple lifestyle suggestions to help you managing a complicated and long term health condition. Are you feeling a bit low this spring and think you might benefit from seeing me? Get in touch with me here to arrange a consultation