Last week the earth stood in the balance of the Equinox and Spring is finally here. In the bay area, the trees and plants are blossoming, the birds are singing, and we are even getting some springtime rain. The blogosphere of health and wellness is abound with tips and suggestions for “springtime detoxing” and “diets to get you in shape for bikini season”. I have to say these posts tend to drive me nuts. Too often they tend towards sleezy marketing ploys and at worst they contain advice that is downright unhealthy. Sadly they are too often rooted in fat shaming and perpetuating an unattainable and superficial ideal of health and beauty.
All that being said, Spring is a wonderful time to set intentions and shift your body. The earth changes with the seasons and our bodies are the earth and so a focus on adjusting to the change in seasons is important and a key dimension of staying healthy. My teacher Karyn Sanders talks about the shifting of the blood that happens as the seasons change and the importance of supporting your body in shifting from “winter blood” to “spring blood”. So in the spirit of the shifting of the seasons and in the spirit of loving our bodies and celebrating beauty in its many forms, here are 6 suggestions for healthy springtime cleansing.
1) Cut out Stimulants, Booze, and Sugars
These substances all have an impact on our bodies and are more than we need. I’m all about a “harm reduction” approach to diet in general but if you’re going to do a cleanse, cutting out coffee, beer, and candy bars will go a long way in simplifying your body’s process of finding balance in the season. These substances are all hard on our liver, kidneys, and adrenals. A cleanse is a time when we are trying to give these systems a vacation. So save the cocktails for when you’re on vacation and grab a glass of water instead.
Speaking of grabbing a glass of water, better to grab your water bottle. Water is a wonderful substance to help your body move stuck energy and support you in shifting towards the springtime. Aryuvedic, Chinese, and other Indigenous traditions all emphasize drinking water when clearing out our body systems. Add some lemon for flavor and to support your healing.
3) Don’t stop Eating
Some cleanses suggest fasting for a period of time. Please don’t do this. Most of us aren’t cut out for fasting and if you have any sort of history with eating disorders, fasting can be extremely triggering. Fasting can be very hard on your body systems and can make you more susceptible to catching bugs flying around and getting sick. And if you have any blood sugar issues fasting can be dangerous.
4) Eat with the Weather and Eat Kitcheri
Fresh fruits and veggies are starting to more commonly populate the farmers markets and grocers stands. In the Spring, I like to eat lots of berries and salad greens. The foods that are growing in your bioregion right now are likely good foods to be eating as you’re shifting towards springtime. Another way to support your body in cleansing is to spend a few days only eating Kitcheri. Kitcheri is an Aryuvedic dish that’s made up of mung beans, rice, and spices. It’s very easy for your body to digest and eating only this for a few days is a great way to give your digestive track a break. Here’s a recipe that I like. You can substitute coconut oil for Ghee if you’re a vegan.
5) Try these Herbs
Herbs can be powerful allies in supporting your body’s shifting of the season. Here’s a few of my favorites:
You may know this plant because it stung you when you were hiking in the woods. This plant is more than just an excellent defender of it’s turf! It’s full of nutrients and gentle yet powerful medicine to cleanse the blood. It’s great for almost everyone. One of my herbalist friends jokes that all herbalists want everyone drinking Nettles tea. I think she’s right. In the springtime, this plant is great at gently offering cleansing, adding nutrients, and general toning of the body systems. I also really like Nettles for rebuilding energy especially when someone is kicking caffeine. So if you’re giving up coffee for the first time in a long time for this cleanse, then Nettles is a must. A few cups of tea a day will go a long way.
This is another wonderful plant for blood cleansing. It’s used in many different Native American traditions of healing and provides powerful cleansing to the system. In my own family, my German-American ancestors grew this on their small farm in Ohio in the late 1800s and used it medicinally for years. I love this plant because butterfly’s are wild about it and if you think about the kind of transformation that butterfly’s go through in their lives you can see how this plant would be good at supporting our bodies during times of transition and transformation. You might recognize the flavor as it’s used in some Root Beer recipes. This plant has gotten a bad rap in the last 30 years or so because some plants contained Safrole which was proven to be dangerous. Most Sassafras you can get on the market today does not contain Safrole.
This plant is another great cleanser that is common among indigenous healing traditions throughout the world. There are many different varieties of this plant and almost everywhere it grows indigenous people have used it for medicine. When Europeans landed in the Caribbean, they found local folks using this plant as a tonic. This tastes great and also helps support the body in shifting from winter to spring. I suggest drinking a tea of Sassafras and Sarsaparilla for a few days during a spring time cleanse. 3-4 days of drinking 1-2 cups a day is all you need to help your body shift seasons.
If you’re wondering where to find these herbs or spices for your kitcheri, one of my favorite distributors is Mountain Rose Herbs. Mountain Rose has well sourced material and most often has organically grown options.
6) Clean your home
Cleansing and shifting the seasons is about cleansing the home that is our bodies and also the home in which we are living. Cleansing the space around you as you are shifting your body is a great way to align energies within and without you. You might also consider cleansing your garden by fertilizing your plants and beginning the weeding of the season. When the environment around us is disorganized and messy, it’s harder to bring our bodies into alignment. Clean out that old closet, make a donation to the local “Out of the Closet” or thrift store, and get back into your garden!
So what are you waiting for? Call in that cleansing that is healing and sustainable this springtime!
Please Note: Rain is in the Forecast and so this Saturday’s “Plant Spirit Walk” has been rescheduled. We will instead gather from 5:30-7:30pm on Friday April 18. Register for the Plant Walk today by clicking here