If you would like to see my You Tube video on this article, you can watch it here.
What is an Ayurvedic (aka. Vedic) cleanse?
Ayurveda is the Ancient East Indian ‘science of life’, a completely holistic and well-rounded approach to vitality, longevity, and healing the body. An Ayurvedic cleanse is focused on drawing toxins and excess air (vata), fire (pitta), and earth (kapha) out of the tissues and into the digestive tract so that they can be eliminated. While this is sometimes an uncomfortable process, the end result of a cleanse should be an improved sense of balance and overall health.
When is the ideal time for a cleanse?
Spring and fall are the traditional times for a cleanse, as we are literally clearing out what we don’t need, to prepare for greater balance in the upcoming season. For example, if we can clear any excess fire out of the body before summertime (or the hotter season) approaches us, then the heat will have less of a negative impact on us. (This means that we will literally be less bothered by the heat than we might otherwise if we had not cleansed).
Who Can do a Vedic Cleanse?
I like the Vedic approach to cleansing because it is generally a very gentle (aka. safe) approach to use. If you know anything about me, it is that I don’t tend to be overly rigid about anything. That means that doing a ‘severe’ cleanse would typically not be my preferred approach. Note that cleansing is never suggested while pregnant or breastfeeding (the released toxins can have a negative effect on the baby). People who are very weak should also reconsider a cleanse and wait until they are physically stronger before embarking on a cleanse.
Now there are certain times when a more dramatic method might be called for, as with the ancient deeply cleansing process of Panchakarma.
I would only recommend doing this type of cleanse with an Ayurvedic doctor who is trained to support this process. (Panchakarma is a process of purification, where you stay at a facility usually for a few weeks at a time. Therapeutic vomiting, purgation, etc. are used to clean out excess elements (doshas) that may have hindered healing. A pure diet of kitchari (more on this later), combined with Vedic massage and shirodhara (oil streamed onto the third eye) are also used to support the cleanse. A person is often weak afterwords and should take time to regain strength before heading back out into everyday life. I do recommend this process if a person has had a longstanding chronic condition with little relief, but again, only under the supervision of a trained Vedic doctor.
Metabolic Fire & A Healthy Body
Ayurveda says that there is one thing that influences our health more than any other: the metabolic fire–agni, in Sanskrit. Agni turns food into consciousness and governs metabolism everywhere the body. It oversees digestion, absorption, and assimilation in the GI tract, as well as the exchange of nutrients at even the cellular level—including the digestion of thoughts and emotions. Agni is also our number one defense system against ill health and disease and when it is impaired, our overall health will suffer, sometimes in very obvious ways, sometimes in much more subtle ways.
Supporting the health of agni can be an important way to improve overall health within the body. A cleanse, done properly, will help to strengthen agni throughout the system, as well as help to eliminate the toxicity that might otherwise inhibit it. A cleanse can then begin to initiate a powerful process of healing and renewal on many different levels.
For a more thorough read on the importance and significance of having good agni, you can check out this article here.
Indications that you may need a cleanse:
Benefits of doing a cleanse:
Different approaches to cleansing
Periodic cleansing is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and should also take into consideration your strength, age, and lifestyle, as well as environmental and seasonal influences. The overall structure, length, intensity, and depth of the cleanse can all be adapted to support you.
Most Ayurvedic cleanses are centered around simplifying the diet and, in some cases, adding supportive lifestyle practices. The goal is to balance air (vata), fire (pitta), and earth (kapha), digest and eliminate toxins, balance and strengthen agni, and restore the body’s natural intelligence.
Powerful outcome of a cleanse
These are powerful outcomes and they tend to reset our baseline health at very deep levels. Remarkably, the process can be both curative and preventative because cleansing helps to reinvigorate the body’s best internal defense mechanisms, as well as its capacity for repair and renewal. As a result, truly profound changes often follow even a simple cleanse.
You can do this
If you feel at all intimidated by the process of doing a cleanse, no need, I’ll give you a safe and simple approach at the end of this article. (Alternatively, you can book in with me here and we can discuss a custom cleanse for you, that I will walk you through). Know too that an ayurvedic approach to cleansing allows for you to eat a monodiet that includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, ghee (aka. clarified butter), many spices, and variety of flavors, so you should not feel overly deprived when you do this type of cleanse. Your menu will be simplified, but you will not have to fast or do anything overly aggressive.
If you remain skeptical about how this process might serve you, I encourage you to give the most basic cleanse a try. Even if you don’t feel any early warning signs of imbalance, your body will very likely appreciate the break. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised—even shocked—by how powerfully a cleansing regimen can support you and your overall health. A periodic cleanse is one of the most valuable gifts we can offer ourselves. In the modern era, when so many of us are overly busy, overly toxic, and consistently weighed down by stress, anxiety, and dis-ease, a cleanse can be life-changing.
A few other things to note, which can be incorporated into your life for a mild ‘daily’ detox regimen.
Triphala is one of the wonder herbs of Ayurveda, and can be helpful for creating a long slow detox in the body (when taken daily). I take about ½ to 1 teaspoon (start off with a smaller amount if you have not taken it before) at bedtime daily. The list of benefits of taking triphala is long (and makes the bitter taste very worthwhile). Some of the benefits of taking triphala are as follows:
Above: Photo of Triphala (made from 3 berries, amalaki, bibitaki, and haritaki)
Other daily practices which can support a regular mild detox, include the use of the following:
Tongue cleansers (or scrapers) are inexpensive to buy and help to greatly improve oral hygiene. The tongue cleaner gently scrapes the top of the tongue, ideally upon awakening in the morning, and before bed. Some of the other benefits of using a tongue cleaner are as follows:
This is an oil that is put inside the nostrils, and has a number of benefits including:
Note: you can buy a specific nasya oil through Banyan Botanicals (made for this purpose with supportive herbs), or you can use any organic oil you have on hand.
Apart from the more obvious benefit of helping to increase the general level of self-care, self-massage can be a highly beneficial daily treatment. It is best done in the shower (or bath) as the water will help the skin take in the oil more deeply. Self-massage can also be helpful for the following reasons:
This Vedic technique has become more popular in recent years, as people are becoming more understanding of it’s benefits. Oil pulling is done by swishing oil around the mouth for a few minutes at a time. Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of organic sesame or coconut oil into the mouth and swish for up to 20 minutes. Because it involves pushing and pulling the oil around the mouth, it is called oil pulling. The oil must be completely spit out after you are done. Benefits of this are:
Banyan Botanicals has a nice package where you can buy all of the items listed above, here.
One Day Digestive Reset
This one day routine occurs by doing a simple one-day monodiet (details below).
This approach works by very briefly cleaning up the diet in order to clear toxins and imbalances from the digestive tract while strengthening the digestive fire for improved performance. This routine provides a simple but effective means of supporting agni—especially if the reset is practiced on a regular basis (which is recommended).
For more information on how to do this one day reset, you can see this article for further information.
This approach is NOT for you if:
Three Day Cleanse
This is a fairly gentle cleanse that can be done at any time of the year, although during seasonal transitions is still the ideal time to do a cleanse. It will reset your digestive tract in a short period of time, and is a great ‘intro’ to cleansing if you’ve never done so before (especially because it is so short and simple). This cleanse consists of a basic diet of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, as well as detoxifying fluids and supportive herbs.
It will re-kindle agni as well as clear toxins. In fact, it will give your body a rest from the harmful inputs that we typically ingest daily (if only in the air we breathe), which in turn will give agni a chance to recuperate, rest, and repair itself. It will kindle the digestive fire, strengthen digestive capacity, burn toxins, and clear excess elements (fire, air, earth, and water). It will also clear the mind and the bodily tissues, and impart a renewed sense of taste, appetite, digestion, elimination, and mental clarity.
Consider this approach if:
This approach is NOT for you if:
For details on how to do this cleanse, see the article at this link here. (Note that this reference gives details on foods and herbs to buy as well as how to cook them).
The Everyday Cleanse:
For some people, just adding in more fresh fruits and veggies into the diet is enough to provide a small cleanse. If you are one of those people who tends to eat a lot of pre-made fast food meals, then I would highly recommend that you begin by simply adding in more fresh cooked whole foods into your diet.
Whole foods include things like: fresh fruit and veggies (as many different kinds as possible, organic when possible), whole grains, organic free-range meats (in moderation), as well as things like cooked legumes and nuts and seeds. This simple change to a whole foods diet will create powerful lasting changes for most people who try it.
I tend to do a crock pot meal once a week, where I cook my meat for the week. I will also prep my veggies so all I need to do is cook them before eating them. Sometimes I will cook enough for two days so that I can just heat them up on the second day.
A typical meal for me will be organic chicken (or eggs) and 2 different veggies, that I heat up at the same time. I use oils that are ok to use on high heat (ghee or coconut oil), or just water when I want to use less oils.
Here is an article if you want to learn more about the benefits of eating whole foods.
Would You like More Support to Create a Cleanse that Supports YOU?
If you are interested in doing a cleanse, and would like a custom-tailored approach, I have put together a small coaching package just for this purpose. This package offers:
This package is an amazing value (I normally charge almost double this rate for 2 sessions). If you really want to try a custom-tailored approach, with super support at your side guiding you giving suggestions based specifically on your unique constitution, then this package is for you.
PS. If you are serious about considering a cleanse, I highly recommend doing it during the transition from spring to summer or summer to fall (when the support of the season will aid your cleanse).
PPS. Given the one-on-one nature of support during this process, I can only take on a limited number of clients, so book soon before the sessions fill up!
Here’s to you feeling wonderful every day!