Finally—spring is here! The warmth and new life emerging all around us are uplifting signs announcing this season of rejuvenation. We can harness spring’s transformative power to enhance our own health, and heal the damage done over the winter—from viral infections and other immune challenges, to the build-up of cellular waste that accumulates when you don’t exercise enough. According to traditional healing systems around the world, aligning your health rituals with the changing seasons is a key strategy for renewal and revitalization.
And a gentle spring cleanse is an ideal way to do just that.
By focusing on detoxifying and nourishing foods, nutraceutical detox formulas and other cleansing practices (like the lemon-olive oil detox ritual outlined below), you can reap a wealth of benefits. Regular seasonal detox helps boost energy, upgrade immunity, reduce allergies, improve digestion, strengthen circulation, cool inflammation, and repair damages from lingering infections and other winter woes.
Let’s take a look.
Washing Away Winter Waste
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other Eastern health systems, every season relates to different natural elements and organ systems. Winter correlates with the water element, and with the kidneys and bladder. From a Western Naturopathic perspective, cold weather puts stress on the adrenal and thyroid glands, tends to make the blood more acidic, and causes a build-up of lactic acid (waste product of cellular metabolism). These effects can lead to reduced immune function, fatigue, weight gain, muscle/joint pain, and other impacts.
Both Eastern and Naturopathic medical systems agree that the transition from winter to spring is the best time to shed extra weight and gently cleanse accumulated toxins and wastes from the body. This excess buildup can be the result of numerous factors, including unhealthy diet, poor digestion, lack of exercise, winter dehydration, our own metabolic processes, and environmental pollution.
But with the following strategies, you can cleanse the accumulation of cellular waste and toxins, while rejuvenating cells, tissues and organs for optimal long-term health. A cleanse can be as short as three days or can be up to a month or longer, but I find most people are successful with a gentle 2-week program.
Clean Eating 101
The cornerstone of a successful spring cleanse is a cleansing, rejuvenating diet.
Focus on fresh, unprocessed, organic foods with a majority being non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables may be juiced, eaten raw, steamed, or sautéed in liquid. Here are some key guidelines:
- Emphasize organic fruits and vegetables, including some of the more detoxifying items (see list below). These types of foods counteract the tendency to become more acidic during cold weather, and promote oxygenation and the release of stored wastes and toxins.
- Consume plenty of pure water, herbal teas, and vegetable soups or broths.
- Add fiber (such as flax seeds, psyllium, rice bran, etc.) to your diet to ensure regular elimination that will carry toxins out of the system.
- Avoid foods that place stress on the body and cause inflammation—such as alcohol, dairy, sugar, processed foods, cooked oils, caffeinated beverages, and non-organic foods, especially factory-farmed and/or processed meats.
Powerful Detox Foods
Sprouts (from legumes, grains, seeds & nuts): Pre-soaking and sprouting legumes, grains, seeds and nuts increases their enzyme and nutrient content, making them easier to digest while providing additional detoxification and cellular regenerative benefits.
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, radishes, Brussel’s sprouts, etc): These vegetables contain natural sulfur and other powerful compounds that support the liver, aid in the detoxification of harmful compounds, and ramp up antioxidant activity to defend against toxins and other sources of oxidative stress.
Herbs and spices: Garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cumin and many other herbs and spices offer powerful detoxification and healing benefits, thanks to their diverse profiles of powerful aromatic compounds and nutrients. Use herbs and spices liberally during detox, and any time you need a health boost.
Sea vegetables (kelp, nori, kombu, etc): Sea vegetables (aka seaweed) are rich in natural iodine, a mineral that supports detoxification. They’re also rich in other trace minerals that support optimal nourishment and detoxification.
In my practice, I recommend the following supplements because they actively remove toxins and work throughout numerous areas of the body to support long-term health and vitality:
Modified citrus pectin (MCP)/alginate formula: This clinically proven binding detox formula is shown in published research to remove heavy metals and environmental toxins from the body, without side effects. With 70+ published studies, the MCP in the formula works to combats inflammation and organ damage, improve cellular health and balance immunity.1,2
Intensive detox support formula: This in-depth liver detox formula is recommended as a second step after starting with the MCP/alginate binding formula. This second phase formula works to enhance the detox functions of the liver and other elimination organs like the kidneys, skin, and lungs. With a blend of sulfured amino acids, and detoxifying herbs and nutrients such as cilantro, dandelion, milk thistle, this comprehensive formula supports in-depth removal of stored toxins; combats free radicals, fights inflammation, and helps boost vital energy, which is essential during detox.
Botanically-enhanced medicinal mushrooms: Mushrooms are remarkable for their ability to absorb toxins and metabolic waste build up throughout the body; support immunity, digestion, vital energy and overall health. Mushrooms are some of the most powerful allies in the pursuit of long-term vitality. In my practice, I recommend a powerful, 6-mushroom formula, fortified and enhanced by a botanical cultivation technique for greater benefits.
Pre + Probiotic formula: Re-seeding your gut microbiome with probiotics is an essential step during and after a cleanse, to ensure long-term digestive and overall health. In my practice, I’ve found that an organic, fermented probiotic formula containing prebiotic nutrients and 19 digestive herbs, far surpasses other probiotics I’ve used. Because it’s a live-fermented liquid blend, it works quickly and effectively to solve long-standing inflammatory digestive conditions and repopulate the gut with a healthy balance of robust microflora. It also works to optimize detoxification, immunity, nutrient assimilation and long-term wellness.
Lemon and Olive Oil Liver and Gallbladder Cleanse
If you want to incorporate an additional liver and gallbladder cleanser into your program, or if you just want a refreshing, daily detox drink, I highly recommend a lemon and olive oil blended mix.
In a blender, puree the following:
- 1 organic lemon cut into pieces with seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon organic olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup filtered water
Strain the contents (adding in a bit of the lemon peel for additional pectin benefits), and drink each night before bed on an empty stomach. As an extra bonus, many people find that that this cleansing drink improves their sleep as well.
An Uplifting Experience
You can maximize the benefits of your cleanse by taking some time each day to meditate and reflect, stretch or do yoga poses, take a walk in nature, and rest. Meditations on what you wish to let go of, and what you intend to bring into your life for renewal and transformation, are excellent exercises to enhance your cleanse experience.
By caring for yourself in this way, you can promote and sustain positive transformations on multiple levels, the way the coldness and inactivity of winter gradually give way to new growth, warmth and energy in the spring. A seasonal spring cleanse should be a gentle, life-supporting experience, so relax, enjoy and renew!
Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification–five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14(6):358-64. doi: 10.1159/000109829. Epub 2007 Dec 12. PMID: 18219211.
Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2619. Published 2019 Nov 1. doi:10.3390/nu11112619