Sunday, November 29, 2015


Although according to Chinese Medicine, the optimal time for detoxification or cleansing is springtime with its focus on liver function, I find a medium in between. I focus on nourishing the Liver during the increased Ayurvedic Medicine's Vata season of Autumn/early-Winter to cleanse the system + make space for more grounding, earthly, + warm energies. Both the Vata dosha and the liver are aggravated by the cold or wind energies—either from the external environment or internal conditions created through organ function, nutrition, or excess and sometimes both. When these systems are clogged, sluggish, or working improperly, we can experience lack of daily elimination, dry skin, acne, brain fog, fatigue, irritability, accumulation of toxins—both physical + energetic—and/or cravings. 

Here is a guide to cleanse + clear our physical and emotional bodies of the toxins that blow in on late autumnal winds . . . 

F A R M A C Y   |  G E N T L E   C L E A R I N G   +  C L E AN S I N G

I N  T H E   K I T C H E N 
S P I C E S   +  S O U R S |  spices not only heighten the flavour and aromas of a meal, but infuse in medicinal qualities that often increase the nutritional uptake of foods. Some herbs I take in daily are fresh and dried turmeric, ginger, oregano, mint, thyme, and cinnamon. Cinnamon is especially warming to the system and is a biohacking ingredient to balance out blood sugar levels that can teeter with the seasonal cravings for sweets. Lemons and limes are also essential for optimal liver function as not only do they alkalise the body but they also nurture the liver's need for pungent or sour tastes. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, or kvass and enzymatic additions such as raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar are also daily sour staples.

t u r m e r i c  +  g i n g e r  | these two are considered the "universal medicine" to target most of any ailments as they're anti-inflammatory, expectorating, energising and warming, and stimulating yet soothing. Their astringent and bitter properties are also a great aid in digesting odd food combinations or indulgences that are difficult on our systems during the holidays and out of our regular schedules. 

a s t r a g a l u s   r o o t  | a root that can be spotted in some health food and more often in Asian markets, astragalus is an adaptogen that allows our bodies to combat the oxidative effects of tension and illness by restoring them to equilibrium. It can be added to soups, stews, and broths or consumed as a tea or tincture. 

T E A  | 
in addition to simple teas made from a mixture of the above ingredients,  bags of chamomile, turmeric, ginger, pukka relax, vpk vata tea, dandelion root, burdock rootashitaba, marshmallow root, slippery elm, + tulsi are a cleansing and warming way to hydrate during the season. Dandelion and burdock root are especially detoxifying, acting as a gentle broom for the digestive tract. Both marshmallow root + slippery elm provide the necessary lubrication for proper assimilation, movement, and elimination for cleansing of accumulated toxins. Ashitaba is a supportive addition to build blood when the season pools it away from our extremities. Tulsi or Holy Basil is one my favourite teas to unwind both during the day and night. It releases tension without the drowsy effects most other herbs induce by providing a mellow and content state of mind that is conducive for both work and sleep. 

R A D I S H E S  +  B I T T E R S | radishes are called "the little ginseng" in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They are touted to be the equivalent of "an apple a day" with a prescription of radishes in the winter and ginger in the summer for homeostatic balance. Although radishes are "cooler" foods, they provide hydration for the body and aid in elimination that can become stagnant in the cooler and indulgent seasons. They provide the body with pungency and bitterness for liver function that can be heightened with  the inclusion of other foods such as dandelion greens, arugula, jerusalem artichokes [this syrup is also a great addition to holiday sweets], kale, dill, bulletproof or mycotoxin-free coffee [if tolerated], medicinal mushrooms, and Urban Moonshine herbal bitters

If it permits, please make sure that you source the produce you consume when doing a gentle cleanse from a local farmer to reduce toxic impact of mass-produced and non-organic foods on your body. I love local health food stores, but truly admire the work that From the Farmer is doing for our local farmers in the DMV area.

G H E E  +  C O C O N U T   O I L  | it goes without saying, these two oils are necessary for heightened + clear digestive, brain, + overall systemic function. Ghee is called for in Ayurvedic medicine for internal lubrication and elimination of toxins or ama from the body. Its increases the benefits of herbs tenfold when mixed with raw, unfiltered honey, allowing for a deeper penetration of medicinal effects by acting as a carrier to the cells. Coconut oil's anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and brain-feeding effects provide the necessary fuel to curb cravings and optimise energy levels required to cleanse the system. 

T R I P H A L A  | this Ayurvedic digestive tonic of three fruits—amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki—is a potent antioxidant and mild laxative aid for the season. Unlike other cleansing or expectorating agents, triphala nourishes the supportive elements already in place while aiding in the elimination of toxins from our bodies. If you have a sensitive or already compromised system, however, take triphala with caution and, with any other herbal agent, with the direction of a health professional as it can be too heavy for some bodies. 

O U T S I D E   O F  T H E   K I T C H E N
D R Y   B R U S H  | daily brushing is not only a routine addition to jumpstart the day but also to rev up the metabolism and lymphatic system. It removes dead skin cells that can create blockages for our skin cells and allows for the stoking of digestive fire or agni. Practise this in the morning before your shower and, if you can, alternate the temperature from as hot as you can handle to as cold as you can handle three times from head-to-toe. Women should avoid allowing the cold water to hit the body directly around the pelvic area as it can be too shocking for the reproductive organs.  

A B H Y A N G A  | I make time for this ritual every night to reconnect with my body. Abhyanga is a time-honoured Ayurvedic tradition of daily self-massage with warm oil. The oil most suitable for the individual's constitution or dosha is selected—sesame for vata, coconut for pitta, and almond or olive for kapha—and is applied warmed to the entire body from the scalp right down to the toes. It pushes for the release of toxic ama from the tissues and aids in elimination by activating the lymphatic system. Please advise against this practise if you are menstruating, have mass-like inflammation, acutely ill or recovering, pregnant, or have a thick, white coating on your tongue that is indicative of high levels of ama

T O N G U E   S C R A P I N G   | this is one of the easiest practises to include in your daily routine to remove toxins from the body. Using a metal tongue scraper and stroking the tongue clean [seven to 14 times], especially in the morning, clears out undigested ama from the body. 

M A G N E S I U M  F L A K E S /  S P R A Y  /  T E A  | any addition of magnesium is a gentle way to aid in elimination as it has a mild laxative effect and allows for the release of muscles. Tension accumulates toxins in the body, so a meditative state is an essential part of cleansing. Either drink a cup of magnesium as tea, spray it on your body, or take a bath before sleep.

T W I S T S  +  H I P   O P E N E R S  | we hold intense emotions in our hips + shoulders—we store some dark shit in there, to put it lightly. As Seane Corn put it,  hips are where we "give away our power in regards to the seductive forces like money, sex, drugs, or power—where we negotiate or sell ourselves." It's also where we're taught to love ourselves, which is a shame when its stored amidst trauma. Our hips relate to our second chakra sexuality, creativity, pleasure, desire, + need. Feelings of abandonment, denial, jealousy, + obsession naturally hovers in this area when our relationships are not confronted or healed. Opening the hips are about opening our heart—they're about moving energy into a kinder, softer space. Practise daily hip openers and twists to release negativity stored within the crevices of your body and within your muscles. 

 J O U R N A L I N G  | one of the hardest practises to pick up, journaling can often seem elusive or intimidating in a society where we're taught to suppress our voice. Take this ritual up to release toxic energies from your emotional and spiritual bodies . . .