The benefits of a natural cleanse
The best time of year to undergo a natural cleanse is at the change of the seasons as the natural increase of heat in Spring breaks down built up congestion from the Winter months. Undertaking a cleanse after the festive season also makes sense because many of us have had a week or two of indulgence, eating and drinking things we might not usually have.
We will probably have put our digestion, liver (and nerves) under a lot more stress than usual. So it’s a good opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
But what are the benefits of cleansing and how will it make us feel?
We can recognise when our body is in need of a cleanse as we usually start to feel tired and run-down. We might also notice our digestion is a bit sluggish and our skin congested.
Feeling ‘clogged up’ can also affect our emotional state – we might hold onto negative issues, instead of letting them go. Cleansing on all levels is central to being healthy.
How do you get ready for a cleanse?
It's best not to go all ‘gung-ho’ if you’ve never attempted cleansing before. You’ll likely end up exhausting yourself and potentially doing more harm than good.
To make the most of cleansing you need to be feeling well-rested. Don’t attempt it if your body is already going through changes, such as when you are menstruating or perhaps if you are recovering from illness.
Here are some top tips to help you prepare:
- Pick a time where you know you will get a chance to relax. When you cleanse, your body needs time to do its thing. This requires energy, so it’s best to keep vigorous exercise to a minimum and get a few more early nights
- Cleansing will involve a change in eating and drinking habits, so make sure you will not be in situations where you may be tempted or pressured to drink alcohol or coffee, or eat inappropriate foods.
- Pick a duration that suits you. If you’ve never tried a cleanse before, then perhaps opt for a weekend or two to three days to begin with. If you are a seasoned cleanser, you might consider a longer period such as a week
- Once you’ve picked the right time, you can start to prepare and identify the type of cleanse that will work best for you.
Choosing the right type of cleanse for you
In Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of medicine), there are three different doshas (or body types), vata, pitta and kapha. Each benefits from cleansing in different ways. If you don’t know which dosha you are, take our quiz to find out.
If you have never undergone a cleanse before and are not sure which dosha might be your most dominant, then try this simple daily routine to begin with and then move onto a dosha specific cleanse the next time round:
In the morning
A good time to wake is before 7am. Later can cause you to feel low in energy.
A good morning practice to enliven the senses and the mind before tackling the day ahead is to five to fifteen minutes of alternate nostril breathing.
Sit in a comfortable position, rest your right thumb next to your right nostril, place your index and middle finger on your eyebrow-centre (third eye) and then hold your ring finger next to your left nostril.
To start, close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril whilst counting up to five. Then close the left nostril with your ring finger and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale through this nostril whilst counting up to five.
Inhale through the right nostril for five seconds and then close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril for five seconds. This completes one full round; try to do five to ten rounds.
Your lunchtime ritual
The after-lunch slump is a common occurrence. Getting back in touch with nature for just 15-20 minutes can help get the blood flowing and oxygen circulating again whilst also helping you digest your food.
Whether it’s a brisk walk round the block, or sitting on a bench in the local park, the key is to reconnect with your environment and inhale some fresh air.
The best time to eat your lunch is different for everyone, but try to wait four hours from your last full meal and only eat if you feel hungry. Try making a digestion-kindling meal such as kitchari or ‘food of the gods’ as it’s also known.
If you get peckish in the afternoon, go for something that provides slow-release energy, like oatcakes with avocado, a handful of nuts, or even rye bread with a spread of honey if you have a real sweet craving.
In the evening
The key is not to overeat in the evenings; try and keep it light. A dhal is a great option as it’s light but filling and full of protein.
Use evening rituals like self-massage or yoga nidra to help you wind down. For self-massage, use a warmed oil if possible. Try a simple organic sesame oil or Pukka Active 35 Oil. Massage the oil into the entire body, working it deeply into the skin.
An alternative is to apply an oil that suits your dosha, to your wrists, neck, throat and ‘third eye’.
- For vata try patchouli, chamomile or lavender.
- For pitta try ylang ylang, neroli or rose.
- For kapha try frankincense, cardamom or cinnamon.
Try and aim to be in bed before 10pm. After 10pm pitta can kick in and our energy may begin to rise. Before bed, take Pukka Wholistic Triphala to rejuvenate your digestion and get it ready for the next day ahead.
Cleansing for your dosha type
The vata cleanse
Vata types tend to have difficulty holding onto energy and need to be cautious when cleansing. A short cleanse of one to three days with simple nourishing foods such as rice and mung-beans will help calm the mind and rekindle the digestive fire without weakening the body.
Think about adding aromatic but not hot herbs and spices such as fennel, cumin, coriander and turmeric in your meals. Herbs that really support the vata constitution are those that help create a sense of balance and stability, and also nourish the body at a deep level.
Gentle but nourishing herbal remedies such as Pukka Clean Greens Superblend will support the body throughout every stage of a cleanse without letting it become depleted. Balancing herbs such as ashwagandha will also help to support the nervous vata emotions.
The pitta cleanse
Pitta types have boundless energy but can be hot and fiery. They can benefit from vegetable and fruit juicing (take a look at our juice and smoothie recipes for inspiration) as they are better at processing raw and cooler foodstuffs. It’s also important that they try and rest (even if they don’t want to.)
Herbs that are beneficial to the pitta dosha are those which are characteristically cooling and anti-inflammatory. Pukka Aloe Vera Juice and Clean Greens Superblend really get to the root of deep seated heat and inflammation in the body and can be incredibly supportive to the fiery pitta person.
The kapha cleanse
Kapha types can tolerate more prolonged cleanses as they are excellent stores of energy. Increasing warmth and spice in the diet will boost the normally sluggish kapha metabolism.
Herbs and spices that keep kapha in check are those which are generally more heating and stimulating with the power to shift deep congestion. Pukka Wholistic Turmeric capsules and Clean Chlorella tablets pack a slightly hotter punch and will help remove sticky, tough accumulations from the body. Pukka Clean Greens Superblend is another great option, as it helps support the body through every stage of a cleanse, without letting it become depleted.
Also think about adding spices such as ginger, black pepper and turmeric to your meals.
What herbs will benefit me during a cleanse?
- Nettle – a nutritious plant filled with vitamins, minerals and protein. Nettle is great at ridding the body of excess waste, making it ideal for to a ‘spring-clean’. Skin conditions and seasonal allergies are helped by this plant, thanks to its cleansing effect on the blood.
- Fennel – with its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes an upset digestive system and help clear toxins.
- Turmeric – one of the all-time great liver-loving herbs. This renowned super-spice helps your liver work more efficiently also giving your skin a glow of health.
- Dandelion – a traditional remedy for treating the skin and supporting liver.
- Aniseed – this sweet aromatic seed naturally relaxes and supports digestion.
- Spirulina – an algae and complete protein, containing every amino acid (helps to build up cells, muscles and tissue) and is the only non-animal source of vitamin B12.
- Chlorella – reputed for alkalising and cleansing the blood and supporting immunity.
Other positive ways to support your cleanse
For the super keen, there are a few extra things you could do to enhance your cleanse. Introducing a light yoga routine or meditation in the morning or evening will help the body to relax. You could also visit a steam room or sauna, to encourage a bit of extra sweating and help excrete those extra toxins.
The things to avoid:
Processed, refined foods, or foods with a high sugar or fat content. These are difficult for the body to break-down, putting added strain on the digestion Dairy and meat are also harder for the body to digest, so you might want to consider going veggie and/or dairy free.
Highly caffeinated or sugary drinks. These will cause a rise in blood sugar followed by energy crashes, which will disrupt your body’s natural balance.
Alcohol is processed in the liver, which is where detoxification occurs. Therefore, drinking places added pressure on the liver, so will not support an efficient cleanse.
Digital overload – cleansing isn’t just about what we eat and drink. Too much exposure to social media and technology can have a negative effect on our stress levels and sleep, so it might be worth incorporating a digital detox to get the best from your cleanse.
The key message to take away is to take it easy and adopt a routine that will work for you. We are all individuals and will benefit from different types of cleansing routines. By choosing the right routine, you can really feel the benefit of cleansing the Ayurvedic way, and come out the other side feeling revived and rejuvenated.