According to East Indian health science, Ayurveda, the spring is the best time to cleanse and detoxify. During this season, the environment’s high humidity ripens the body and allows it to be easily flushed out as well as its temperate climate restores its energy. This absence of extreme cold or extreme hot weather lessens taxing influences on your tissues, letting your constitution concrete on clearing out waste rather than coping with its external forces. But while fad diets and cleanses are all the rage, Ayurvedic medicine dictates that a proper detox program is tailored to your constitution. This means balancing your body’s internal elements of Kapha (earth and water), Pitta (fire) and Vata (Air) is part of this process. So, if you are planning on doing a cleanse this spring, here are a few guidelines for doing this the Ayurvedic way – based on your individual doshic needs.
Kapha is described as the earth and water energy found within the body. This dosha, like its elements, are characterized by their qualities of wetness, heaviness, cold and stagnation. When out of balance, we experience lead to water-retention, excess mucous, weight-gain and a heavy feeling of lethargy. The spring season is a time of high Kapha because of its humid, damp weather. This is why seasonal allergies are often aggravated during this time, along with flare-ups of wet eczema and increased candida and yeast. The best way to detox excess Kapha is to disinfect, stimulate and promote waste mobilization. Eating a Kapha-balancing diet by avoiding yeast, sugar, dairy and fermented foods is helpful for this, as is engaging in circulation-increasing practices such as exercise and dampness decreasing infra-red saunas. For extra Kapha purgation, heating herbal remedies of can be taken – these include: trikatu (a blend of three hot peppers), cinnamon, cayenne and cumin.
Pitta is fire and heat energy and this dosha is related to all bodily inflammation. When it is in excess this can translate into high acidity, ulcers, skin irritation, inflamed boils, breakouts and rosacea. Detoxifying Pitta involves purging heat from your constitution. One of the best ways to do this is by eating a Pitta-pacifying diet and cutting out all hot and spicy food, decreasing your salt-intake and introducing more cooling, raw, water-rich fruits and vegetables. Cleansing the blood, small intestine and liver is another excellent way to clear out this dosha as these are all governed by Pitta and tend to accumulate heat. Herbs that detoxify these sites include: dandelion, milk thistle, neem and turmeric.
Vata is the air dosha, and like air, this energy expresses itself in the form of dryness, dehydration and roughness. Vata is also responsible for all space found in the body and when this dosha is heightened it can result in depleted tissue, poor muscle quality, dehydration, premature signs of aging and a feeling of scatteredness. In order to eliminate a build up of Vata, you must nourish your tissues and cleanse the colon. This will increase your ability to absorb nutrients. According to Ayurveda, detoxifying the colon through a medicated enema is one of the most effective practices, though it is important that water alone is not used because this will over-wash the large intestine and create more dryness. Instead, enemas of herbal concoctions or oil are ideal, and are best done under the guidance of a health professional.
Oil massage is another way to decrease this dosha, as your skin will absorb moisture, which helps to lubricate and loosen toxins in the tissues. Sesame oil is best because of its rich, emollient texture as well as its warming properties. Pairing this with a Vata-reducing diet made up of watery, warm, hydrating foods is very Vata balancing. Though, it is important that all foods are also gentle on the delicate Vata digestive system. Simple, moist dishes such as kitchari are excellent Ayurvedic staples for detoxification. Kitchari is a stewed rice dish made with mung beans and spices. This is wet, warming and gently primes the digestive system for cleansing. Spices and herbs that effectively treat high Vata are ginger, ginseng and ashwagandha.