March 2016 Edition
In our March 2016 Newsletter: Did you know that you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider?
Detoxing: Strengthening Your Body’s Defense Team
Detoxification is a natural healing process that incorporates resting, cleansing, and nourishing the body from the inside out. By eliminating toxins, then fueling your body with healthy nutrients, a planned period of detox can strengthen your body’s natural “Detox Team” and help maintain optimum health.
Holistic physicians and proponents of detoxing suggest following a detox plan at least once per year, with spring and fall being the ideal approach. You may have heard critics argue the human body is designed with just the right physiological processes necessary to clear the body of impurities and maintain health. Unfortunately for many people, lifestyle habits and the environments where we live, work, eat and play often expose us to toxins that our bodies don’t efficiently eliminate.
The toxins you can be exposed to everyday include:
- heavy metals in the food and water supply
- environmental pollution
- chemical food additives
- smoking; overuse of alcohol or drugs
- use/overuse of Rx medication
- prolonged high stress
- poor quality diet and lifestyle habits
- frequent colds or chronic illness
Your Body’s Natural Detox Team
Your body naturally detoxifies itself via a Detox Team of organs that work synergistically to neutralize and eliminate toxins, with the goal of keeping the blood and cells free of impurities. The liver leads the Detox Team by processing toxins for elimination. The supporting detox defense players are the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and skin. When your body’s natural Detox Team becomes compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered out. This makes it a real challenge for the Detox Team to maintain or restore health and well-being.
Detoxing Boosts Your Health
Following a detox program suited to your personal needs supports the body’s natural cleansing process and boosts your health in many ways:
- Allows digestive organs to rest
- Stimulates the liver to process toxins more efficiently
- Promotes movement of bowels
- Improves circulation
- Enhances sweating, which facilitates release of impurities
- Restores vital nutrients and energy to the body
6 Things to Know Before You Detox
Before you begin a detox, prepare mentally and physically. Plan your dates a few weeks in advance. Inform the people closest to you about the time you’ve set aside to take care of yourself. Clear your schedule of routine obligations that may create stress. Stock up on inspirational music and reading material.
Gather Herbal Support. Herbal and nutritional supplements such as burdock, milk thistle, dandelion, and vitamins C and B protect and support the body’s Detox Team, especially the liver. They also have antioxidant effects that benefit the whole body.
Hydrate! Without enough water, toxins will not be sufficiently flushed from the body. Aim to drink at least 2 quarts of water per day with lemon/lime during a detox.
Dry Brush Your Skin. Look for a brush with soft natural bristles. Begin with light, gentle brushing over the skin (don’t make the skin red). Always brush towards the heart. Shower immediately after to rinse off exfoliated skin.
Get Wet. Therapeutic use of water also supports detoxification. A steam or sauna can accelerate the release of toxins. Hydrotherapy provides support to the muscles and promotes relaxation. Mineral bath salts also help release toxins.
Sweat it Out-Gently. Exercise facilitates digestion, circulation, metabolism and hormone balancing. During a detox, decrease the intensity of your usual exercise routine, but do break a moderate sweat. Get outdoors for fresh air and natural sunlight. Good exercise options are easy hiking, dancing, walking, yoga, or tai chi.
Rest. For your mind and body to fully assimilate the benefits of detoxing, you need good quality sleep. Plan your least stimulating activities (reading, meditation, bathing) for right before bed.
How to Detox?
There are many ways to approach detoxing, from fruit and vegetable juice fasts to herbal tea cleanses. A typical approach is a short period of fasting with proper fluid intake followed by whole or raw foods and beverages before resuming your usual daily routine. There are people who must be under the care of a health practitioner, such as pregnant or nursing women or those diagnosed with certain conditions such as diabetes. In general, it’s important to work with your doctor to select a program that matches your health needs.
Food for Thought. . .
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
Go Wild with Dandelion Greens
You might not want dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) dappled across your lawn, but you definitely want to make them a part your healthy diet. For centuries, the sunny yellow dandelion, its greens and roots, has been embraced across cultures for its culinary and medicinal uses.
Dandelion roots contain several compounds beneficial to health, one of which is bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion. The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and several B vitamins.
Dandelion helps filter waste products from the bloodstream. In many cultures it has been used as a liver tonic, diuretic, and digestive aid. Herbalists have used dandelion to treat jaundice, cirrhosis and liver dysfunction. Preliminary research suggests dandelion may even strengthen liver and gallbladder function.
All parts of the dandelion are edible. The bittersweet roots may be eaten raw, steamed or dried, roasted and ground for a coffee substitute. The flowers are commonly used to make wine and jam. Dandelion greens can be eaten steamed, boiled, sauteed, braised or raw in salads.
Try adding dandelion greens to:
- quiche, omelette
- sauce such as garlic & olive oil
- seafood soup
- sauteed vegetables
- to replace some of the kale in a green smoothie
Dandelion packs as much power in its flavor as it does in its nutrition. It can quickly overpower more delicate herbs and flavors-a little goes a long way.
When harvesting dandelion, especially for salad, take greens from young and tender plants, before the first flower emerges. Greens from older plants will be larger, but also tougher and more bitter. Older leaves are better suited for cooking. At the grocery store, look for organic dandelion with vibrant green color.
Dandelion Salad Recipe with Fresh Goat Cheese & Apples
Dandelion greens pack a nutritional punch. Serve them raw in this salad recipe with fresh goat cheese and apples for added flavor. If you don’t have apples in season, or stored, substitute any firm fruit that’s in season. You can embellish this salad with the colors of the season by sprinkling in any of our ‘SuperSalad Substitutions’ listed below.
- 2 T. cider vinegar
- 3 T. vegetable or nut oil
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 1 t. honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and dried, stems removed
- 1/4 lb fresh white goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- Whisk vinegar, oil, mustard, honey, salt and pepper together.
- Pour over greens and toss lightly.
- Top with goat cheese, nuts and apple.
SuperSalad Substitutions (or Add-ins)
- Baby Spinach
- Shredded Carrots
- Yellow Pepper (diced)
- Pomegranate Perils (seeds)
- Instead of Goat Cheese, try Farmer’s Cheese.
Tea to Nourish & Support Detoxing
Sipping detox tea may help nourish your liver and support the body’s natural process for eliminating toxins from the body. Herbs that strengthen, tone, and stimulate the secretive functions of the liver are known in the Western herbal medicine tradition as hepatics. Although research is limited, many hepatics (aka ‘detox teas’) have been found to boost the activity of liver cells and support the functions of the liver and digestive system.
Pre-made versions of detox teas are widely available in health food stores. These products often contain ingredients that have long been used in herbal medicinal teas and Traditional Chinese Medicine, including herbs such as:
Burdock root, seeds, and leaves are recognized for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Burdock has been used to protect liver cells from damage, particularly for alcohol or acetaminophen-related damage, and to purify the blood.
Dandelion leaves and roots have long been used by herbalists as a diuretic, antioxidant, and for anti-inflammatory effects.
Schisandra berries, among the most important herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, are used to protect the liver against inflammation. In some studies, schisandra berry extract has been shown to improve the health and function of the liver in people with fatty liver disease.
Milk thistle seeds are abundant in an antioxidant silymarin, a free-radical scavenger thought to help prevent toxins from entering liver cells and stimulate liver cell regeneration, among other benefits.
Other common detox tea ingredients include ginger root, licorice root, and fennel seeds to facilitate digestion, and decrease inflammation. These herbs also help tame the more bitter flavors from ingredients such as dandelion. Fresh lemon and maple syrup, can be used to flavor as well.
Some detox herbs interact with other medications. Check with your health practitioner to choose the best detox tea for you.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk Thistle is a medicinal plant that has been used for over 2,000 years to treat digestive, liver and gallbladder conditions. Research has shown Milk Thistle has a protective effect on the liver. The active ingredient in Milk Thistle (MT) is silymarin, which can be extracted from the seeds of the plant.
Research conducted in the U.S. and Europe, shows MT to support the health of the liver by promoting the growth of liver cells, protecting the cells from damage, and inhibiting inflammation. In European hospitals, MT is the only antidote for Amanita mushroom (the red-white cap) poisoning. It is a recommended treatment for liver damage caused by toxins or cirrhosis. In the U.S., there have been promising results in small studies using a standardized extract of MT to treat alcohol-related liver disease. Milk Thistle is also being studied to determine if it offers any protective benefit for the liver during chemotherapy or radiation treatment for different cancers.
As an herbal medicine, MT is available as capsule, extract, powder and tincture.To support healthy liver function, the most common preparation is tea or an extract. Check with your wellness practitioner to determine the appropriate amount of tea or extract for your needs. Some people may be allergic to MT if they are allergic to plants such as ragweed and marigold. If you are being treated for cancer, liver disease or any other health condition, consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement.
Massage Supports Your Body’s Natural Detox
Your body’s innate detox system can get sluggish for a variety of reasons such as lack of regular exercise, too little fluids or fiber in your diet, frequent colds, or high stress. A massage can rev-up your body’s natural detox process.
During massage therapy, the rhythmic strokes and pressure applied to muscles, tissues, and organs stimulates the circulatory system. When pressure is applied to body tissues, toxins are released from in between the muscle fibers and cells. Toxins are carried into circulation throughout the body and eliminated in a variety of ways.
The increase in circulation during massage positively affects other systems and organs in your body. Massage helps move oxygen-rich blood and nutrients into your organs, especially the kidneys and the liver. Massage also facilitates relaxed, deep breathing-another important way in which the body naturally detoxes.
Working in tandem with the circulatory system is the lymphatic system, which carries immune cells throughout the body to help defend against infection. The lymph system doesn’t have a big central pump like the heart to keep things moving. Instead, it relies on gravity, exercise, breathing and massage to work efficiently.
If you’re not feeling your best or haven’t been as good about your diet and exercise routine lately, a massage can help you detox, and get back in balance-naturally.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.