Herbs for Spring: Cleanse & Revitalize

With spring slowly coming upon us, we can feel ourselves coming into a new season, both meteorologically and personally. Spring is traditionally seen as the season of renewal, rebirth, awakening, and growth. Just as the earth is coming to life after a long, cold winter, so are we. This is where the idea of a spring “cleanse” comes from. Shedding the old and preparing for the new.

This time of year many think of liver detoxes. There are plenty of gimmicky cleanses out there, touting claims of extreme weight loss and whole body cleanses, with extreme and unsustainable actions. You don’t have to torture yourself with a ridiculous crash diet, that leaves you feeling worse than you started, to effectively cleanse for spring.

Holistically, spring is a wonderful time to pay extra attention to the liver. This organ is traditionally cleansed in the spring for a number of reasons. First, spring is seen as a time of release. Letting go of a long, cold winter and hibernation, and releasing emotionally, as the liver can hold onto emotional disturbances and traumas. Secondly, the herbs of spring are naturally beneficial for cleansing the liver and body. These are bitter herbs and greens, like dandelion, and herbs that naturally heal, protect, cleanse and restore the liver.

Tips for Appropriate Cleansing

A spring cleanse shouldn’t just be consuming a bunch of herbs and supplements. An effective, supportive, and healthy cleanse must consist of healthy lifestyle choices as well. The basics are insanely underestimated and underutilized not only in cleansing, but as part of our daily routines! No herb, cleanse, supplement or pill will magically fill in the gaps or fix years of poor health habits.

Lifestyle Changes

They aren’t glamorous, but they are effective!

Eat Well: The single most important lifestyle factor for good health. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, preferably locally and in season. Don’t eat on-the-go or in a rush and enjoy what you are eating. Some foods particularly good for spring to support your liver and cleansing are dark, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, and onions.

Stay Hydrated: A simple, but profound way to support your overall health, also crucial for your body to be able to move waste and detoxify. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water.

Exercise: We’ve all heard the benefits of exercise and movement, but many of us still put doing it on the backburner. With the weather warming at least get out for some walks! Exercise is also great for circulation, moving our lymphatic system, and sweating- all key factors for proper detoxification.

Stress Management: Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, but our livers especially can hold on to stress. We will always have some stress in our lives, but we need to make it a priority to have healthy outlets and make stress management a part of our lifestyle.

Sleep: Good sleep is simply crucial for good health. Bad sleep = bad health. Sleep supports immune function, cognition, mood, heart health, energy, healthy weight, and more. Sleep is also a time when the body performs and supports detoxification.

Incorporating supportive practices into your routine are great for aiding detoxification. Practices like dry brushing, sauna, cold exposure (cold showers or cryotherapy), ionic foot detoxes and massage therapy are all great for promoting and supporting detoxification.

Herbs that Support Cleansing

Once you’ve tackled the basic lifestyle habits and want some extra support herbs are a wonderful way to assist your body’s natural detoxification processes. Primarily during a spring cleanse supporting the liver’s ability to detoxify is most common. Your liver is responsible for filtering metabolic waste and toxins our of your blood. There are a few different types of herbs that support the liver.

Alternatives or Blood Cleansers: These are your traditional detoxifying herbs. They help to support the liver’s natural detoxification processes by aiding the organ as it cleanses waste from the blood. They also encourage an increase of bile for more efficient digestion. Most common are herbs like dandelion, burdock, and Oregon grape root.

Protectors (hepatoprotective): These herbs do just as their name implies; protect. They help the liver by strengthening, toning, and regenerating the liver so that it may function at its best. The most common herb for this is milk thistle. Other include turmeric, ginger, and schizandra.