To cleanse or not to cleanse?
That is the question I have been asked many times by patients in my acupuncture practice.
Before considering a colon cleanse, body detox diet, smoothie, or supplements the more important question to ask yourself is how toxic is your life and food choices? How can you clean up these areas of your life before you clean out the body?
Toxins can enter the body via food, water, the air we breathe, the skin, and through medications to mention a few. Also, how toxic are the people around you? Family, friends and coworkers/bosses? Before spending tens or thousands of dollars on supplements, or special protein powders consider cleaning out toxic foods, products and people from your life.
I would suggest first starting with household products that you use everyday and don’t think about what is in them.
A good reference for healthy or nontoxic products can be found on Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) which is a free website. Products are rated based upon their chemical makeup or ingredient list and not the brand. EWG.org has no agenda as to how the products are rated i.e. no paid reviews. It’s a website you can trust to help you choose which products you want to bring into your home when cleaning it up.
You can start with inexpensive and nontoxic products to clean your home such as baking soda and white vinegar. Baking soda can be used to clean the tub of soap scum and grease in the kitchen sink. Combine it with vinegar and it helps clear blocked drains. White vinegar alone in hot water and a few drops of lemon essential oil can be used to clean floors. Vinegar in the wash can be used in place of fabric softener.
What about makeup and other beauty products?
EWG.org rates makeup, skin care products, shampoos/conditioners and hair coloring (yes that is very toxic to the body).
Beauty products are the quickest way to get toxins and harmful chemicals into the body as the skin is the largest organ in the body. The topical application of beauty products do not pass through the liver and they enter directly into the blood stream. This is somewhat worse than ingesting something that the liver has to neutralize to protect you from harm. Most toxins get stored in fat tissue and the more toxic someone is the more fat tissue the body will make. These toxins are also released and passed onto our offspring when a woman becomes pregnant.
Did you know that lead is contained in some lipsticks? There is no agency monitoring what is going into beauty products today? Did you know that perfume/fragrance/scents are rated on the scale of cancer causing chemicals as 8/10 with 10/10 being the worst?
When buying products (personal and household) consider fragrance free items. You can choose to be your own health advocate and really read the ingredients and labels of products you are purchasing. As a consumer you have the power through your pocketbook to change your health and energy levels by buying more healthy products.
Food is our greatest medicine and we can help heal or harm our bodies with food on a daily basis. You are eating whatever that plant or animal ate or was exposed to in its lifetime. Buy organic as much as possible. If you are limited in your budget choose locally grown.
Fish should always be wild never farmed raised as those fish tend to be given dyes (i.e. salmon) or chemicals to make them grow. Beef should say 100% grass fed, otherwise the cows are typically fed grain at some point which makes for unhealthy cows. EWG.org has a clean 15 and dirty dozen list which shows which foods to buy organic and which have the highest pesticide loads (which cannot be washed off). It helps you to make the best decisions for your health and pocketbook.
Food helps the body do what it does best to cleanse and heal itself on a daily basis. For example, drinking the fresh juice of an organic lemon in a glass of water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach helps support the liver. You can use cilantro or parsley in your smoothie or in your salad to help detox heavy metals from your body. Drinking dandelion root tea can also help support the liver. These are just a few examples of how to naturally and cheaply help support the body’s detox pathways.
When I recommend to my patients to remove dairy (cow’s milk) from their diet I get “the look.” Like, “is she crazy?” or “no way am I’m doing that!”
Dairy products (cheese, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese) are very inflammatory to the body and lead to phlegm, physical phlegm that we spit out or blow out of our noses. In Chinese medicine, cysts, bone spurs and fatty lipomas are considered phlegm and a deficiency of the Spleen channel. Also, phlegm can be the cause of emotional issues such as depressed mood, anxiety or severe mood swings.
Dairy products are very addictive to the brain because they contain three of the most addictive ingredients (fat, salt and sugar) which act on the brain very similarly to illicit substances. If you worry about getting enough calcium by eliminating dairy from your diet then the best way to get calcium is to eat any type of greens (kale, collard, swiss chard, broccoli etc), almonds and sardines. I don’t recommend calcium supplements as most come from limestone which tends to deposit in the body in unwanted places such as arteries and joints.
When patients make the choice to remove dairy and replace it with any other plant milk (cashew, coconut, almond etc) they notice the difference of how they feel. Complaints of bloating, gas, and low energy typically resolves itself.
The biggest difference is noticed when a person consumes dairy again and he/she doesn’t feel well after eating it. It is then easier to stay away from dairy products because you can feel the difference. Sometimes you don’t realize how bad you feel until you feel better.
Lastly, as this topic could be a book all by itself. Toxic people.
Could we be the toxic one? Do we create drama when there is none? Do we criticize or judge others or ourselves? The most I see from patients is how hard they are on themselves. They tend to be kinder to others than to themselves. That type of thinking depletes our energy.
Do we surround ourselves with toxic people or relationships? Do these people or situations boost or drain our energy and feelings of wellness? It is a choice to be around people who support us or criticize us and bring us down. Think about the person who tells someone he/she is fat/you’ve gained weight every time they interact. Or, that you are stupid, never amount to anything, ugly, etc. You fill in the criticism.
It is a choice to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done or for making healthier choices in our lives. It is ok to put ourselves first as it won’t make us selfish, that is why it is called self care.
If you find that you are around toxic people and want to change that dynamic, it helps to find new people that lift you up and support you instead of dragging you down, criticizing or gas lighting you. If it’s a relationship that can’t be turned around or terminated, consider ways to set boundaries in an assertive way. Consider limiting time spent with this person/people. Most of the time people project their own issues onto others and it’s really more about the projector than the people receiving the projection.
In addition to providing acupuncture, bioenergetic scans are an option that can be done at your convenience at home. Using your computer or phone, the program analyzes your voice to provide a comprehensive analysis of where there are energetic imbalances in the chakras and meridians (energetic highways in the body). The scan provides recommended infoceuticals that are ingested daily (liquids placed in water) for three weeks to help the body correct those energetic imbalances. All without needles for those who are fearful or don’t like acupuncture.
Also available, neurofeedback machines are provided to rent to help with symptoms of ADHD, sleep, anxiety, depressed mood, autism to name a few. Sessions are done at home daily as it helps the brain to change its perceptions and memory of events. What was previously a stressful or anxiety provoking situation is handled in a better way. Focus and attention can be improved. The brain is more relaxed so sleep is improved. These are just a few examples.
These are some of the insights or recommendations made when coming to my practice. The information is provided and it’s up to each one of us to take responsibility for our health as we know our bodies best. The choice is ours to make. In order for change to happen we have to make changes. When we are ready to do that the magic happens.
I have over 30 years experience in the mental health field and nine years experience as a licensed acupuncturist.