New Year Detox – A TCM Perspective
From a natural health perspective, it would be best to maintain optimal health and not have a need to detox in the first place. That is not always possible, so we need to detox our bodies to maintain optimal health. New year is a good time to do this. Detoxing means to remove poisons or toxins. Our bodies have natural waste management system, waste is eliminated via out breath, urine, sweat and faeces. We filter the air we breathe, and the food and drink we consume, and anything we absorb through our skin. Our blood circulation, digestive tract, liver, kidneys and lungs operate efficiently and effectively in the right conditions.
The problems arise when we overload. For example, drinking coffee and alcohol every day, breathing polluted lead laden air, eating processed foods full of additives and sugars. Also, overeating and not getting enough sleep, feeling stressed and upset, partying hard or often add to the situation. These all exhaust our bodies and gradually their ability to eliminate wastes diminishes and toxins build up. We cease to thrive.
The answer may lay in a Detox. ‘Detox diets” can be severe, eating only raw foods or fasting, taking purgatives and colonics. This can be OK if you are strong but it can drain and exhaust softer constitutions. Detoxing to invigorate and tonify must be appropriate to the individual. It is much kinder and more natural to support our constitutions by working in harmony with what each person’s needs. A gradual detox will be as effective and a lot kinder then extreme changes in diet. Sudden withdrawal from toxins such as sugars, coffee and alcohol can cause great discomfort with headaches, mood swings and cravings.
Cleansing Creates Well-Being
Our body is automatically programmed to cleanse itself daily. However, with our fast-paced modern lifestyle and exposure to an increasing number of harmful and toxic substances, our body’s natural cleansing ability has become overworked and compromised.
Many signs and symptoms attributed to stress are now being linked to exposure from harmful substances such as PCBs, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and mercury in food and liquids as well as dioxins in the air.
These substances most notably affect the healthy functioning of the liver and immune system. Common symptoms include:
- Fatigue, anxiety and depression
- Allergies and frequent infections
- Unexpected weight gain
- Joint pain
- Difficulty focusing and memory loss
- Digestive issues
- Skin rashes and acne
- Recurrent yeast infections
Harmful and toxic substances from our chemically laden food and polluted environment have also become implicated as a leading cause of many serious illnesses.
To counter this growing situation, TCM doctors have developed a Cleansing and Detoxification Program that is unique and highly useful in ridding the body of many harmful and toxic substances.
Acupuncture stimulates neurological, immunological, and endocrine responses beneficial to tissue cleansing and cell rejuvenation. It also stimulates the release of endorphins that reduce the pain and discomfort sometimes experienced when detoxifying and withdrawing from addictive substances such as alcohol, caffeine, drugs, nicotine and sugar. Blog on acupuncture: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/what-to-expect-during-an-acupuncture-appointment/
Chinese Herbal Medicine
The proprietary herbal formulations focus on drawing the toxins directly out of the body through increased sweating, urination, and bowel movements. Some of the herbs directly support the filtering function of the liver and assist it in cleansing and promoting cell repair and cell regeneration.
Far-Infrared Heat Therapy
The heat and deep vibratory action of the far-infrared energy promotes the release of toxins through increased circulation and through sweating. The far-infrared heat lamp differs from the conventional sauna in its ability to penetrate deeply beneath the superficial layers of the skin. Studies show that the infrared light waves help to rid the body of toxins that are stored beyond the superficial layers of the skin. The excreted toxins include: cholesterol, fat soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals (such as mercury and aluminum), sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. The unusually high concentration of heavy metals and other fat-soluble toxins is not found in the sweat from normal exercise or a regular sauna.
Toxins often accumulate in the connective tissues creating blockages and impeding blood and fluid circulation. Tuina massage consists of special massage techniques, lymphatic drainage, joint rotations, and cupping. The strong suction action of the cupping stimulates blood and lymphatic fluid to flow near the skin’s surface and to key areas of the body for easy and direct release of toxins.
Regular exercise is important for health. Exercises like walking, especially in nature and parks, is important for cardiovascular fitness as well as enjoying being in nature. Tai Chi is a very relaxing routine which exercises the body and calms the mind. So, it is very good for coping with stress as well as stopping stress from getting out of control. See these exercises as developing “me time”, rather than a chore which must be completed to get to a goal. https://www.facebook.com/TaiChiCorkDavidHankey/
Chi Kung Energy Therapy
When undergoing an internal cleanse it’s important to work with dealing with stress as well as the needs of the body. Chi Kung is a Chinese medical energy therapy in the holistic tradition. Chi Kung is a light touch healing technique that serves as the foundation of the practices of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. A Chi Kung practitioner will use their hands and body to sense areas of improper blood and energy flow. They will make subtle adjustments to encourage your physical organs to cleanse themselves and your emotions to release their excesses as well. Chi Kung is also a set of mind/body exercises which help with stress. Blog on Qigong: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/medical-qigong-to-improve-health-and-immune-system/
The liver’s function in TCM
The liver regulates the body as well as the emotions. The liver regulates Chi, the vital energy that sustains life, and stores blood, which carries Chi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. While you’re awake, the liver supplies blood to the muscles. During sleep, blood returns to the liver to be cleansed.
Foods that detoxify and strengthen the liver
Sour foods: According to TCM, sour foods tend to nourish the liver. A refreshing glass of lemon water has a diuretic effect, which can help you flush toxins from your body. Blog on making your own juice: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/health-benefits-of-making-your-own-juice/
Ginger: This yang (warming food) nourishes blood, improves circulation, and has antibiotic and antibacterial effects that can help your body cleanse toxins and fight pathogens. You can easily add a few slivers of freshly sliced ginger to teas, porridge and soups.
Turmeric: This pungent spice decongests the liver, clears heat from the body, and improves the flow of Chi and blood. Add a dash of turmeric to a bowl of soup or a rice dish, or brew it directly to drink. Turmeric powder is also present in many Indian curry recipes.
Dandelion root: A cleansing, detoxifying herb that cools the blood and nourishes the liver. Springtime is the ideal time to drink dandelion tea. Not only are dandelions in flower during this season, but spring is associated with wood, the element of the liver.
Magnolia berry (wu wei zi): The magnolia berry has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to nourish and protect the liver. Brew it as a tea and drink a cup per day.
Goji Berries: As well as detoxing, it is important to add some tonic herbs and suppliments. Goji berries are high antioxidant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to confer many health protective benefits, such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins.
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which is needed by the liver. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include
- Aches and pains.
- Mood problems.
- Muscle cramps.
- Irregular sleep patterns and insomnia.
- Heart irregularities.
Dark Chocolate is also in high in iron, copper and manganese and contains prebiotic fibre that feeds your healthy gut bacteria.
Detox Nutritional Protocol
Nutritional therapy plays a distinct and essential role in the detox program. The aim includes selected foods that cleanse the liver and intestinal tract and provide key nutrients such as all the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health.
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective each person is different with different needs, there are some basic steps that will help everybody:
- Eat organic, fresh food.
- Eat slowly. This helps the digestive system to absorb food better and convert it to usable energy.
- Have a vegetarian day each week.
- Drink water each morning.
- Massage the abdomen each morning in a clockwise direction, up the right side and down the left, the direction that food takes. Ten minutes massage each morning helps with elimination and promotes healthy gut metabolism.
- Take at least four consecutive days every week where you do not drink alcohol.
- Reduce sugars and avoid junk foods and late night eating.
- Spend time outside every day.
- Exercise, meditate or take up an exercise system like Tai Chi which helps reduce stress and promote well-being.
- Stop drinking coffee and tea.
- Sleep better and for longer.
- Consider using natural cleaning products and cosmetics.
- Switch off mobile phones at night.
If you follow these steps, your toxic load and stress levels will drop quickly. This allows the organs to function effectively eliminating waste products and conveying nourishment to every cell. Sadly after years of neglect, it can be hard to return to normal function levels, and imbalances persist. This is when acupuncture and herbs are very helpful. Acupuncture regulates the internal homeostasis which means it gets everything working properly, it is like tuning and servicing a complex machine. Herbs support this function.
A course of treatment and dietary advice from a TCM practitioner will ensure that your detox is effective. Regular visits will help you to stay on course and keep organs functioning well. When we feel well and happy cravings for toxic foods and lifestyle diminish. It is misguided to harshly detox and then return to old habits. Far better to live well most of the time with the occasional indiscretion. Your body will cope perfectly with that when it is all tuned up.
Contact David Hankey for more details or to make an appointment for any of the above treatments, or for details of my Tai Chi and Chi Kung classes.
Phone: 087 2744735