It’s that time of year again for me.  Late summer is the time I allow for a few weeks of nutritional cleansing.  What is nutritional cleansing? It is the use of food and supplements designed to de-burden the body of toxins so that it can achieve its own “internal house cleaning.”

This kind of house cleaning is needed in today’s world more than ever.  More than when I was a child.  In the 1960’s at my house, there was almost no form of processed food, no fast food, the water in the nearby lakes was clean enough to drink unfiltered, my Mother did not own any Tupperware, and the air was sweet and clear.  In other words, there was almost no external contamination for my body to cope with.  Granted, mass farming practices had already shifted to the use of petrochemicals in the 1940’s, so certainly my exposure levels were more than that of my parents during their childhoods, but all in all, my body had a much lower burden of toxins than it does today.

Today, my body is exposed to smoke in the air from a new-normal fire season, plastics in use in almost all aspects of food production and delivery, petrochemicals used widely in almost all mass production farming practices, plastics and pharmaceuticals and weed killers and fertilizers that have migrated from landfills to oceans to almost all creatures and products that we use on the planet.  Yikes! 

I do take care to minimize my exposures.  Organic food, Hood River water from the glacier, living in a smaller town with less automobile exhaust and generally sweet, clean air, minimal food from restaurants that serve non-organic or processed food, glass storage instead of plastic, natural cleaning products instead of those harsh chemicals in common household products, etc., etc.  All of these things reduce the overall toxic burden our bodies have to work to eliminate each day.

And still. Our bodies have a good amount of work to do to eliminate these exposures and that is without considering the exposures that we willingly participate in each day such as coffee, alcohol, tobacco, over the counter and under the counter drugs, prescription drugs, sugar, fast food, etc.

But let’s cut to the chase. How do we know it’s a good time for nutritional cleansing?  Here are a list of signs and symptoms that might give you some motivation. Keep in mind that these are early warning signs and symptoms.  If you have been in need of nutritional cleansing for a good long time, the symptoms will have likely evolved into diagnosable conditions (GERD and other chronic digestive complaints, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, chronic pain, and much more).

  • Skin changes such as itchy spots, rashes, skin tags, discolorations, bumps, scabby spots, etc.
    • Common locations for these signs include finger tips, occipital ridge at base of skull, skin around the eyes, bottoms of feet, creases of knees and elbows, palms of hands
    • Especially oozy, scabby, sores on the scalp
  • Headaches especially behind the eyes or in the occipital ridge at the base of skull; also tenderness to the touch of eyebrows and/or occipital ridge
  • Fatigue: the kind that makes you feel like you weigh an extra 10 or 20 pounds when you try to get out of bed in the morning
  • Muscle aches
  • Constant or intermittent indigestion including heartburn, belching, intestinal gas, diarrhea, constipation

There are many kinds and sizes of nutritional cleanses.  On the simplest level, if you cut out those dietary intakes that you know are harmful for 1 -21 days, you will most definitely notice a difference.  Shall I list them: alcohol, tobacco, sugar, coffee, junk food, dairy, and anything that you know your body struggles to consume.

However, if the above-mentioned signs and symptoms are speaking to you, you may well want to undertake a specific, more therapeutic cleanse.  For this, you will want to work with a practitioner who has experience with nutritional cleansing and detoxification programs. They will help you tailor and optimize a program for your body’s unique needs. 

And this is by far your best plan. Do not underestimate the power and consequence of nutritional cleansing; you will fare much better with a guide for this journey than you will on your own.  I often liken it to the equivalent of any other serious medical procedure such as surgery — something most of us would never take on by ourselves.

The good news is that, unlike surgery, if you become familiar with your body’s responses to nutritional cleansing over time, there may come a day when you will be comfortable with designing your own cleanse. But no need to rush to that day. In the meantime, may your cleansing time be a special gift from you to you and may your body reward you 10,000 fold.