Our next Matter series is a comprehensive guide to help create optimal health and launch us into spring and summer! Now that the new season is finally here, many of us will be welcoming its arrival by turning our thoughts to renewal and rejuvenation. Spring naturally feels like the time to mentally reboot and to make healthy changes to self-care, setting us on the best course for the rest of the year. Today we consult with naturopathic doctor, Rachel Schwartzman, to discuss the idea of a spring detox cleanse to help us reach our health goals during this time of transition.

Rachel Schwartzman is a licensed naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, and birth doula based in Toronto, Ontario. She practices naturopathic family medicine, and is also the co-owner of West End Naturopathic Doulas. Rachel is a naturopathic expert for Village Living Magazine, Canadian Health and Lifestyle, Today’s Parent, Life and Beauty Magazine and Ecoparent Magazine.

Q: Why do we want to detox in the spring?

A: Many people are left feeling heavy after the winter, and a cleanse is an excellent antidote to that. The change of season is an ideal time to cleanse, as the spring and autumn are more moderate in temperature, which puts less stress on the body.  Don’t be scared about a cleanse, it doesn’t have to be drastic – take a few things out, and put a few things in.

With a new season, it makes sense that it’s an appropriate time for a lifestyle change – you can use a detox cleanse as a way to kickstart some new habits.

Q:  How does the Liver play a role in cleansing?

A:  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring corresponds to the liver, which is also the organ that a detox cleanse will focus on. The liver is our main source of detoxification, and cleansing the liver helps to move a lot of that winter stagnation out of the body.

Q: Can we tackle this in a week?

A: Make a goal of 1 week, and after that, strive to keep some daily detox habits in your life. Do what you can when you can, but with intention!

Q: What are some precautions to consider before we begin a detox cleanse?

A: Don’t cleanse if you’re pregnant, don’t cleanse if you’re constipated, or if you’ve been sick.

1 Week Detox Cleanse Starter:
  • Lemon water (first thing in the morning): 1 wedge in 1 cup water. This helps pump liver, releases bile, and gets the organs moving. It also helps support regular bowel movement.
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed: this acts like a rake and shovel. Great to support the bowels. Flaxseed can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, salads, etc.
  • Apple or grapefruit a day: both of these contain Indole-3-carbinol, which supports the liver and eliminates bad estrogens from the body.
  • Greens: 1 cup of dark greens, every day. Kale, spinach, and dandelion greens are all great sources. Blend into smoothies, or eat steamed or raw for best absorption.

For bonus points, add spring bitter greens in the mix, like dandelion, watercress or fresh salad greens. These bitter greens are also healthy for the liver!

  • Water: drink at least 6 cups a day as a safeguard. The goal is to consume enough water until your urine is clear.
  • Tinctures: dandelion root/milk thistle (St. Francis Herbs) – for those of us more experienced with cleanses, these tinctures are an excellent addition. 5mL per day is usually indicated.
  • Sugar: this is extremely hard on the liver. Daily, we generally see a drop in energy between 3pm and 6pm. This is when cortisol levels decrease, affecting our energy. Instead of reaching for a sugary snack, try dark chocolate instead.
  • Alcohol: it has more sugar than sugar! The glycemic index of sugar is 100, and the glycemic index of alcohol is 105. Many of us may use alcohol during “trigger-times”, like in the evening, as a way to unwind after a stressful day, or to self-medicate. Changing this habit to something more positive such as going for a walk, having tea, or even relaxing by watching t.v, will have much less negative impact on the body.
  • Wheat: explore other grain options such as quinoa, rye, oats, brown rice, spelt, and kamut. Look for different options of bread, pasta, crackers made from these grains.

Q: Any further recommendations?

A: Look at food sensitivities, especially if you have bloating. When working on liver health, our goal is to be mindful. Carminatives (herbs that help prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract) can be useful – try fennel, or nervines such as chamomile, and lemon balm.

Finally, opt for healthier snacks, like salty popcorn, hummus and veggies, fruit with nut butter, smoothies, yogurt with granola, dark chocolate, and dandelion coffee. Remember to observe healthy portions.