Cleansing and Detox Practices

Relieve your body's toxin burden and eliminate this roadblock to recovery

Written by: Ellen Donaldson

Clean It Up

This is the first in a series of posts about healing from chronic illness. There’s so much information to share, and I want to give you resources, ideas, suggestions, knowledge and empowering information to do the work of healing. I’m honored to partner with you in this process. Please trust me, my mantra for healing from chronic illness such as Lyme is ‘Magnets and More’. 

As you read this series, take things a step at a time. There’s no need to try and implement all the pieces at once. What feels most right to you to start with now? Do that. Then, as you begin to feel like you’ve got your first step integrated, choose the next one. 

The point is, start. Do something. And know that each step you take is progressive, healing, holistic and balancing. 

Cleansing and Detox Strategies

If you’re anything like me, you grew up on Pop Tarts, SpaghettiOs and Tab and didn’t give it a second thought. Times have changed and now I know better! I’m going to share cleansing and detox practices as resources for healing from chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease, autoimmune and pain syndromes. I offer lots of links to resources at the bottom of this post for easy reference. Resources that have a link appear in bold.

We’re all on a “journey of accumulation” as we go through life, exposed to a variety of toxins along the way. Those with chronic illness often have a toxin burden that has reached critical mass, becoming a roadblock to recovery. 

Nowadays the concept of “detox” is ubiquitous, advertisements, articles, and social media posts push supplements, juice cleanses, and herbs. Cleansing your organs, tissues and body systems is about more than popping a pill or buying a detox gadget. It’s a fundamental lifestyle choice, especially for those who want to recover from chronic illness.

Taking things back to basics to optimize what comes into your body, and increase what comes out through the body’s natural elimination pathways is the place to start. Commitment and consistency are key to reversing toxin accumulation and relieving symptoms such as headaches, constipation, skin rashes/fungal issues, general aches and pains, fatigue, chemical sensitivities, frequent colds.

What Comes In

Cellular Rehydration:

How much water do you drink every day? Where does it come from? Many of us don’t think about things like drinking pure structured water to support cellular hydration as a way to keep inflammation and illness at bay.  Cellular rehydration enables the cells to function effectively, and to regenerate and release waste in your body. It’s important to hydrate and flush your system daily. 

  • Drink 64 oz. (or about half your body weight in ounces) of the cleanest water you can obtain every day, including 1-2 glasses first thing after waking up.  Add lemon to enliven your water.
  • Find a source of natural spring water and harvest your drinking water from this pure source.  If there’s no spring near you, consider a Berkey water filter.
  • Minerals are important cellular building blocks. Add a teaspoon of saturated salt solution to your drinking water several times a day to encourage your cells to regenerate, rehydrate and detoxify. 

Increase Alkalinity:

Juicing provides a boost of digestive enzymes that help reduce and clear accumulated inflammation and acidic waste that the body has been holding through stagnation. 

  • Enjoy 16 – 20 oz. of fresh organic vegetable / fruit juice 4+ days / week.  If you don’t want to do your own juices, buy them from a fresh juice bar. Drink your lemon water first, then enjoy a nutritious juice. 
  • You’ll find some of my favorite juice recipes below. 

“Food as Medicine” Cleansing Diet:

The old adage “you are what you eat” has never been truer. Here’s some food choices worth adopting. I’ll share more about this topic in the post Supporting Gut Health and Immunity.

  • Whatever you eat, choose organic wherever possible
  • Eat 60-70% vegetables, 30-40% protein, healthy fats and complex carbs each day
  • You may want to explore gluten, grain and dairy free food choices 
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods
  • Avoid alcohol and monitor caffeine

Detox Your Environment:

Consider changing your household cleaners and personal care products to more natural options. Chronic illness heals more readily when the environmental impact of toxins in the home is reduced. 

  • The Environmental Working Group website is helpful in sorting out products and providing education on choices. 
  • Be aware of and limit exposure to heavy metals, (for example: mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic), chemicals in cleaning and personal care products, pesticides, mold in your home, workplace or in your hobbies and activities.

What Comes Out

We’ve focused on what goes into your body, now let’s hone in on increasing what comes out!

Colon Cleansing:  

It’s important to clear stagnation in the body’s biggest detox pathway – the gut. 

  • Consider doing colonics once or twice a month. Gentle, gravity-fed systems are most easily tolerated and highly effective at moving waste, thereby allowing the body to release more deeply held toxins. 
  • Or, buy an enema kit online (Aussie Health Co). Up to two enemas per week can speed up your recovery process. It may be a little strange at first, but your body will love you for it! Enema instructions below.

Sweating and Skin Detox:

Don’t forget that your skin is also a major detox pathway.

  • Utilize a sauna (infrared or traditional steam) and/or take detox baths (containing 1-2 cups of sea salt or Epsom + 1-2 cups of baking soda. Soak for 15-25 minutes, then rinse off.
  • Dry skin brushing before a shower also promotes lymphatic drainage and skin detoxification.

Move Your Body To Move Your Lymph:

Sluggish lymphatics are common and can make you feel exhausted and unwell. If you had a regular exercise routine before you became ill, you may need to back off a bit while you recuperate. Let this be ok! Just focus on some sort of movement.

  • Begin moving the lymph to counteract this. If possible, walk each day or use a rebounder. 
  • Practice yoga, Tai chi, Chi Gong or other gentle forms of exercise. 

Detoxing Emotions and Behaviors:

Mind-Body connection is real! 

  • Explore the connection between physical stagnation and illness, and unresolved emotions, dysfunctional behaviors and toxic relationships. 
  • Developing awareness around and clearing held emotional pain can be a catalyst to resolution in the body. 
  • We’ll discuss this in more detail when we review Emotional Grounding, Embodiment and Containment in the third blog in this series.

Remember, healing is a process, and everyone is unique. Working with a knowledgeable practitioner who can meet you where you are and formulate and modify an overall strategy is essential. Whether you’ve tried some of these approaches previously or not, partner with your practitioner to help you succeed with a detox strategy. 

If you have been unwell for a while, easing into saunas, colon cleansing, baths and exercise is important. “Low and slow”, “slow and steady wins the race” are common phrases I use regarding a cleansing routine. These strategies should make you feel better, not worse. Start where you are, knowing that your body will release and restore from these health generating practices. As you heal, you may find yourself integrating them as lifestyle choices. Get cleansing and enjoy renewed, vibrant health!

In the second article in this three part series, I’ll be sharing resources on supporting gut health and immunity.

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