Day 86/365 - On Spring Cleansing
Many cultures around the world valued spring as a time of cleansing - both internal and external environments. As the frost thaws, and the dirty patches of snow create muddy streaks on the sidewalk, we can turn our attention to cleaning the sidewalk and our homes. The term “spring cleaning” was coined to encourage people to clean up after the stagnation and bitter cold of winter.
Traditionally, spring was also a time for cleansing and detoxing the body. Over the winter, the nights grow longer, physical activity is usually slowed down, and we need more rest, downtime, and introversion. This type of lifestyle mimics hibernation, and we may even put on a few pounds during the colder months. However, come spring - the sun starts to shine for longer and charges us, physically and energetically. We feel more awake and alive, and can’t wait to lighten the load that winter brought on.
This is why many cultures had some sort of fasting or detox protocol based on the lunar calendar, and often coinciding with religion. The Celtics prepared for Imbolc, the Christians for Easter, and the Jews for Passover.The fasting doesn’t have to be extreme, and is modified in various traditions. For example, Catholics give up their favorite food as a sacrifice for Lent, while Orthodox Christians become vegan for 40 days each year as their fast. Jews don’t eat anything with wheat products or flour.
Whether or not fasting is something you want to incorporate into your spring-cleansing protocol, there are many foods and herbs that can aid the liver in getting rid of toxins. Any plants that start growing in early spring are usually beneficial for this purpose, as well as highly nutritive. Herbs that are bitter in taste usually have an affinity for the liver and help it detoxify. They can be incorporated as fresh herbs in your daily diet, or brewed as teas, or even taken as tinctures, powders or capsules. Another great category of herbs to include is the lymphatics, which help filter and purify blood of toxins. Lastly, consider herbs to enhance the elimination pathways for detoxing, such as through urine and sweat.
- Spring herbs: nettles, dandelion, garlic mustard, ground ivy, watercress, chives
- Herbs for liver: arugula, dandelion, endive, escarole, mizuna, mustard green, romaine lettuce, sorrel, Swiss chard, watercress, beet greens, broccoli rabe, radish greens, turnip green, dandelion, collard, kale, radicchio (cook the tougher ones longer!)
- Herbs for lymph: cleavers, violet, red clover, chickweed, figwort, calendula
- Herbs for elimination: parsley, cilantro, pipsissewa