Teaching self-care is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. However, the term detox, has become a word that is thrown around constantly. It's fallen into the category of overused buzzwords, but it is actually a critical action of our body.
So what is detoxing? And why do we have to do it all the time?
Are we really swimming in chemicals everywhere?
In some ways, yes.
We're in a natural environment that is filled with lots of toxins. However, what we do on a daily basis shouldn't have to be so burdening to our body.
Detoxing is simply doing something that helps your body get rid of waste, so your body can function better.
We have lots of different types of waste in our body that constantly needs to be eliminated.
For starters, metabolic waste is the cellular waste leftover from when we eat food. Food gets absorbed into our body, the nutrients get absorbed into our cells, the cells get rid of wastes,
and those waste go through a blood stream. Some of the cellular waste goes out through our digestive tract. Some of them go out through sweat, through our skin. We also have a lot of waste that leaves through our lymphatic system. Our bodies are always trying to move regular waste out, on a daily basis.
And then we also have extra waste from our environment. This could be in our food from consuming pesticides and herbicides. This could be in the air we breathe, particularly if we are breathing in smoggy or polluted air. This could be in the plastics that we use and micro-plastics in everything all around us.
Extra waste can also be internal, like from our stress. It's really important to know that
even though there might be lots of different toxins out there. It's the ones that we create on the inside that a lot of times are the biggest stressors to our bodies or the biggest burdens to our body and that's what we have to clear out.
This is why preventing the need to detox is more important than having to think about it as an afterthought. One of the easy ways that we can assist our body by not having a build up of metabolic waste is by keeping our body active. Regularly doing simple exercises keeps our bodies functioning unburdened and helps things move easier through.
5 things that you can do to help your body detox:
I know we've all heard, “you got to exercise”. I think during this pandemic, one thing that’s been a really beautiful thing to see is more people getting outside and moving. There are so many people out biking, walking, and hiking! It's exciting to see the world is becoming more active, finally.
However, getting active doesn't have to be a huge thing to start, especially if you're not an active person, start small! I always tell my clients, becoming more active can begin with something as small as choosing a parking spot on the opposite side of the parking lot. Increasing your walking with little bits to start. And then before, you know, it gets easier and simpler. Your body has moved more waste through its system. It's easier. It lessened it’s burden to detox. Moving gets easier the more you do it.
By starting small with movements and building as you go, you're actually helping your body go through its lymphatic detox faze easier, instead of having to clean out so much at once.
I like simple movements like walking, gentle yoga. Yoga with Adriene is one of my favorite online heroes. If you aren’t familiar with her, she offers free yoga classes on youtube. A cool feature she offers a lot are 30 day challenges or series that progress over time. Another helpful feature she has is different yoga for very specific things like lower back pain, energizing before the work day, or winding down for bedtime.
Other options for activity could be running, burst exercises also known as HIIT High Intensity Interval Training. If you’re already into hardcore workouts, awesome! Keep it up!
And if you're not that kind of person don't worry, do activities that you like to do. For me, I'd rather go on a hike than go to a gym. I'd rather go dancing then do a cardio workout. Figure out the ways that you enjoy moving and make sure that you're plugging in movement every single day.
I know as an office worker, sometimes it's hard to get in that movement daily. For me, it's so important as I've gotten more into the online digital world to remember the movement part.
There's now these B Cycles all over downtown Santa Barbara where you can rent an e-bike for almost nothing and zip around town. It has an electrical assist to help you climb hills but you are still pedaling and doing the work. It’s an easy way to keep the movement going in a fun way without totally wiping yourself out.
I like to sometimes plug-in reminders on my phone just to get up and go for a walk throughout the day.
Those that have smart watches apparently have this feature too! But I’ll just plug in a 10-15 minute block in my schedule and make sure to take it. Even just taking like a 10 to 15 minute walk can do so much to clear the stress and anxiety levels or whatever that's building up throughout the day.
Breathing is something we have to do to live everyday. It’s a part of our autonomic nervous system, so we do it everyday without even thinking about it. But deep belly breathing and the four square breath help assist this further. The four square breath looks like this:
Start by putting one hand over your belly and one hand over your chest.
Breathe into your belly for a count of 4.
Hold for 4.
Then breathe out through your chest for 4 and repeat.
Just doing slow, deep belly breaths, is a great way to detox all the lymphatic fluid out of your digestive organs. We hold a lot of stagnant lymph in our digestive system. You can be laying down, sitting up, or exercising, while you're breathing deeply and any of these will really help you to detox and clear through whatever your body’s holding on to.
3. Stress less
I know it's easier said than done, but I think we've all been starting to add to our stress relief kit the last few years and lowering stress is a daily mindfulness exercise.
Our last blog covered mindfulness and different ways to detox your mind, but lowering stress can also be plugging in brakes, taking vacations, and making sure you have something to look forward to.
I've also recently heard that the way that you think about stress can actually change how you stress. In the past, as soon as I was aware that I was feeling stressed, I would begin to freak out, “OMG I AM SO STRESSED” until the point that I was stressing out over the fact that I'm stressing out.
If you change the way you think about it, stress is actually a natural protective mechanism that your body has come up with to keep you safe. It increases your heart rate, increases your activity to your brain, so that you can see and think through what's going on and get yourself away from danger.
That's the whole fight or flight system is to fight off an enemy or to run away from it. Since we're a lot of time stuck sitting instead of moving through those stresses, that stress and all those hormones accumulate and cause more toxic buildup in our body.
By changing how you think about it, if you start feeling that fight or flight come up and start feeling anxiety. Go for a walk, call a friend, get some movement and get some breath in, check in. Or maybe it looks more like an inner dialogue with yourself. "Hey, my body is upset about something. What's going on”
Listen to that stress instead of trying to work against it.
The more that we listen and tap into our body, the less, we're going to be holding onto the stress and wrapping ourselves up in it more and more. So you can detox very easily and prevent the need for so much detox just by simplifying and changing how you look at that stress. While also appreciating that your body's doing exactly what it's supposed to do instead of working against you.
4. Drink Detoxing Herbal Teas.
We talk a lot about herbal teas in all of our programs and one of my favorites is coming up with really tasty alternatives to things I might drink too much of like coffee. Coffee is fabulous. I don't know if I'll ever stop drinking it but I've had to minimize it over the years because it definitely ramps up my stress levels. Especially when I live off of it, drinking it continuously throughout the day. I've come up with quite a few coffee alternatives to mix in throughout the day so that I'm not just hitting the cappuccino button all day long.
So three of my favorite herbal detoxing teas is one, a detox chai tea. Click here to get the recipe. It's one of my favorites. I just love warming chais especially in the winter time and adding some liver detox herbs like dandelion root, chicory, burdock are really fabulous ways to move things through.
Another favorite detox recipe for me, is our roasted roots, herbal coffee blends.
My roasted roots blend is a mix of roasted chicory, roasted dandelion, and then I like to add a little bit of sweetness to balance out the earthiness of the flavor. For sweetness I might use some licorice or Stevia. I will also often add maybe a little cacao, some rose hips, and cinnamon to umph it up a little bit. I really love adding to my herbal roasted roots blends and trying out different herb concoctions, mushrooms would be a great addition too.
And then my third one is the golden milk latte. It's the classic coconut or almond milk mixed with turmeric, a little bit of black pepper, and you know cinnamon or ginger, whatever else you want to spice it up and then sweeten it up at the end. So you have your fat, your turmeric, or anti-inflammatory detoxing herb and then a few other spicy, sweet additives to it. Whatever you like.
You can use these teas to swap out the afternoon coffee drinks. Switching from coffee in the morning. Maybe one or two cups until around 10am then after noon, starting to have detoxing herbs instead to clear through some of that waste, that move things along to keep your digestive system happy and to lessen the burden on your body.
5. Lower your toxic intake
By this I mean, its time to really clean up your diet and do what you can to lessen the burden of the toxins in your environment.
I know we all have our own version of "clean eating", but I am just going to keep it simple. No poisons in your food, and no food that is poison.
It doesn't matter what your diet is, if you can define your food by those statements, then you are doing really good.
Our next blog post is going to all about how to clean up your diet and environment to prevent the need to detox, so stay tuned!
This is kind of what I like to take all of my students through. In the clinical herbal world, you have to have a different way of looking at a situation or a problem and step back to see a more holistic approach.
There is no one-fits-all solution. Especially when you're working with clients or maybe just your own family members, you have to realize that we don't always fit in the pretty little box of do this, “exercise more,” or “eat better”.
We have to think about all the different ways that we can help our bodies out.
This is something that takes precedent in our Community Herbalist Program, our level 2 or intermediate herbal program. We spend a lot of time looking at the bigger picture to take a step back and think of really "outside the box" solutions for for complicated people and cases.
If you like doing detective work, puzzling things together, figuring out how the body works, and coming up with specific protocols to fit, this is exactly what we do in the program.
Creating herbal protocols are not just a cookie-cutter approach, but fine tuned recipes and how to's to fit a very specific individual.
The Community Herbalist Program is a really fun way to learn the deeper world of herbal medicine. If you are wanting to learn how to really up your self-care this year, we've come out with the self care assessment for healers to help you figure out how to heal you.
As healers especially, we forget sometimes that we have to take care of us, too.
So, we've got a whole self-care quiz for you to help you figure out what you need to focus on and what you're missing in your self-care. So take the quiz and find out what healing work you need for you!