In the teachings of Ayurveda, the best time of the year to do a detoxification program or Panchakarma is during springtime. The cold, heavy, sticky and dull qualities of winter along the humidity of spring can enhance or aggravate the kapha energy in the body. It is during the spring that the body feels the need to detox or expel that entire surplus.
Spring is the season that hosts the harvest of bitter roots, such as dandelions. ‘Bitter’ taste stimulates the cleansing in the body. This is also the time of the year when the ‘kapha’ energy in the body aggravates due to allergens in the air. The bitter roots help to eliminate excess mucus out of sinuses and intestines while the sprouts, rich in chlorophyll help to maintain balance or good bacteria in the intestines, pacifying the vata and pitta energy. The leafy greens and abundance of berries provide the necessary antioxidants that can aid in the detoxifying process.
A complete and traditional panchakarma is ideal, however, it is possible to adapt the practice to a home version. And yes, even at the end of springtime there is still time to detox and say hello to the ‘Pitta’ aggravating summer that completes the cycle when all that sweat is also welcomed.
When do you know it is time to detox?
Migraines and headaches, joint pain, insomnia, mood changes, fatigue, nausea, constipation, skin rashes, depression, are just some of the signs that the body is suffering from a toxic surplus. Toxicity brings all the negative aspects of the doshas.
Many of the toxins we ingest are stored in the fat tissues. So when there is weight loss, there is also a reduction in the toxic load.
Step By Step Home Detox
Preparing the body tissues (Purvakarma)- 7 days
At this stage, the diet will be completely modified with the ingestion of only whole vegetables with no stimulants of any kind, artificial sugars or alcohol.
Phase 2 (7 days)
This stage adds on the previous stage by replacing the evening meal with some kitchari (recipe below) and the introduction of some oleation techniques (abhyanga), which are also explained below. Fasting during the day is observed. Remember this is a modified detox technique and does not intend to be suggested as the full Panchakarma.
1 part of basmati rice washed and soaked
1 part mung beans also pre-washed and soaked.
1-part vegetables of choice. Some suggestions are zucchini, green beans, peas and spinach
6 parts water
Sauté chopped onions, ghee, coriander seeds, cumin, and turmeric; add remaining dry ingredients and finally the water. A rice cooker works well to prepare this.
You can also try an alternate recipe here.
Self-massage using sesame oil can be applied 15 minutes before the shower using a cloth or a hard sponge. The oleation or ‘snehana‘ promotes internal and external lubrication and is a specific treatment for vata disorders. The oil is best used warm.
Head Out Of The Box
‘Swedana’ means sweat, and in this second phase of the procedure, it can be performed 5-10 min a day. An affordable sweatbox can be bought online. The head needs to stay out of the box for the head. This is called ‘bashpa swedana’ and the purpose is to dilate the body’s srotas or channels. It is contraindicated for people with heart conditions, hypertension, and blood disorders.
PHASE 3 (3 days)
Fast during the day, drink ghee, oil self-massage and eat kitchari at night.
Instructions To Drink Ghee
Ghee or clarified butter is the staple of Ayurveda. If well tolerated, one can have 1 to 2 teaspoons of ghee with hot water in the morning on an empty stomach and before going to bed. This helps the release of toxins.
The drinking of ghee should be performed according to self-tolerance. In, correct dosages, ghee increases the strength of the agni or digestive power while reducing signs of inflammation in the body due to Pitta excess. In the case of obesity, the ingestion of ghee might have an opposite effect thus creating more congestion.
It is suggested you choose a weekend or a half-day where you are free of other commitments to perform the cleansing. For this particular home version detox, a mild virechana will be suggested.
Individual tolerance must be observed. Trying the herbs carefully and separately works best.
–Eranda Haritaki Pill (pill form)- Two 300mg tablets before going to bed.
–Senna (can be taken in tea form)
-Castor Oil (1 table spoon)- Can be taken alone or with hot water
-Triphala- can be taken in pill form or in powder form with hot water. If in pill form, take two 1000 mg tablets before bed. In powder form, one full teaspoon mixed in hot water.
–Kayam Churna– (1teaspoon with hot water)
Instruction: Drink or take the herbs the night before the day of the detox. All the herbs are easily available online.
-Prepare the senna tea with I teaspoon of Triphala and one teaspoon of castor oil. (Caution: This can be aggressive concoction for some). Senna tea is a mild laxative, but in people of vata constitution, this tea might create griping pain since its action aggravates peristaltic movement in the large intestine. An alternative laxative for vata or pitta constitutions is a glass of hot milk with two teaspoons of ghee.
Contra-indications for virechan are diverticulitis, colitis or any other digestive disturbances. Prolapsed rectum or uterus, fever, weakness, and dehydration.
Once Your Detox Is Complete
The reversal process to normal activities and food habits must be slow and gradual.