How to do an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse
An Ayurvedic cleanse differs greatly from the typical Western approach to a cleanse. Instead of fasting for days on end drinking only juice, Ayurvedic employs a technique known as mono-dieting, which is basically just eating the same meal for a given period of time (anywhere from 3 to 20 days), in conjunction with digestion-stimulating and cleansing herbs. This approach to cleansing has the benefit of stimulating the digestive system and giving the body a soft reset without the physical intensity of a fast. In fact, one of the issues with a juice fast from an Ayurvedic perspective is that it will bring the ama (toxins) to the surface, but without an effective means to eliminate it, the ama will get pushed deeper into the tissues once the fast is broken and usual eating patterns are reinstated. This brings more harm than any short-lived benefit from the fast.
In Ayurveda, our agni, or digestion, is considered to be the cornerstone of our health. This metabolic fire is responsible for physiological transformation, digesting food and transmuting it into energy, and even transforming on a non physical level by “digesting” the external stimuli in our environments. Agni oversees digestion, absorption, and assimilation in the GI tract, as well as the exchange of nutrients at the cellular level—even the digestion of thoughts and emotions. Strong agni is our prime defense mechanism against disease, and when agni is impaired, our bodies have a greater chance of being out of balance. If the idea of agni is new to you or you’d like to read more, see our post here: The Importance of Agni
During winter, our agni can take a hit. The weather is cold, we may be less active and eat heavier foods. As the weather starts to warm up, spring is the perfect time to rekindle our internal digestive fire and remove ama (toxins) that may have accumulated. A spring cleanse is a great way to support our digestive health while giving it a gentle reset, allowing it to operate more optimally. And a healthy digestive system can be an impressive catalyst for improving our overall health. Many of us have experienced the overall sluggishness that can occur when our digestion isn’t quite right, so a gentle cleanse can help renew our overall energy.
Benefits of an Ayurvedic Cleanse
Improved digestive and metabolic processes
Improved health of the gut/microbiome
Increased clarity and groundedness mentally, spiritually, and emotionally
Maintenance of a healthy body weight
Improved sleep cycles
Promotes regular and balanced elimination
How to do a 3 Day Ayurvedic Cleanse
The foundation of this Ayurvedic cleanse is a simple diet of kitchari, oatmeal and agni-kindling herbs. A three day cleanse is a good introduction for anyone new to cleansing. It is generally safe for a diverse range of constitutions and imbalances, but it is not recommended for anyone pregnant or nursing. Although this cleanse is gentle and should not cause much discomfort, any cleanse can be exhausting or emotionally taxing, so keep this in mind before commencing the protocol. If you are up for a bit more intensive cleanse, you can extend this protocol to 5 or 7 days.
In general, during the cleanse you may eat as much as is desired at each meal, which should be enough to feel satisfied, but avoid overeating. Allow at least three hours between meals for optimal digestion and try to avoid eating after 7:00pm. It is best to avoid snacking between meals, but if you need a little something extra, you can enjoy some fresh fruit or a few raw nuts.
Simple oatmeal or kitchari (see recipe here: Kitchari Recipe
If the mono-diet is causing a sense of deprivation, you can steam your vegetables and serve them as a separate side dish with lemon juice, or serve half an avocado as a side to the kitchari. An Ayurvedic cleanse shouldn’t feel like a punishment; it should be as comfortable as possible while gently resetting the digestive system.
Herbs and Beverages
Drink at least 8–12 cups of room temperature water and warm, non-caffeinated herbal teas throughout the day to ensure proper hydration. Beverages can include:
CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) Tea (see recipe here: CCF Tea) The herbs in this drink are all great for gently enkindling and balancing digestion.
Ginger tea (water boiled with ginger root and then cooled slightly before drinking)
Dandelion tea (provides extra support for the liver)
Optional: To really boost the digestive benefits of the cleanse, Triphala can be taken each night, about a half hour before bed. You can either take it as a loose herb or in capsule/ tablet form. If you are taking the powder form, steep ½ tsp of triphala in a cup of freshly boiled water for ten minutes. Drink once it has cooled. For capsules/ tablets, take two with a glass of warm water.
Literally meaning “three fruits,” triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulation consisting of the three fruits native to the Indian subcontinent, Amalaki; Bibhitaki; and Haritaki. Triphala is wonderful for digestion and supporting regular elimination.
The Daily Routine
During the cleanse, you should try to let the body rest as much as possible. Gentle yoga, walking and meditation are recommended each day. Try to minimize stress, travel and intense environments during the course of the cleanse, while surrounding yourself with things that are uplifting.
After the Cleanse
After you have completed the cleanse, your digestive system will have become more accustomed to a clean, simple diet. Therefore, heavy and processed foods may cause digestive discomfort. You might be craving pizza and ice cream, but try to maintain a whole food, healthy plant-based diet in order to continue with the positive effects of the cleanse. A slow transition back into your normal routine and diet will increase the benefits of the cleanse. And if you are able to make lasting positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, that is the ultimate goal.