Fasting and detox for health
Fasting is an ancient healing technique; most living beings naturally
restrict food intake when they are ill, thus focussing the body's
energies on getting well again. Most of the world's religions endorse
fasting as a way of cleansing both spiritually and physically. Fasts
may involve taking only water, herbal teas or eating only one type
of food. Herbs are important to further support the physical cleansing
of the body.
A detox is when one eats healthily, avoiding toxic foods, whilst following
a herbal regime to help elimination of waste matter. It is possible
to eat quite normal amounts whilst on a detox.
A detox is more appropriate for those of us who need to continue to work, look after our families and live in the modern world. It may be appropriate to undertake a fast if you are under the supervison of a naturopath or are on a spiritual retreat. Certainly fasting should be undertaken once one is used to detoxing and have a diet that is relatively low in toxic substances such as food additives.
Detox and fasting are useful techniques in kick-starting your being
into a healthier way of life. Choosing simpler, healthier foods gives the body
a rest so that it can repair and cleanse itself. As toxic foods are eliminated from the diet, the liver and kidneys
do less work processing ingested food and are free to work harder
at cleansing the body of unwanted substances. This can be of great
value for sufferers of many ailments including irritable bowel syndrome,
hay fever and sluggishness.
As our choice of food becomes simpler, our taste buds grow more sensitive
to taste. After having spent time fasting, food is appreciated much
more. We become more aware of how foods affect us. We notice which
foods are beneficial for our individual systems and which foods cause
us discomfort. We also gain an insight into our emotional relationship
with food. Some people experience feeling of lightness, extra energy
and clarity. It is common for repressed emotions to be brought to
the surface by the process of fasting or detox, thus bringing such problems
to light where they may be accepted and addressed.
WARNING : Please read
this carefully before undertaking a fast
Fasting and detoxification is not suitable for everyone. If
- pregnant or breastfeeding,
- have a long-standing medical condition,
- are on prescription medication,
- have diabetes or low blood sugar,
- have a toxic build-up (e.g. through drugs or alcohol misuse
or prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals).
Please consult a fully qualified naturopath who
will design an appropriate regime for you. In these instances
professional guidance and careful monitoring is required. Remember,
unless you are confident that you are fit enough to embark on
a fast, do not attempt to do it yourself. It is probable that
you will do more harm than good.
It is important to have a sensible attitude towards fasting, as discipline
and patience are needed to gain the full benefits of a fast. If you
end the fast too abruptly you will, quite frankly, be in worse health
than had you not fasted at all. It is not a practice to take lightly.
If you are in any doubt, try a detox instead.
It is traditional to fast in the spring and in the autumn. In less
affluent times gone by there was often an enforced spring fast on
spring greens only, as the winter stores ran low. Spring fasts are
definitely a good idea for those who suffer from hay fever. Autumn
fasts strengthen the body in preparation for winter. You may need
to use more cooked foods and warming spices to keep warm while fasting
at this time of the year.
People who study moon phases and their relationship to behaviour on
earth have come to the conclusion that the period after the full moon,
when the moon is on the wane is the best time for fasting. One day
detox regimes or fasts are best carried out on the day of the new
Which kind of detox is right for me?
There are various levels of detoxification; the selection of a regime
suitable to you depends on your personality, your reasons for fasting;
your general health and constitution; you obligations and commitments
and your existing dietary habits. Think about these things carefully
when choosing a method suitable for you.
If you are unused to wholefoods, try 3-10 days on the wholesome
diet. A few days before, start taking the a herbal detox mixture (the one available from the Haelan Centre Holistic Pharmacy is ideal, or try Ortis Pure Plan, take until the course is finished. Other supplements
are discussed in the recommended supplements
section. Thereafter try to follow the wholesome dietary principles
for one or two days a week, soon you will find your taste buds changing
and you will begin to avoid unwholesome foods without even thinking
If you eat wholefood but have never completed a fast before, choose
the beginners one-day detox to start off with.
This is an ideal choice if you are unable to take time out to focus
on yourself or if you want to do a short simple cleanse. There are
two options given for each meal depending on whether you have a hot
or cold constitution. Again, the Ortis or Detox Mixtures
are ideal accompaniments. Start to take one of them a few days before the
detox and continue until the course is finished. You may choose additional
supplements from the recommended supplements
Fruit and freshly pressed juice fasts are commonly recommended in
magazines and popular health books, and although for the right person
they can be beneficial, they are certainly not the right choice for
everyone. Those with yeast imbalance or candida overgrowth; irritable
bowel syndrome; weak digestion or a cold constitution (feel the cold,
pale, thin) should avoid fruit or juice fasts. Also they are problematic for people who have problems with blood sugar balance. If you do not suffer
these problems, a juice fast is an ideal choice
if you have heat signs, or a tendency towards them (red face,
overweight, robust nature). Those with a fairly balanced constitution
might like to try the juice fast on a hot summer day. It is a fast
for the impatient - raw fruit and vegetables have the most rapid cleansing
action. Remember though, it is very important to take care to introduce
the more acidic foods (grains, proteins) slowly in order to benefit
from such a fast.
The Ayurvedic cleansing fast is an ideal choice
for people who are used to eating wholefoods on a regular basis. It
is a well designed fast, offered as an alternative for those people
who are unable to undergo Panchakarma a longer, more complex Ayurvedic
This fast requires patience and discipline, ideally one should have
time and space to meditate, particularly on the days of the actual
fast. As well as being physically cleansing, it can have a remarkable
healing effect for individuals suffering from stress due to fast paced
The Ayurvedic fast is an ideal choice for those with constitutions
not suited to the juice fast.
Different Ways of Detoxing
All you need to detox in a box. The eminent herbalist Alfred Vogal
has designed this programme which has recently been updated to cater
for the modern individual's needs. The box contains teas, tinctures
and dietary instructions.
The wholesome diet is ideally followed for at least ten days. It is
an ideal diet to follow if you wish to detox, but carry on eating
normally. To deepen the detoxifying effect of the diet use the supplements
discussed in the section Recommended herbal and nutritional
supplements for Detox and Juice Fast.
Eliminate the following:
- Refined food (white rice, white pasta, white bread)
- Pre-packaged food (tinned foods, packet foods and ready meals)
- Sugar (brown and white) and chocolate
- Tea and coffee (if you drink more than 3 cups of tea or coffee
every day, cut back to just one in the morning)
- Hydrogenated fats (e.g. Flora and most margarines, biscuits, cakes, pies etc.)
- Fried foods should be kept to a minimum, totally eliminate deep
fat fried foods
- Red meats, non-organic meat and farmed fish
Base your diet on whole grains, vegetables and smaller amounts of
pulses, nuts, seeds and dairy products. Wherever possible, use organic
ingredients, your body is then spared the extra work of processing
artificial pesticides. Use fruits and vegetables that are in season,
they will have travelled a shorter distance and there will be less
loss in nutrients. See our recipe
section for a selection of wholesome diet food ideas.
For snacks use fresh and dried fruit, nuts, oatcakes and rice cakes.
Allow 3-4 hours between meals.
For ideas on changing to a wholefood diet, see also Eating
Example menu for a day using detoxifying herbs
On rising: large glass of water, with a squeeze of lemon if
toasted sourdough-rye, gluten free or yeast-free
wheat bread spread with honey, fruit spread
or tahini paste, dandelion coffee or herbal tea
Mid-morning: dandelion coffee or herbal tea
Lunch: Have a large glass of water while preparing food. Steamed
vegetables with tahini and brown rice
Mid afternoon: dandelion coffee or herbal tea
Dinner: Take a large glass of water while preparing food. Then
have a some fish or chicken with a large salad including
watercress, alfalfa, and carrots. Vegetarians can have some homemade hummous with toasted pumpkin seeds and spelt crackers. Follow, if
liked, by a baked apple stuffed with mixed dried fruit
and nuts with cinnamon served with natural, organic,
acidophilus yoghurt. Take with organic cream or oatly cream if liked. Take fennel or chamomile tea.
See Recommended herbal and nutritional supplements
for Detox and Juice Fast.
If it is a warm day or your constitution is hot (red face, overweight
aversion to heat) follow the HOT recommendations.
If it is a cool day or your constitution is cool (pale, thin, aversion
to cold) follow the COOL recommendations.
Dandelion coffee or herbal teas may be taken either hot or cold throughout
On rising: psyllium husk drink of choice,
followed by a large glass of room temperature water with a squeeze
of lemon or lime if liked.
HOT: 3 different types of fresh fruit (not including melon)
COLD: apples, pears and raisins simmered until
soft with cinnamon and cardamom
Lunch: while preparing take a large glass of water
HOT: raw salad with 5 different types of salad ingredients including
COLD: steamed mixed sprouts and vegetables
Be sure to chew thoroughly
Dinner: take psyllium husk drink of choice and a large glass
HOT: as for lunch, or have the COLD type selection
COLD: broth made from a selection of vegetables with added garlic
and fresh or dried herbs (basil, chives, tarragon, bay leaf, parsley,
thyme). Make with homemade vegetable stock or make up stock with Vecon
paste. If you like, have a couple of NOW oatcakes or rice
For the next three days, have similar menus, slowly introducing small
amounts of these foods: porridge, brown rice, millet,
nuts and seeds, yoghurt and cheese, pulses
and tofu. Follow the wholesome diet principles.
Continue to take herbal drinks and herbal and nutritional supplements.
Continuing the psyllium drink for the same length of time would also
First read: Is a fruit or juice fast right for me?
Also check you have read the warning about fasting.
See Recommended herbal and nutritional supplements
for Detox and Juice Fast
Spend at least three days on the wholesome diet.
Try to only eat as much food as you can hold in your two cupped hands,
at each sitting. On the day before your fast choose especially light
foods, particularly for the evening meal.
For the actual fast take three or four drinks of freshly pressed carrot
juice instead of meals. If you do not have a juicer the Biotta
vegetable juices are ideal alternatives. The recommended amount
is 300ml of juice diluted with an equal amount of filtered or bottled
water. You can try mixtures of beetroot and carrot (use
one part beetroot to three parts carrot juice) or carrot and
apple juice (mix half and half). If you feel slightly cold
add some juiced fresh ginger root. If you wish, you may add
half a teaspoon of spirulina or wheatgrass powder to
the juices, which will add to their cleansing effect and supply you
with more nutrients and energy. Spirulina helps alleviate symptoms
of mild low blood sugar levels.
End the fast by following a one-day beginners detox
diet for a day, gradually introducing new foods over a four-day
period until you are following the wholesome diet
This fast removes toxins from the body, mind and emotions and improves
the overall functioning of the body. It gives an experience of strength,
tranquillity, energy and vitality to the individual. It also increases
immunity and develops the inner healer.
Thank-you to Rebecca and Sascha of Ayuseva for recommending this diet.
Please check you have read the Warning about fasting
before you embark on a fast.
During the preparation, the actual fast and for five days afterwards,
a fasting drink should be taken throughout the day. This drink helps
to keep the body strong and balanced through the fast. Ghee (clarified
butter) should also be taken internally to induce the elimination
of aam (toxins).
4 cups of water
2 teaspoons on cumin powder
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
20 rose petals or 2 teaspoons of rosewater (optional)
4 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds lightly bruised with the back of
1 pinch of asafoetida powder
4 fresh basil leaves
1 pinch of black pepper
Half a teaspoon of ginger juice (chop fresh ginger and wring
out the juice) If you have a tendency to coldness then add half a
teaspoon of ginger powder
Mix everything together in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently
for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and keep it covered for
a further 20 minutes. Filter and keep warm in a flask to drink regularly
throughout the day. If the mouth goes dry then add one teaspoon of
honey to the flask.
Herbal support during the fast
It is recommended to drink herbal teas as well as the fasting drink.
Ideal teas to take are the Ayurvedic Blend Higher Release,
Yogi Detox Tea and dandelion coffee (you can add cardamom,
liquorice and cinnamon sticks). They are all naturally sweet in flavour
and thus help with cravings. If possible consult a herbal practitioner
(either Chinese or medical) to prescribe herbal remedies specific
to your needs. If you do not wish to do this you can follow the guidelines
If you have no history of bowel problems then Cytoplan Colon Cleanse
Capsules may be taken as directed over the period of the fast.
If you do have bowel problems take Lepicol twice a day in the
morning and afternoon. Bioforce's Calendula complex contains
herbs that stimulate the lymphatic system, take before meals or three
times a day. Milk thistle capsules (taken twice a day before meals)
help to support the liver. You might also like to drink a calming
grounding tea like vervain, which can help if stress and other
emotions come to light during the fasting period. Vervain tea is also
a good tea for inducing a meditative state of mind, it also strengthens
Preparation for fasting
It is extremely important to prepare the body prior to fasting by
eating only mung soup or mand for three to four days; the soups may
be taken with or without ghee. A teaspoon of ghee may also be added
to herbal teas. For instructions on how to make the soups and ghee
see Ayurvedic Recipes.
These days of preparation are followed by one and a half days of total
fasting on just a fasting drink, room temperature water and herbal
teas as required. Continue to take the herbal remedies. As much as
possible remain in silence and meditate. Apply ghee onto the temples
and the soles of the feet and apply Siddha paste around the navel.
How to make Siddha paste:
1 small onion
Half a teaspoon of dry ginger powder
Quarter of a teaspoon of black pepper
2-4 cloves of garlic
2 pinches of asafoetida
4 pinches of rock salt
Chop the onion and put it into a blender with the garlic and all the
spices. Push everything through a sieve in order to make a fine paste.
Apply on the stomach all around the navel area and leave for at least
15 minutes. This paste is also an excellent remedy to apply on any
area that is painful such as the lower back or on strained or aching
joints muscles and tendons.
Breaking the Fast
On the evening of the second day a small meal of mung soup or mand
should be taken. It is important to break the fast in the correct
manner. If the digestion is not strong enough, inappropriate food
will not be processed correctly and more toxins will be put into the
system. If you choose to eat the wrong foods too soon, you will undo
all the good work you have done. Five days is the absolute minimum
time to wait before reintroducing a wider variety of foods. The recipes
for the following are described in the recipe section under Ayurvedic
First day: Mand with spices but no ghee. Eat and chew the
soup; don't drink it.
Second day: Mand or mung soup with ghee
Third day: Peya with spices and ghee
Fourth day: Mung soup and rice or vilepi with ghee. In the
evening take vegetable soup
Fifth day: Vilepi, mung soup or vegetable soup and rice with
Additional practices to support the cleansing
Herbs have an important role to play in supporting the eliminatory
pathways. Taking appropriate herbs, ensures that toxins and waste
matter are released from the bowels, the urinary system and the lymphatic
system. Herbs and spices can also help to keep the body warm during
fasting and can help to calm the mind and emotions.
Anti-oxidant nutrients help to fight free radicals which speed up
degenerative processes in the body. Free radicals are produced in
response to the toxic substances in food, air and water.
Psyllium husk drink: take 2 heaped teaspoons
twice a day for two weeks. Choose either:
- Psyllium husk alone
- Lepicol where there is irritable bowel or candida overgrowth
- Psyllium husk, psyllium seeds and linseed equal parts where
there is constipation
The first two drinks may be taken on a long-term basis. It is very
important that you drink at least one and a half litres of water per
day when taking psyllium.
Nature's Own Antioxidant Formula OR Nature's Own Smoker's
Formula (similar formula but slightly stronger) x 1 per day: take
for 30 days, one tablet per day in the morning.
Ortis ten-day detox or the less potent (and less laxative)
Ephytem ten-day detox - take either one for the full ten days.
Follow instructions on packaging.
If you have a large appetite, suffer from cravings or mild blood sugar
imbalance: take spirulina, blue green algae or wheatgrass
tablets or powder starting on the same day as the Ortis mixture, continue
for ten days. For dosages and to select the right green food for you,
see the Green Superfoods page.
For extra liver support you might like to take a Milk Thistle
capsule or tincture twice a day before meals. Milk thistle has a synergy
with dandelion, so try to drink dandelion coffee during the day or
take Cotswold's Milk Thistle and Dandelion capsules.
Herbal teas: Yogi Detox Tea; Yogi Calming Tea; Yogi
Stomach Ease Tea; Ayurvedic Higher Release Tea; dandelion
coffee; vervain tea; chamomile tea. Drink instead
of tea or coffee freely.
Dry skin brushing induces elimination through the skin and encourages
the flow of lymph. Using a sisal brush, brush towards the heart
in long sweeping strokes. 20-50 brushes for each leg from toes to
buttocks; 10-25 strokes for each arm from fingertip to upper chest.
Ideally skin brush before taking a salt bath.
Sea salt, particularly Dead Sea Salt encourages elimination
through the skin. Add 3 or 4 handfuls of salt to a warm bath and relax
for at least 20 minutes. Add appropriate essential oils if you wish.
Then thoroughly but gently scrub the body with a loofah or
sisal pad in circular motion working towards the heart. After
you bath wrap up warm, dry your hair and go straight to bed. A seaweed
bath may be taken if you have dry skin.
Sitting in a sauna or steam room induces sweating and elimination
of uric acid thus aiding detox. If you feel light headed or have blood
pressure problems, do not use the sauna or steam room. After a sauna,
aromatherapy oils are very well absorbed.
If you plan to have a professional aromatherapy massage, then tell
the practitioner that you are detoxing and they will design an appropriate
blend for you. Massages are relaxing and using the more diuretic essential
oils will aid the detox process.
Use Fleur's Cellulite Bath Oil and Cellulite Massage oil
or make up the following blends:
|For 10ml of base oil add either
|2 drops of geranium
||2 drops of sandalwood
|2 drops of roman chamomile
||2 drops of frankincense
|1 drop of fennel
||1 drop of juniper
Always use good quality essential oils, we recommend the Absolute
Aroma range. Massage towards the heart and never massage varicose
Be sure to take a gentle stroll and try as much as possible to practice
deep breathing as toxins are expelled through the breath. Additionally,
being in natural surroundings is beneficial for both body and soul.
If it is warm enough, wear loose minimal clothes to give your body
an air bath.
Following is a selection of the Bach flower remedies that may be suitable
for balancing the emotions during fasting. It should be noted that
many and varied emotions can rise up when the ingestion of food is
limited, so any of thirty eight remedies may be appropriate.
||Crab apple is a specific remedy for aiding the detox
process, it helps to cleanse the blood. It also helps with feelings
of impurity and uncleanliness.
||Helps to strengthen the will. Ideal for people who
tend to embark on projects and are then discouraged and give up
prematurely. Gentian is used for relapses in the healing process
and helps the individuals to see things through.
||A remedy for people who are too hard or strict with
themselves. It is an ideal remedy for those inclined to fanatical
|Star of Bethlehem
||An ideal remedy for those who feel spaced out or
disconnected. Fasting can have profound effects on the psyche,
sometimes causing unprocessed traumatic events to re-surface.
This remedy has a comforting and calming effect.
||A good remedy for those who have a tendency towards
fanaticism and a need to share their enthusiasm for particular
ideas with excessive zeal. Also treats stress, nervousness and
||Aids the shedding of bad habits, particularly if
such habits are shared with another person who has a strong influence.
A good support for going through the process of change towards
a healthier lifestyle.
Written by Julia Moore CHEK level 1 Holistic Lifestyle Coach
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