Regular detoxification is essential to cleanse the body of metabolic wastes and environmental pollutants that build-up over time. Cleansing is one of the important pillars of the Ayurvedic medicine system.
Regular cleanse through dietary changes, lifestyle practices, and by consumption of herbal formulations are essential to maintain normal homeostasis and for overall wellness.
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Different Ways to Cleanse
Cleanse or detoxification is carried out via various modes in Ayurveda.
- Some of the techniques involve purgation therapies, sweating, vomiting, and enema or colon hydrotherapy.
- Cleanse can also be carried out via food and lifestyle, by fasting and by including antioxidants rich foods in your diet.
- Cleansing via herbs that can help to eliminate wastes via the body channels also forms an essential part of Ayurvedic treatment for many health conditions.
- Cleansing is also carried out via oleation and hydration of various body organs. Primary body organs for such a cleanse is skin and hair. Cleansing via oleation is highly effective in female reproductive system disorders.
In this post, we will learn about the Ayurvedic herbs that are powerful detoxifying agents, highly nutritious, and bolster our body systems. These herbs fall in the medicinal herbs category and should be consumed under the guidance of any Ayurvedic physician.
The need for Cleanse?
- Toxin build-up in the body can lead to an unbalanced state of the body and mind. It can damage our organs and trigger mental disorders.
- Toxins can deposit in the fat tissues, which is their primary home, hence leading to excessive weight gain and obesity.
- Toxins can also get deposited in various organ tissues, overload the organs such as the liver, and hamper their functions.
- Toxins block the body channels, capillaries, veins, and arteries that carry vital nutrients and fluids throughout our bodies.
- Toxins can interfere with normal functioning of our nervous system, metabolism, endocrine system, circulatory system, urinary system, and cardiovascular system.
- Toxin build-up opens the doorways to multiple diseases, create hormonal imbalances, and create unnecessary cravings.
- Toxins can destroy our gut microbiome, penetrate the gut lining, leading to more unwanted materials in our circulatory system.
Best Time – When to Detoxify?
Cleanse is especially important during seasonal changes such as spring and fall as the environmental transition can easily push the delicate balance of our healthy state off.
Apart from seasonal variations, modern lifestyle also commands regular cleansing of the body as we are constantly exposed to innumerable chemicals, pollutants, and health damaging substances through our environment or food.
Detoxification can also be done on a daily basis through the inclusion of antioxidants rich foods and by consumption of warm water to keep the body’s systems in place.
Ayurvedic scope of health is holistic, encompassing a balanced body, mind, and spirit. In Ayurveda, every person has their unique physical and mental configuration of the body and it is defined by the three Doshas – Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha, Kapha Dosha.
Health Functions of Liver | Our Body’s Primary Detox Organ
Many people these days go to saunas, spas, steam rooms, sweat lodges, take special herbs and teas, diets, etc, for the purpose of detoxifying. However, our liver is specialized for that particular function.
Our liver is our body’s natural detoxification system. If it is well taken care of, our liver efficiently performs any detoxification functions required by the body.
The liver converts poisonous and toxic materials like drugs, alcohols, inhaled insecticides and other environmental toxins, into harmless substances for excretion.
2. Carbohydrate metabolism
Carbohydrates are stored in the liver as glycogen. When sugar is taken in initially, it gets processed as glucose to be used as energy. However, when there is an excess of glucose, an hormone, insulin, is secreted by the pancreas, and this converts the excess glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver.
On the other hand, there could also be shortage of glucose. In this case, excess glycogen is converted back to glucose by the hormone glucagon. This ensures the body keeps up with its energy demands.
3. Regulation of Lipids
When there’s too much lipid, liver removes them from the bloodstream, converts them into glucose and oxidizes them to release energy during aerobic respiration.
4. Protein Metabolism
Liver is also responsible for converting amino acids from proteins into energy. So, essentially, without the liver, we would have severe shortage of energy, and constant fatigue.
5. Production of Heat
Due to the tremendous amount of metabolism going on in the liver constantly without break, heat is produced to help maintain the body temperature.
6. Storage of Minerals
The liver stores important minerals like iron, magnesium, etc, and releases them for use as needed by the body.
7. Blood Reservoir
A blood-engorged adult liver weighs over 5 pounds, whereas when the blood is drained, the liver weighs 3 pounds, which is still heavy. But the point is to show that a tremendous amount of blood is stored in the liver, and this can be released into circulation in emergencies.
8. Role in Digestion
Aside the fact that it converts nutrients to energy, the liver also has a part in the production of bile. Bile is a yellowish-greenish substance that is passed through bile duct to be stored in the gall bladder. The role of bile is emulsification (i.e. breakdown) of fats in the small intestine.
Herbs and Ayurvedic Formulations to Cleanse and Support Liver Health
Here is a list of herbs that would help you to effectively cleanse and build a robust body defense system to fight diseases.
All parts of the Amla plant are used in various Ayurvedic herbal preparations, including the fruits, seeds, leaves, root, bark, and flowers.
Technically it is known as Phyllanthus Emblica. Some common names include Amalaki and Indian Gooseberry. Amla is considered to be one of the most potent rejuvenating herbs and an adaptogen in Ayurveda.
It possesses cooling properties to help soothe Pitta Dosha, excess of which leads to inflammation, sleep deprivation, skin, and gastrointestinal disorders, and stress-related issues such as high blood pressure.
When put in the mouth, Amla tastes very sour but slowly leaves a sweetened taste.
- Rich source of vitamin C (445 mg/100 g), which is around 20 times more than in the orange juice.
- Minerals such as Zinc, Copper, and Chromium
- Amino acids, natural bioflavonoids, alkaloids, enzymes, and tannin (high antioxidants).
Health Benefits of Amla
- Fights high cholesterol, increases blood circulation and supports the cardiovascular system. Heart patients should consume Amla in limited and measured quantities.
- Amla purifies the Rasa Dhatu and Rakta Dhatu and supports the functions of the liver. It also stimulates the liver and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. This in turn results in a lustrous skin, free from bacterial infections.
- Relieves menstrual cramping and keeps the menstrual cycle healthy when consumed regularly for few weeks.
- Amalaki nurtures all seven Dhatus in both men and women, hence supporting the reproductive function (enhances fertility). Specially for women, Amalaki strengthens the reproductive system.
- Improves eyesight, reduces intra-ocular tension. Regular consumption of Amalaki juice with honey helps people suffering from nearsightedness and cataracts.
- Results in healthier hair and fights problems such as premature graying and thinning.
- Strengthens the urinary system and can help address urinary issues such as burning sensation. Amalaki supports natural diuretic action, hence helping to eliminate waste from the body without over-stimulating the urinary system.
- Tonic for strengthening and nourishing the lungs and the respiratory tract (major seat of Kapha Dosha in body) as it pacifies Kapha Dosha. Amalaki also pacifies Shleshaka Kapha, that governs moisture balance in the lungs. This is primarily the reason why its juice and honey is also prescribed to patients suffering from Bronchitis and Asthama.
- Enhances food absorption, helps the body to digest food better and to assimilate minerals such as Iron and Calcium. Another ехсеllеnt digestive іѕ ginger, bυt ginger tends tο heat thе body. Amalaki dοеѕ nοt heat thе body, аnd іѕ gentler οn thе entire system
Modes of consumption
- Powdered form as Amalaki retains most of its Vitamin C even after processing/heating/drying. A highly effective remedy for hyperacidity, ulcers and blood impurities. It can be used as a decoction and paste both internally and externally.
- Juice form with honey is highly beneficial to fight obesity (by enhancing the metabolism), acts as tonic for eyes, hair, and to fight the diseases.
- In hair oils/shampoos for strong hair
- Pulp mixed with other herbs in Ayurvedic medicine called Chayavanprash
2. Manjishtha – Rubia cordifolia – Benefits and Uses
Manjishtha has the highest impact on the body tissues starting from Rasa Dhatu – Plasma Tissues, Rakta Dhatu – Blood Tissues, and Mamsa Dhatu – Muscle Tissues of the body. In Ayurveda, it is considered to be the best herb for blood purification and to relieve all disorders related to the built of toxins in the blood tissues.
- Manjishtha is known to alleviate the Kapha Dosha and Pitta Dosha through its Madhura (sweet) and Kashaya (Astringent) Rasa.
- Its Ruksha (Dry) guṇa alleviates Snigdha (Oily) guṇa of Pitta Dosha
- It pacifies the Vata Dosha in the human body. Its Guru (Heavy) Guṇa subdues Laghu (Light) Guṇa of Vata.
Mature roots, stem, and leaves of the plant are used for various therapeutic purposes in Ayurveda.
Manjishtha positively affects the female reproductive system, hence prescribed for menstruation disorders such as:
- Severe menstrual cramps or Dysmenorrhea
- Oligomenorrhea or irregular periods
- Amenorrhea or absence of periods
- Postpartum uterus stimulation and cleansing
- To prevent and pacify hot flashes during menopause
Improves Blood Circulation and Purifies Blood
It is prescribed for good functioning of the circulatory system. It regulates blood pressure, blood vessel constriction and also the tendency of blood to form clots.
As a blood purifier, Manjishtha improves complexion, improves skin glow, and helps prevent skin problems such as erysipelas, eczema, acne, and parasitic allergies.
- Manjishtha is effective in treating gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, and edema.
- Manjishtha has a marked effect on the functioning of kidneys, spleen, and pancreas. It destroys benign and malignant tumors while regulating the actions of kidneys, spleen, liver, and pancreas.
- It is used to treat diseases such as hepatitis, herpes, and jaundice.
Vyanga is condition of hyper-melanosis of face. It may cause severe mental illness including depression. One study showed the effect of both Manjishtha and Arjuna on melisma (Vyanga). Manjishtha and Arjuna were administered as ointment (applied twice daily) and tablet (one tablet twice a day).
The study showed that 88% of patients were completely relieved after 60 days of treatment, while the remaining 12% of patients were partially relieved.
Modes of Consumption
As a decoction, powder, paste, or mixed with ghee.
- It should only be consumed under an expert’s supervision.
- It is not prescribed for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
- Excessive use of the herb can lead to severe chills in some cases.
3. Triphala Benefits – An Ayurvedic Elixir against Ageing
Triphala is a powerful Ayurvedic Rasayana for rejuvenation and vitality. Triphala benefits digestive system, cleanses the body, and tones the body tissues.
Triphala’s constituents are themselves powerful herbs in Ayurveda. And the mixture develops a synergistic effect to help one balance all three Dosha – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Regular consumption of Triphala reenergizes, nourishes, rejuvenates and builds a strong immune system.
Triphala Benefits and its effect on our body
- Triphala is known to promote vision and help reduce the defects of nearsightedness and farsightedness.
- All three components inside Triphala have been individually known to produce a remarkable effect and impart glow to skin and hair.
- Triphala is most commonly known for its positive effect on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. This results in a good digestive system, colon cleansing, fighting constipation, and hence weight loss in a healthy way.
- Also, Triphala is used for diabetes control. Studies suggest the mechanism is through inhibition of lipid peroxidation and free radical scavenging.
- Triphala is also known to reduce bad cholesterol in the blood (LDL and triglycerides) and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
- Also, it has an antibacterial effect.
- Studies show its effect against multi-drug resistant urinary tract infections, anti-caries activity, and protection against gum infections.
4. TURMERIC – A Magical herb and natural medicine
Turmeric is a ubiquitous spice in Indian curries and vegetables. These deep yellow-orangish rhizomes (root stems) of the Curcuma Longa plant have long been used for their outstanding medicinal properties in Asia.
Its phytochemical compounds provide it a distinct yellow color and warm/bitter flavor of its own and are also responsible for its healing power.
- Curcumin present in turmeric inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species ROS such as peroxides, superoxide anions, and nitrite activated by macrophages. This stops the production of oxidative agents, which can destroy healthy cells.
- It also has free radicles scavenging effect. It protects lipids and hemoglobin from oxidation.
- It also indirectly affects glutathione formation thus improving liver detoxification of mutagens and prevents nitrosamines formation.
- It is effective in preventing oxidation of brain proteins and inhibits IL1 which is pro-inflammatory cytokines. Animal studies indicate that daily intake of turmeric can prevent brain damage and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Turmeric has skin protective effect through preventing damage effect of UV B radiation.
- Curcumin also prevents gamma radiation damaging effect on chromosomes.
- It prevents metastasis of skin cancer cells and deactivates carcinogen produced by smoke and tobacco chewing.
- Curcumin showed to have anticancer effect through its antioxidant action.
- Turmeric has antibacterial and antifungal effects.
- Curcumin is effective against Plasmodium falciparum and Leishmania major.
- Turmeric prevents bad cholesterol, LDL oxidation, hence inhibits production of arterial plaques and risk of atherosclerosis.
- It decreases bad cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides levels in blood.
- It also prevents platelet aggregation through activation of prostacyclin formation pathway and inhibition of thromboxane formation pathway.
Turmeric helps in reducing blood glucose level and also decreases diabetic complications.
- Curcumin is very effective in inhibiting lipooxygenase and cyclooxygenase pathways.
- It is as effective against water retention by edema at a dose of 45mg/Kg.
- It is effective in treatment of both acute and chronic arthritis.
- Curcumin is effective in treatment of gastric ulcers induced by stress, alcohol, indomethacin, and reserpine.
- It increases secretion of bicarbonate, gastrin, secretin and pancreatic enzymes.
- Sodium salt of Curcumin has liver-protective effect and prevents formation of cholelithiasis through increasing bile solubility, and excretion of bile salts, cholesterol and bilirubin.
5. Giloy – A rejuvenating herb and an elixir of life!
Giloy has multiple positive effects on the human body! It is termed as “Amrit” in Ayurveda or the ultimate rejuvenating nectar. Almost all parts of the plant are used for several medicinal purposes with the stem being the most common and widely utilized in most medicinal systems.
Its scientific name is Tinospora Cordifolio and the common names are Giloy or Guduchi.
Nutrition and Consumption of Giloy
Giloy harmonizes the three Doshas making it such a potent herb for rejuvenation, treating ailments, and boosting immunity. While the fresh herb is more effective than the dried form, the dried form is easy to consume and lasts longer.
Tinospora Cordifolia stem is rich in alkaloids, diterpenoids lactones, glycosides, steroids, sesquiterpenoids, phenolics, aliphatic compounds, and polysaccharides. Leaves of Giloy are rich in protein and fairly high in calcium and phosphorous.
Detoxification and Cleansing Action
A great detoxification agent, it cleanses the microcirculatory system that includes the lymphatic system and blood circulatory system. It has the unique ability to remove toxins from both exogenous and endogenous sources. It protects the body and helps in its proper functioning under stress.
Boosts Immune System and Removes Inflammation
- Giloy boosts the white blood cell count and maturation of bone marrow stem cells leading to an increased immune response that corresponds with the activation of macrophage (protective cells).
- The anti-inflammatory action makes it beneficial for treating inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Juice from the stem significantly balances the high uric acid levels in the body.
It purifies the blood, leads to healthy and glowing skin and complexion. Due to its cleansing action, Giloy helps in various skin related issues such as eczema, psoriasis, lupus, and skin inflammation.
Adaptogenic and Cognition Booster
- As an adaptogenic herb, it reduces mental stress and anxiety.
- It enhances cognitive ability, promotes memory and longevity by reducing oxidative damage to cells and endogenous cleansing of brain toxins.
Prevents Diabetes, Fever, and Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Known for its hypoglycemic actions, Giloy reduces blood sugar and lipid levels considerably. This makes it very useful for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.
- It relieves from the gastrointestinal and urinary disorders (diuretic in nature) such as digestion issues, piles, and pain in the bladder.
- It is antipyretic in nature, it is known to be highly effective in reducing chronic and high fevers.
Promotes Fertility and Acts as Aphrodisiac
- Mixed with other herbs, it is also used as an aphrodisiac and to increase sexual potency. It cleanses sperm and is known to provide virility to sterile men and women.
Anti-Cancer and Anti-Aging properties
- It protects against gamma radiation and has anti-tumor properties leading to a significant reduction in tumors when used regularly.
- Giloy is known to increases appetite, quench thirst, and increase body strength. Giloy promotes life and has anti-aging properties such as the destruction of wrinkles and graying of hair.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is called Ghritkumari in Ayurveda and termed as the plant for immortality. It finds its mention in the Rigveda, dating back to thousands of years old. It has been used for the treatment of various diseases:
- Fever (Jwara)
- Colic (Shula)
- Indigestion (Agnimandya)
- Worm infestation (Krimiroga) and others
- As detoxifier (Vishaghana) and Rejuvenator (Rasayana).
Constituents within the gel of the aloe leaf can penetrate through all seven layers of the skin resulting in prompt and marked effect of rejuvenation, natural healing, and protection.