When spring arrives I’m usually thinking about spring-cleaning and looking forward to getting rid of some of the clutter that has accumulated during the fall and winter months! Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ins and outs, and the importance of internal cleansing and herbal detoxification. The changing of the seasons is the time that a lot of people decide to cleanse –perhaps mimicking the cleansing effect of nature’s transition from the dead and darkness of winter into the light and freshness of spring. With the return of sunshine and longer days, the bloom of wildflowers dotting the landscape all around us, so comes the desire to start anew.
While cleaning house and getting rid of the clutter we’ve accumulated over the winter months seems almost second nature to most of us, how many of us routinely ponder the importance or necessity of a little internal spring-cleaning?
Our ancestors engaged in cleansing rituals at least twice a year –usually in the spring and in the fall. They probably weren’t fully aware of their bodies’ need to eliminate old cells and the toxins generated by their bodies’ normal ongoing metabolic processes in order to build healthy new tissue. And yet instinctively, they would ingest the herbs and plant foods that provided them with the detoxification necessary to promote natural healing.
We’ve come a long way since those days and are now faced with an unfortunate fact of modern life — routine exposure to a significant amount of additional toxins. Even if you don’t work directly with chemicals or live near a chemical or industrial plant or an obvious source of pollution, you still have dozens of environmental toxins –pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and byproducts from plastics –circulating in your bloodstream and stored up in your fat cells. In fact, research indicates that the average American is exposed to a staggering 100,000 chemicals, 25% of which are hazardous to human health.
With all that toxic exposure on top of the internal toxins generated through metabolic waste, it’s not hard to see how over time, the organ systems of the body responsible for processing and eliminating toxins become overloaded and inefficient. When toxins start to accumulate and increase in your tissues, a variety of conditions can show up –from fatigue, allergies, and asthma, to digestive disturbances, skin problems, or painful joints. If you experience these symptoms, it’s a good bet that inflammation is also present, and too much inflammation can lead to cellular damage, chronic disease, recurrent infections, and general immune system deficiencies.