Letting Go: Cleansing and Detoxifying with TCM
- Monday, 10 November 2008
Your immune system defends the body against anything foreign which may cause problems. Sometimes the immune system becomes confused and reacts against things that are not dangerous. Allergic reactions are an example. You can be allergic to virtually anything. Common air-born allergens include dust mites, pet dander, and pollen. Common food allergens include peanuts, soy, milk, wheat, corn, and nightshade plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Topical allergic reactions can occur from items like makeup, creams, cleansers, and detergents. You can even become allergic to parts of yourself!
Your immune system is responsible when you are exposed to an allergen and react with sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, hives, eczema or other dermatitis conditions, digestive upset, fatigue, or a vague sense of unease or discomfort. There are things you can do to cleanse and detoxify your body if you feel a need to help your immune system. Normally spring is the time; however, fall is also ideal because Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers the Lungs and Large Intestines to be most active during autumn. Please note: The organ names capitalized because I'm referring to TCM “systems", not just the physical organs.
The Lungs connect to the immune system. TCM can help the immune system with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, special foods, and specific allergy treatment techniques. Normally practitioners recommend a combination of herbs to balance the body. Often huang qi, a Chinese herb, is used to treat the lungs. It is usually incorporated into foods like soups and stews. Look for this herb in any Chinese herbal shop and some Chinese grocery stores. If wrongly prescribed, however, you may find this helpful herb may cause headaches or nosebleeds, especially if overused.
Proper breathing is another way to stimulate your Lung energy and bring it into balance. Take a moment, in a quiet place, and inhale deeply and slowly through your nose. Feel your chest expand and allow enough air to fill your lungs so your diaphragm lowers and your belly inflates. Hold your breath for 3-4 seconds and then slowly and completely let the air out, allowing your belly to draw in and your chest to lower. Pause for a moment, and then repeat. As you become comfortable with this exercise, visualize pure white light entering your lungs each time you inhale, and murky waste leaving each time you exhale.
The Large Intestines are your body's major system (and organ) for eliminating toxins and waste. Even if you are regular with your elimination processes, everyone needs help with detoxification. Today scientists estimate that everyone carries at least 700 contaminants within their body. The effects of most of these contaminates are not well understood. Cleanse this system at least once or twice a year if you don't want to be a toxic waste dump.
I believe in "supported" cleanses, meaning I want the body to receive enough nutrition and rest during the process to promote healing. Cleansing can be done with TCM herbs, supplements, appropriate foods, acupuncture, and far infrared sauna (your skin also eliminates waste). Cleansing begins by eliminating, to the best of your ability, some of the toxic chemicals you encounter daily. Eat foods that were available 100 years ago, not created more recently. Shop the perimeter of grocery stores to avoid processed foods which dominate the aisles. Examine your personal care products. How many ingredients do you not recognize or cannot pronounce? Should that yummy-smelling body wash really be bright yellow? What makes it that color? What makes it smell like that? What about your makeup, toothpaste, deodorant, and so on?
Remember, your skin absorbs what you put on it. Check out household cleansing products, laundry detergents, and dish detergents. Choosing options which are more natural helps both yourself and the environment. Even if you find eliminating these chemicals from your life is challenging, do what you can. Start small and expand from there.
Your mind, heart, and soul also need cleansing. I associate “letting go” with the Lungs and Large Intestines. Fall is when trees let go of their leaves, and the earth lets go of its bounty through the harvest. Examine your life. Are there emotions, people, and things that no longer serve you? Perhaps they stand in the way of moving forward and block something more beneficial from entering your life. Letting go is an essential part of cleansing and helps strengthen and rebalance your immune system. Your immune system protects you. Consequently, if a problem is inside, it may attack itself.
Once you’ve finished letting go this fall, celebrate with a small slice of pumpkin pie! Pumpkins are a seasonal food and, after all, isn’t enjoyment part of life?