As an Ayurvedic practitioner, when you receive a new client, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether to purify or tonify. The same is true when looking after our own health. Cleanses and detoxification programs have become popular over the past couple of decades. There is good reason for this, and yet Ayurveda teaches that there is a time and place for purification and detoxification. In this post we will take an overview of Ayurvedic medicine for detoxification.

When To Detox - Timing is Everything

As mentioned above, the first step in cleansing and detoxification is to determine if it is the right thing for you. Detoxification and cleansing are not right for everyone all the time. Also, when we talk about Ayurveda for detoxification, what we are speaking of in this article is cleansing and purification—the gentle removal of ama (undigested food matter) and metabolic wastes. This is different than detoxing from drug abuse, for instance. If you are thinking about doing some detoxing, here are some indicators for purification:
  • sluggish appetite
  • low energy (though this could be due to fatigue and depletion)
  • thick coating on the tongue
  • lethargy
  • overall heavy feeling
  • foul breath and body odor
Also, the onset of spring and fall are good times to take on practices in Ayurvedic medicine for detoxification; deep winter (when the body is needing to build and nourish) is not the best time. Furthermore, in order to practice purification and detoxification, one should be in relatively good health. Especially in the case of long term detoxification, the overall result may be weight loss and lessening of body tissues, so having some strength and fortitude to begin with is wise. There are exceptions to this, as in the case of juice cleanses for particular conditions. However, if you are ill or have a serious health condition, it is wise to get the guidance of an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner or similar before undergoing detoxification.

Where to Start: Kitchari

One way to practice gentle detoxification is to undergo a kitchari cleanse. Kitchari is a simple Ayurvedic porridge made of rice, mung dal, spices, and often ghruta or ghee and vegetables (see our recipe). Many people choose to eat a mono-diet of kitchari as a gentle cleanse and seasonal reset. Again, early spring and early fall are lovely and fitting times for this. However, kitchari is tridoshic and nearly anyone can enjoy a bowl of kitchari for any meal any time of year!

Ayurvedic Herbs and Substances for Detoxing

In addition to a kitchari cleanse, there a number of herbs and spices that can assist with detoxification. Consider digestive herbs such as ginger, black pepper, and cumin. Also, for those with a strong Pitta constitution, you can focus on cooling digestive herbs such as coriander and fennel. If your digestion is working well, your body will have a much better chance at effectively eliminating metabolic wastes and anything excessive. Also, bitter herbs for blood and liver support may be helpful, such as turmeric, neem, barberry, gentian, and dandelion. And, for more powerful detoxification, consider scraping, clearing herbs such as guggul and shilajit. Another substance that can help with amplifying your detoxification is Ghruta. Ghruta helps to increase rasa (bodily juices) and penetrate the tissues, which loosens and dislodges ama. The waste matter is then drained into the gastrointestinal tract for elimination. Essentially, ghee can help speed up the elimination of ama, thus improving the health of your tissues. Ghruta is easy to incorporate into a cleanse. Simply begin your day with a spoonful of ghruta followed by hot water.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Detoxification - Safe, Natural, and Time-Tested

Detoxification and cleansing has become a huge health trend. Ayurvedic medicine offers much wisdom and a wealth of options when it comes to safe, natural, effective ways to purify. To learn more about Ayurvedic medicine for detoxification, read our post: 7 Day Ayurvedic Cleanse Starter Guide. Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.
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