An Ayurvedic cleanse aims to draw toxins, impurities out of the tissues and into the digestive tract to eliminate. Another sign of imbalance is the build up of doshas leading to them moving out of their natural habitat, eventually leading to disease; cleansing addresses this too. There are various cleansing modalities depending on the season and an individual’s needs. If you’re interested in Ayurvedic cleansing, here’s what you need to know.

Why Should You Cleanse?

Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of clear channels and subtle pathways of the body and mind. We want our food to give us nourishment (not blockages, constipation, and toxicity), and our thoughts to give us hope and happiness (not stress, worry, and sadness). ⁠

Sometimes, however, we can develop excess ama (also known as toxic build-up) - especially during the change of seasons - in which case, our pathways can become blocked leading to malabsorption, symptoms, and disease.

By cleansing and removing ama, we restore agni (digestive fire) and improve overall health.

Signs and Symptoms You May Need to Cleanse

If you have excess ama or doshic build-up, it may be time to cleanse. Excess ama or imbalances in the body may show itself through:

  • Digestive difficulties
  • Intense cravings
  • Chronic stress, anxiety, foggy brain, trouble focusing
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Feeling scatterbrained or having trouble focusing
  • Trouble sleeping or waking up constantly
  • Irritability
  • Skin problems
  • White coating on the tongue when waking

When Should You Cleanse?

Typically, Ayurveda recommends cleansing at least twice a year with the change of seasons. Spring or kapha season is often more beneficial, however, the fall or vata season can also be important, especially if you need to cleanse excess pitta. By cleansing with the seasons, you're able to remove any ama accumulation while aligning the body and mind with the new season.

That said, modern life often results in excessive exposure to toxins (e.g. improper diet, chronic stress, unresolved emotions, etc.), which can lead to an accumulation of ama. An ayurvedic physician may recommend cleansing any time of the year if necessary for the patient.

    How to Cleanse

    Typically, it’s advisable to cleanse under the care of a physician so they can guide you in the best process for your individual dosha and state of health. They can also help you manage any side effects that arise. However, many people can gently cleanse at home with great results. 

    Note: If you're in need of a deeper cleanse, you will definitely want to find an Ayurvedic practitioner to guide your treatment. They may ask you to consider panchakarma, an intensive, detoxifying ayurvedic treatment led by an expert. Depending on your specific needs, your practitioner may recommend going on a retreat to complete this ama-removing treatment, or they may craft a program that you can go through at home.

    An ayurveda cleanse works through a 3-part system to loosen excess doshas and ama from deep tissues and move them into the digestive tract to eliminate:

    • Phase 1: Traditionally, Ayurvedic cleansing starts with a preparation phase to acclimatise and prepare the body for what's to come. In this phase, you’ll want to consume warm, easy-to-digest whole foods and avoid dairy, sugar, and processed/packaged foods.
    • Phase 2: The heart of the cleanse comes from the active cleanse, where you often utilize a mono diet of kitchari to pull out built-up toxins and ama from your system. During this part of the cleanse, consuming Ghruta ghee and Salt Tea in the morning helps liquify and bind ama for removal and nourish tissues. An Ayurvedic practitioner can also recommend Ayurvedic medicine for detoxification or suitable herbs to help deepen your detox experience and restore balance.
    • Phase 3: The last phase of is the rejuvenation phase, which is focused on supporting the body and bringing it back to equilibrium. In the rejuvenation period, it's recommended that one take rasayanas, like Chyawanprash to nourish the tissues in the body, build ojas and help you regain vitality. 

    For specific instructions on how to implement a cleanse at home, read our 7 Day Ayurvedic Cleanse guide.

    Contraindications for Ayurvedic Cleansing

    Although Ayurveda encourages cleansing for health prevention, as well as additional cleansing for managing imbalances, there are contraindications for cleansing, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menstruation. In addition, cleansing may not be suitable for the weak, debilitated or elderly. Ayurvedic detox cleansing is best done under professional supervision. 

    Side Effects of Ayurvedic Cleansing

    Common side effects of cleansing include fatigue, headaches, congestion, and general illness. An initial increase in other symptoms may also occur as a side effect. Patients may also experience mental disturbances and depression due to a release in stored emotions.

    Back to blog