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Cleansing from the Ayurvedic perspective – Why do we need ‘to cleanse’?

Written by Jo Webber

Why do we need ‘to cleanse’ – Doesn’t our body do that naturally every day?

As cleansing is carried out continuously, mainly by the liver and kidneys, some feel emphasis on the need for additional detoxification or cleansing is misguided. Misinformation in the media has also given these a bad name, such as the ‘quick fix detox’ each January. Much of the resulting ‘detox backlash’ has quite rightly focused on the need for a consistently balanced approach to health. However, any increase in toxins- be they from normal metabolism within the body or from external sources- increases the workload for organs which were never designed for today’s toxic overload.  Our ancestors did not eat ultra-processed diets lacking in diversity, which now make up half the average family’s trolley in the UK (Monteiro et al, 2017). Nor were they exposed to chemicals, pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, atmospheric and industrial pollutants and pesticides which pose novel challenges for our detoxification system.  Numerous studies support the adverse effect these endogenous toxins are having, both on planetary and human health (Schwartz, 2004).

It seems common sense to ensure we help our bodies to cleanse, enhancing our natural ability to metabolise waste effectively. ‘Fasting’ and eating a simplified diet are highly regarded in both Ayurveda and its sister science Yoga, as well as most traditional wisdom systems and religions. The Ayurvedic view is that eating and digesting food requires significant energy and when you have a break, your body diverts this energy for ‘housekeeping’. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective in that we have endured feast or famine for much of our history, with an unpredictable supply of food. We have adapted to survive for periods with less food- as opposed to today when most are overfed but undernourished. Whichever way you look at it – from a traditional Ayurvedic or modern biomedical view – there’s no doubt that wastes in our bodies and the stresses of modern life are not good for us.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, not feeling our best offers an invitation from our bodies to correct early imbalances before they progress. Even if we feel full of health, a periodic cleanse is one of the most valuable gifts we can offer ourselves and our clients. In today’s world when so many of us are overly busy, overly toxic and consistently weighed down by stress, a cleanse can be a profound experience. The following signs often indicate that such a cleanse could be beneficial:

  • Any digestive issues
  • Reduced focus and brain fog
  • A lack of energy and fatigue
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Sleep issues

Joanna Webber is a fully qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner with a BSc in Ayurveda as well as a Hatha Yoga teacher. She loves to weave the two sister sciences together to support a more integrated approach to health. She lives in Somerset and spends all her spare time growing, foraging and cooking local, sustainable food and herbs. She is founder of the Ayurvedic Yogi clinic and co-founder of The Ayurveda Academy, offering practical and engaging courses combining Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom with modern insights on how to live well. You can follow her daily exploits on how to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle @joannawebber.ayurveda

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