Jay Vanden Heuvel, Ph.D., IMD., DHS, is a highly trained scientist. He is board certified in Orthomolecular and Integrative Medicine and in Holistic Health. Jay recently was awarded the Order of Excellence in Integrative Medicine 2016 by the World Organization of Natural Medicine and the University of Humanitarian Medicine Clinics for Humanity. He is a certified reflexologist, a flower therapist and a co-founder of Nature’s Institute, a website providing easy access to innovative natural health education in a quest to empower students with lasting health solutions. Jay and his wife Tracy are Divisional Managers with Nature’s Sunshine.
NSP: Biologically speaking, is spring a good time to cleanse? Why?
Dr. Jay: Spring is a great time to start fresh again. Think of your body like a house that has an attic or basement that needs cleaning from time to time. Spring cleaning just makes sense, especially if you spent part of the cold winter eating lots of comfort food! In winter our instincts are to eat comfort foods and foods high in fat. Remember all those Christmas cookies? At some level, we all worry a little bit that food may not be plentiful during the harsh conditions to come, so we eat comfort foods and/or overconsume. In the past, this was how many people lived as a civilization, loading up on calories during winter. This instinct leads to greater toxic overload for the body systems to process daily. Also, spring brings a sense of renewal. So a good “spring cleaning” is definitely in order.
I recommend that if you use supplements to help detoxify daily (as you should), then a quick 10–14 day cleanse is the perfect way to jump into spring. If you are new to herbal formulas or cleansing, then a longer cleanse may be better due to a lifetime of toxic buildup. Toxins are everywhere in our world today, and our precious bodies need all the help they can get to fight against the onslaught. Put a “spring” in your step with a spring cleanse! It’s like a shower for your insides.
Fall is also a good time to cleanse, to help clear out any uninvited critters we may have picked up during the summer months. Many people have regular cleaners into their homes to get rid of any unwanted dirt that arrives, such as a maid service Austin way that visits a few times a week for example. Like having a regular maid service, your body deserves regular cleaning too.
NSP: What benefits does your body get from cleansing/detox?
Dr. Jay: The colon is your front line of detoxification. Even if you move your bowels on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean you’re getting out all the toxins. Many toxins are fat-soluble and are stored in fat cells if they are not moved out in an efficient and timely manner. The better we are at moving out waste, the less is stored for later disposal. Fewer stored toxins means less weight.
I use this analogy: You can clean your floor with water, but you’ll clean it better with soap. Herbal cleansing acts like a soap to help scrub and activate the body to release substances it doesn’t know how to process correctly (preservatives, additives, plastics, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.). Our bodies weren’t designed for manmade chemicals and synthetics. We need herbs like bitters to signal the body to clean house.
Certain herbs also help modulate the immune system. After all, our intestines house up to 70% of our immune system! The cleaner our insides, the healthier we all feel and function.
After cleansing, many people report having more energy. This is because two-thirds of your organs are involved in digestion and elimination. If you assist in this function, the body has more time and energy for other things!
Again anatomically, helping the bowels remove what we ingested over the winter months takes some of the pressure off of other eliminative organs like the kidneys, lungs, skin and lymph system. These in turn can work more efficiently.
NSP: What are a few of your favorite cleanse ingredients and why?
Dr. Jay: I like cascara sagrada, a bitter herb that’s actually a bark. It is non-habitual and works well to help tighten and tone muscles around the intestines to produce a rhythmical wave or motion.
But multiple combinations of herbs aid many systems. Combining one herb with others makes them exponentially more potent, or synergistic. So a cleanse that contains cascara along with herbs like buckthorn, licorice, capsicum, ginger, Oregon grape and Turkey rhubarb is the way to go…literally.
Some people may want a milder, gentler cleanse. Using a fiber blend along with some of these herbs helps grab toxins and assists in detoxification. Fibers like psyllium hulls and vegetable fiber help bind up bowel toxins for better elimination. Add aloe vera to soothe intestines. It also provides a source of good plant sugars (polysaccharides) to feed helpful probiotic bacteria that live in the gut. Chlorophyll helps prevent odor, and well, if you’re green inside, you’re clean inside! LOL.
After some spring cleaning, it makes sense to continue this action on more of a daily basis. For gentle daily cleansing and microbiome balancing, consider inulin, which has both soluble and insoluble properties. We all need both daily. Inulin is the king of the fiber world. Add some chlorophyll, some l-glutamine and zinc for detoxification and microbiome support. Using something these on a regular basis often results in sustained, increased energy as well.
NSP: Any tips for optimizing a cleansing/detox experience?
Dr. Jay: Drinking lots and lots of water is critical. You can download applications onto your phone to remind you to drink more water. I add lemon to my water as it supports the body’s cleansing efforts. Some people say, “Plain water isn’t my thing.” Add some powdered supplements to your water to help with energy or nutrition. This gives it flavor and provides other health benefits.
I also recommend eating a diet of light foods, soups and veggies when cleansing. It doesn’t make sense to cleanse and then put questionable foods back into your body!
Spring is coming, time to get moving! This means seasonal cleansing, daily cleansing and getting outside where you belong-moving your body and enjoying God’s creations.