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Detoxing

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Just as many of us take time to clean out theclutter in our lives—go through the basement and closets—we should alsoacknowledge that every once in a while our bodies need help in facilitating the naturalprocess of detoxification and elimination. The body is a self-cleaning mechanism via theliver, kidneys, urine, feces, breath, and sweat. Keeping our systems of elimination in ahealthy condition can help improve and protect our health. Yet for many of us, our systemsare overloaded and can use a bit more help. We can give our bodies the opportunity to letgo of that which is not necessary—the feeling of sluggishness and the extra poundsgained. Although weight loss is not always a primary goal in detoxification, it can be oneof the benefits as well as simply feeling lighter and fresher. A cleaner body can evenenhance one’s ability to feel more creative, motivated, and energetic.

Most people are exposed to chemicals at higher levels than ever before in history.Pollutants in the body can contribute to fatigue, mental dullness, allergies, headaches,skin problems, digestive disorders, degenerative disorders, and a weakened immune system.Herbs can provide us safe, natural, time-tested methods to improve the natural functionsof our bodies and be valuable allies to support the body’s natural cleansing process.


There are anumber of categories of herbs used in the detoxification process. One of the most populartypes is alternatives. Although alterative herbs are often referred to as"blood purifiers," the way they work is to improve organs of blood purification,such as the liver and kidneys, and thus aid in the elimination of harmful by-products ofmetabolism. Alteratives increase blood flow to the tissues, detoxify, improveassimilation, and stimulate metabolism. They are also often rich in electrolytes and traceminerals and are best used over a period of time for their restorative influences.

Anti-fungal agents inhibit the growth of unfriendly yeasts that can contribute tocandida. Antioxidants help protect us from free radicals—unpaired molecules weare exposed to through environmental pollutants that can cause cellular damage. A cholagoguepromotes bile flow to the liver and aids the breakdown of fats. A demulcent soothesirritated tissue of the throat as well as gastrointestinal system. This effect is usuallydue to the plant’s content of mucilage, a soothing slippery substance that lubricatesand heals.

Diuretics increase kidney function and thus the elimination of urine and excessfluids. Nutritives are rich in vitamins and minerals that help build and tone thebody. Rejuvenative properties in plants help renew the body and mind and help slowdown the aging process. They are usually tonics, are highly nutritive, counteract stress,and gently increase endurance. A vulnerary herb helps promote cellular growth andrepair.


bulletSome important herbs to consider in the process of detoxification include the following:
bulletPsyllium seed (Plantago psyllium, P. ovata) is a lubricating mucilaginous fiber used as a gentle bulking and laxative agent. The mucilage in the seeds expands eight to 14 times the size of the original seeds. This can also create a feeling of fullness, decreasing one’s desire to overeat. Psyllium fiber works as a broom, sweeping the gastrointestinal tract of toxins. Be sure to drink lots of water when using psyllium as a cleansing agent!
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Black walnut hull (Juglans nigra) is an alterative and antifungal agent that helps the body eliminate parasites.

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Hibiscus flower (Hibiscus species) is mildly antibacterial and has soothing properties. It is also mildly diuretic and antiparasitic.

bulletHorsetail, also known as shavegrass (Equisetum arvense), is considered an alterative, antifungal agent, and diuretic. It is extremely rich in trace minerals and improves the healing of bones, flesh, and cartilage.
bulletLicorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is known as "the great harmonizer" in Chinese medicine. It is mildly laxative, nutritive, and considered a rejuvenative. It soothes irritated mucus membranes and nourishes the adrenal glands. Using small amounts of licorice helps to instill a feeling of calmness.
bulletAlfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a natural diuretic and laxative. It is an excellent source of fiber and provides natural chlorophyll, which has deodorizing properties, helping to sweeten the breath and freshen body odors.
bulletCascara sagrada bark (Rhamnus purshiana) is widely appreciated for its quick-acting laxative effects. It stimulates secretions of the liver, gall bladder, stomach, and pancreas due to its bitter anthraquinone content.

taken from AIM Partners magazine and AIM brochures