Blog | YOUR GUIDE TO Gentle Post-Holiday Detox
YOUR GUIDE TO Gentle Post-Holiday Detox
HERBALISM |

YOUR GUIDE TO Gentle Post-Holiday Detox

It goes without saying that holiday indulgence often gets the best of us, leaving us walking into a new year with a renewed sense of urgency for refreshing our wellness practices. If you’re looking to improve your mind-body health not just as the new calendar page turns but well into the future, we’ve got an exciting secret for you: the body is a self-healing wonderland and some gentle tending to your garden is even easier than you think. 

Forget worrying over whatever ‘guilty’ pleasures you enjoyed last year. These confidence, mood, and energy-enhancing practices help make daily cleansing accessible to start anew right now. Here are seven easy habits to start, tweak or give a try to cleanse and refresh your overall well-being. 

  1. Detox with warm lemon water + teas

Drinking enough water is one of the most manageable, measurable goals you can set for yourself. Specifically, drinking warm water, or what integrative nutritionist and founder of Doing Well, Daphne Javitch calls “an internal shower”, hydrates the body and can help it flush out toxins, giving the liver, kidneys, and colon a chance to function at their most optimal states. Though the body is already a self-detoxing powerhouse, staying hydrated gives a jumpstart to the detoxification process.

Begin your day with warm lemon water and sip it throughout the day to promote alkalinity. Lemons provide several health benefits, which combined with warm water, can promote hydration and stimulate digestion throughout the day. Hydration cannot be stressed enough during this time—consuming enough water is essential to help your liver and kidneys filter out toxins. Lemons are packed with nutrients including vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. The vitamin C in lemons supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, cleanses the system, can help alleviate stress, fight viral infections and sore throats. It also enhances enzyme function, stimulating the liver and activating bile flow, which helps emulsify and flush out fat soluble toxins.

For added digestive support, try sipping warm green tea before or after meals to help set your metabolism and digestive fires ablaze. Warm water can also help raise your body temperature, which may promote sweating and support your body in removing toxins through the body via the skin. Stimulating the digestive system, incorporating warm water (add lemon and turmeric for more smooth moves!) into your pre- and post-meal routines can help waste removal do its best toxin-eliminating work. Other benefits of water detoxing include better moods, increased alertness, and less digestive discomfort. If you’re seeking relief from digestive problems like indigestion, bloating, flatulence, constipation, heartburn or irritable bowels, try fennel tea, whose carminative effect helps relax the gastrointestinal muscles.

Herbalist tips: Chew on fennel seeds after a meal to reduce bloating. For added protection against belly bloat, add some Happy Belly powder to your pre-meal digestive drink or a few drops of our Fat Belly Tonic for added alkalizing. Or try incorporating detox teas like our Liver Vitality for microbiome support and our prebiotic rich Happiness powder. Matcha is especially great for getting antioxidant and metabolism boosting while simultaneously ridding your body of accumulated toxicity.

  1. Eat kidney-nourishing + warming foods

Holiday feasting can push us to the extreme of avoiding eating altogether, but nourishing our bodies is of the utmost importance if we want to stay healthy through the colder months and beyond. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), winter is linked to kidney health. Beyond drinking lots of water (a key ally for kidney health), here are some dietary detox-friendly tips for achieving more balance in the body after the calories-don’t-count indulgence of the holiday season.

Eat:

→ Kidney-nourishing foods like beans, avocadoes, pomegranates, leafy greens, squash, broccoli, root vegetables, seasonal berries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, flax and chia seeds. 

→ Nutrient-dense broths like this Blue Lotus Dreaming Broth using herbs for the nervous system and intuition, adaptogens, and pungent, bitter flavors to help move energy and create warmth in the body. Also try these Golden Sun Milk Ramen Noodles (sub any seasonal produce that’s locally available to you), a curry with anti-inflammatory turmeric and adaptogenic support.

 → Winter salads with prebiotic rich add-ons like pumpkin. Add your herbal medicines into the salad dressing, as healthy fats and good vinegar are excellent bases for absorbing medicinal properties, as well as further boosting digestion and metabolism. Plus, raw vinegars are packed with naturally occurring probiotics, helping your body to more deeply and efficiently absorb nutrients.

Balanced and warming bowls help to nourish and hydrate our bodies with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant whole foods and herbs. A healthy liver and healthy skin are interconnected; as radiant, glowing skin is linked to the efficient removal of toxins from our body. Recipes that include turmeric are especially beneficial for both detox and beauty purposes, with extra protective antioxidants. 

→ Warming foods like porridges in lieu of cereals and cooked, baked, broiled, roasted and steamed seasonal vegetables for easy digestion and the ability to warm your body internally. Warming spices like anise, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and fennel.

Avoid:

For dietary detox, there are three categories of food to avoid that will help to not overtax your body’s natural detoxification systems, and are relatively easy to identify: (1) overly salty foods; (2) processed foods; (3) foods with an excess of refined or fake sugars. Starting by eliminating or reducing foods in these three categories can also come with an added weight loss benefit.

Enhance:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recommends upping your intake of vitamin-C rich foods during the cooler months for immune system support. Good news: these foods also tend to be plentiful in the winter months, providing added fiber and antioxidants, which support the body’s detoxification and overall health.

→ UNPROCESSED Plant-based protein is a great alternative support for gentle daily cleansing and releasing toxins. Be sure you are choosing wholesome foods that aren’t heavily processed like many of the plant-based “meats” we find in most grocery stores. 

Mushrooms are magical detoxification aids. Rich in protein, their numerous resistant starches help to keep inflammation at bay and fortify the immune system in its work destroying pathogens.

→ Educate yourself about digestive intelligence, how to properly cleanse and flush your liver, and the benefits of liver cleansing to start making connections between all of your digestive organs, and to better understand the importance of resetting and detoxing.

Herbalist tips: Don’t skimp on the vitamin C! With crucial involvement in countless physiological functions, it’s also essential for detoxification, tissue repair, immune function, and so much more. Add Curam elixir for increased internal and external vitality or Mangosteen Hibiscus powder to strengthen your immunity while deeply nourishing the blood and gut and warding off viruses!

For further detox delight, consider adding our organic and wild Collagen Booster to your meals. Its kidney supportive superherbs, like Horsetail, Nettle and He Shou Wu, also support general vitality, blood cleansing, blood building, and gut health.  

  1. Intermittent fasting

 Modern research has shown that fasting heals your brain, but the benefits don’t stop there. Improved metabolic health, increased longevity, and better heart health are among the additional perks of consciously abstaining from eating for a certain period of time. 

Intermittent fasting is a simple way to get the benefits of a fast without feeling like you’re deprived of food. Eat your last meal no later than 7:00 p.m., and try a delicious cup of Happiness powder or an aromatic Chai in warm plant-based milk instead of breakfast the next day. A warm beverage with adaptogenic allies can help leave you satiated while your body continues to fast. It is in this fasting state that your body is much better able to burn fat as fuel. Once lunchtime rolls around, you’ll have fasted for over 16 hours, giving your digestive system a total reset. 

Showing a bit of restraint in not just what you consume, but also when, has been proven to help reduce fatty liver disease, improve sugar metabolism, and support liver detox. The body’s natural detox process can be further enhanced by intermittent fasting. Abstaining from eating with intention can provide our body with the time it needs to repair and cleanse itself because the liver and digestive system are able to conserve more energy. This cellular detox process is known as autophagy, or “self-eating”, a period during which healthy cells eat unhealthy cells.

Herbalist tips: If you want to try intermittent fasting, eat during an eight-hour window during the day, then fast for 16 hours. One to two weeks is a great start, keeping tabs in your journal to observe overall mind-body health. To explore full cellular detox, visit our blog for a deeper dive into the topic.

4. Lymphatic drainage

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and the only one exposed to the outside! From medical practitioners to anatomists and massage/energy workers, many modern body experts regard the lymphatic system, as one popular NIH study summarized, as being “the crux of regulating homeostasis in the human organism.” Otherwise known as the state of optimal functioning in the body, homeostasis depends on maintaining steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions. Balanced fluids in our bodies, a regulated body temperature, and heart rate are some of the hallmarks of an adequate immune system. Our lymphatic systems are often negatively impacted by our illnesses, injuries, overexposure to toxins and chemicals, allergies, not enough exercise or physical movement, stress, and/or even clothing that’s too tight.

Essential Oil Belly Rubs

If you find yourself feeling a little puffy, stiff and stressed, try an anti-inflammatory warm oil rub down! Cooling oils that assist with inflammation can be any base oil of choice (jojoba, mooring, coconut, etc.) with a few drops of essential oils. Try peppermint, lemongrass, geranium, or aromatic relaxants like rose, frankincense, and lavender. Using a gua sha or just with the warmth of your hands, follow the lines of your lymphatic system, and comb your body outwards to free stale energy.

Lymphatic Drainage Self-Massage

Like the rest of the lymphatic system, the face, head, and neck are subject to both external stressors and the internal impacts of such imbalances they may cause. Examples of impaired functions that affect this tender, forward-facing area of our sacred organism include headaches and migraines, sore throat, acne, twitching/itchy eyes, and tight neck muscles.  

Self-care is truly radical, even more so when it can enhance our calling card to the world (our face), our creative HQ (our head/brain/crown chakra), and our sources of pleasure, a.k.a. those vision-expanding cylinders we use to breathe and speak: our necks/throat chakras. Healthy skin builds confidence and boosts the lymphatic system all at once; again, all of which work hand in hand to support natural detoxification. Learn how to perform a lymphatic drainage self-massage here.

Detoxifying Body Rubs + Dry Brushing

Detoxing doesn’t just mean ingesting. In fact, we rarely recommend ingesting essential oils, as very few are safe for this. However, there are other ways to use botanicals as detoxification tools. Add detoxifying oils to your beauty routines like frankincense to activate prana (life-force) and help the body stay limber and relaxed, patchouli to calm and clear skin, ylang-ylang for skin balancing effects, or lavender for deep relaxation and antimicrobial cleansing of the upper layer of skin.

Garshana, the Ayurvedic practice of creating friction by rubbing or dry massaging the body with a gentle brush composed of natural fiber bristles, is experiencing a widespread revival in modern beauty and holistic practices. Especially beneficial for the lymphatic and nervous systems and eliminating accumulated toxins, which also stimulates hormone production and boosts metabolism.

Specifically, gentle dry brushing with diluted essential oils can help to decrease water retention, increase energy and vitality, tone the skin, reduce stress, and support detoxification. If you’re not sure which herbs or oils may be most beneficial for your cleansing goals, try our free herbalist chat.

  1. Mindful movement 

Mindful movement like yoga and stretching can help to balance the body’s energy systems, enhance mood, and support the body’s drainage pathways. The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, written in the early centuries CE by the sage Patañjali, describes the purpose of yoga as achieving a true sense of wisdom and supreme health through the elimination of physical and mental impurities (toxins) that lead to a multitude of illnesses. Through both Asanas (physical postures) and Pranayama (breathwork), this ancient practice has been used to eliminate obstacles to the flow of energy and to assist with the body’s efficient detoxification.

Quick stretching that gently aids with detox are twists. The idea that yogic twists can detox the body was widely popularized by the famous yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar. According to Iyengar, twisting poses compress the muscles and organs, blocking the flow of blood. When releasing the poses, the blood flows back into those areas, improving circulation. Here are a few additional yoga poses to aid detoxification and lymphatic flow that are both gentle and easy to do daily at home:

→ Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Encourages blood circulation and stretches the entire body, facilitating lymphatic drainage.

→ Twisting Poses (e.g., Bharadvajasana): Twisting movements stimulate the digestive organs and detoxification.

→ Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani): Promotes lymphatic drainage from the legs and feet. 

→ Child’s Pose (Balasana): Relaxes the nervous system, and encourages gentle compression and release of the abdomen, aiding detoxification.

  1. Sacred sweating 

Healing with heat is one of the most ancient revered traditions for detoxification across world cultures that has persisted throughout the centuries. When viewed through a cultural lens, detoxing becomes less of an opportunity to lose weight and more of a tool for spiritual cleansing and purification. Many cultures throughout time have considered fasting a devotional act, prized for its sacred ability to connect the mind and body to the Universal way. For instance, many native rainforest cultures have long practiced traditions heavily based on herbal dietas, limpias, and plant medicine ceremonies. Here are a few examples of detoxing as ancient reverence.

In recent years, traditional Mexican temazcales (sweat lodges) have seen a steep rise in popularity, thanks to their many benefits that range from the psycho-spiritual and emotional to supple skin, and deep transformational healing potential on multiple levels. But if you’re looking for a more accessible and modern way to reap similar benefits, try visiting an infrared sauna near you. Infrared is the type of light used to heat objects in the sauna instead of air, allowing the body to sweat at lower temperatures. Because infrared light penetrates deeper, the heat pulls out toxins deep under the skin and exfoliates them through the skin—which is amazing for detoxifying and weight loss! But, any kind of sauna that you have access to can be miraculous when it comes to cleansing. Use what you have available, and check out places in your area that might have one.

Whether you opt to sweat it out in the sauna, in the gym, or in nature, sweating supports the lymphatic system and helps flush out toxins and bacteria more effectively. According to the CDC, less than 25 percent of adults aged 18 and over meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. If hot yoga, jogging under the sun, or HIT workouts aren’t for you, try a sweat session in the sauna, but be sure to take a cool shower directly after to prevent reabsorption of toxins back into the body. Studies have demonstrated that regular sauna use has the potential to regulate mercury levels and may help eliminate toxic trace metals. 

A stress-relieving bath can also help support daily detoxing with added benefits from epsom salts. Truth be told, little is more effective than getting the body moving, which can help to remove potentially harmful molecules via the pores, lowering fat in the liver and boosting overall liver health. Many holistic health experts say that dry brushing post-sweat is one of the best times to help flush out toxins and revive the skin, so consider combining these two practices for even better results.

7. Amp up the fiber 

Eating with intention is one of the best ways we can avoid the feelings of regret that follow holiday overindulgence. Eat with gratitude and intention, and cherish the love that was infused into your meals. Start by amping up your fiber intake with seasonal whole foods, including lots of fresh, leafy greens and whole fruits in lieu of fruit juices, which can lower sugar levels while providing key fibers. Say goodbye to the sugar crash, and hello to more stable energy throughout the day!

Studies have shown that an increase in dietary fiber intake is linked to positive gut-associated changes that “can then alter the physiology and biochemistry of the body’s other main nutrient management and detoxification organs, the liver and kidneys.” For those in the Northern Hemisphere, focus on winter fiber-packed foods like dark leafy greens, beans, peas, and nuts, which are not only vitamin-rich but also contain folate, a key ingredient for protein metabolism. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, look for summer foods like local and seasonal fruits (apples, guava, berries, avocado etc.), which are best enjoyed between main meals or on an empty stomach.

However you choose to interpret the old adage, “out with the old, in with the new,” we hope these tips for easing into a gentle detox after the holidays will help you greet the coming year with a happy, healed belly to boost your overall wellness. Taking it slow is one approach that may be better suited to people looking to make gradual changes that are lasting, as adjusting our habits can bring up a lot of emotional, psychological, and physical “toxins” we didn’t even know we needed to rid ourselves of, which is scary at times. Be gentle as you embark on the process of detoxification, and you might just find that it’s not only okay to let go of what no longer serves you, it’s wildly liberating, too.