by Amy Jo Howard, ND, CH
The change of seasons is an opportune time to check in with our bodies: to see what needs to be cleansed because it is no longer serving us or has grown stagnant and to see where our deficiencies are so that we may fortify, moving forward and flowing easily with transition.
In Fall, the days and their sunlight shorten, and green gives way to an array of colors as everything ripens then fades. In tune with the season, we should, ourselves, release what is no longer needed so that there is space and peace in preparation for turning inward for winter.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fall corresponds with the element of Metal and is associated with the lungs and large intestine. These organs relate to sadness, grief, and the inability to let go.
Expanding your lungs and taking deep breaths not only helps strengthen the lungs, it aids in bringing movement into the chest: where there is movement, there is life. Life lets in light and joy. Breathing deeply carries oxygen into the body. Oxygen helps circulate blood, lymph, and nutrition to where it is needed. Further, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and the like have a difficult time living in aerobic (with oxygen) areas, so when you inhale and exhale fully, you are helping to strengthen your immune system.
The large intestine is focused on eliminating waste from the body. As the season grows cooler, it becomes more important to incorporate warming foods, like root vegetables, soups, and stews, to enable the body to digest the nutrients it receives. If the intestines have not been eliminating in a timely or efficient manner, Fall is a great time to do a series of colon hydrotherapy sessions to detoxify the bowels of any accumulation of waste material.
A great cleanse to do at this time is what is known as the Seneca Indian Cleanse. It is a four day cleanse, and each day has you consume something different in order to maximize the body’s cleansing capacity. It is also a fairly gentle cleanse and a nice introductory cleanse for those who haven’t done a cleanse previously.
Every day of the cleanse, drink your personalized amount of water for the day (half of your body weight in ounces), and then, follow the day’s guidelines.
Day 1: Eat only fruit (except do not eat bananas or dried fruit).
Day 2: Drink only herbal teas (no eating on this day).
Day 3: Eat only vegetables (they can be raw or steamed or both).
Day 4: Eat/drink only vegetable broth.
Timing this cleanse so that you do it on the days near the Equinox or between a Full Moon and New Moon will also enhance the effectiveness of the cleanse. If you are unable to commit to doing a four day cleanse, fasting for even one day on vegetable broth or bone broth will give the digestive system a beneficial break. Most importantly, as you take this time to tune in to your body and your inner self, reflect on what you should keep that is most nourishing and essential to you, then let everything else go.