I used to not like the word ‘detox’ and avoid using it at all costs, because it has negative connotations associated with fad diets and restrictions. The concept of detoxing has also been criticised because our bodies have an amazing ability to detoxify on their own. This isn’t the case for all of us though, particularly the 1 in 10 people in the population estimated to have the MTHFR gene mutation.
I carry two variants of the MTHFR gene mutation, which makes me more sensitive to environmental toxins and effects my body’s ability to detoxify and repair (among other things). It’s no surprise that when your body can’t get rid of the build-up of toxins you feel less than ordinary, is it? I’ve found a number of tried and tested to ways to help my body detoxify – these things have become a really important part of keeping me feeling well.
We are all exposed to environmental toxins every day that we have little control over, and this build up of toxicity in our bodies is what leads to chronic illness. In Ayurveda, this toxic build up in the body is known as ‘Ama’, which is believed to be the underlying cause of many health issues, as it block various channels in the body.
I believe it is important to give our bodies the extra support they need to eliminate toxins where we can – without having to starve ourselves or do anything drastic, but instead, nurturing ourselves with a whole lot of self-love. Sound good?
Our skin is our body’s largest detoxification organ,so self-care rituals that help us eliminate toxins through our skin can be incredibly powerful.
Here are some of my favourite ways to do just that…
- Dry body brushing before you get into the bath or shower is a great way to get the lymph system moving and help your body detoxify. It’s important to work in the direction in which your lymphatic system flows, which is towards the heart. So start from your feet and work upwards, and left to right in a circular motion.For added lymph system support, I love to combine a carrier oil with a few drops of lemon essential oil (100% pure therapeutic grade) and rub all over my body after I dry body brush and before I hop in the shower or bath. You can use any type of oil (i.e. coconut, almond, apricot kernel) I like to use fractionated coconut oil, because it is the least thick of any of the carrier oils (it doesn’t solidify at room temp or clog pores) and doesn’t leave oily residue. The warm water opens up your pores and helps the oils absorb into your skin and blood stream.Doing this a few times a week will also make your skin feel amazing!Note: If you don’t have a dry body brush, you can make your own body scrub using equal parts sugar or sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt) and coconut oil, and your favourite essential oil.
2. Detox bath – Epsom salt baths are a really powerful way to draw out toxins from your body. A detox bath is basically an epsom salt bath on steroids! Adding bicarb soda helps soften skin, therefore enhancing magnesium absorption, it’s also known for it’s anti-fungal properties, and for helping restore alkaline levels. Apple cider vinegar helps reduce inflammation and rebalance the skin’s PH.Epsom salts work wonders for boosting magnesium and sulphate levels, helping blood circulation and detoxification, while the apple cider vinegar helps reduce inflammation and rebalance the skin’s PH level. Bicarb soda is known for it’s anti-fungal properties and also helps restore alkaline levels and draw out toxins. Click here for my detox bath recipe.
- Contrast hydrotherapy – alternating between warm and cold water when you’re in the shower also helps get the lymph system moving, in turn supporting detoxification and leaving you feeling ridiculously invigorated. A hot sauna and cold plunge pool, or the ocean will also do the trick if you have this luxury available to you!
- Sweat – there’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned sweat to flush out toxins, is there? There are three ways I love to do this:a) Get the heart rate pumping (a.k.a. exercise) – yoga, run, swim, you get the gist.b) Infra red saunas – I have these at least once a week, because I’ve found them to be one of the most powerful ways to give my body the extra boost it needs to release toxins it has trouble processing. Infra red saunas have a much gentler heat than a traditional sauna, that heats your body internally and helps release crystallised toxins from your digestive system. If you’re interested in find out more about these check out my article on the benefits of infra red saunas.
c) DIY steam facial – an at-home steam facial is a great way to get rid of toxins in clogged pores. Simply boil about four cups of filtered water, pour into a heat-proof bowl, sit with your face over the steam and cover your head and the bowl with a towel, stay there for 10 – 15 mins if you can. I add 1 drop each of 100% pure therapeutic grade lavender and tea tree essential oils.
5. Natural face mask – a natural face mask with bentonite clay is a great thing to do after your steam facial to help draw out toxins. I make my own – it’s super easy, just mix 1 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon bentonite clay and 1 drop each of 100% pure therapeutic grade lavender, tea tree and frankincense essential oils – a potent combination of oils renown for the skin purifying and cell renewal properties. I cringe at how much I used to spend on facials at beauty salons – this face mask is so powerful it leaves my skin pink, tingly and soft, takes less than two minutes to make, all in the comfort of my own home.
Of course, these rituals will be most effective when complemented with a nutrient rich, whole food diet and plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
And there you have it – detoxing need not be a dirty word, but in fact, a wonderful way to nurture yourself.
If you’d like to learn about more natural ways to enhance your body’s resilience to environmental toxins, come along to one of my ‘essential oils for healthy homes and healthy bodies’ workshops.
For information on the oils I use and how to purchase them, click here.
Note: The information I share is based on my own personal experience and beliefs and what I do may not be right for everybody. I encourage anyone with health concerns to seek advice from healthcare experts, explore natural therapies and do your own research too.