Spring may be the obvious time for cleansing, as the season of renewal, or even January, following a New Year’s Resolution. Fall is an often overlooked yet excellent time to cleanse. In the transition from the excess energy and activity of summer to a more subdued and internal focus in the winter months, it’s important to take a pause to assess what you really want to bring with you and what you’re ready to release. A focused, short-term change in diet and habit can do just that. Not to mention giving your body a major advantage when it comes to winter colds and all that delicious holiday dessert!
"These days of seasonal change around the equinox are a perfect time to cleanse your body and lighten yourself for fall’s work. Like early spring, autumn is a good time for cleansing, but afterwards your diet may be fuller, richer, and more heat-producing than in spring, in order to carry you through the chill of late autumn and winter.” - Staying Healthy With the Seasons, Elson M Haas, M.D.
In Chinese Five Element Theory, autumn corresponds with the metal element. Metal is associated with the lungs and the ability of discernment. It’s also associated with the processes of grief and letting go. First we come to a mental stillness to be able to see what no longer serves us, then we are able to release it to make room for something new. Inhale. Exhale. Transformation.
Because it is a harvest season cleanse, this is not the time for a juice fast or salad-only diet. Cleansing instead means eliminating the things that put stress on your body’s systems. Alcohol, caffeine, meat and dairy, gluten, and sugar are some common culprits, but there may be other things that you know from experience or intuition that your body would like a break from.
“Fall is a time of evolution through reduction… With fall comes a sense of gathering in, stocking up, mingled with a sense of loss as the light begins to fade and the fair chills. Yin waxes as Yang wanes… It is a time of eliminating what is unnecessary, storing up only what is needed for winter.” Between Heaven and Earth, H. Benfield, L.Ac. and E. Korngold, L.Ac.
At the same time, we want to add in a lot of the things your body craves - I mean the things that truly nourish it on a cellular level, not the ice cream your brain decided you MUST have. Just tell your brain there will be more ice cream later, and listen to the deeper voices of your gut and liver. Chances are, they are craving things like green veggies, fermented foods, and nourishing herbs.
To have a positive experience and a greater likelihood of meeting your goals, it’s important to add things in instead of just taking them out. That’s also where you can make a huge impact on your specific goals, even if you are following a packaged program or diet, such as the Purium cleanse I typically recommend. The benefits of cleanses can be really varied, and you get to choose what to focus on.
You can customize your cleanse to focus on the body systems you may need more support with. For example, adding lots of fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha during your cleanse will improve your gut flora - and consequently your digestion, elimination, and immunity. Or you can add in targeted supplements, herbs, and oils for the adrenals, liver, skin, or whatever would benefit you most.
But it’s about more than just the body - there is also huge mental, emotional, and energetic benefit to occasional cleansing. It’s a great time to notice what habits and thought patterns are with you throughout your day, especially around things like food and alcohol. Taking a break from alcohol, caffeine, and sugar can give you clarity on what role those substances play in your life, and what role you’d like them to have.
I highly recommend taking the time to sauna or take a nice bath with essential oils a couple times during your cleanse. In addition to the wonderful health benefits, a soak or sauna can feel like a real treat and help you view your cleanse as a special time of self-care, rather than a period of deprivation.
Social engagements can be tough when you’re following a strict diet, although not impossible if you plan ahead. Try to give yourself some time off from larger groups or going out to restaurants. Instead, you can focus on projects you’re excited about at home, or doing other self-care activities you enjoy. Adding a movement or meditation routine can be a lovely compliment to a cleanse, and might even create a habit that sticks with you after you go back to your normal routine.
“It’s time to clear away finished projects and open up to the inner wisdom that you can experience in activities like contemplation, writing, reading, and nurturing you family as part of your preparation for the depths of winter.” - Staying Healthy With the Seasons, Elson M Haas, M.D.
If you’re excited about cleansing and want to learn more, contact me! I’m happy to guide you through choosing a cleanse program and customizing it to meet your goals. Be Well <3