How to Detox

March 26, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Allergies, Detox

cleaning-3-1.jpgDo you need a spring cleaning?

Spring is the best time to do a detox. We not only need to clean out the cupboards and the cobwebs in our homes, but our bodies and minds could use a similar sprucing up as well. Think of a detox as the “Spring Break” your body needs to get you back on track with your diet and lifestyle goals. Winter often leaves us feeling foggy, sluggish, bloated and phlegmy from lingering colds, inactivity, gluttonous holiday overeating, and lack of sunshine. Muddled thinking, low energy, and memory problems should improve with this light diet.

A spring detox is also great for those suffering from seasonal allergies as it aids the liver’s ability to breakdown and metabolize histamine, that nasty molecule that leaves us with itchy runny noses and watery eyes. The following eating plan can be followed for as little as three days or as long as three weeks. Be sure to check with your doctor before attempting any form of detoxification as pregnancy, history of eating disorder and other chronic conditions are contraindications for a restrictive diet.

Putting your body on a “Spring Break” is really quite simple:

• Drink eight eight ounce glasses of filtered or bottled water daily. Green tea, herbal tea and fresh vegetable juice are also healthy choices. Start each day with a warm glass of water (about 100F) to give the inside of your body a “bath” you can add a squeeze of lemon if you like.

• Eat fresh fruits and fresh or steamed vegetables liberally. Foods that specifically detoxify our bodies are artichokes, beets, pears, carrots lemons, cilantro, and liberal quantities of green leafy vegetables. I make a “Sunshine Beet Salad” that consists of equal parts of grated organic beets and carrots tossed with equal parts of lemon juice and flaxseed oil. I eat a cup or so of this a day, and make up a few days worth ahead of time when on a detox.

• Consume only brown rice or quinoa as your only grain choices. You can find brown rice and quinoa pastas and breads at your local health food store.

• Protein sources should include fish, turkey, chicken, beans, and raw nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Roasting destroys the integrity of the oil in nuts and seeds so be sure to find raw alternatives.

• Flax seed oil can be drizzled over steamed vegetables or rice, but is too delicate of an oil for cooking, be sure to store it in the refrigerator. Always use olive oil for cooking, or canola oil if over 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Have a blueberry smoothie everyday for breakfast or as another main meal: Simply blend 1-2 cups of rice milk, soy milk, almond milk or water with a cup of frozen berries (blueberries are great), 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds, and a scoop of your favorite protein powder.

You can also experiment with various supplements to help the liver remove toxins. N-acetyl-cysteine is great for those trying to remove residual phlegm from a lingering upper respiratory infection. The typical recommendation is a 500mg capsule taken once or twice daily. A few of my favorite detoxifying herbs are dandelion root, milk thistle, turmeric, green vegetable juices and green leafy vegetables are always great, and of course my favorite herb Schisandra chinensis also known as “Chinese Prozac” is a great adrenal adaptogen, anxiolytic, and detoxifying agent. Be sure to find your supplements at a reputable health food store.

If your body is going to be on “Spring Break” that means we need to reduce or eliminate the liver’s role of detoxifying poisonous substances in your system.

Things to avoid on a detox:

Alcohol, caffeine (except what is found in green tea), fried foods, red meat, sweets and other white refined foods such as breads, cookies, cakes and pastries.

The first day of the detox you may feel a bit sluggish so I would recommend starting it on a day that you can stay home and rest. Honor any emotions that come up, Chinese Medicine associates the liver with anger, if you are feeling angry try some journaling to help remove any “stuck energy”. Now is the time to let it all go. Saunas are also a great way to help eliminate toxins, be sure to stay hydrated while sweating and always end with a 60 second cold shower to stimulate the system.

Remember to simply do the best that you can with this Spring Cleaning. If this type of eating plan is totally new to you it may take several opportunities before you are successful with it. Any attempt to be healthier always counts as a success. Remember that learning to enjoy eating new healthy foods will serve you well in the long run. Please be gentle with yourself. Personally as a physician I do not recommend fasting for women because our biochemistry is just not designed to function well without a nice steady stream of nutrients. A simple “spring break” is usually enough to get you geared up for outdoor activities and swimsuit season.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Everyone is always invited to share their favorite whole foods recipes that pertain to the discussion. You can post them in entirety or simply add a link to your website.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~Dr. Nicole Sundene

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Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
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26 Responses to “How to Detox”

  1. Dr. Steve Moon on March 26th, 2008 7:20 pm

    Great information Dr. Nicole!! I have been eating those frozen blueberries like you recommended! (Too bad my kids won’t eat them!)
    Thanks for the great site!
    Dr. Moon

  2. Carole Fogarty on March 27th, 2008 1:31 am

    Fabulous article.

    The carrot and beetroot dish I love whether I’m detoxing or not.

    Peace, love and travel


  3. Kitchen Table Medicine on March 27th, 2008 9:24 am

    Thanks for stopping by Dr. Moon!

  4. Melissa on March 27th, 2008 12:58 pm

    Thanks Dr! I’ve been congested for one month and started taking the N-acetyl-cysteine after reading your article, I’m already noticing a difference!!!

  5. Kitchen Table Medicine on March 27th, 2008 1:12 pm

    Everyone is congested this time of year it seems. Glad you are feeling better. Thanks for stopping by

    ~Dr. Nicole

  6. Erin Happycamper on March 27th, 2008 3:25 pm

    Love ya doc! Thanks for the useful advise as always. I will be stocking up on the blueberries per your advice =)

  7. Jen on March 27th, 2008 8:48 pm

    I love how easy and realistic you are about this. I think so many of us want to do a detox but feel very overwhelmed by what is out there. This is a great article with simple ways to get started! Thanks Doc!

  8. Justin on March 28th, 2008 1:41 am

    How I need to detox! Thanks Doc – great advice that I’ll TRY to follow.

  9. James on March 28th, 2008 2:21 pm

    You’ve put in some good effort in coming up with this list. Thanks for making it easier for everyone .

  10. Dr. Nicole on March 28th, 2008 9:03 pm

    Erin- you are the perfect “patient” :D

    Jen- This is the basic detox I recommend for anyone that just needs a few days break from gluttonous eating…because it is easy to remember and follow for the most part. Thanks for stopping by!

    Justin- All we can do is “try” LOL

  11. US on March 29th, 2008 8:39 pm

    Thanks Doc :) Info like this is EXACTLY what I need :)

  12. Dr. Nicole on March 31st, 2008 2:16 pm

    James and US…thank you and you are welcome!

  13. Eathan on April 15th, 2008 11:49 am

    Great post. I’ve been doing this regularly for years.

    Luv ya site.

  14. Dr. Nicole on April 15th, 2008 11:57 am

    Hi Eathan- thank for stopping by! You are way ahead of the competition! ;)

  15. Paulina on April 18th, 2008 11:10 am

    Hi. I found your website and it’s awsome! You seem to know a lot about naturism, and the quemistry of nutrition. I hope you can help me ’cause I have a question that is almost tormenting me. I’m mexican, so I’ll do my best to be understood: I’ve been in the Zone Diet over a year and a half (40% carbs mostly fruits and vegetables, 30% protein, 30% good fats (mono and poliinsaturate, omega’s)). I’m recently vegetarian, and it has been dificult to obtain my 30% protein. I eat tofu, gluten, soy, and sometimes fish and eggs. Also I’m studing Naturism, and I learned in Trofology that you can’t mix some kinds of food like protein and cereal or starch, fruits have to be taken alone, different kinds of protein can’t be mixed too, etc… Because this mixtures makes a poor digestion, and the important thing is what you digest and absorve, not what you put in your mouth. I believe with all my heart in the ZONE diet, but also Trofology makes a lot of sense to me, but in practice they opose. I have to eat fruits alone but then, where do I put my protein? Could I eat a plate of one fruit, and one hour later eat protein? Or what do you think about this? How could I find the right balance between this two ways of thinking, that I feel they are both right? I hope you can help me. In the meanwhile, I’ll “religiously” read your blog. THANKS!

  16. Dr. Nicole on April 19th, 2008 11:23 am

    Hi Pauline! I think fruits are best enjoyed as snacks. So you could try eating fruit in between meals and then focus your meals around high fiber, high protein foods. If you visit the vegetarian category you should find a list of foods that are important for vegetarians to consume. Carbs digest faster than proteins so if you are going to do fruit first I would wait twenty minutes before eating a protein meal. If you do protein first then wait to have your fruit an hour after that meal. Hope that helps. You are welcome to drop off your questions here anytime. I look forward to them!

  17. Jillene on August 11th, 2008 6:18 am

    Thanks for your detoxifying and cleansing articles. I’m having my mercury filling removed next week–looking forward to the following detox! I recommend cooking with coconut oil vs. olive and/or canola oils. Thanks again.

  18. Dandelions: Love Your Liver | Kitchen Table Medicine on October 25th, 2008 10:41 pm

    [...] an invaluable source of free medicine. Dandelions cleanse your liver, lower your blood pressure, rejuvenate you for spring, reduce water retention and blood pressure through their diuretic mechanism, improve digestion and [...]

  19. Rosemary for Remembrance | Kitchen Table Medicine on December 4th, 2008 2:32 pm

    [...] lemons in water on the stove and add a sprig of rosemary to freshen up your house in need of a good spring cleaning. The essential oils of citrus and rosemary are a great uplifting treat for anyone sick, shut in, [...]

  20. Help!! I Have the Stomach Flu | Kitchen Table Medicine on April 30th, 2009 10:27 am

    [...] you can do a spring cleaning or just wait for nature to give you one in the form of diarrhea! Click Here to Read More Kitchen [...]

  21. Lorena on May 4th, 2009 8:38 am

    I have had pretty serious spring allergies (incredible 24/7 fatigue, congestion, itchy, watery eyes, violent sneezing, rashes on face, neck, inner elbows and knees, etc) for as long as I can remember (I’m 35). I’ve taken different allergy medicines every year (skipped some just trying to manage on my own). I’ve tried fasting cleanses, herbal teas, raw milk from grass-fed cows……everything seems to help at first but by the second year is not nearly so helpful. My mom always suspected that dandelion pollen was my trigger but some years it seems to start in February!! So, two questions for you – any chance that eating dandelions would help? (raw? cooked?) and, have you ever heard of the raw milk thing – that’s the most recent thing I’m trying and maybe I didn’t start it early enough in the season. I would really appreciate any advice you can give! Thank you.

  22. Disease as Our Teacher | Kitchen Table Medicine on May 8th, 2009 8:26 pm

    [...] to tell you something when you are spending hours on the toilet with The Swine Flu (or nature’s Spring Cleaning as I like to call it.) We know that this virus causing gastroenteritis is upsetting the digestive [...]

  23. ACSS Transitions » Alternative Medicine Help for Seasonal Allergies on June 6th, 2009 4:10 pm

    [...] and September you more likely have seasonal allergies than a bad cold. Now is a great time to do a SPRING CLEANING. Having a healthy liver aids the detoxification of histamine, that nasty molecule that gives us the [...]

  24. AgellaArrerly on September 28th, 2009 12:16 am

    Thank you for great post!

  25. Betty on April 27th, 2011 5:44 am

    Hi Doc!
    I found your website by accident and it’s awsome! I love the information of how to detox. I have a question regarding the chronic leg pain for the elderly and hope you can help. My mom is 72 years old, and diagnosed with server small stokes. She constancely complains about her leg hurt when she tries to stand-up/walk ,and/or sometime her legs gave up on her so she felt. :0(
    I have tried to find many ways to ease my mom’s leg pain but no luck. Any suggestions that you can provide it would be greatly appreciated.


  26. Tari on July 4th, 2011 4:09 am

    Dear Doc,

    I am from and living in a tropical country (average humidity 90%) and doctors diagnosed me for having an acute Eczema & Seborrheic. Based on my experience traveling for a short time to a sub tropical country, my condition would worsen in the dry and cold air. The problem is, I am going to fly soon to The Netherlands to pursue my master study, a cold and dry place. I am enthusiastic with my study opportunity, but at the same time desperate with my condition.

    How to make the Eczema and Seborrheic not rebound?

    And, is there a way that Eczema & Seborrheic can be cured for good?

    Thanks so much, Doc.

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