Updated: May 18
In Ayurveda, you are not what you eat, but what you digest and absorb. You cannot digest and absorb properly if channels are blocked. Our environment can cause blockages, excessively processed foods, and even emotions can cause blockages.That is where the cleanse comes into play. An Ayurvedic cleanse is a process that involves detoxifying the body and balancing the doshas (energies) in accordance with Ayurvedic principles. It is ideally done at the change of seasons as the flora and fauna of the environment change around you. This ensures that your gut microflora have an opportunity to adapt to the outside world gently. The environmental changes occurring in the outer world then mirror the circadian rhythm and changes in our inner eco-system . An Ayurvedic cleanse typically involves a specific diet, herbal remedies, and other practices aimed at removing toxins or excess doshas from the body and restoring balance. This may include consuming a mono-diet of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic dish made of rice, lentils, and spices), drinking herbal teas, practicing yoga and meditation, and undergoing specialized Ayurvedic treatments like abhyanga (oil massage) and shirodhara (oil pouring on the forehead). The goal is to promote overall health and wellbeing by reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and restoring balance to the body and mind. It is believed that by undergoing periodic cleanses, one can prevent illness and maintain optimal health throughout life.
The Primary benefits of a cleanse include:
Detoxification: The Ayurvedic cleanse can help rid the body of toxins and impurities that accumulate over time from poor diet, stress, and environmental factors.
Improved Digestion: The Ayurvedic cleanse can improve digestion by removing toxins that may be impairing digestive function and providing nourishing foods that support digestive health.
Reduced Inflammation: The Ayurvedic cleanse can reduce inflammation in the body, which is believed to be a major contributor to many chronic diseases.
Restored Balance: The Ayurvedic cleanse can restore balance to the doshas, which are believed to be key to maintaining health and preventing disease in Ayurvedic medicine.
Mental Clarity: The Ayurvedic cleanse can improve mental clarity and focus by promoting a balanced and healthy state of mind.
Ayurvedic cleanse helps promote overall health and wellbeing by restoring balance to the body and mind, reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and supporting the body's natural detoxification processes.
How does one do an Ayurvedic cleanse?
An Ayurvedic cleanse typically involves a combination of dietary changes, herbal remedies, and lifestyle practices that are tailored to an individual's dosha and health needs. Here are some general steps you can follow to do an Ayurvedic cleanse:
· Before starting an Ayurvedic cleanse, it can help to consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner who can help determine your dosha type and recommend a cleanse that is tailored to your individual needs. · In the days leading up to your cleanse, you may be advised to avoid certain foods and habits, such as alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, and late nights, to help prepare your body for the cleanse. · During the cleanse, you may be advised to follow a specific diet that is easy to digest and helps remove toxins from the body. This may include consuming a mono-diet of kitchari, drinking herbal teas, and avoiding certain foods that are difficult to digest, such as dairy, gluten, and sugar. · Ayurvedic herbs can be used to support the body's natural detoxification processes and promote overall health. Depending on your dosha type and health needs, you may be advised to take specific herbs or herbal formulations. · During the cleanse, it's important to practice self-care and engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. This may include practices like yoga, meditation, and self-massage. · After the cleanse, it's important to ease back into your normal eating habits gradually and mindfully to avoid overwhelming your digestive system.
We know the Ayurvedic cleanse is a gentle and holistic way to support the body's natural detoxification processes and promote overall health and wellbeing. It encourages the body to receive nutrition without taxing the digestive processes. An extremely alkaline recipe, khichari can be digested by all doshas without undue stress. Think of it as a fast without having to feel hungry! The catch is the mono-diet approach.
Mono-diet….what is that?
A mono-diet refers to a specific dietary practice where a person consumes only a single food or a specific combination of foods for a certain period of time. It is recommended during the Ayurvedic cleanse as a therapeutic approach to address digestive issues and promote healing. You basically bore your digestive system into repeating the same thing over and over until it can do it with very little effort (energy input), thereby allowing your bodies energy to be better spent repairing and healing where it needs to. The mono-diet typically involves the simple and easily digestible dish called kitchari, which is a combination of basmati rice, split yellow mung beans, and various spices. Kitchari is considered a balanced and nourishing meal that is gentle on the digestive system while providing essential nutrients. During a mono-diet, other foods are eliminated or minimized to give the digestive system a break and allow the body to focus on detoxification and healing. By consuming only kitchari or a specific mono-diet, the body can efficiently process and eliminate accumulated toxins, while providing essential nutrients for sustenance. The specific duration of a mono-diet can vary depending on an individual's needs and the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. It may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After the mono-diet phase, a gradual reintroduction of other foods is typically recommended.
How does an Ayurvedic cleanse affect the gut microbiome?
Ayurvedic cleanses are thought to have a positive effect on the gut microbiome by promoting a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria. Here are some of the ways in which it helps:
Removal of toxins: Ayurvedic cleanses are designed to remove toxins and impurities from the body, which can have a positive effect on the gut microbiome. Harmful toxins can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria. By removing these toxins, the gut microbiome can be restored to a healthier state.
Healing foods: During the Ayurvedic cleanse, you would consume foods that are rich in prebiotics, which are types of fiber that feed beneficial gut bacteria. Examples of prebiotic-rich foods including various healing spices and fiber-rich legumes. By consuming these foods, the gut microbiome can be nourished and supported.
Improved digestion: Ayurvedic cleanses can improve digestion by removing toxins and impurities that may be impairing digestive function. When digestion is improved, the gut microbiome can be better supported, as digestion is key to breaking down food and providing nutrients for gut bacteria..
What is the best kitchari recipe for an Ayurvedic cleanse?
There are many variations of kitchari recipes that can be used for an Ayurvedic cleanse. Here is a basic recipe that can be adapted to suit individual taste preferences: Ingredients:
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup split yellow mung beans (also called moong dal)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Rinse the rice and mung beans in a fine mesh strainer and soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.
In a large pot, heat the ghee or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds and cook until the seeds begin to pop.
Add the drained rice and mung beans to the pot and stir to combine with the spices.
Add the water, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and salt to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30-40 minutes or until the rice and mung beans are tender and the mixture has a porridge-like consistency.
Adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt or spices to taste.
Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro if desired.
This basic recipe can be customized by adding other spices, and digestible vegetables, depending on individual taste preferences and Ayurvedic constitution. It's always a good idea to consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the best kitchari recipe for your specific needs.
How long does an Ayurvedic cleanse last?
The duration of an Ayurvedic cleanse can vary depending on individual needs and goals. Generally, Ayurvedic cleanses can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Shorter cleanses may be beneficial for those who are looking to kickstart their digestion or reset their eating habits, while longer cleanses may be recommended for those with chronic health issues or who are looking to make more significant changes to their diet and lifestyle. It's important to note that during an Ayurvedic cleanse, a person's diet may be restricted to simple, easily digestible foods like kitchari, and certain foods and drinks like caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods may be eliminated. Additionally, practices like self-massage, meditation, and yoga may also be incorporated to support overall health and well-being.
Is an Ayurvedic cleanse the same as a Panchakarma?
No, an Ayurvedic cleanse is not the same as a Panchakarma. While both are practices rooted in the Ayurvedic principles and are aimed at promoting health and wellness, they are different in terms of their approach and level of intensity. An Ayurvedic cleanse typically involves a period of time in which a person consumes simple, nourishing foods and practices other supportive techniques like self-massage and meditation. The goal of an Ayurvedic cleanse is to support digestion, eliminate toxins, and restore balance to the body and mind. Panchakarma, on the other hand, is a more intensive cleansing program that involves a series of five (pancha) cleansing actions (karma) to remove deep-seated toxins from the body. Panchakarma typically involves several days of preparatory therapies, followed by a period of time during which specific cleansing therapies like massage, steam treatments, and herbal enemas are administered by trained practitioners. Panchakarma is usually conducted under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner and can last several weeks.
Can I do an Ayurvedic cleanse at home?
An Ayurvedic cleanse at home typically involves eating a simple, nourishing diet of kitchari or other easily digestible foods, drinking plenty of warm water and herbal teas, and engaging in practices like self-massage and meditation to support digestion and relaxation. It's important to choose high-quality ingredients for the kitchari, including organic basmati rice, split yellow mung beans, and spices, and to follow a recipe that's appropriate for your specific needs and constitution. Some individuals may benefit from adding other foods and herbs to their cleanse, such as cooked vegetables, bone broth, or specific Ayurvedic herbs. It's also important to set aside time for rest and relaxation during the cleanse period, as the body may need extra time to process and eliminate toxins.
How do I end an Ayurvedic cleanse?
Ending an Ayurvedic cleanse is an important part of the process to help the body gradually transition back to a normal diet and avoid any potential digestive issues. Here are some general guidelines for ending an Ayurvedic cleanse:
Gradually reintroduce foods: Avoid jumping back into your regular diet immediately after a cleanse. Instead, gradually reintroduce foods one at a time over several days. Start with easily digestible foods like cooked vegetables, then add in whole grains, fruits, and proteins as tolerated.
Avoid heavy, processed, and fried foods: During the first few days after your cleanse, it's best to avoid heavy, processed, and fried foods that can be difficult to digest.
Continue with supportive practices: Just because your cleanse is over doesn't mean you should abandon the supportive practices that you incorporated during the cleanse. Continue to prioritize practices like mindful eating, self-massage, meditation, and gentle exercise to support ongoing digestion and overall health.
Consider ongoing dietary and lifestyle changes: The benefits of an Ayurvedic cleanse can be maximized by incorporating ongoing dietary and lifestyle changes that support balance and well-being. Work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine specific changes that may be appropriate for your individual needs and goals.
It's important to listen to your body during the post-cleanse period and adjust your diet and practices as needed to support optimal digestion and well-being. If you experience any significant digestive issues or other health concerns, consult with a qualified health practitioner for guidance.