March 20th welcomes the vernal or spring equinox for the Northern Hemisphere or the autumnal equinox for the Southern Hemisphere. In the five-element theory, the spring season is associated with the Wood element. This element symbolizes the birth and fresh beginning stages of Yang energy. Wood represents new life and creation. Wood energy is expansive, moving out in all directions. It is the time when we are once again moved to spend more time outdoors in the freshness of a spring morning. Its associated color is green.
Warmth and light begin to return; the soil is moist with the winter melt and the days are now longer than the nights. The wood phase also corresponds to the seeds that have lain dormant in the earth all winter. They grow, push up through the ground as tender sprouts, then buds develop and turn into young green leaves.
This Wood energy provides us with the sense of renewal, reawakening and rebirth. It gives us a connection to the future. Wood energy allows us to plan and design in all areas of our lives; giving us the ability to initiate thoughts, plans and activities. It helps us to coordinate our ideas and feelings and to bring them into action and change. This energy provides us with vision and foresight to move ahead, allows us to express our true nature, and manifest ourselves in the world.
The Wood element soothes the movement through our lives, especially when we inevitably run into obstacles. It gives us the vision, the ability to change, the roots, and the flexibility to make new plans and decide what is needed; how to adjust and what to change. Other predominant attributes of the wood element are considered to be strength and flexibility, like bamboo. It is also associated with qualities of generosity and forgiveness.
Springtime is also an optimum time to cleanse the associated internal organs of the Wood element, which are the liver and gallbladder. The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It is located in the upper right abdomen. Aiding in digestion, the liver removes waste products and worn-out cells from the blood.
The liver converts food into substances needed for life and growth; storing glycogen (a blood-sugar regulator), amino acids, protein, and fat. It also makes the enzymes and bile that help to digest food. In addition, the liver neutralizes harmful toxins and wastes, so it is at great risk of contamination from environmental toxins and those contained in over-processed foods. The liver has over 500 different functions; it is the body’s chemical factory and the largest blood cleansing internal organ.
Why Should You do an Internal Cleanse?
Cleansing the body gets rid of excess waste and dis-ease; it rejuvenates the vital energy of physical, mental and emotional well-being. Signs of internal toxicity can include: headaches, backaches, allergies, skin rashes, constipation, fatigue, immune weakness, insomnia, digestive issues, frequent colds, and general inflammation and weakness. With the proper cleansing and detoxification of the body we can maintain health and vitality, even as we age.
“We also cleanse/detoxify to rest or heal our overloaded digestive organs and allow them to catch up on past work. At the same time, we are inspired to cleanse our external life as well, cleaning out our rooms, sorting through the piles on our desks, and clarifying our personal priorities. Most often our energy is increased and becomes steadier, motivating us to change both internally and externally.” 1
Life's Great Law: Every living cell of the organized body is endowed with an instinct of self-preservation, sustained by an inherent force in the organism called "vital force,” or "life force.” Creating better health and a higher level of life force depends on the function of your body, mind, and emotions. The state of health is evident in your internal organs, blood and lymphatic system. The main internal organs to keep functioning optimally are your intestines, liver, and kidneys.
How to do an Internal Cleanse
If you are new to internal cleansing, it is best to start the process slowly so that you do not detox too quickly.
Below are simple ways to start the internal cleansing process, which can be a one-day to three-month daily process:
1) Reduce or eliminate congestive foods like meat, poultry, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed foods and all nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant), which increase inflammation.
2) Start your day with two to three, eight ounce glasses of purified water with one to two teaspoons of lemon juice (the juice from the fruit, not the essential oil). Then, continue drinking purified water with the lemon juice throughout the day.
3) Include the following foods in your diet to cleanse your liver:
LOTS of green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, dandelion, and spinach.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa): As a ground spice or in capsules; reduces inflammation.
Powdered greens: spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae. Noted as the “super” foods.
Vegetable juicing: A fantastic way to get vital vitamins and nutrients into the body quickly.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics: These quickly remove toxins out of the digestive system.
Herbs are fantastic cleansers for the liver and gall bladder. The following herbs should be used in teas or tinctures:
Borututu Bark (Cochlospermum angolensis) is from an African tree that holds many treasures. A tea made from this bark has traditionally been used to manage ailments related to liver and gall bladder function, indigestion, and fatigue.
Burdock Root or Seed (Arctium lappa) is a liver cleansing agent. It is useful to reduce skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. These conditions often manifest when the liver is overloaded from a diet high in fat and protein. Burdock aids the liver in metabolizing these nutrients and encourages the removal of waste products. This is, in part, why burdock is considered a “blood tonic.”
Burdock also aids in the removal of uric acid waste products, which makes it useful for those who suffer from joint conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and bursitis. Such conditions often result from an excess of acidic waste products. Both burdock root and seed can act as a diuretic, making it useful for people who experience swelling in the hands and feet. Burdock root is safe to use during pregnancy for this purpose, but the seed should be avoided during pregnancy.
Celandine, Greater (Chelidonium majus): The ancient Greeks and Romans considered celandine to be one of the most powerful liver cleansing herbs. Maurice Mességué, a famous French herbalist, used greater celandine for all liver problems. Celandine helps to improve a sluggish liver eliminate foreign particles, stimulates the production of bile, relieves gallbladder spasms, and stimulates enzyme production from the pancreas.
Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) has been used for centuries by indigenous people of the Amazon to promote the body’s natural elimination of the liver, gallbladder and kidney stones. It also stimulates the liver to purge itself of harmful toxins and foreign particles. Chanca piedra soothes the liver, increases bile production, and reduces the formation of calcified stones in the body. This herb is also known as “the stone breaker.” It is useful for digestive tract disorders including: gas, loss of appetite, stomachache, intestinal infections, constipation, and dysentery.2
Chicory Root (Cichorium intybus) is a medicinal herb celebrated for its ability to help cleanse the liver. Ancient Roman, Persian, Arabian, and Indian physicians used chicory leaves and root to aid against a slew of liver ailments including: jaundice, gallbladder and liver stones, urinary stones, constipation, indigestion, depression, and headaches.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Many people think of the dandelion as a pesky weed; however, it is chock full of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines. In the past dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. This wonderful herb stimulates bile flow from the liver and is often used by herbalists to help fight fatty liver, cirrhosis, estrogen dominance, and even acne.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for over two thousand years due to its remarkable effects on the liver and gallbladder. Galen and Pliny, the ancient philosophers, recognized and used the power of milk thistle for liver cleansing and support. This herb contains silymarin, which protects the liver from toxins, helps with the detoxification of poisons such as alcohol; it can help to regenerate damaged liver tissue, stimulates bile production, and improves digestion.
Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) is known as a blood purifier and commonly used to cleanse toxins from the body. Yellow dock helps break down fatty foods by stimulating bile production, enhancing normal liver detoxification, improving the flow of digestive juices, helping the liver eliminate toxins, and it has mild diuretic effects to help flush out harmful substances. It also helps reduce irritation of the liver and digestive system.
How to Prepare Herbal Infusions and Decoctions:
Herbal Infusion: Pour one quart of boiling water over two Tablespoons of herb(s) and let it steep for twenty minutes. Keep lid on tightly. Drink three to four cups daily or as needed.
Root Infusion: Use one to two Tablespoons of chosen root per quart of water. Pour boiling water over the root and let the infusion sit for thirty minutes, or even overnight. Keep the pot well covered. Strain and drink four cups daily.
When using both herbs and roots decoct the roots first, and then turn off the heat. Then add the leaves and/or flowers, cover tightly and infuse as long as desired. Strain and drink four cups daily.
Cleansing WOOD Essential Oils:
Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia) soothes the flow of digestion, harmonizes the liver chi (energy), and reduces nervous indigestion and loss of appetite due to emotional stress.
Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis) reduces indigestion, flatulence, gastritis, abdominal pain, irregular bowl movements and ulcerative colitis.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) works best for warming aching muscles, arthritis, nausea, aiding digestion and increasing circulation in the digestive system.
Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) improves the lymphatic system, clear inner heat, and thereby, clears the body of toxins.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) reduces inflammation, stimulates and promotes tissue repair.
Lemon (Citrus x limon) boosts the immune system and cleanses the body, improves the functions of the digestive system, and is helpful for constipation.
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) restores mental fatigue, confusion and anxiety. Rectifies liver chi, reduces dyspepsia, flatulence and insomnia.
Spruce, Black (Picea mariana) assists mental and physical exhaustion, muscle aches and pains, aching joints, poor circulation, restores depleted and overworked adrenal glands, and muscle spasms. It is also helpful for bronchitis or asthma.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a good digestive aid, improves digestion, elimination, and can calm gastric spasms.
*Please check all specicif precautions before using herbs and essential oils.
While doing an internal cleanse essential oils are encouraged to be used in several applications such as: topical blends, baths or as a shower salt scrub.
Enjoy a happy and healthy springtime!
**Please note the information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Cleansing during pregnancy or for children is not recommended. See a qualified health care provider for any acute or chronic condition requiring medical assistance.
Haas, Elson M., M.D., The Detox Diet, Berkeley, CA, Celestial Arts Publishing, 1996, p. 31.
Sage Press PDF File, Technical Data Report for Chanca Piedra: http://www.rain-tree.com/chanca-techreport.pdf
Willmont, Dennis, Aromatherapy with Chinese Medicine, Marshfield, MA, Willmountain Press, 2003,
Catty, Suzanne, Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Rochester, VT, Healing Arts Press, 2001, p. 105-106.