Chris Kilham with Milk Thistle. Photo by Zoe Helene

Spring Detox

Spring detox does not have to be difficult or confusing. Just follow these simple guidelines, and get yourself ready for the warmer days ahead.

Spring Detox

It’s spring, and the trees are greening, the birds are chirping, and the days are longer and warmer. It’s time to shed the darkness and slower pace of winter, and to invigorate yourself for the warm season ahead. In other words, It’s time for some spring detox, to pep up the body’s organ systems and to clear out the metabolic debris that has gathered in your body over the past few months.

Detoxification can be a lengthy process involving fasting, the use of laxatives, and other methods that might not be so comfortable. Forget all that. Let’s go instead for a steady, easy cleansing approach that will get rid of some accumulated fats, rid your body of sluggishness-inducing toxins, and open up your reserves of vitality.

Dandelion Root Tea

Instead of reaching for a soda (either with or without sugar), brew up some dandelion root tea. You can get dandelion root tea at natural food stores everywhere. Dandelion root has been used as a spring cleanser and a gentle tonic for centuries. Dandelion root contains bitter principles that cause your body to produce more bile, flush accumulated waste out of the liver, stimulate proper elimination, and rid your body of stuff you don’t want. I like the Alvita brand of herbal teas. Try their dandelion root tea, as directed two cups daily, and get your spring cleaning off to a flying start. Do this for at least three weeks.

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is the real big detoxifier in the herbal pharmacy. Endemic to the Mediterranean region, milk thistle is a relative of the common daisy, and is renowned for its capacity to restore healthy liver function. In milk thistle a group of compounds collectively called silymarin cause the liver to expel toxins, while helping to repair damaged liver cells. In fact, silymarin from milk thistle has been used effectively to repair damaged livers in cases of exposure to industrial chemicals, deadly mushrooms, and to excessive alcohol use. The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of milk thistle is in capsule form. My preferred brand of milk thistle is the standardized product Thisilyn, by Nature’s Way. Go through a full bottle as directed, and your liver will be better for it.

Greens, greens, greens!

From a dietary standpoint, one of the best ways you can detox is to eat plenty of fresh greens. Forget the iceberg lettuce. I’m talking about collards, kale, broccoli rabe, chard, mustard greens and beet greens. Steam them or saute’ them lightly, and eat lots. You can’t overdo fresh greens. The chlorophyll in them literally sanitizes your digestive tract, and the super concentration of high quality nutrition in them gives your body good clean fuel for general repair and to build new, healthy cells.


Do you know what bitters formulas are? They are various concoctions made from bitter and digestion-enhancing herbs that help to restore proper healthy liver function. At bars you will see products like Angostura Bitters, used to impart a bitter flavor to drinks. These are sometimes ancient herbal elixirs that are intended to promote superior digestive health. I like the formula Swedish Bitters by Natureworks. In any case, the way you use this liquid is to take a teaspoon of the mixture after a meal, in just a couple of ounces of water. Do this for a couple of weeks. The bitter herbs will improve liver function, bile production and intestinal activity. You’ll get accumulated waste out of your system and feel lighter. Bitters formulas really work.


Feeling thirsty? Instead of reaching for one more can full of chemicals, drink some water. That’s right, our bodies are over 75 percent water, and we need to replenish our body water every day. When you would ordinarily drink a soda or an “energy’ drink, go for a tall glass of water instead. Add a slice of lime for flavor. Pure water is nature’s best thing for the body, and definitely helps to restore balance to over-taxed organs. Get into the habit of drinking water, and feel your body normalize to a healthier, lighter state.

Green Tea

Lastly, drink green tea. A cup or two daily will do it. This is a habit you can carry indefinitely. Green tea contains a group of compounds called polyphenol catechins. These antioxidant agents have anti-cancer activity, and also support a healthy immune system. You can drink green tea daily to help aid proper weight maintenance. The compounds in green tea help the body to shed some unwanted weight, though green tea is not a diet miracle. I like the Numi organic green tea.

Spring detox does not have to be difficult or confusing. Just follow these simple guidelines, and get yourself ready for the warmer days ahead.

May 2011