It may not feel like it yet, but soon the frost will melt and springtime will arrive–a natural time for growth, renewal and regeneration. As green buds peak out from forest groves and the daffodils punch up through the wet moist earth, all of nature will come alive in regenerating itself. At this time of year, naturopathic physicians recommend their patients undergo a weeklong fast to clean the blood and rejuvenate the body.

For more than 100 years, naturopathic medicine has identified a host of diseases that are treated by enhancing liver function. Medicine teaches us that the liver is our largest single organ and is responsible for screening every molecule that circulates in the body. Any weakness or debility of the liver’s ability to clean the blood impacts every other organ system. Many chronic health problems arise from "sluggish" liver function. Amazingly, even when the liver is not working at optimum function, it is able to do much of its most important work. The liver is a detoxification powerhouse and it works to keep you healthy. A spring cleanse or fast is an easy way to ensure that the liver maintains its healthy balance.

When the liver is "sluggish," the detoxification cycle may not be processing toxins at a normal and necessary speed. This causes toxins to accumulate in the bloodstream. If the hormone estrogen, for example, is not dismantled during detoxification, the buildup can reach potentially harmful levels. Premenstrual tension can be an expression of this. Many factors can cause detoxification to become sluggish. As we age, our detoxification processes slow. They can also be hindered by use of medications such as anti-ulcer drugs (eg., cimetidine) and oral contraceptives, as well as exposure to cadmium, lead, and mercury, and consumption of large amounts of sugar and hydrogenated fats.

Seven-Day Cleansing Program

You can keep your liver detoxification system running smoothly with this seven-day spring cleanse. Simply follow these recommendations:

  • Water fast for days one and two.
    No vitamins (except vitamin C), juices or foods except lemon water.
  • Eat as much rice, fruit and vegetables as you want on days three through seven.
  • Take the recommended key supplements.
Certain foods can help "regulate" or balance the chemical processes in the liver that protect us from chemicals in our environment and our metabolic waste products. Eating foods that support the liver can reduce your susceptibility to damage from toxins and to conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer.

Foods that you can eat on your cleanse: fresh fruits and vegetables to replenish your body’s store of glutathione (a protein your liver produces that protects against cellular damage); radishes, celery, horseradish, string beans, kale, and soybeans for the sulphur. Cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, citrus fruits and lemon peel oils to stimulate the liver. Broccoli is especially beneficial for people who have exposure to pesticides, exhaust fumes, paint fumes, cigarette smoke or alcohol.

Key Daily Supplements
  • A good-quality multivitamin with minerals
  • Vitamin C; two grams twice a day.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus, in a dose of 15 to 20 billion organisms per day
Diet and herbal programs that cleanse and enhance liver function are designed to stimulate toxin breakdown as well as proper digestion of foods and nutrients. Of course, the best medicine is to avoid the sources of toxins that place a heavy burden on the liver and take a toll on your health. Best wishes on healing your body, naturally!

Signs of a Sluggish Liver
  • Sallow skin colour and poor skin tone
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Yellow-coated tongue
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Premenstrual tension
  • Arthritis
  • Inability to digest fats
Key Health Benefits of Detoxification
  • Feel young, look great
  • Increased vitality, energy, and stamina
  • Reduction of allergic symptoms
  • Improvement of digestive functions
  • Better concentration, clarity and mental focus
  • Enhanced mental performance
  • A sense of calm and ease
  • Increased resistance to illness
  • Reduction in risk for many chronic diseases
  • Reduced symptoms of chronic toxicity
  • Weight loss
For more information on liver cleansing, read Rhody Lake’s Liver Cleansing Handbook (alive Books), available at health food stores or from alive Publishing: 1-800-663-6597.

About the Author

Peter Bennett, ND, is the medical director of the Helios Clinic in Victoria, BC. Dr. Bennettâ??s specialty is integrating therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, diet, exercise and intravenous therapy for optimum results. He is an educator for professi