Personally, this is my favorite cleanse and I’ve done it most springs since getting out of high school. At the time, I was practicing Aikido and along with it learning Zen principles of lifestyle and nutrition. The yearly tradition is a nice clearing in all aspects of life. The only times I didn’t clear in the spring were when I was pregnant or nursing. This fast takes a little more time to set up, but the rewards are fantastic.
A word of wisdom first – You will confront your emotional relationships to food. This juice fast breaks irrational emotional relationships to food, and allows the digestive system to clear, rest and heal. The cleanse can also help eliminate numerous physical ailments, help with regulating blood sugar, and reset the metabolism and clear up emotional connections to food.
With this fast you live and work as normal. You do not need to take time off from work for this fast. Exercise is important as physical movement aids the lymphatic system in moving out toxins. It may be appropriate to adjust your exercise however. This would not be the ideal time to building or training for a marathon. Enjoy casual walking, yoga, Qigong or T’ai Chi and get out into the fresh air.
I do not recommend this fast without guidance or if you have an major medical conditions, on medications or have worked with very heavy or toxic chemicals for years. Seek specific guidance in such cases.
Prepping for the fast-
- A good quality juicer for juicing vegetables, or a quality vegetable juice
- Long handled natural bristle brush or boar’s hair gloves for exfoliating
- Spring or filtered water
- Potassium broth
- Enema bag
This fast can last between 3-10 days, however plan for between 5-15 days to begin and end your fast wisely. Unlike other fasts or cleanses this fast has 2 distinct phases.
- Stage one-Detox – Days 1-3 up to day 5. This stage allows the body to eliminate excesses and toxins. This is where you will confront your anxiety and addictions around food, and physical complaints may surface including headaches, light headedness, skin blemishes, mood-swings, night sweats, excessive oil secretion, bad breath, fatigue, forgetfulness, increased urination and…of course…hunger. I usually notice that my hunger is gone by day two. Generally considered the hardest part, these symptoms will pass, and often our perception of them is over exaggerated by our emotional conflict around food. Let’s face it, we are good at self-sabotage. You will have thoughts and feelings that come up, possibly around fear, anger, boredom – whatever, that may try to sidetrack your plans. I strongly recommend you have a meditation, contemplation or journaling practice in place.
- Stage two-Healing – Days 3 -5 up to day 10-15. This is the time period when you may experience a “healing crisis” which allows the body to eliminate large amounts of deep seated toxins and waste. You may need to decide whether you can continue through the crisis or break the fast. Seek guidance if this is new territory for you. And for clarification, healing crisis don’t always happen or need to happen.
Beginning your fast –
- 24 hours prior to the fast eat only fresh raw vegetables and fruit at a ratio of 2 parts vegetables to 1 part fruit.
- In the evening use a bowel cleansing tea, aloe juice or natural laxative to help bowel elimination the next morning.
Day 1 –7 up to day 10 –
- Upon rising- do a coffee or licorice root enema
- Follow up enema with dry brushing and hot/cold shower
- Enjoy a glass of hot water with lemon or herbal tea (your practitioner may have a specific recommendation)
- About an hour later have 8-12 oz of fresh vegetable juice, which may include the juice of an apple or pear. This juice can be diluted with 50% water.
- Go about your normal exercise and work schedule
- Glass of fresh vegetable juice or vegetable broth 8 – 12 oz.
- Enjoy 6-8 of herbal tea, diluted fruit juice or miso soup as desired throughout the afternoon.
- Around 5-6pm have 8-12 oz of vegetable broth
- Around 8pm – 9pm have another 8-12 oz of vegetable broth or miso.
- Herbal, licorice or water enema may be necessary for the first five days.
- Have herbal before bed in the late evening or before bed
Throughout the fast –
- Drink as much spring or filtered water as you want. I recommend this be warm or hot as many people become cold while fasting and eliminating. The warm water is easy to absorb and stimulates the metabolism as opposed to ice water that will chill the Spleen. I tend to flavor my water with lime or lemon.
- A glass of water, tea or potassium broth will stave off hunger for about an hour.
- Add 1-5 oz of wheat grass or barley grass juice as desired daily
- Include spirulina as necessary. I used 3-4 tabs at a time, which helps to regulate hunger and blood sugar.
- No chewing allowed! I know, usually I’m nagging clients to chew, chew, chew. However with this fast we are purposely shutting down the digestive tract to let it rest. This means you will need to either do colonics or enemas to help the colon eliminate toxins. The movement of the colon begins with the process of chewing and if you aren’t chewing you will likely become constipated and the retain toxins.
- Please discontinue all herbs, vitamins and supplements until the fast is broken. Again, seek guidance here if you are a lot of herbs and supplements. In some cases, certain formulas may still be beneficial.
- Bathe daily. Impurities and wastes rely on the skin and pores for elimination.
- Cut out all alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs (yes, even pot), caffeine and sugar. If you have strong addictions or habits with any of these foods, you may want to consider weening off them or greatly decreasing them a week or so before the cleanse. Headaches and moodswings and nausea can all be symptoms of detoxing from strong addictive foods.
Breaking the fast–
When should you break a fast? A good guide line is to take the same amount of time to break a fast as the amount of time that you have done the fast. So if you fasted for 10 days, take 10 days to ease gently back into eating.
The tongue tells all. You will notice your tongue getting very heavily coated and pretty gross looking. When the body is done clearing, the coating becomes thin and tongue will look vibrant and healthy. This is actually the signal to me to know that I can now safely start weening of the cleanse.
Day 1-2 – Add back in only raw vegetables and a piece or two of fruit. You may use a lemon or herb dressing, but avoid vinegar for another day or so. Watermelon is a good addition. Continue on with tea, miso and juice as desired.
Day 2-3 – Add back in cooked vegetables.
Day 3-5 – Add back in cooked squash and grains. I recommend rice, millet, quinoa or teff. I tend to use congee here.
Day 5 onward – Small amounts of beans, lentils, legumes, eggs and animal proteins may be added back in. Now you can go back to a vital, flexible, healthy diet.
Need some more guidelines? Check out Creating Healthy Eating Habits.
This fast can be challenging if you haven’t confronted your emotional relationship to foods. Keep a positive attitude!! Remember this is not forever and you’re going to feel great afterwards!