How to add plant power to daily detox
Medical herbalist Sandra Clair has a clear passion for the potential of medicinal plants to improve our health in many different ways. Before founding her natural healthcare business Artemis in 1998, she spent many years in her native Switzerland extensively studying plant medicine, harvesting and preparation. Now based in Otago, she’s sought after internationally as a writer and speaker on plant medicine.
She says Artemis’ products are designed for people with busy lives who want to look after their health each day, and regular detox can be an important part of this.
Detoxifying isn’t just something to do now and then if we’ve overindulged in food or drink, it should be a regular ritual, Sandra says.
She explains it’s a function our “cleansing organs” – the liver and kidneys – do each day to flush metabolic waste from our body. These organs detoxify everything we absorb from the environment around us, the things we put on our skin, and what we eat and drink, she says.
She thinks pharmaceuticals should be used when needed, but believes plant based medicine can offer long term health benefits.
“The key thing is I believe is medicine should not live in a first aid cabinet, but should really live on our kitchen bench as part of our daily life. Detox is a way of life to take care of ourselves.”
Long term health benefits can’t be gained from “miracle detox products” or fad diets that often involve extreme changes in diet and can’t be sustained, Sandra adds.
“They typically focus on short term fixes. [They say things like], “all you have to do is pop a pill or replace a meal. They’re not realistic in terms of our daily lives and they ask people to do 100 things. It’s more realistic to do the steps that are possible and use products that are useful in the long term.”
Sandra recommends looking at areas of our lives where we might be contributing to our body’s toxic load and trying to reduce this load. This may involve:
- Eating fresh food/saying no to fast food
- Eating organic food
- Quitting smoking
- Buying cleaning and personal care products with no nasty chemicals
- Reducing pharmaceutical drug intake
- She also recommends daily detox to support the elimination organs, using medicinal plants taken as tea, as well as targeted seasonal cleanses like spring and new year.
“It’s your health and your life so you can decide. If you feel sluggish or tired or snappy, that’s the time to do a more targeted detox,” she says.
Sandra says regular detoxification supports homeostasis - the process that keeps our body’s internal systems balanced and stable in the face of external change.
Maintaining this balance has taken on extra importance as we’re now exposed to more potentially harmful chemicals in our environment and through the things we absorb and digest, Sandra adds. These include heavy metals, environmental estrogens, volatile organic compounds, every day beauty products and cleaners, and food sprayed with pesticides.
Sandra lists several symptoms of toxic overload, including:
- Sluggishess, low energy, and difficulty getting out of bed
- Irritability and low moods
- Nausea, poor fat digestion, high cholesterol and constipation
- Food or drug intolerance, allergies and migraines
- Skin impurities
- Sleep disturbances and waking at 3am
- PMT, menopause and hormonal issues
- Liver and gallbladder diseases, and yellowish skin
And daily detox can offer the following benefits, she says:
- Improved energy levels
- Improved digestive outputs
- A boost in metabolism (required for weight management)
- An improved immune system
- Better circulatory and lymphatic function
- Improved hormonal output
- Brighter moods
- Clear skin
Sandra says the liver is the key organ in the detoxification pathway, but the kidney also needs to be supported. Detox teas for these organs should be taken before breakfast and before morning tea, she believes. And a third tea should be added before afternoon tea during concentrated seasonal cleansing of about four weeks, she says.
Sandra believes tea is an effective way to take in plant-based medicine, because it’s absorbed better by the body when infused in hot water, so acts more quickly. She adds tablets or capsules might contain unnecessary ingredients such as fillers, and can be more difficult to swallow than tea, especially for children. Tea also contributes to the hydration we need every day, she says.
The potential benefits of bitter plants
Plant remedies that may be effective for detox include the following, Sandra says:
St Mary’s Thistle
May protect and restore liver tissue and function, promote the release of bile, detoxify, and prepare our digestive systems
Globe artichoke leaves
May help produce and release bile, break down and metabolise fats and nutrients, and assist detoxification. May also promote overall liver health.
May increase digestive outputs and help improve problems caused by a sluggish liver, such as tiredness, irritability, skin problems and headaches. Sandra says it can also support the pancreas and reduce sweet food cravings, as well as having inulin to feed gut bacteria.
May improve digestion and help reduce digestive problems, reduce nausea and help produce bile. May also stimulative and cleanse the liver and gallbladder.
Calendula has antiseptic, wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
A potentially effective digestive remedy, and may help break down food, assist with digestive issues, heartburn and excessive stomach acid.
This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. A medical practitioner should be contacted for any health issues.