Fall is the season of the harvest, when we gather nature’s bounty in preparation for winter.  After the autumn equinox the days become shorter, and the darker, cooler yin season encourages us to slow down and conserve our vital energy for the coming months.  It is a time to go within, complete projects, and open up to our inner wisdom through meditation, reading and writing.

In Chinese medicine, Fall is the time of the metal element, similar to air with emphasis on the mind and breath.  The lungs and colon are spotlighted during this time, serving to take in vital energy and release what is not needed.  On an emotional level pent up grief stored in the lungs will seek to release now, and built up negative thoughts and feelings signal the eliminative system to begin the process of letting go. Imbalances in the metal element can manifest as excess mucus, allergies, coughs, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections, asthma, skin problems, headaches, fatigue, gas, constipation, diarrhea and colitis.  As the body slows down, any excess toxins that have accumulated in the system over the more active summer months will now attempt to make their way out through the eliminative channels of the colon, kidneys, lungs and skin.

Allergies, colds, fevers and flu are nature’s way of getting rid of toxic wastes that usually originate in the digestive tract.  Refined, processed, protein-rich foods such as pasteurized dairy products, fatty meats, white flour, sugar, salt and hydrogenated oils can be difficult to digest, and often stick to the lining of the colon, creating an acidic anaerobic environment that is perfect for harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites to thrive.  (Remember the relief maps we made in school from white flour, water and salt?)

Undigested food particles and harmful microbes irritate the tissues, causing inflammation and a buildup of mucus in the digestive tract. If not eliminated through the bowel in a timely manner, this toxin-laden mucus will eventually make it’s way out through the sinuses and lungs.  On a more natural diet that includes fiber-rich unprocessed organic whole grains, vegetables and fruits, the body will eliminate digestive waste from a meal within 24 hours after eating. For most people, that would amount to three bowel movements a day. However, on the typical American diet described above, it can take up to 72 hours to process a meal. This leaves ample time for disease to set in.

Cold, flu and allergy symptoms are the body’s attempts to cleanse itself of toxins. If we take medications that are designed to suppress these symptoms, then the body cannot detox properly creating potentially more serious problems later on. Antibiotics are of particular concern because they do not discriminate between the harmful bacteria and the beneficial bacteria in the intestines that are essential for a healthy immune system. Fortunately, there are herbs that safely work with the body to stimulate the release of toxins through the respiratory and digestive systems, clearing congestion and easing symptoms while allowing the body to heal naturally. One very effective herbal decongestant formula consists of fenugreek, mullein, boneset, and horseradish. This can be taken throughout the allergy season or for colds and flu. In the fall, when fresh fruits and vegetables are not as abundant and the cooler weather compels us to eat warmer foods such as soups, meats and root vegetables, we can avoid toxic buildup and resulting disease by taking digestive enzyme supplements and proactively cleansing the colon.

A one-week juice fast in the early fall is beneficial for revitalizing the entire digestive system. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be juiced fresh to retain enzymes and nutrients. Fasting allows the body to take a break from the demands of digestion and expend energy on cleansing the vital organs and blood of accumulated toxins. Enemas or colonics can assist in the release of accumulated waste from the bowel. Coffee enemas are particularly effective in expelling built up mucus and stimulating bile flow. Enemas can also reduce a fever by removing pathogens that the fever is designed to destroy.

Though enemas are one way to cleanse the colon, there are herbs that can be ingested to cleanse and balance the entire digestive tract and improve elimination. The following colon cleanse recipe has proven to be very beneficial. When taken daily for six weeks, first thing in the morning at least 30 minutes before breakfast, and at bedtime, people generally feel cleaner and lighter inside, have more vitality yet feel more relaxed, and find that many of their former symptoms improve or even disappear.

Colon Cleanse Drink

1 oz. Aloe Vera Juice Concentrate – soothes inflammation, relieves pain, prevents infection, alkalizes the body and helps to expel parasites.

5 oz. Organic Fruit Juice – to enhance taste, but can use water instead (avoid acidic citrus juices).

1 Tablespoon Liquid Chlorophyll – a nutritive blood purifier and builder, bowel cleanser, deodorizer, antiseptic and energizer.

1 Tablespoon Hydrated Bentonite – a liquid clay that draws impurities into the bowel to be eliminated.

6 oz. Purified Water – do not use tap water as this will add more toxins to the system.

1 Tablespoon Psyllium Hulls (add last) – a fiber that soothes inflammation, provides bulk to stool, and scrubs putrefaction from crevices and pockets in the bowel. (Ground Flaxseed can be substituted if desired.)

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.  A natural laxative such as cascara sagrada can be taken daily to ensure proper elimination. If bowels are too loose or if inflammation is present, 1 teaspoon of slippery elm powder can be added to the drink. It is common to see old mucus and dark hardened fecal matter in the stools while cleansing. A little flatulence in the beginning is normal, however ginger tea or capsules can help to dispel gas and is a wonderful remedy for nausea or motion sickness. Be sure to drink several glasses of purified water daily (1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight).

A probiotic supplement such as acidophilus or bifidophilus is important to restore friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. This is essential for assimilation and a healthy immune system. If parasites are suspected, black walnut hulls, wormwood and cloves can be taken daily with the colon cleanse drink for three months. For those who would rather not take a colon cleanse in drink form, there are several herbal detox formulas available in capsules, though they may not have quite the same effect as the drink.

A good fall cleanse is like tuning up your car for the winter. By taking the time to care for your body now, you can enjoy the seasonal changes knowing that your system has been revitalized and prepared for the times ahead.