As the days become longer and warmer, and we prepare for the increased activities of spring, our bodies respond by mobilizing the eliminative organs to detox the accumulated waste of winter. While the colon, kidneys, lungs and skin all play a major role in this important cleansing process, it is the liver that is most in focus now as springtime energies stimulate the liver to cleanse the blood and internal organs of impurities. These impurities may be due to fatty, processed or undigested foods, a deficiency in enzymes, or environmental toxins including heavy metals, drugs, poisonous chemicals, polluted air and contaminated water. When the body is overburdened with toxins, the liver may be stressed causing symptoms such as allergies, headaches, nausea, irritability, foggy thinking, muscle tension, skin eruptions, itching and fatigue. In women, PMS, fibroid tumors, and endometriosis are signs of liver stress, since the liver must process excess estrogens out of the bloodstream.

Spring is the ideal time to increase amounts of fresh enzyme-rich vegetables and herbs in the diet. Dandelion leaves, sorrel, nettles, yellow dock, red beet and watercress are wonderful tonics for the liver, bringing renewed strength and vitality to the body. Barberry, milk thistle, red clover and burdock are herbs that are excellent for cleansing the liver and gall bladder, creating increased efficiency in the digestive and immune systems.

Spring is the best time to do the “liver-gallbladder flush”, a natural remedy that can help to eliminate gallstones and accumulated sludge from the gall bladder. Two to three weeks before doing the flush take hydrangea root to break up and dissolve the stones. (Hydrangea root can also dissolve kidney stones and excess calcium deposits.) The flush consists of juice fasting on fresh vegetable juices for two days and apple juice for one day, taking cascara sagrada (an herbal laxative included in Nature’s Sunshine’s LBS II formula) during this time to increase bile flow and keep the bowels moving. On the night of the third day, drink ½ cup of cold-pressed virgin olive oil mixed with ½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice just before bed, and lie on the right side to concentrate the remedy in the gall bladder. The next morning, after an enema, the colon may evacuate up to 100 gallstones, seen as bright green pea-sized crystallized cholesterol deposits. (If your liver or gall bladder is in a weakened condition, see your health practitioner before doing this flush.) After the flush gradually introduce solid foods into the diet.

For those who suffer from hayfever, allergies, asthma and sinus congestion, consider eliminating those foods that are difficult to digest and thus produce mucus (the body’s way of eliminating undigested foods and toxins). This includes dairy products, refined sugar and flour, and hydrogenated oils. My favorite decongestant formula for allergies and colds consists of fenugreek seeds, mullein leaves, boneset and horseradish. If constipated, this forces toxins to find their way out through the respiratory system or skin, so consider taking bowel cleansing herbs such as psyllium hulls, flax seeds and cascara sagrada. Black walnut, wormwood and cloves can be added to rid the body of parasites (which are more common than most people realize).

Taking the time to purify your body in the spring will bring increased energy, mental clarity and balance to the entire system.