Topic: Spring Cleansing & Self Care –
Last week we heard from local naturopath Kristy Plunkett the importance of regularly – if not constantly – prioritizing lifestyle measures that aid the body's detoxification processes.
This week we're building on that idea by exploring the concept of spring greens as a seasonal cleaning strategy.
I've always been an enthusiastic “cleaner” and especially love the annual tradition of spring cleaning, which is about restoring vitality and bringing our body back into balance after winter.
I'm not a big fan of regulated, hard detox. However, if you feel like trying something a little more radical, this is the only time of year I would recommend – our bodies are ready and equipped to deal with it a bit set back.
When it comes to "detox" we are spoiled for choice with protocols to choose from – and in the online world there seems to be a widespread "no pain, no gain" mentality, with some pretty extreme options.
Even if the initial results go down well (who's going to complain about clearer skin and rapid weight loss?), The more radical approaches can hit the body hard and ultimately lead to fatigue.
Quite counterproductive, in the scheme of things … we don't have to take drastic measures to clean up our systems.
In fact, it can be very easy, gentle, and delicious!
A spring tonic
The spring cleaning traditionally focuses on the consumption of wild herbs that arise at the beginning of the season.
Known as "Spring Tonics," these plants support and maintain our detoxification pathways and help us feel restored and renewed without the deprivation associated with strict protocols.
It's hard not to be amazed how nature offers so much of what we need, right when we need it – vitamin C-rich citrus fruits on tap in the middle of the flu season; Nettles that grow comfortably near dock leaves, a miracle ointment for stings; and wild cleansing herbs that appear just when we long for a clean swing.
Every spring, an abundance of incredibly detoxifying and mineral-rich greens that are filled with life energy thrive all around us.
They can help help the liver and kidneys flush waste out of the body, and simple waste inclusion is often all we need to be rejuvenated.
The good news is that some of these spring tonics grow nearby.
Which herbs are best?
Let me first say that while herbs are generally considered safe, they are also an extremely sophisticated medicine.
Unlike drugs, which generally have only one mode of action, herbs have many components that act more like an orchestra – numerous mechanisms of action that take many years to learn and understand.
Herbalism is a beautifully subtle yet powerful method. To get the full benefit and avoid complications or interactions, I highly recommend seeing someone trained in this field – either a naturopath or herbalist.
However, there are some herbs that are generally considered safe for healthy adults and that are available to us at this time of year.
The nettle is a refreshing and delicious wild spring green and is considered the mother of all spring tonics.
It is one of the most nutritious plants and the most concentrated edible source of chlorophyll and iron.
It is also an exceptionally good source of calcium, magnesium, silica, and potassium.
Nettle is one of the most cleansing and hematopoietic herbs known with a long list of benefits, especially for the skin, hair, nails and joints, thanks to its rich mineral content.
Harvest them with scissors and tongs, or use rubber gloves if you're careful.
It's best to only take the young tips, as these are the least fibrous and the tastiest.
Alternatively, you can buy freshly picked nettles from local girls, "Nurtured Earth".
It goes without saying that nettles are associated with a fairly obvious obstacle. However, the sting can be overcome by boiling, mixing, or dehydrating.
Although dandelions are often disregarded as a pesky weed, both the root and greens are full of therapeutic benefits and have long been used in traditional medicine as a digestive aid and liver tonic.
The yellow petals can also be consumed.
Warning, dandelion green has a rather bitter taste, which is less pronounced on young leaves than when cooked.
Both the leaves and the flowers of the common blue-violet are edible and medicinal, with a taste reminiscent of baby spinach and watercress.
The leaves contain soluble fiber, which helps support intestinal health and is also rich in vitamin C and rutin – a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
When you eat violets, both the leaves and flowers are edible, but the roots are not. So remove them before cooking.
Ideas on how to include them
It is a common misconception that greens should be consumed raw for maximum benefit.
While greens are a rich source of vitamin C and enzymes in their raw state, cooked greens have a significantly higher content of antioxidants.
For best results, I always recommend a combination of raw and cooked.
The leaves of all three herbs above can be prepared and cooked in the same way.
Another option is to simply harvest the leaves or petals, rinse them and soak them in boiling water for at least 15 minutes and strain them.
I like to leave it in the water overnight and try to enjoy it as a nourishing cold tonic the next day.
Or for the more adventurous, you can try my green smoothie recipe – 1 banana, 1 Lebanese cucumber, a spoonful of coconut cream or yogurt, half an avocado, half a lime or lemon, a pinch of salt, ice, and a handful of greens.
And finally, you can also try a pesto (preferably 50/50 with basil) – sauté the vegetables with garlic and add them to soups instead of any other leafy greens … or just chop them into your salads.