The practice of detoxing has of late taken a bit of a knock. The idea of detoxing is often associated with the tree hugging hippies, high on magic mushrooms, dancing around a fire naked. But detoxing or cleansing in its various forms, has been practised for thousands of years (clothed and naked) for health, spiritual and religious purposes.

Practices of detoxing in the ancient world held a significant place within cultures, as the methods used were not merely to cleanse the body of built up toxins, but also to cleanse the spiritual footprint of our ancestors. For example, in the Ancient Kemetian (Egyptian) Book of Going Forth into Enlightenment or the Egyptian Book of the Dead, great significance is placed on the cutting of the umbilical cord at birth. This act is seen as a ritual cleansing for the new born child and a way in which to separate the child from their deceased ancestors. The spiritual significance of the umbilical cord is still followed today by several groups in Africa, as well as in Caribbean with the Kumina in Jamaica.

Fasting, as a way to cleanse and regenerate the body, is used  in several religious groups as  it is believed to demonstrate a sacrifice by the follower of that religion. By purifying their bodies of toxins, they would be able to achieve a greater spiritual enlightenment and become closer to the gods or deities. For example, during the months of Ramadan, the act of fasting is done to better understand the hunger of others, to show compassion and harness patience and tolerance.

Cleansing our environment is equally as important as cleansing our physical bodies. Spring cleaning is practised in many cultures to celebrate the coming of the New Year or the new season. The Iranian tradition of Khāne-takānī  (shaking the house) involves deeply cleaning the home to celebrate the New Year “Nowruz”.  Spring cleaning is a perfect opportunity for us to clear the things we may have horded over winter and create a space to mirror the cleansing we are doing internally and mentally.

Finally you may find it necessary to detox some people out of your life. This may sound harsh but our greatest achievement may be learning to break away from people who make us feel less than or who seem to bring drama to our doorstep on a weekly basis. We do not need to sit in unhappiness in an attempt to make someone else happy. Distancing ourselves from certain people doesn’t need to be done with malice. It can in fact be an act with the greatest sense of love and respect – for the other person and yourself.

Detoxing doesn’t have to be an intense experience. Sometimes just using 2 or 3 herbs and being mindful of what you are eating for a period of time can be useful. It is advisable to consult a practitioner if you plan to do a herbal detox or fast, so that they can recommend a plan to suit your constitution.