© Kat Morgenstern, March 2002
When the first rays of bright warm sunshine penetrate the layer of dust that has built up on the window panes through the winter, one gets miraculously inspired to get out that cleaning stuff, air everything out and rub the window down so spring can come into the living room. And it feels so good to get everything ready and prepared for a fresh start at the beginning of this wondrous, vibrant season!
The same principles can be applied to the body. Over the winter many of us are confined to a fairly sedentary lifestyle, compounded by too many rich and heavy foods. Perhaps, we meant to give up chocolate after Christmas, but somehow we never got round to it. Well, now is the perfect time to tune into nature's cycle and apply the general mode of renewal to your own body.
The early spring provides a whole host of delicious and healthful herbs to help cleanse the system. If you like foraging you will be pleased to find that almost all of those early edibles are in fact well suited to a blood cleansing diet. No need to go and buy dried herbs, most of what is needed probably grows right in the backyard or a meadow nearby.
The idea of a blood cleansing diet is simply to stimulate the metabolism and thus help the body eliminate a build up of uric acids and other toxins. This is mostly the work of the kidneys and liver. Certain foods, such as apples, celery, endive and horseradish and sauerkraut are very useful here. They can best be enjoyed as a salad, with raw onions and garlic. The marinade should just be olive oil with lemon juice. Plenty of fresh apple juice, or, if you can stomach it, a little apple cider vinegar diluted with water and sweetened with honey is also very cleansing.
As for the herbs that are currently sprouting in the fields and yard, look for:
Nettles (Urtica dioica):
Rich in vitamin A, C and iron. Nettles are very cleansing and diuretic, and are particularly useful for eliminating uric acid deposits, which are the cause of painful joints in arthritis and rheumatism. The expressed juice is the most powerful preparation, though a tea made with the dried leaves is also good. Nettle extract lowers the blood sugar level and thus is especially helpful for diabetics. Foragers usually appreciate Nettles as a spinach type vegetable, either in soups or as a side dish. However, it is best to mix them up with other greens and vegetables. A pure nettle dish tends to be a little too cleansing and can upset the stomach.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):
Dandelion is one of the most blessed spring herbs available. The leaves are specific for the urinary system. They help to flush out the kidneys without depleting the body of potassium, since they are particularly rich in this mineral. They can be enjoyed as a tea or added to soups and salads as a healthy and tasty spring green. The chemical composition of the roots varies in different seasons. In spring they are rich in certain proteins and mineral salts, while in autumn they are rich in inulin content (up to 40%), which is useful for diabetics.
Daisies (Bellis perennis):
Daisy leaves and flowers have long been used as a cleansing remedy that can be added to spring salads. The juice pressed from the aerial parts is the most potent elixir, but must be freshly prepared each day. One tablespoon per day, diluted in the same amount of water is the recommended dose.
Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria):
This herb often grows profusely in damp, shady places and where it does it is a blessing. The young shoots and leaves are very cleansing for the stomach and intestines and are also powerfully diuretic and very effective for flushing out uric acid crystals. They can be prepared as a salad or soup and make a very effective addition to a spring cleansing diet. Goutweed, as the name suggests, is also a well-known specific for rheumatism and gout, especially of the feet as its Latin name implies (podagra - gout of the feet). For this purpose though a strong decoction is made from the roots, which is used as a footbath.
Burdock Root (Arctium lappa):
The root of second year plants is the most powerful. It is a liver cleansing remedy that powerfully eliminates toxins from the body. It is also very beneficial for diabetics as it has a regulating effect on gallbladder secretions and is rich in Inulin content. Burdock is rarely encouraged as a garden plant, since it does not produce pretty flowers and takes up a lot of space, but anybody who suffers from chronic problems that call for blood cleansing, e.g. arthritis, rheumatism, gout or skin problems such as psoriasis would be well advised to make a little space in their yards for this miracle healer. Burdock root can be taken as a tea (20g to 1/2 litre of water) or added to soups as a healing vegetable.
CAUTION: People who suffer from any kind of kidney disease should not attempt to undertake a blood cleansing regime involving strongly diuretic plants without consulting their doctor or herbalist.
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This Article was originally published in the Sacred Earth Newletter. The Newsletter is a FREE service containing articles, news and reviews on all things herbal and/or ethnobotanical, with an approximate publication cylce of 6 - 8 weeks. If you wish to subscribe, please use the subscription box to submit your e-mail address.
Please note that although all the references to edible and medicinal herbs are tried and tested, their efficacy cannot be guaranteed and has not been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, everybody responds differently to various plants, and adverse reactions cannot be ruled out. Historical information regarding poisonous plants is included for educational purposes only and should not be tried out at home. Everybody uses herbs at their own risk and thus must make themselves fully aware of their potential power. Any information given here is educational and should not replace a visit to the doctor should this be necessary. Neither Sacred Earth nor Kat Morgenstern accepts responsibility for anybody's home experimentation. Links to external sites are included as pointers to further resources - we do not endorse them or are in any way responsible for their content, nor do we thus verify that their content is accurate.