Plus the best herbs to boost your health this spring
If you didn’t get time to detox in January, we don’t blame you. It’s pretty tricky to get out from underneath the duvet when it’s so cold and dark. But now that the dark days are drawing to a close, we asked Master Herbsmith, Ayurvedic expert and Pukka Herbs co-founder Sebastian Pole what we can do to rejuvenate our mind and body and get ready for spring.
‘We all want to feel great and, quite simply, life is more difficult when we don’t feel best. How we can keep moving towards this goal is constantly renew and replenish our health. This process is called rejuvenation’ says Sebastian.
‘Plants and more specifically medical herbs, have been at the centre of human health forever and it feels like we are only just discovering how important they are to living well today. Helping to nourish, cleanse, rejuvenate and restore your whole system, herbs such as turmeric, nettle and fennel can be used for both optimising health as well as getting you better when you are unwell: in other words, they can be food as well as medicine. Their life-enhancing properties are simple to bring into your everyday life, and one of my favourite ways is to do this by making herbal blends and drinking their delicious infusions.’
So how can herbs help restore our health and cleanse our body? ‘While we wash away and eliminate waste daily, modern life throws so much at us that not all of it goes down the plughole’ Sebastian says. If we don’t take time to cleanse the inside of our bodies, then we run the risk of a range of symptoms from bad breath to sluggish digestion.’
‘Feeling clogged up can also affect our emotional state – we might hold onto negative issues (the run-in at work last month, the break-up last year), instead of letting them go. Cleansing on all levels is central to being healthy. Toxins have damp, sticky and stagnant qualities. Ayurveda calls toxins ama, which refers to any undigested and unutilised wastes inside you. Toxins can cause inflammation and infection, and can lead to mucus congestion, poor immunity, loss of strength, water retention, tense muscles, bloating, itchiness, a thick tongue coating and depression, amongst other things. Remember the last time last time you had a cold and that ‘heavy’ feeling that you can’t get away from? Or the last time you were feeling depressed and stuck-in-the-mud? That’s a sure sign you need a cleanse.’
Get ready to spring to life with Sebastian’s advice on the best ways to rejuvenate your health.
Drinking plenty of water is essential for hydration, preferably lukewarm and therefore compatible with our body temperature. Drink it freely throughout the day, ideally accompanied by a delicious soothing organic herbal tea with liver and kidney supportive herbs such as dandelion, lemon, fennel and aniseed.
You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of alcohol or coffee but as they are diuretics, drinking less will help to restore your body and keep you hydrated. Sugary, non-organic dairy and multicoloured-flourescent drinks are out. fresh cold-press juices, herbal teas and water and fruit infusions are in.
Start with a promise to eat plenty of fibre-rich foods such as organic whole grains, like oats, spelt and barley and colourful vegetables which will help to support a healthy and efficient digestion. If you need some help to get you moving, try taking some triphala – it’s India’s most popular Ayurvedic herbal formulation of three fruits to aid elimination.
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Connect with nature
Take a daily walk in nature. As you stroll under the trees with the earth beneath you, breathe in the fresh clean air, feel the soft nourishing ground and connect with the majesty of nature.
Exercise your lungs
The damp weather, the common cold, pollution and smoking can all deplete our lungs. A powerful way to exercise your lungs is to do some invigorating breathing. This also increases metabolism and oxygen supply to the brain, awakening the mind and revitalising your whole system.
Have a deep steam
Steaming helps keep the pores clear and the skin active and increases blood circulation. Dry brushing also exfoliates the skins outer layer and stimulates the sweat and oil glands providing more moisture for the skin.
Love your body
Bitter foods such as green tea, lemons and turmeric nourish your system. Spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass juice supplement your diet to deliver valuable nutrients whilst aloe vera juice helps to refresh and cool.
Below are Sebastian’s top ten herbs to boost your health and get ready for spring…
Turmeric is one of the all-time great liver-loving herbs. Turmeric root supports the organ’s innate desire to clear the old and welcome the new. It has also has blood-cleansing properties which can be particularly helpful for clearing and brightening skin.
Dandelion root is a traditional tonic for supporting the liver and digestion. This bitter root cleanses the body by stimulating bile flow, which helps the liver and gallbladder to remove congestion and inflammation trapped in the system.
Nettle leaf has long been used in herbal medicine as both a blood ‘tonic’ and purifier; the body’s answer to a ‘spring-clean’. Nettle improves detoxification and promotes elimination to increase excretion of toxins from the body. It’s particularly good at alleviating skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis that can be caused by congestion within the body.
Whole lemon and lemon essential oil are high in antioxidant bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which help to protect our cells against free radical damage caused by toxic overload. Particularly helpful at this time of year, lemon adds a tang to tea and cuts through mucus, while the natural vitamin C gives our immunity a boost.
Fennel seed is the ultimate digestive detoxer. It soothes an upset digestive system and clears inflammatory toxins via the urinary system, blood and skin. It’s also good for reducing period pain and nausea as it releases tension and eases spasms.
Aniseed is an aromatic seed that helps to clear waste in the digestive system and lungs. Famed for clearing mucus and flushing the urinary system, it works as an excellent detoxifier. It also has a calming effect on the digestive system, helping to soothe bloating, colic pain and indigestion.
Celery seed is a small but mighty seed that helps to clear uric acid from the blood and joints (high levels of uric acid can cause joint pain and inflammatory conditions such as gout). Celery’s ability to improve blood flow means that it cleanses the joints and cartilage by increasing the level of fluid moving through them; great for the prevention of tired and aching joints before and after exercise.
Cardamom helps to provide relief to the digestive system from indigestion. It stimulates metabolic and digestive processes while working as a decongestant removing mucus from the digestive and respiratory tract.
Chlorella, wheatgrass, arctic seaweed and spirulina are highly nutritious green plants that are packed with vital macro and micronutrients that nourish and support the health of the body. They work to remove a buildup of heavy metals and pollutants, supporting overall detoxification. These super-greens are highly beneficial for those who live in areas where pollution levels are high, or may be over exposed to cigarette smoke, synthetic hormones such as the pill and HRT and alcohol.
We love Pukka’s new Clean Me Green wellbeing kit, £19.99, an organic 14 day wellbeing programme with 14 sachets of Pukka Clean Greens Superblend Powder, Pukka Detox Tea and Clean Matcha Green tea. It also comes with a two week guide with hints, tips and recipes to inspire and support you through the often tough first few weeks of the year.