The Shift Network Blog

Cleansing & Purifying Your Body Using Medicinal Plants: Separating Fact from Fiction 
David Crow, L.Ac.
By David Crow, L.Ac.
Author, Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Detox smoothies. Liver cleanses. Spa treatments promising to rid your body of toxic substances and purify your mind, body and spirit. Herbs for boosting your vitality.

The two most natural processes our bodies are designed for — detoxification and rejuvenation — are getting a lot of apparent outside support these days.

Yet, many of these products and the associated marketing claims are more hype than help… and in some cases actually create the very conditions you may be trying to resolve: toxicity and exhaustion.

So what do you need to know about detoxification and rejuvenation to assist your body in what it does naturally (safely and effectively) particularly in the use of medicinal plants?

The truth is your body is always detoxifying and rejuvenating — during deep sleep, meditation and relaxation, and through healthy digestion if you’re consuming a healthy plant-focused diet.

Medicinal plants assist these functions (often quite powerfully) however, they aren’t the magic pill.

The Truth About Cleanses & Purifying Herbs

First, cleanses are based on decreasing your nutrient intake, which can be counterproductive because the liver needs nutrients to activate its detoxification pathways.

Many cleanses are also based on stimulating the removal of wastes through increased urination and bowel movements, which can be effective to some degree, but can also leave the system weaker from overstimulation and depletion.

On the other side of the equation, many people abuse the herbs that are very helpful for rejuvenation purposes. This happens especially in the case of people who want to increase their athletic performance, or people who are using herbs to support an unhealthy and unnatural level of energy and activity, when they should be resting more.

In both of these cases of excessive or improper detox and improper use of stimulant or rejuvenative herbs, the end result is that a person is more out of balance than when they started.

The Root of All Healing

Detoxification and rejuvenation are both processes that are at the root of healing, and a major aspect of all natural healing systems, such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Because natural medicine is growing in popularity, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about how to safely and effectively use both detoxification and rejuvenation as effective therapies.

This confusion is coming from the usual sources, primarily internet marketing of numerous products that are being sold as consumer items that anyone and everyone should use, which is a very different than a personalized clinical approach to using botanical medicine.

In Chinese medicine, all diseases are seen as originating from two root causes — deficiency and excess.

Deficiency means that the body is either not receiving or not assimilating the nutrients it needs to regenerate, rejuvenate and function.

Excess means that the toxins of metabolic waste are not being properly eliminated.

The root of deficiency allows the disease process to enter the body, and the root of excess is what feeds the disease process...

You are a Solar-Powered Being: Plant Nutrition for Detoxifying & Rejuvenating

The first process, of assimilating energy from the environment, means ultimately that we are extracting sunlight from our food, which was put into the food chain by plants during the process of photosynthesis, which changes solar energy into the chemical energy of nutrients. It also means that we are extracting the nutrients from the earth, which were also concentrated into the food chain by the plants.

You can’t eat sunlight directly, and you can’t live on dirt, and so you’re dependent on the plants to extract these energies and elements for us, and to give them to us in a form that we can then use for nutrition. What this means is that at this energetic level, we are solar powered beings that live on the extracted nutrients from the earth.

The second process is eliminating the waste products of metabolism, as well as toxins that may come into the body from the outside world.

If either of these two basic functions of assimilation and elimination become imbalanced, and become excessive, deficient, or blocked, then illness arises.

The way medicinal plants work in the human body is primarily to give various types of nutrition and to assist in the natural detoxification processes. The root of deficiency is what is addressed through rejuvenation therapies and herbs with rejuvenating powers, and the root of excess, which also means toxicity and stagnation, is addressed with therapies and herbs that are cleansing and purifying.

In this brief (yet powerful!) audio, I share practical information about the expansive subject of detoxification and rejuvenation, as well as some of the medicinal plants to consider.

Don’t miss these highlights in this practical 8-minute audio:

  • (0:10) Your body is always detoxifying & rejuvenating
  • (1:16) Mother wart, milky oat seed and bone broth: Assisting deep sleep
  • (3:10) Get off the detox & retox merry-go-around + herbs for use in aiding good digestion
  • (4:30) Digestive fire: Spices for healthy digestion and auto-immune inflammation
  • (5:19) Reducing the need for cleanses, especially the colon
  • (6:34) Bitter herbs and plants: Supporting the liver and gall bladder

There are spiritual, emotional and mental aspects of detoxification and rejuvenation, as well, which are described in this audio.

Toxicity in the body is always reflected to some degree in the mind and emotions; many times the root causes of the physical toxicity are the mental and emotional states themselves, combined with the cumulative actions of a toxic lifestyle.

Yet, even spiritually mature people can get sick physically, and be affected by the unpleasant sensations arising from the body, even though they have cultivated a high degree of equanimity and wisdom of dispassion and detachment from the outer world.

Likewise, states of depletion and exhaustion also are reflected in the mental and emotional states, and states of mental and emotional exhaustion are reflected in physical exhaustion.

Therefore, the processes of detoxification and rejuvenation should always be considered holistically...including your mind, emotions and spirit.

Are you surprised to learn your body is ALWAYS detoxifying and rejuvenating? Have you done cleanses and/or used medicinal herbs to assist your body in these natural processes? Were these remedies helpful? We’d love to hear from you!


Discover how you can access the power of plants and herbs — for detoxification and rejuvenation and to advance your spiritual growth in David Crow’s FREE class How Medicinal Plants Can Fuel Your Health & Spiritual Growth: Essential Insights for Detoxification, Rejuvenation & Purification.

Did you discover something new from David Crow in this article or elsewhere? Share your thoughts in the comments below.