Very occasionally when someone goes on an active program of detoxification such as an apple fast for a few days, they have the experience of a severe headache at some time within a day or two, or of feeling moody, or having an upset stomach, a film on their tongue or teeth, even loose bowels. This is a sign that your body is throwing off wastes at such a pace that you are experiencing what is known in natural medicine as a cleansing crisis.
In reality, it happens to very few people. If you are one of them, be glad, even though it may be a bit of a nuisance for a few hours; it is actually a good sign. Your body is taking the opportunity you have afforded it through what you are eating (and what you are not eating) of throwing off a lot of debris which you need to get rid of if you are to live at a higher level of health and vitality. If a cleansing crisis does happen, take the time to relax, lie down in a darkened room if possible, and be kind to yourself. Have a cup of peppermint tea - it is very soothing when you have a headache. If you can’t sleep, try a cup of chamomile tea, or eat a banana which is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, a superb natural sedative. Congratulations – it can be quite a feat to be ridding your body of so much old debris all at once. It will pass quickly, leaving you better than ever.
The people most likely to get a headache as part of a cleansing crisis are those who have been drinking several cups of coffee or tea a day. This kind of reaction is triggered by your tissues dumping a lot of stored caffeine into your bloodstream all at once in order to eliminate it from your body. The first time this happened to me I had been in Vienna for six days, where everyone drinks coffee – and very strong coffee too – all day long. Though not much of a coffee-drinker myself, I decided while there to go along with the custom. The day I left the city I got on to an airplane to return to London and my usual way of eating, and was struck down by the most appalling headache which lasted about four or five hours. It was no fun, believe me. But when it passed I was left with the most wonderful feeling of freshness and lightness – the way you feel on a beautiful summer’s morning when there is a light breeze blowing. This sense of lightness is a common one for people who for the first time begin to clear their system of stored wastes. It more than makes up for the headache or upset stomach which can herald its coming.
Something I learnt many years ago from another doctor who uses natural methods for healing, is that if you are experiencing any kind of cleansing crisis, you can help your body enormously by putting a simple cool compress around your middle and leaving it there as you lie down for half an hour. This can also be done when you go to bed in the evening if you prefer. A cool compress stimulates the flow of blood to the area of the liver – another prime mover when it comes to detoxification – so speeding up the release of wastes from the body, and easing any unpleasant symptoms that come with them. Using a compress is also enormously relaxing.
Tear a piece of cotton fabric (an old sheet is ideal) into a rectangular piece which is about fifteen inches wide and long enough to go comfortably around the middle of your body (between your armpits and hips). Wet this compress in cold water and wring out completely so it is only damp. Now, using a dry towel (or a piece of wool or thick natural fabric) which is also big enough to go around your middle and to overlap so you can pin it comfortably with a few safety-pins, spread the compress out on the outstretched towel. Now lay your naked midriff on this strip and wrap first the compress around you and then the towel on top, pinning it securely. Pull your clothes or nightclothes down over the lot, and pop into a warm bed for at least half an hour. Such a compress can be helpful not only for sailing through a cleansing crisis, but also if ever you find it difficult to sleep because of worry or stress.
If you find yourself experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms during your apple fast, increase the quantity of spring water you are drinking. When the body’s water level gets too low, your kidneys don’t work efficiently and the liver has to take on too much of the cleansing work on its own. If you tend to retain water, this is often because you don’t drink enough, so your body tries its best to hold on to the water there is in order to dilute any toxicity in your tissues.
Believe it or not, you breathe out about 2 big glasses worth of water a day. The kidneys and intestines eliminate roughly another 6 glasses, and 2 are released through the skin. So keep drinking – during a detox and after. We all tend to need more water than we drink for optimum health. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle or two of mineral water on your desk, or somewhere where you will see it often, to remind you to take in enough water each day.
Here is a simple formula for working out the ideal quantity of water to drink each day for maximum energy and good looks. Divide your current weight in kilos by 8. (e.g. 58 kilos divided by 8 = 7.25). Round the figure up (to eight) and that is the number of glasses of water you need a day.
This is just a base calculation of course. Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do day-in-day-out to keep your body eliminating wastes efficiently. Remember that you will probably need to take in more water than your base calculation when you are exercising or if it is a hot day.
Some people can get a temporary feeling of letdown on a detox. This is usually because the heart, having been stimulated by caffeine and other irritants, begins to beat more slowly, and the false exhilaration you used to get from stimulants temporarily turns into a feeling of being down. It doesn’t last long, and in most people it doesn’t happen at all.
Sometimes, however, during a detox it can seem that all sorts of psychic junk suddenly gets released along with the physical toxins you have been carrying around. Feelings of anxiety, worry or guilt may surface with seemingly no reason. They will most likely just be flushed away with all the other junk your body is getting rid of. In the meantime, try putting a few drops of lavender or vanilla essential oil in an oil burner and enjoy their relaxing and soothing properties. Or put one or two drops of either essential oil in your bath and breathe in the fragrance.
One of the nice things about this sort of detox is that you often find you think much more clearly after it. Stress does many unpleasant things to the body, one of which is that it can make your whole system acidic. An apple fast alkalizes your system, so bringing it back into balance, and throwing off the byproducts of stress in the process. When you are mentally stressed, your body becomes physically stressed through having to deal with all this toxic waste. Removing these toxic wastes can often mean that your ability to deal with more stress is greatly improved. You begin to see things in a much more positive light and can put what once seemed difficult problems into their proper perspective.
relax and revive
During a detox it is important to make sure you get enough rest. Think how good you feel after a holiday. It’s usually the one time when we actually allow ourselves to rest - something we don’t do enough of during the rest of the year. Rest is so essential because it is while you are resting that your tissues restore themselves. Without it, your body cannot properly restore damaged tissues. During a detox, your body is working pretty hard in eliminating all the rubbish you have allowed to be released into your system. Give it a break and make time for yourself to relax – and don’t feel guilty about it. Watch your favorite videos, read that book you’ve been promising yourself you’ll find time for, listen to all your old records, or just do nothing. This is a precious time; a time to devote to yourself and your body’s needs. Don’t waste it.
During the day, whenever you can, lie down even for ten minutes and just let go. Or practice a simple relaxation/mediation exercise like this one:
Close your eyes and watch your breath coming in and out of your body. With each out breath count silently. So it goes like this: ‘In breath… out breath… one… in breath… out breath… two…’ and so on up to ten. If you lose track or find that your mind is distracted, it doesn’t matter at all. Just go back to ‘one’ and start again.
Carry this out for ten to fifteen minutes whenever you can find a few spare minutes to yourself. It helps to rebalance your body’s nervous system and can be useful if you have to deal with any negative emotions that surface during your detox.