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Green Blessings ...
with Susun Weed

Top Ten Worst Diet and Healthcare Choices
& Ten Better Choices #8

c. 2016

8. Cleansing, or detoxification, is a mainstay of the Heroic Traditions. It is a very old idea that has its origins in the Humoral Theory, which believes that there are "humors" in the body that get out of balance and cause disease. These humors must be cleansed to restore health. The primary ways of cleansing the humors are bleeding, purging the bowels, and clearing the stomach. That is: poking, purging, and puking.

A barber pole has a red stripe because the barber used to bleed you; until the mid '50's one could still buy leeches at barber shops in many American cities. Physicians used a lancet (the name of the most prestigious medical journal in England is The Lancet) to "open a vein" and "release the evil." Or they used strong purgative/laxative herbs like senna or cascara sagrada (rather like the clean-out preparation before a colostomy) to purge the bowels of "toxic waste." Or they used cathartic herbs to make the patient puke up the "bad bile."

A century ago, mercury was considered one of the best cleanses, as it causes both copious vomiting and repeated bouts of diarrhea. Herbs that had dramatic effects – like cayenne, goldenseal, and lobelia (puke weed) – were included in all herbal formulas.
While some cleanses, like a raw juice fast or the Master Cleanse – lemon juice, maple syrup, and (it has to have it or it isn't a cleanse) cayenne – may seem benign, they aren't. Remember, since "you are not consuming digestable food (fiber) to create a bowel movement, you will have to make it happen" [since] "it is crucial to flush out the toxins." That usually means an enema, high enema, or colonic. (See my previous article on problems with colonics.)

The Humoral Theory itself is deeply flawed. Toxins don't cause disease. There are no toxins in the colon or the liver, so no need to cleanse them. 

Cleansing appeals to the part of us that demands that we be perfect. Cleansing offers a way to atone for our eating sins and to redeem ourselves. We hope that a liver flush will make up for all those drunken nights, or that a cleansing fast will help us shed those extra pounds. But it doesn't work that way.

How does the body work? While there is no need to cleanse the humors – "black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm/mucus" – we do want to divest ourselves of any food and water-borne contaminants (including lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, radioactive particles, and persistent organic pollutants) that we may have ingested.  No cleanse of any kind removes them. Neither fasting nor drinking fresh juice of any kind removes them. In fact, some studies show that fasting increases the amount of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals in the blood. And, while some herb-like foods can remove them, no herbs taken in capsule form do so reliably.

Instead: Eat seaweed, particularly kelp seaweeds, including wakame, kombu, luminaria, and nereocystis (bull whip) kelps. The algin in kelp is a natural absorbent that binds to heavy metals and radioactivity (and cholesterol), safely removing them from the body in the bowel movement. Seaweed is noted for its ability to bind heavy metals and radioactive pollutants. Dr. Yukio Tanaka of the Gastrointestinal Research Lab at McGill University has shown that kelp inhibits the absorption of lead, cadmium, and 80-90 percent of the radioisotopes of strontium 90. Alginates in seaweed actually chelate them right out of our bones, as well as our gut. Only brown algae (seaweeds) contain algin; blue-green algae do not.

Instead: If you are concerned that the seaweed itself may be contaminated with heavy metals and radioactivity, eat cilantro. Like seaweed, it removes heavy metals – especially mercury and lead -- and radioactive isotopes from the body.

Instead: Nourish your health the Wise Woman Way with nourishing herbal infusions and let your liver and your kidneys, your skin and your respiratory system do the job they are meant to do: cleanse you. The organs of elimination eliminate best when they are fully nourished, and nothing nourishes faster and deeper than nourishing herbal infusions.

The Wise Woman Way is easier, more fun, and far less expensive than a cleanse. All you have to do is drink a nourishing herbal infusion every day, include seaweed in your diet on a weekly basis, and use more cilantro and coriander. Nourish yourself; you are a whole and holy being, not a filthy sinner.

Learn More:

Last Flowers of Fall at Laughing Rock Farm

Here they are: A last bouquet for you before the snow comes to stay. Some weeds love cold weather. Green blessings are everywhere.

Malva neglecta
The little wild "cheeses" is a fall salad favorite with its bland and prolific leaves. The root is related to marshmallow and may be used the same way.

The plentiful leaves and flowers of this tart teaser – some call it sour clover – are still shining in our autumn salads.

Lotus corniculatus
Poor person's alfalfa continues to grace the edges of the pasture and roadside, but we don't eat it.

A few smart weeds are gracing the walkways and garden paths, but we don't eat them either.

Linaria vulgaris
Butter and eggs, toad flax, there are so many interesting names for this wild snapdragon, and none of them make me want to eat it.

Oneothera biennis
The stately evening primrose adds an elegantly hansom note to our bouquet. The first year roots were once so valued as a foodstuff that they were cultivated like carrots. While the leaves and flowers are also edible, I find them tough and rough and rarely add them to my salads.

This patch of white vervain drooping over from the weight of its seeds is covered in a light mauve haze of mold, giving it a ghost-like, ethereal quality.

Although the knapweeds are generally loathed, they could be used for medicine. They are closely related to thistles, and they are generally bitter, suggesting activity in the digestive system. They are related to daisy and echinacea, both of which contain CBD-like pain relievers in their roots. And, of course, we add the frost-proof flowers to our autumn salads.

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way

Publication date: June 21, 2011

Author: Susun S. Weed

Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health.
Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations

Retails for $29.95





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