In This Issue  
Home    |    About Us    |    Meet Debbie    |    Meet Friends    |    Prayer    |    Contact Us
Share Print this page Print Email to a friendEmail

< Back to Health & Wellness

Detoxifying for Better Health, Part 6: The Vital Role Herbs Play in Cleansing

     The process of cleansing involves supporting the body’s natural detoxification systems to more efficiently remove cellular wastes and environmental toxins. Last month’s article on detoxification focused on giving the body a rest from heavier foods and using foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and juice fasting to both nourish and cleanse the body. Herbs are another form of plants placed by God on this earth to nourish, heal, and…yes, detoxify our bodies.  Particular types of herbs possess specific properties and actions that stimulate or strengthen the body’s own detoxification systems.

     In nearly every culture around the world, the use of herbs for cleansing and healing is quite common. With the exception of Western medicine, the need for regularly cleansing the body is emphasized with herbs playing a major role in the more traditional systems of health care (true “health” care versus “disease” care).

     Although the large majority of our pharmaceutical drugs are based on substances originally found in herbs, herbs in their pure state are rarely recommended by doctors today, who have little training as to their value and use. Yet the human body responds well to that which nature provides and high quality herbs are a proven and effective way to cleanse and rebuild the body when properly used.

     Herbs work in a number of different ways to facilitate a deeper cleansing process. Using the comparison between taking care of the body and taking care of a vehicle, foods may be likened to the fuel the vehicle needs to run on a ongoing basis (as an aside…using good quality fuel helps the vehicle run better!), whereas cleansing the body more deeply using herbs is like getting an oil change, which need only occur periodically. 

 Systematically Cleansing the Body

     The process of detoxification involves pulling toxins from tissues that have accumulated for years in some cases. As toxins are removed, it is vital that they quickly exit the body through the channels of elimination: the colon, kidneys, lungs, skin as was discussed in “Detoxifying for Better Health – Part 2 and Part 3.”

     Although you will find many different methodologies in natural health pertaining to how to do a total body cleanse, most would agree regarding the importance of beginning with the colon before other organs of the body are cleansed to make certain that it is free of backed up waste products. The reason for this is that if toxins remain in the intestines too long, they will reabsorb into the blood stream, where they need to be filtered again by an already overburdened liver and kidneys. It is important to avoid this situation because the toxins will then end up deposited in tissues and fatty deposits such as cellulite.

     Michelle Cook recommends a program for detoxing the body in her book The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan that is broken down into four phases, each lasting one week. The first phase is cleansing the kidneys and colon, the second is cleansing the lymphatic system, the third is cleansing the liver and gallbladder and the fourth is cleansing the blood, lungs and skin.  Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald’s book The Detox Solution recommends a six-week cleanse. The first two weeks begins with cleansing the colon, followed by a combination cleanse of both the colon and liver for the next two weeks. The last two weeks is a complete system cleanse. A maintenance cleanse is recommended twice a year. There is a tremendous amount of very valuable information contained within both of these books on cleansing that I cannot begin to adequately cover in this series, including recipes for cleansing drinks and herbal tea combinations that target specific detoxification organs. If you want more specific “how to” information on all aspects of cleansing, I would highly recommend either one of these books in addition to Dr. Elson Haas’s book The New Detox Diet that was recommended in last month’s article.

     The goal of this particular article it not to focus on the many methods and steps involved in a complete body cleanse but rather to review and add to some general guidelines that most everyone in natural health would agree on pertaining to cleansing, some of which I alluded to in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series. I also will include some promised specific recommendations for herbs and herbal products at the end of the article that will help to accomplish these objectives.

     Let’s start with some basics necessary for any cleansing program beginning with those that do not specifically involve herbs.



     Drinking plenty of purified water is essential to cleansing no matter what type of cleansing you are doing.  Water helps to flush out toxins and aids the function of all of the eliminative organs. In her book, Michele Cook recommends beginning each day of a cleanse with a glass of warm pure water containing the juice of a half of lemon squeezed into it to stimulate the bowel and to reduce levels of acidity in the blood. This is especially important because toxins stirred up in the detoxification process are typically acidic. (see my article “Understanding pH – Your Health is in the Balance – Part 2” about how lemons help alkalize the body.)

Healthy Diet

     During a time of cleansing, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legume, nuts and seeds.  Avoid or limit meats and dairy products that are acidic and take more energy to digest. Stay away from processed and refined foods, fried foods, margarine/hydrogenated fats, and sweets. Also stay away from all drinks but water, herb or green tea and fresh juices.  Follow the basic guidelines given in the section “Preparing to Fast” in last month’s article.  The less the body is burdened with cooked and processed foods, chemical additives, bad fats, etc., the more it can focus its energies on detoxifying.  An added benefit of cleansing the body is that it reduces cravings for “junk” food and makes it far easier to adhere to a healthy diet after the cleanse.

Green Foods Supplement

     Because the body needs nutrients to power the detoxification process that takes place in the liver, adding a green food powdered supplement that includes barley, alfalfa, chlorella, spirulina, algae and other green foods helps supply the body with additional nutrients, chlorophyll and phytochemicals in addition to helping pH levels stay balanced.  This is especially valuable if one is not eating sufficient amounts of fresh leafy greens and vegetables during the cleanse. You will find information on the one I personally recommend in the addendum at the conclusion of this article.


     Chlorophyll is a wonderful aid in detoxification as it is known to significantly inhibit or neutralize toxins in addition to strengthening the tissues and increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Sources of pure chlorophyll are alfalfa, barley grass, and wheatgrass, which can be taken on any cleansing program for enhanced nutrition. Liquid chlorophyll may be added to water to drink in the morning and throughout the day during a cleanse.


     Next to water, fiber is the most important element needed to cleanse the body. Fiber binds toxins in the intestinal tract and works along with water to carry them away. Not only does it soften and provide bulk for stools, which allows for faster transit time and a reduced exposure to toxins, but it acts like a scouring pad to actually scrub residue from the wall of the colon.

     Some common fibers used alone or in fiber cleansing formulas are psyllium hulls, apple pectin, oat bran, flax seed, acacia gum, and guar gum.  Powdered fiber supplements can be mixed with water or juice and should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning (before bed or 15-30 minutes before dinner are other options).

     In order for a fiber supplement to be effective and not have an opposite effect (constipation), a person should drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated throughout the day. Fiber should be taken apart from most other types of supplements by one to two hours as it binds with fats and reduces the absorption of minerals. It also should not be taken in the same time period with medications since it may interfere with their effects in a similar manner.

Hydrated Bentonite

     This is an ingredient used singly or in colon formulas that draws toxins from the tissues of the bowel and more thoroughly removes debris from pockets and ballooned areas in the colon. It attracts and absorbs toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and free radicals like a magnet. It can, however, be a little harsh on people with sensitive or spastic colons. Sufficient water must be consumed when taking bentonite to flush it from the system and keep it from getting stuck in the intestines. Taking an herbal laxative in conjunction with the use of bentonite is also recommended.


     Since poor digestion is a main cause of internal toxicity, taking a full-spectrum plant-based digestive enzyme supplement with meals helps with the breakdown of food, the delivery of nutrients and the efficient excretion of wastes at the cellular level.


     Probiotic supplements are helpful for replenishing the healthy bacteria needed in the intestines to keep less healthy strains in check. Keeping a healthy balance of intestinal flora feeds the intestinal lining while improving elimination and the overall health of the colon.

Exercise and Proper Rest

     Any exercise you can do during cleansing will improve circulation and enhance the body’s natural detoxification process. Walking in fresh air is particularly beneficial.

     Getting sufficient sleep is obviously important to general health but is particularly essential to support the body as it expends extra energy on the work of detoxification.


     Herbs work in different ways to aid in the detoxification process either by supplying nutrients that feed and support eliminative functions or by activating different detoxification mechanisms or systems through substances and properties they possess.  Both historically and scientifically, different herbs have been found to stimulate elimination, improve liver and kidney function, bind toxins, increase lymphatic flow, purify the blood, open sweat glands and bring about other actions that facilitate the cleansing of the body. 

     A complete cleanse of the body involves more than just getting rid of accumulated waste with a colon cleanse. The breakdown and removal of fat-soluble toxins requires active involvement of the liver and gallbladder and water-soluble toxins must be flushed from the fluid-cleansing systems of the kidneys and sweat glands.

     Rather than list and describe each of the many different herbs known to be beneficial for complete cleansing and detoxification, I will simply give a brief description of some of the primary properties found in the kinds of herbs that are helpful for a thorough cleansing. Be aware that most herbs possess multiple properties and that the same herb may address more than one aspect of cleansing.

     Listed below are some of the more common terms used in herbalogy that categorize the ways in which herbs work to detoxify the body, including a brief definition of each. Next to each term are examples of herbs particularly effective for producing that action in the body with regard to cleansing the tissues, blood, lymph and detoxification organs of the body.

  • Alteratives or blood purifiers – these herbs cleanse the internal environment of the body and remove toxins from the blood by strengthening the function of the liver and lymphatic system. Examples are burdock, cleavers, dandelion, milk thistle, Oregon grape, red clover and yellow dock.
  • Cholagogues – herbs with this action increase the flow of bile, which is the way liver flushes toxins into the digestive tract where fiber can absorb them. Examples are artichoke leaf, blessed thistle, turmeric, dandelion, barberry, fringetree and milk thistle.
  • Hepatics – herbs that strengthen liver function and protect the liver against damage. Examples are burdock, dandelion, milk thistle, Oregon grape, pau d’arco and yellow dock.
  • Stimulant laxatives – herbs that increase elimination by irritating the colon and stimulating it to move. While helpful for use during a cleanse, these herbs are not recommended for long-term use. Examples are cascara sagrada, buckthorn, and rhubarb root.
  • Bulk laxatives – herbs that stimulate elimination through the lower bowel by adding fiber to the intestinal tract. These herbs are safer for long-term use.  Examples are slippery elm, psyllium, and guar gum.
  • Diuretics - herbs that increase flow of urine to expel excess fluids from the body. Examples are asparagus, buchu, celery, cleavers, cornsilk, dandelion, juniper, goldenrod, horsetail, hydrangea, marshmallow, nettles, and uva ursi.
  • Diaphotetic or sudorifics – substances that help increase perspiration by moving the blood to the surface of the skin and opening up sweat glands to promote elimination.  Examples are blue vervain, capsicum, catnip, ginger, horseradish, peppermint and yarrow.
  • Lymphatic – herbs that improve lymphatic flow and remove obstructions from the blood and lymph.  Examples are mullein, Oregon grape, parthenium, red clover, red root and yarrow.

     Unless you are a professional herbalist and know what blend of these herbs will have the right cleansing action for what your body needs, it is easier and more advantageous to use “tried and true” formulas put together by people who really know herbs and what types and amounts the body responds to best with regard to the intended purpose. 

     Because herbs may not work effectively if the right parts of the plants are not used for the right purpose or if the potency or purity of the herbs is compromised in any way, it is important to use high quality pharmaceutical grade herbs/herbal formulas that are well tested and organically produced.  The recommended formulas for cleansing and detoxifying the body listed below have been successfully used for a great many years and more than meets those standards.

 Cleansing Cautions

     Not everyone should do a detoxification program using herbs. Those who are pregnant, nursing or who have diabetes or other serious medical conditions should avoid using certain detoxifying herbs. Also, people who are weak, frail or malnourished in any way should not undergo a cleanse since cleansing can take out the good with the bad and leave them less nourished.  The person should build up their nutrient reserves first before taking herbs to stimulate detoxification processes.  It is advantageous to incorporate a program of good nutrition and rebuilding of the body before and after more intense periods of cleansing.

     Often unpleasant symptoms occur during a cleanse, in which the body reacts unfavorably to the process. Cleansing reactions are usually due to not drinking enough water, sluggish bowel movements or toxins being released too rapidly.

Concluding Thoughts

     Simply put, natural health boils down to two basic principles:  “putting in the good stuff” and “getting rid of the bad stuff.”  In other words, the primary underlying causes of illness are nutritional deficiencies and/or some type of blockage due to accumulated waste products and toxins. Undergoing regular cleansing is the best way to keep the body detoxified and free of the toxic waste that robs it of energy and vibrant health. 

     I would encourage you to review the articles in this series on “Detoxifying for Better Health,” take steps to minimize toxic exposure in your life and ensure that your body is cleansed on a regular basis so that you can enjoy a greater level of health and vitality.


  • Coming Clean by Steven H. Horne, AHG
  • The Detox Solution by Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald
  • The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michele Cook

Recommended Herbal Formulas for Cleansing and Detoxification

Intestinal Formulas and Fiber Blends

LBS II – this blend of cascara sagrada, buckthorn, licorice root, Turkey rhubarb root, ginger root, capsicum fruit, couch grass herb, Oregon grape root and red clover tops provides a laxative action for sluggish elimination in addition to cleansing and toning the colon.

Gentle Move – an alternative to herbal stimulant laxatives, this formula promotes natural elimination by hydrating the colon and improving bowel tone. It reduces intestinal inflammation and helps normalize bowel function in those who have become dependent on stimulant laxatives. Besides containing magnesium hydroxide to hydrate the stool and enable it to pass easier, this intestinal formula contains triphalia, a blend of three fruits used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as a gentle laxative, bowel tonic and blood purifier. The herbs marshmallow root extract, ginger rhizome, slippery elm bark and yellow dock root complete this unique and effective formula.

Bowel Detox – this formula is a blend of substances that absorb various types of toxins and irritants. The psyllium it contains acts as a bulk laxative while the gentonite clay pulls irritants from the colon.

Nature’s Three – a bulk laxative formula containing psyllium hulls, apple fiber and oat bran that is mixed in water or juice.

Psyllium Hulls Combination – a bulk laxative formula containing psyllium hulls along with hibiscus and licorice root for flavoring.

LOCLO - contains both soluble and insoluble fiber from five sources: psyllium hulls, apple fiber, acacia gum, guar gum and oat bran that work to absorb toxins, stimulate normal bowel function and bind with fats to carry them out of the body. This formula also contains a powdered herbal food blend consisting of broccoli flowers, turmeric root, rosemary leaf, red beet root, tomato fruit, carrot root, cabbage leaf and various bioflavonoids.

Everybody’s Fiber – a soft fiber blend that reduces inflammation and absorbs toxins, while acting as a very gentle bulk laxative. It is suitable for those with inflammatory intestinal conditions. Contains a probiotic dietary fiber, chamomile flowers, flax meal, fennel seed, malic acid, marshmallow root, peppermint leaves, stevia leaves, asparagus stem, and cat’s claw

Herbal Blends that Support the Colon, Liver, Kidneys and Lymphatics.

All Cell Detoxa general cleansing formula with herbs that stimulate digestive organs, cleanse the bowel, strengthen the liver, and purify the blood. Best used with a fiber blend to absorb toxins released from the liver and these other areas. Contains gentian, Irish moss plant, cascara sagrada, fenugreek seeds, golden seal, slippery elm bark, safflower, black walnut hulls, myrrh gum, parthenium root, yellow dock root, dandelion root, Oregon grape root, uva ursi leaves, chickweed herb, catnip, and cyani flowers.

Chinese Liver Balancea blend of herbs that cleanses and protects the liver, nourishes the blood, improves digestive function, strengthens the function of the gallbladder and spleen and helps to balance the internal workings of the body. This formula contains the following herbs, most of which are Chinese:  bupleurum, peony, thyphonium, cinnamon twig, dang gui, fushen, scute, zhishi fruit, attractylodes rhizome, panax ginseng, ginger rhizome, and licorice.

Liver Cleanse Formulaa formula containing Western herbs that strengthens liver and gallbladder function, improves digestion, enhances the function of the kidneys and spleen and promotes overall detoxification. Liver Cleanse Formula contains the following herbs:  red beet, dandelion, parsley, horsetail, yellow dock, black cohosh, birch leaves, blessed thistle, angelica, chamomile flowers, gentian, and golden rod.

Enviro-Detox – a unique formula designed to cleanse and strengthen the intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs and skin in addition to helping to purify the blood and lymphatic system.  It is especially useful as a periodic cleanse for removing the effects of environmental pollution, particularly for those who are regularly exposed to chemicals. Besides containing blood purifying herbs such as burdock, dandelion, red clover, sarsaparilla, Echinacea, yellow dock and milk thistle, it also contains fenugreek, ginger and pepsin to improve digestion and break down toxins in the digestive tract, marshmallow for soothing fiber and cascara sagrada for a mild laxative action.

Milk Thistle Combinationpowerful formula designed to help restore and support healthy liver function. Milk thistle keeps toxins absorbed by the intestines from damaging the liver while it works to neutralize them. In addition to the concentrated milk thistle extract, standardized to contain 80% silymarin, it contains the powerful antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine, dandelion root, and vitamins that support liver detoxification that include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, choline, and inositol.

Lymphatic Drainage – this formula helps stimulate lymphatic drainage and clears toxins away from the tissue spaces. This formula contains cleavers, red clover, stillingia, and prickly ash bark.

Lymphomax – contains herbs known to improve lymphatic circulation and drainage by eliminating fluids and wastes. This formula contains mullein, lobelia, plantain, cleavers, red root, bayberry, alfalfa, chamomile, echinacea, yarrow, garlic, and chlorophyll.

Kidney Drainagethis formula helps the kidneys filer wastes out of the blood stream more efficiently.  It contains asparagus, plantain, juniper, and goldenrod.

Conveniently Prepackaged Cleansing Programs

Tiao He Cleansea collection of special cleansing formulas and individual herbs (both Chinese and Western) that gently, yet effectively, work together to clean out the colon, improve colon transit time, facilitate aid liver detoxification and tissue cleansing, improve kidney and lymphatic drainage, stimulate digestion and expel parasites. The pre-packaged packets that are taken twice a day contain a general cleansing formula (All Cell Detox) a liver formula (Chinese Liver Balance), a stimulant laxative (LBSII), a bulking fiber agent (Psyllium Hulls), a blood purifier (Burdock) and an antiparasitic (Black Walnut).

Clean Start – is a general all purpose two-week cleansing program specifically designed to cleanse the colon and liver. It consists of premeasured packets that come in two flavors (apple/cinnamon or wild berry) which are mixed with water or juice and consumed before breakfast and dinner. The drink packets contain psyllium hulls, bentonite, freeze dried aloe vera, sodium copper chlorophyllin, malic acid, potassium citrate, stevia and natural flavorings. In addition, the cleanse includes prepackaged capsules that contain the formulas LBS II and Enviro-Detox.

Non Herbal Cleansing Helps

Here is information on a few other supplements to aid in the cleansing process that were mentioned in this article:

Ultimate Green Zone

Liquid Chlorophyll

Hydrated Bentonite

For Additional Products and Information, Visit http://www.helpyourhealthnaturally.com/

Copyright © 2008-2015 Lucinda Bedogne, CNHP, CNC

Post Your Comment...

First Name
Last Name
e-mail   (We will not re-distribute your e-mail.)

Share on Facebook Share
Print this page Print This Page
Email to a friendEmail Article to a Friend

< Back to Health & Wellness

More Great Articles

My Friend Debbie - Turn Old Man Winter Into A Breath of Fresh AirHome & Hospitality

Turn Old Man Winter Into A Breath of Fresh Air
My Friend Debbie - Chicken and Rice CasseroleKitchen Keeper Recipes

Chicken and Rice Casserole
My Friend Debbie - Corolla, NC with GirlfriendsTravel

Corolla, NC with Girlfriends