Ayurvedic Detoxification: How to Cleanse Safely

Ayurveda recommends internal cleansing at every change of seasons. Detox is considered especially beneficial in the spring, because that is the time all of nature is rejuvenating itself. In this special newsletter, an expert from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians discusses ayurvedic cleansing and how to detoxify safely.

Q: Safety is a major consideration in all Maharishi Ayurveda detox programs. Can you talk about the need for taking precautions when you detoxify?

A: Certainly. Whatever treatment we recommend in Maharishi Ayurveda, whether it's for purification or for treating an imbalance, we always follow the rule of balance first. This is a principle that is made clear by Charaka, one of the great ayurvedic healers of ancient times. The principle is that the physician should never create a new imbalance in order to repair or fix an imbalance. Whatever herbs we use, whatever purification methods we employ, we should never risk disturbing the doshas (mind/body operating principles) further. Nor do we create an imbalance in the quality and quantity of the dhatus (body tissues) or the quality, quantity and flow of the malas (body wastes). It's also essential that any detox program support the health of the shrotas, the large and small channels that provide the path for toxins to leave the body, so that embedded impurities, once loosened by the purification program, can be flushed out of the body completely and quickly.

The perfect treatment doesn't balance one part of the body at the risk of imbalancing another part. This is the perfection of Maharishi Ayurveda. In following this principle, the detoxification methods of Maharishi Ayurveda flush out the toxins gently without disturbing the body's own natural functioning.

Maharishi Ayurveda recommends two kinds of detoxification programs: self-detox (including diet, herbal preparations, and daily routine) and a detoxification program supervised by an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda. While everyone can benefit from a supervised program such as Maharishi Panchakarma, not everyone should embark on a self-detox program. Which program you choose depends on the nature of your imbalances and the type of toxins lodged in your body.

Q: To begin with, can you tell our readers about the different types of toxins that we have to deal with and where they originate?

A: There are three different types of toxins that can impact the physiology: ama, amavisha and garvisha. Ama is the most common type of toxin, and is the waste product of incomplete digestion. Sticky, white and foul-smelling, it forms in the digestive tract when the food you eat is not digested properly. Ama is usually caused by eating foods unsuitable for your body type or the season; by eating too much or too little; by eating before the previous meal is digested; by going to sleep on a full stomach; or by eating foods that are left over, processed, old or fermented. If ama continues to be produced over a long period of time, it can leave the digestive tract, travel to a weak area elsewhere in the body and settle there. Usually it blocks the shrotas (microcirculatory channels) and disrupts the flow of nutrients to the area as well as the body's natural waste removal systems.

Usually ama develops when agni, the digestive fire, is either weak or irregular. By enhancing agni through dietary changes or by taking ayurvedic herbal supplements, the digestive system itself can burn off simple ama and clear it from the body.

Amavisha is a more reactive form of ama that forms when ama settles in one part of the body for a long time and mixes with the subdoshas, the dhatus or the malas there. This more toxic, reactive type of ama is more dangerous than the simple ama and must be dealt with differently during detoxification.

Garvisha is the third type of toxin, and unlike the other two, garvisha comes from outside the body. Included are environmental toxins such as chemicals, preservatives, poisons, air and water pollution, genetically engineered foods, synthetics and chemicals in clothing, synthetic drugs, chemicals in household cleansers, and heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and asbestos. Garvisha also includes toxins from spoiled foods.

Q: What role do the shrotas play in removing these toxins from the body?

A: In detoxification the shrotas play a major role, because the toxins have to leave the body through the large and small channels of the body. So it's very important to maintain the proper health of the shrotas during all the stages of detox — while preparing for detox, during the purification process and afterwards.

To understand how the shrotas need to be protected during detoxification, it's important to note that there are three kinds of abnormalities or damage that can happen to the shrotas. The first is blockage of the shrotas with simple ama. This type of toxin is easy to remove through simple purification and detoxification processes. For this person, self-detoxification works quite well, because simple ama can be dissolved through diet, herbal formulas and at-home procedures.

The second type of abnormality involves the more toxic and reactive amavisha. In this situation, the shrotas or channels themselves become hardened and dried with toxins. If your shrotas were pipes, the amavisha would be rust, not only blocking the pipes but actually corroding them as well.

The rust in this analogy is a toxic mixture of ama, amavisha and Shleshaka Kapha, which is the subdosha of Kapha concerned with maintaining proper fluid balance and lubrication of the body. When these three mix together, it causes an excess of moisture, an imbalance that in turn causes Vyana Vata (the subdosha of Vata concerned with circulation), to accelerate its drying effect, causing this toxic sludge to dry onto the channel walls. The channels become dry, inflexible, and narrow. There can also be blockage at the same time. This is the ayurvedic genesis of problems such as atherosclerosis.

Removing this more reactive type of toxin is a more complex problem. Maharishi Ayurveda detoxification procedures take care to first smooth and lubricate the toxins before detoxification. If the detox program doesn't first loosen the toxins, the shrotas could actually rupture when toxins are forced out of the body. At this stage, self-detoxification may still be recommended, but only if there is only a small amount of amavisha.

The third type of damage to the shrotas is the most severe. This results when amavisha becomes even more reactive, or the combination of Shleshaka Kapha, Vyana Vata, amavisha and ama becomes more reactive, or when these toxins are also joined by garvisha, environmental toxins. In this situation the shrotas actually rupture and become seriously damaged. This is the stage in which serious diseases of the shrotas manifest, such as ulcerative colitis, MS, and other autoimmune diseases. At this stage, self-detoxification is never recommended. Instead, it's very important that an individual consult an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda, who will supervise a clinical purification treatment such as Maharishi Panchakarma.

Q: You've certainly given us a brief picture of how comprehensive and balanced the Maharishi Ayurveda detoxification concept is. What are the main methods of detoxification used in Maharishi Ayurveda?

A: Maharishi Ayurveda uses the body's own natural detoxification systems. This includes the bowel, kidneys, urine, skin, sweat glands and liver. The detoxification methods are never harsh or forceful, but simply support and enhance the body's own ability to release toxins.

Secondly, in Maharishi Ayurveda, each detox program cleanses all of the body's natural purification systems at once in a coordinated way. If the detox program were to focus on just one system, such as the colon and bowel, that would create an imbalance.

Third, because the Maharishi Ayurveda detoxification program is balanced, natural and effective, it creates a situation in which the body's detoxification system becomes stronger and stronger as time goes on, and thus the body can detoxify itself effectively after the detox treatment is over. For instance, the detox program may include drinking some herbal water steeped with detox herbs, such as Indian Sarsaparilla, Coriander seed, Manjistha or Fennel. These spices have the effect of lubricating and cleansing the channels and supporting the bowel, urinary system, liver and skin. By clearing away the toxins, these herbs increase the alertness, wakefulness and intelligence of the kidneys, liver and other organs and channels. If the person is also following a more intelligent diet and following the ayurvedic routine, all of these therapies together support all of the detoxification systems in the body so they become more and more powerful, more and more efficient and effective. This holistic approach results in the natural balance of the body's detoxification systems, so that all of the detoxification organs become more alert, intelligent and capable of detoxifying the body on a day-to-day basis.

This is in contrast to fragmented detox treatments, in which one single organ such as the liver is flushed of toxins. The liver may become more intelligent by the clearing away of the toxins, but the problem is that toxins and sludge have not been cleansed from the other channels and purification systems of the body in a coordinated manner. Thus toxins are going to accumulate quickly in the liver again, causing the person to feel the need to repeat the process soon afterwards. This type of fragmented treatment doesn't strengthen the body's natural overall ability to detoxify itself.

Of course, I don't want to give the impression that a person who uses a Maharishi Ayurveda detoxification program will never need to detoxify again! Everyone today is exposed to influences that create toxins beyond what the body can naturally handle, such as chemicals and preservatives in foods, synthetic drugs and emotional and mental stress. Seasonal changes also create ama. In winter the shrotas shrink, for instance, making it harder for the body to release toxins. During the transition between seasons, the agni (digestive fire) fluctuates, and that can cause some amount of ama to accumulate even if you are very careful about your diet and routine. For this reason, Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you either self-detox or do Maharishi Panchakarma during each change of seasons, and particularly in the spring. In the spring the body is naturally detoxifying as the impurities flow out of the body, so it is the ideal time to support this detoxification with an herbal program.

Q: The Maharishi Ayurveda concept of detoxification appears to be much more comprehensive and thorough than other methods, in addition to being more natural. What are the steps for detoxification in Maharishi Ayurveda?

A: Every ayurvedic detoxification program has three steps: preparation, cleansing and post-cleansing therapies. Preparation is the most important part of the ayurvedic detox program. To prepare the body for detoxification, it's important to first balance the agni, or digestive fire. If someone has high or sharp agni, they need to take herbs or eat foods to reduce their agni. If the person has low agni, they need to take agni-enhancing herbs, or drink agni-enhancing herbal water. A third situation is irregular agni, meaning sometimes it's high and sometimes it's low, generally associated with a Vata imbalance. For this situation, we need to balance the agni first so it becomes more even.

Preparation also takes into account the imbalances of the person. If you have more Kapha and are overweight, you will need a Kapha-pacifying diet and herbal water with more warming herbs. If you have a Pitta imbalance, you will need a Pitta-pacifying diet and herbal water with some attention to clearing the channels. For a thin person with Vata aggravation, a lubricating and nurturing diet and herbal water are needed. Lubricating and nurturing foods and herbs help pacify Vata and normalize an irregular agni.

This careful preparation is unique to Maharishi Ayurveda. The general prevalent understanding is that before detox the only thing you need to do is increase the agni, and many detox programs advise one and all to heighten their agni, regardless of the differences in their constitutions and current imbalances. But you can see that, given the different imbalances and levels of agni, that is not a healthy or even a safe idea.

For instance, if someone has a sharp digestive fire (tikshnagni), it's extremely important to pacify agni first, because otherwise the detoxification process could create further problems. If the agni is very high, amavisha, or the reactive type of toxic mixture that we called "rust" in the earlier analogy may be present. If you inflame agni in this situation, then during detox the shrotas could be ruptured by amavisha, causing complications and further imbalances.

A person with Vata vitiation or a very thin person also needs special preparation for detox. Sometimes people who are very thin ask if they are free of toxins. I tell them that they do carry toxins, only their shrotas have become dry due to Vata aggravation, causing the toxins to dry and stick to the shrota walls. So they do need detoxification, but they must prepare properly. If this person starts on a straight detox program that forcefully squeezes out the toxins, that would be inviting danger.

The Charaka Samhita even contains a verse about this exact situation. It explains that for an underweight person, the malas (body wastes) provide a type of strength, a type of support. So for that person it's necessary to first lubricate, nourish and nurture the body, before embarking on any detox program. This will give the person more stamina and reserves of dhatus (body tissues), so they can tolerate the detoxification process without inviting risk of serious fatigue, mental irritation or skin eruptions.

Q: And what about the second and third steps — the detoxification program itself and the post-program therapies?

A: During the cleansing treatment, which is the second step of detoxification, the person's imbalances at that particular time are also taken into account. The health of the person's shrotas, the level of agni (sharp, weak, imbalanced, or balanced), the type of toxins present in the physiology, the balance or imbalance of the doshas — all of these factors need to be considered in determining the type of detox program the person should do — whether self-detoxification is recommended or an administered program such as Maharishi Panchakarma would be better.

For all types of toxins, the first and foremost treatment is to improve elimination. Herbal Cleanse and Organic Digest Tone are gentle yet effective herbal supplements for cleansing the bowel. Herbal Cleanse contains rare forms of Senna Leaf and Turpeth Root (Indian Jalap) along with other herbs to aid natural elimination, enhance cellular purification and improve assimilation of nutrients.

Certain herbs are famous in ayurveda for their detoxifying effect, such as Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus Indicus) and Manjistha (Indian Madder). These are contained in Elim-Tox and Elim-Tox-O, which are highly effective in flushing out toxins from the liver, blood, sweat glands and elimination system. Other herbs included in these formulas are Indian Tinospora, Rose Petals and King of Bitters (Andrographis) to help balance and purify the liver. Indian Sarsaparilla, Red Sandalwood and Neem Leaf strengthen purification of toxins through the sweat glands and the skin. Other herb groups support elimination through the urinary tract, and still others support elimination of toxins through the stool and urine by lubricating the digestive tract. You can see that just this one product (either Elim-Tox or Elim-Tox-O) purifies all of the major elimination organs and systems in the body.

Elim-Tox is faster acting, and is ideal if you have only simple ama. If you have a Pitta imbalance, or have some amount of amavisha, take Elim-Tox-O instead. It is slower-acting than Elim-Tox, but is safer for Pitta-based people because it first pacifies the reactivity of Pitta and amavisha before flushing out the toxins.

Finally, Organic Genitrac helps flush out ama from the genitourinary tract. It targets the genitourinary channels to help eliminate toxins through the urine.

So you can see that by using these three products together — Herbal Cleanse (or Organic Digest Tone), Elim-Tox (or Elim-Tox-O) and Organic Genitrac — you will be cleansing all of the body's detoxification organs and the shrotas simultaneously to provide a holistic and balanced effect.

Q: And what about post-detoxification?

A: The third step, or post-detoxification, is important because this is the optimum time to take rasayanas, the ayurvedic elixirs that rejuvenate the body and stop aging, such as Maharishi Amrit Kalash. With the toxins cleared out of the organs and channels of the body, the body is more awake and alert and can utilize the benefits of the rasayana more than ever before.

Q: At this point everyone is probably wondering how to determine which type of detox program they need.

A: For this I've devised a questionnaire. By taking the questionnaire, you can get an idea where your toxins are located, and whether you can purify them easily with the Self-Detox Program offered later in this newsletter, or whether you should consult an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda first.

One simple rule is that a person who has a Kapha imbalance or body type with simple ama, with no symptoms of stiffness, no irritation, no symptoms of amavisha and garvisha, is the ideal candidate to do self-detoxification. People who have ama and only small amounts of amavisha can also do self-detox safely.

Do I Have Ama?*

Circle your response (1 = least; 5 = most)

  1. I tend to feel blocked in my body (constipated, congested in the head, general lack of clarity, or other).
    1 2 3 4 5
  2. In the morning when I wake up, I'm groggy; it takes me quite a while to feel really awake.
    1 2 3 4 5
  3. I tend to feel weak, physically, for no reason that I can see.
    1 2 3 4 5
  4. I get colds (or similar conditions) several times each year.
    1 2 3 4 5
  5. My body tends to have a feeling of heaviness.
    1 2 3 4 5
  6. I just tend to feel that "something isn't working right" in the body (digestion, breathing, bowel movements, or something else).
    1 2 3 4 5
  7. I tend to feel lazy. (My capacity to work seems all right, but I have no inclination.)
    1 2 3 4 5
  8. I commonly have indigestion.
    1 2 3 4 5
  9. I often have to spit.
    1 2 3 4 5
  10. Often, I just don't have a taste for food. I have no appetite.
    1 2 3 4 5
  11. I just tend to feel tired, even exhausted in mind or body.
    1 2 3 4 5

Add up your scores to arrive at a rating of your level of ama.

  • 45-55 Severe
  • 35-45 Moderate
  • 25-35 Mild
  • 11-25 Minimal

If this questionnaire indicates that you have minimal, mild, or moderate amounts of ama, then you can do a self-detox program as described below. If you have severe amounts of ama, then it is best to seek the advice of an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda before embarking on any detox program.

Do I Have amavisha or garvisha?

Circle your response (1 = least; 5 = most)

  1. I often feel nauseous for no particular reason.
    1 2 3 4 5
  2. I often have hyperacidity or a burning sensation in my stomach.
    1 2 3 4 5
  3. My skin often suffers from breakouts.
    1 2 3 4 5
  4. I often feel dryness in the mouth.
    1 2 3 4 5
  5. I sometimes feel pain or weakness in my legs or calves.
    1 2 3 4 5
  6. I have acquired sensitivity and intolerance to new foods, new flowers, new pets or other new things in my environment.
    1 2 3 4 5
  7. I often lack mental and emotional energy.
    1 2 3 4 5
  8. I sometimes feel feverish or whole-body fatigue in the evening.
    1 2 3 4 5

Add up your scores to arrive at a rating of your level of amavisha or garvisha.

  • 32-40 Severe
  • 23-31 Moderate
  • 17-22 Mild
  • 8-16 Minimal

If you have minimal amounts of amavisha or garvisha, then it is still safe for you to do the self-detox program recommended in this newsletter. If you have mild, moderate or serious amounts of amavisha or garvisha, then it is very important that you consult with an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda to receive individualized recommendations for your detox program.

Q: Once you find out that you can detoxify at home, what are the recommendations for self-detoxification?

A: The first thing to do is to prepare for detoxification by following these recommendations for diet, spices, and daily routine. Spring is the best time to detoxify, so you can start right away.

Preparation for Self-Detox (Fifteen Days)

I. Follow the Detox Diet

1. Avoid ama-producing foods. In general, you'll want to avoid foods that produce ama, such as leftovers and dead foods such as packaged, canned, or frozen foods. You'll also want to avoid foods that create garvisha, such as nonorganic foods, foods grown with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and foods with chemical additives.

2. Eat ama-reducing foods. Favor vegetarian foods that are lighter, warm, cooked and digestible. Avoid heavy dairy products such as cheese or yogurt (although lassi is good); foods that are fried or oily; raw foods of any kind; heavy desserts; and foods with refined sugar and honey, as these are harder to digest and create ama. Avoid yeasted breads and dry breads such as crackers. Freshly-made flat breads, freshly-made soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and freshly-made grains are ideal.

Certain fruits, vegetables and spices are especially helpful in detoxifying, so you'll want to favor them during detoxification.

  • Fruits: cooked prunes, figs, apples, pears, pineapple and papaya.
  • Vegetables: cooked leafy greens, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
  • Grains: quinoa, barley, amaranth, rice and kanji (rice water).
  • Spices: ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel and fenugreek. These spices help open up the channels and support the flow of toxins from the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver.

3. Choose foods according to your body type or imbalances. This will help regulate your agni. For more information on diets and foods for pacifying each of the three doshas, visit the recipes section.

4. Drink plenty of hot water throughout the day to flush toxins out of the body through the urine. Or better still, choose one of the detoxifying herbal waters mentioned later in this newsletter.

II. Follow the Detox Routine

1. Get enough rest. You may need more sleep while detoxifying. It's also important to go to bed early (before 10 p.m.) and get up early (before 6 a.m.), as both staying up late and sleeping late in the morning can flood the shrotas with toxins. Practice the Transcendental Meditation® program regularly.

2. Exercise each day. Gentle exercise such as Yoga Asanas and walking can support detoxification by improving digestion and elimination and moving toxins out of the body. Walking for twenty minutes or half an hour is ideal, because it allows you to breathe deeply, purify the respiratory system and supply the cells with cleansing prana. Walking in the early morning especially helps move toxins out of the body. Yoga Asanas are designed to purify and enliven different organs of the body, and they also enhance digestion and elimination, as does all exercise. Pranayama breathing exercises are also excellent for cleansing the respiratory system and other organs. During the preparation for detox and the actual self-detox program, it's best to avoid strenuous exercise.

3. Massage daily. One of the most important purification procedures in Maharishi Ayurveda is warm oil massage (abhyanga), and you can do it every day on your own. Abhyanga loosens impurities from the shrotas and tissues, allowing them to flow into the digestive tract, where they can be easily eliminated through the bowel. While you're detoxifying, take a little extra time with your morning massage, and you'll magnify the results many times. Use warm massage oil with herbs added, such as Youthful Skin Massage Oil, as the herbs are chosen to penetrate the surface of the skin and reach the deeper layers and tissues, purifying and nourishing the shrotas of the skin. By gently massaging the whole body, you're also gently purifying other organs as well. Increasing circulation also helps purify the blood. Always follow your abhyanga with a warm (not hot) bath. If you don't have time for a bath, a shower can substitute.

III. Follow Ama-Reducing Eating Habits

All through the year, and especially while detoxifying, it's important to follow the ayurvedic eating guidelines for reducing ama.

These include:

  1. Do not fast or skip meals during any part of the self-detoxification program.
  2. Eat at the same time every day so your agni can "fire up" for the meal.
  3. Eat your main meal at noon and lighter meals at breakfast and dinner.
  4. Eat while sitting down in a settled atmosphere; pay attention to the food when you eat (no TV, no phones, no reading).
  5. Engage in pleasant conversation with friends or family (no business meetings or emotional discussions).
  6. Eat only when the previous meal has been digested (no grazing or untimely snacking — this really disrupts digestion. Eat only when you are hungry again.
  7. Sit quietly for a minute at the beginning of the meal (saying grace before meals is one way to do this), and wait for a couple of minutes after eating before leaving the table. This gives your digestion a settled start.
  8. Leave a little space in your stomach at the end of the meal to give your digestion room to function. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you regularly eat to only ¾ of your capacity. This last guideline is especially important when you're on a detoxification program. You don't want to overeat when your body is detoxifying.
  9. Self-Detox Program (45 days)

    1. Throughout the Self-Detox Program of 45 days, continue to follow the ama-reducing diet, daily routine and eating habits mentioned in the section Preparing for Detox.
    2. Take two to five tablets of Organic Digest Tone before going to bed each night to cleanse the bowel, or two to four tablets of Herbal Cleanse.
    3. Take two tablets of Elim-Tox morning and evening to cleanse the liver, the blood, the sweat glands and the elimination system. Take Elim-Tox-O instead if you have any symptoms of amavisha or if you have a Pitta imbalance.
    4. Take two tablets of Organic Genitrac morning and evening. This will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins.
      (Note - If you take Amrit, cut your dosage in half when on the cleansing program. Also, it is best not to combine Elim-Tox with Bio-Immune or Radiant Skin, because these formulations have overlapping actions and benefits.)

    Post-Detox Program

    1. After spending 15 days preparing for detox and 45 days actually doing the self-detox program, you should feel much lighter, more blissful, and more energetic. You may even have shed some unwanted pounds. Give yourself time to gradually transition into your normal routine and eating habits. Take time to gradually add heavier foods to your diet, and be sure to get enough rest for a few days after detox is over. Follow your normal ayurvedic routine and recommended diet for your body type.
    2. Take rasayanas such as Maharishi Amrit Kalash and Vital Lady or Vital Man. Now that your shrotas are clear, the rasayanas are most effective in reaching the cells and deeply nourishing and rejuvenating your entire physiology.

    Q: Are there any special recommendations for cleansing the body's main organs of purification?

    A: Yes. If you feel your impurities are located in either the bowel, the urinary tract or the skin, you can follow these special recommendations while preparing to detox and during the actual self-detox program. You can also follow these recommendations whenever you feel toxins building up in that particular area.

    1. Detoxifying the Bowel

    Constipation or irregular bowel movements causes the malas (body waste such as fecal matter) to be reabsorbed by the body. This creates toxins in the rasa dhatu (nutritive fluid), the rakta dhatu (blood), and from there the other dhatus. Regular bowel movements provide the primary day-to-day detoxification channel.

    If the stool is very dry or slow, try adding more ghee to the diet and drink Herbal Water for Constipation (see recipe below). Add spices to your food, using the Herbal Spice Mixture for Slow Bowel Movement (see below). This will also support digestion and liver function. Eat foods with more soft fibers such as oatmeal, tender leafy greens, summer squashes, and cooked or soaked prunes and figs. Avoid a Vata-aggravating diet or drying diet, and avoid drying foods such as crackers, dried cereal, raw foods and any foods that are drying for the bowel. Take Herbal Cleanse, Organic Digest Tone or psyllium seed husks (take one teaspoon soaked in one cup of warm water before bed) to scrub out the bowel.

    Slow Bowel Movement Herbal Water

    Slow Bowel Movement Herbal Spice Mix

    2. Detoxifying the Urine

    The kidneys and urinary tract form an essential purification system in the body. If you do not have a diagnosed problem with the prostate, kidneys, or water retention, but even so you feel that you are retaining water and that the flow of urine is not quite normal, you can detoxify the urine and kidneys using Herbal Water to Detoxify the Urinary Tract. You can also add some white daikon radish to your vegetables, as this helps purify the urine and normalize its flow, so you're not retaining any toxins. It does this without irritating or adding pressure to the urinary tract.

    Urinary Tract Cleansing Herbal Water

    3. Detoxifying the Skin

    If you harbor toxins under the skin or in the fat or blood tissue, this will manifest as excessive oiliness, breakouts or extreme photosensitivity. For this situation, drink Herbal Water to Detoxify the Skin every day. Also use the Detoxifying Spice Mixture for the Skin on your vegetables and grains.

    Skin Detox Herbal Water

    Skin Detox Spice Mix

    Q: What if you have all three problems?

    A: If you have all three problems, choose any one type of herbal water to start with — whichever problem you feel is most predominant should be addressed first. Also, taking Elim-Tox-O helps all three: it purifies the skin, the bowel and the urinary tract. Premium Amla Berry with lunch and dinner, Organic Genitrac and the Spice Mixture for Detoxifying the Skin are additional recommendations. Eating cooked leafy greens is an excellent dietary addition for all three types of detoxification.

    Q: What about purifying the liver?

    A: The liver is an essential organ for screening toxins. It is the liver's job to scan and identify toxins in the nutritive fluid and store them so they don't enter the blood. The liver is responsible for the purity of the blood and for keeping ama from mixing with it. However, if the liver becomes overloaded with too many chemicals, preservatives or additives from foods or other toxins, it will no longer be able to screen the toxins. By purifying and strengthening the liver, this important function of protecting the blood from toxins can be restored.

    If you feel that you have a sluggish liver, it's best to check with an ayurvedic expert. It's better to take the physician's advice for this important organ. All of the programs we've already mentioned, especially using the spice turmeric in food, will help strengthen and purify the liver. Elim-Tox-O and Elim-Tox also help protect and strengthen the liver — choose one formula that's right for you.

    Q: What can a person do to prevent toxins from forming in the first place?

    A: Prevention is the key to health, so the best plan is to prevent toxic build-up. Follow the diet and daily routine for your imbalances; exercise every day to improve your digestion and elimination; do a daily abhyanga to flush out toxins through the skin; drink the herbal water suitable for your imbalances; and meditate every day to remove stress.

    Daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique is highly beneficial in dissolving mental and emotional ama, and thus is a necessary part of any detox prevention program. Mental and emotional stress have a physiological counterpart: the hormones and biochemicals that flood your body whenever you feel anxious, fearful, or angry. Research on the Transcendental Meditation® technique shows that it reduces cortisol levels and other measures of anxiety in the body. Other research shows that it lowers blood pressure and reduces negative emotions such as fear, aggression, and anger. Even diseases caused by amavisha, such as heart disease, hypertension and stroke, are found to significantly improve with the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, as reported in the American Heart Disease journals Stroke and Hypertension.

    Finally, the ayurvedic seasonal routines and dietary guidelines are key parts of any prevention program. By following simple seasonal guidelines, you can help mitigate the toxins that accumulate due to seasonal changes.

    Q: It's amazing how Maharishi Ayurveda takes every aspect of detoxification into account. We can see why it's considered to be the most comprehensive system of health care in the world. It's also the safest, because it doesn't focus on just one isolated aspect of detoxification, but gently supports all aspects of detoxification at once.

    A: I think the key to detox, and to all of Maharishi Ayurveda, is balance. What creates imbalance in detoxification is extremes: too much heat, too much force, or too much attention to one organ (such as the bowel, the colon, or the liver) without coordinating all the body's detoxification organs and systems. There also needs to be careful attention to preparing the body for detoxification. Even ayurvedic treatments such as panchakarma can be dangerous if they are not administered properly. Maharishi Panchakarma follows the traditional preparation process of first regulating the agni and lubricating and loosening the toxins with oleation.

    It's important to know that detoxification should always be soothing and nurturing. It should never be drying or aggravating to the doshas. If you are doing any detox program that makes you feel drained or exhausted, or results in symptoms of disease, that is not a safe or balanced detox program. With Maharishi Ayurveda, you gain the full value of detoxification without creating any new imbalances. And that is what makes it a perfect system of health care.

    * The "Do I Have Ama?" portion of the questionnaire is from the book The Answer to Cancer by Hari Sharma, M.D. with James Meade, Ph.D., Select Books, 2002.

    The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.