I'm making all of holiday gifts this year. I've always liked to do that, but now that I'm knee-deep in a Master Herbalist certification study, I actually have the ability to come up with some pretty cool ideas. I like giving gifts that A) don't cost a ton of money I don't have, B) are actually creative and tuned in to the gift recipient, and C) will actually help the recipient and not burden them with more stuff. Now, don't get me wrong- I like stuff. I like stuff a little too much, so while I'm happy to accept any tidings of stuff I may receive this year, I won't be giving it out.
Unfortunately, most of the people on my Extreme Gift Giving Holiday Extravaganza List are readers of this blog, so pictures or methods will have to wait. In the meantime, I'm going to share with you a completed project I took on a few weeks ago: creating my own whole body cleanse.
I love doing detox cleanses. I feel that they are absolutely essential, not just for "sick people" but for EVERYONE. On the planet. Your poor body just can't keep up, even if you've got the purest diet in the world. I mean no offense when I say this, but it's a simple fact: American women who breastfeed have jet fuel in their milk. Why? Because planes fly over us all day long, and if you've ever seen one fly low enough, you know exactly what the trail of smog behind it really means for all of us. This is just one example of the complete inability to compete with a ravaged planet. But that doesn't mean give up. It means taking control. Just because you have less say over what accidentally gets into your body doesn't mean you have to let it linger there. Get it out! Do a full cleanse.
Good cleanses are hard to come by. I happen to like the full body cleanse at Trader Joe's and I sometimes recommend it as a starting point for people who have never cleansed before and aren't sure they're gonna like it or don't think they need it (ha). The price is right, there aren't any dietary restrictions, it targets all the body's main venues of waste removal, and it's just plain easy to use. For those who have never cleansed or just don't understand the process, this one will get you started and possibly hooked. It's good to do this at least once a year, and WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH! Hang on...the UPS guy just dropped off my new box of supplements from Vitacost!!!!!
Ok. Back to the story. I made my very first full body cleanse right in my kitchen. How? The magic of encapsulation!
A lot of herbs are nasty. They're amazing for your body and your mind, but they taste really, really gross. The particular herbs used to target liver cleansing are, in my opinion, super yucky. I decided to start encapsulating powdered herbs instead, which is when I came up with my genius plan to just make an entire cleansing system. I keep a LOT of herbs in stock, and I had most of what I needed to make a series of supplements that would target my liver and my colon, assisting them to get any lingering gunk out of my body.
I also wanted to keep things simple so I decided to start with a series of 9 herbs and three supplements: one to target my liver and assist with blood purification, one to both soothe the inner lining of my intestines and to remove build up, and a final supplement to seek and destroy any nasty critters that might have taken up residence somewhere down there (Lemmywinks). Each herbal blend had three herbs chosen to work in synergy with one another. I purposely chose to use no laxative herbs because I do cleanses often. First time cleansers almost always need them.
Grinding herbs is no problem. I keep a grinder on hand to zap them into powder within seconds, and any tough roots get the mortar and pestle treatment. Encapsulation, however, is a whole other set of problems. It isn't difficult, but it's very tedious and I've already decided to invest in an encapsulation tool, which I'll be needing since I really prefer to take certain herbs whole. It's also necessary if you need to take a particular herb or blend several times a day but can't stand around waiting for an infusion to finish steeping. I picked up these veggie caps at my local health food store, where they are sold in bulk bins.
Show of hands for how many people recognize that plate set.
Remember, if you're going to powder herbs, do it on demand. It's best not to buy powdered herbs unless you're going to encapsulate them or use them right away, since powdered herbs begin to lose their effectiveness much faster than whole, dried plant parts. The best way to ensure the powdered herbs are used immediately and aren't spending too much time on the shelf is to powder them yourself.
Now, once all your powdered herbs are mixed well, it's time to start encapsulating! Having a small, thin, flat tool, like the handle of a small spoon, helps here if you don't have a machine. Fill 'er up!
Once it's full, snap the top on. You'll hear it click into place. These are the smaller size capsules, called 0 size which hold around 500 mg, but it really depends on how much you shove in there and how powdered your herbs are. The 00 size capsules are much bigger and can hold over 1 gram of whatever. They're also huge and hard to swallow. I use them for colon pills because slippery elm is tough to powder, but for everything else, I use 0 size.
All done. Now just do that 59 more times, and you'll have enough for one part of a 30 day cleanse. This is understandably boring, and I only had enough patience and spare time to make myself a 2 week cleanse, but it tested very well, being very gentle yet effective. More importantly, it really gave me a much needed confidence boost. There a lot of pressure in our society to just "leave it up to the experts" and pay out the nose through things that can easily be created in your own home.
However, if you don't plan on making enough pills to encapsulate often, buying a detoxification system prepackaged is your best bet. I know of one in particular that will effectively reformat your entire hard drive, so to speak. Dr. Natura's line of products are extremely well formulated and safe, and you won't believe some of the horrors lurking in your tum tum that these products will remove from you. It's definitely worth a go. They even have a great cleansing system for children. Check out some of the pictures that people have sent in :) WARNING! Do not click if you are eating or at work.