Can you do a Spring Cleanse with Herbs?

Nature is wise and provides us with all we need to revitalise our bodies coming out of a sluggish, hibernating winter. Two wonderful and mild herbs which can each be successfully used to support a spring cleanse are dandelion and cleavers.

Dandelion (clockflower, Taraxacum officinale) is a ubiquitous herb and its French name ‘pis-en-lit’ (pee the bed) gives an indication what it’s mainly good for: supporting and cleansing the kidneys. Far from being “a stubborn weed”, dandelion is invaluable in supporting the body after a hard winter! The flowers and young leaves are great eaten in salads and the flowers can be pickled in apple cider vinegar producing both mouth-watering pickled salad titbits and a delicately flavoured vinegar. The dried leaves and the dried root can be taken as infusions – the leaves support the kidneys, the root the liver.

Another mild yet effective cleansing herb is Cleavers (goosegrass, Gallium aparine) growing abundantly wild in springtime. Once the plant goes to seed (around May time), it’s not usable for this purpose.

Cleavers is believed to support the lymphatic system, making it an effective spring cleanser. A congested lymphatic system produces mucus and sluggishness with oedematous swellings, headaches, skin irritation and persistent coughing among other symptoms. It’s a prolific plant that grows throughout the world. In Chinese medicine cleavers are used to disperse stagnant states and inflammation. Its traditional use centres on treating the skin and cleansing the liver, lymph and kidneys. It is a natural antiseptic, decongestant and diuretic so good for water retention.

How to take: Cold cleavers tea can be made by infusing a handful of freshly collected and roughly chopped young cleavers tops in cold water overnight; in the morning strain the mild-tasting liquid and drink. The dried herb can be used to prepare a hot infusion. If you are not on any medication or supplementation you can drink 3-5 cups per day, for up to a week.

For longer use of cleansing herbs or if you are on medication, you should consult your health practitioner. Please note that diuretic herbs can affect potassium levels.

Always collect herbs away from polluted or pesticide sprayed areas and footpaths and be mindful of only taking what you need.

A spring clean with wild grown herbs is free, easy and beneficial. Herbs in general are wonderful aids to our health and wellbeing. They can have a potent effect, so it is advisable to consult a qualified herbalist for appropriate individual advice.

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