I get asked this question a lot. What is Ayurveda’s take on juice cleansing? My answer: it depends.
It depends on your dosha (constitution) and what might be out of balance. Ayurveda looks at the qualities in our environment, in our bodies and in our minds. The key principle to remember when looking at these qualities is “like increases like.” Juice cleanses by their very nature are cold, light and dry. With this in mind, let’s briefly look at the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata – comprises air and ether. Qualities of air and ether are light, dry, mobile, cold. In the mind when out of balance it can show up as anxiety, jitters, nervousness, inability to focus. In the environment it can show up much like what we are experiencing now. The weather on the east coast is currently cold, windy, changeable, dry. So if your constitution is mainly Vata and any of the above is happening for you, then no, I would not recommend a juice cleanse for you.
Pitta – comprises fire and water. Qualities of fire and water are light, dry, hot, oily. In the mind when out of balance it can show up as aggressive, anger, irritability. In the environment it can show up as hot and dry as in a mid summer day. So if your constitution is Pitta I might suggest substituting one or two meals a day for a juice and then having the last meal as a fresh, wholesome meal.
Kapha – comprises earth and water. Qualities of earth and water are cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky. In the mind when out of balance it can show up as possessiveness, greed, lethargy. In the environment think of spring, wet, cold, damp. So if your constitution is Kapha then yes for you I might recommend a juice cleanse for a few days, as you would be applying the opposite qualities to those that you are experiencing.
Juicing by its very nature is lightening, cooling, and energizing, which is why so many people say, "but I feel energized at first when cleansing." It is creating a lightening effect in the body and mind, however, if you are not careful you could also be putting out your digestive fires (agni) and setting yourself up for a slow metabolism, weight gain, and unstable blood sugar.
I like to ask clients first why they feel they need to “cleanse”. Then see if based on their dosha as well as what is out of balance if it is an appropriate time to cleanse. When the seasons change such as summer into fall and winter into spring Ayurveda finds these the best times to cleanse to help with the changes going on in the environment.
There is a wonderful cleanse that is easy to digest and offers a complete protein called Kitchari. Along with the Kitchari, certain spices would be recommended for you to use to help make the cleanse more efficient. I have attached a link at the end of this blog by Dr. John Douillard that will give you excellent information on Kitchari.
More then anything else, I also ask clients to keep a tab on how they feel when cleansing. If you are feeling cold on a juice cleanse then your body is speaking to you and you might be overriding the message because of Pragya Paradha – mistake of the intellect. For example, we know we are cold but we continue to do the same thing that is making us cold.
The important thing to remember is that juice cleansing, like most cleanses, will lower your digestive fire. If your body feels it is starving it will hold onto the fats and toxins. Try sipping on ginger tea to keep your agni sustained. If you are feeling really hungry maybe adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to the cleanse might help or maybe you have been cleansing for too many days or maybe this cleanse is not good for you now. Remember, it all depends. Try to drink your juices at room temperature not cold. Use low sugar fruits such as apples and lots of greens. If you are a Vata or Pitta then I suggest waiting until the weather gets warm.
If you decide that you want to juice cleanse anyway then maybe the above guidelines will help you in making the best decision for your body, mind and spirit.
Whether you are cleansing or eating, always give thanks and eat mindfully. Turn off all electronics and eat as close to nature’s source as is possible for you. Drink warm water and herbal teas throughout the day. Remember that your body is an amazing vehicle taking you through this journey of life. Treat it like the treasure it is. We have been given organs that do an outstanding job of cleansing all the time. Say hello to your liver, pancreas and gallbladder, just to name a few cleansing organs. Let’s help them by eating properly in order to keep our digestive fires optimal.
Above all, know thyself, and think twice before jumping on the latest craze. Perhaps just paying more attention to how, what, where and when you eat will make all the difference in creating a balance in your body that will be long term.
It really does depend!
If you are interested in a Kitchari cleanse let me know. Please click HERE below for more information.