Integrative Medicine Blog

Springtime Cleanse

Rebecca Rice L.Ac., MSAOM Sunday, April 09, 2017
Istock-springtime cleanse

Each change of season is an ideal time to do a cleansing program. According to Chinese Medical theory each season has its associated organs. Springtime is related to the liver and gallbladder and is an especially prudent time for a digestive cleanse.

The goals of a dietary cleanse are to purge the liver of accumulated toxins, support the free flow of bile through the gallbladder and support digestion and assimilation of food through the stomach and small intestine.

Cholorgenic acids found in several herbs have the ability to promote a healthy flow of bile through the gallbladder. The highest concentration of chlorogenic acid is found in coffee beans (green/un-roasted yields higher amounts than roasted beans). Interestingly, data shows that those who consume 2 or more cups of coffee have a lower chance of developing gallstones.(1)

For those non-coffee drinkers, the following herbs have a suitable concentration of chlorogenic acid which facilitates gallbladder activity: artichoke leaves, burdock root, dandelion root, Echinacea root, gardenia fruit, lonicera flowers, crataegus fruit, chrysanthemum flowers, artemesia leaves, epimedium leaves and eucommia bark. Several patent Chinese herbal formulas contain combinations of the above mentioned herbs delivering the actions of cleansing the liver and gallbladder.

Because of the shift from eating pro-inflammatory foods to anti-inflammatory foods a detox reaction can occur especially during the first few days due to breakdown of accumulated toxins. Common side effects from a cleanse can include: muscle aches, headache, and fatigue and are typically followed by increased energy, mental clarity, improved digestion, improved sleep, and pain reduction.

Not all cleansing programs need to be combined with herbs or supplements. Following a cleansing program can be as simple as weeding out foods that create toxic accumulations in the body. Fundamental culprits include: sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, and meat. Creating a decreased burden on the digestive system and liver/gallbladder gives the body a fresh start for every season.


(1) CHLOROGENIC ACID FOR HEALTHY LIVER AND GALLBLADDER FUNCTION; by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon