Gentle Detox Foods + Herbs for Spring

One of the biggest areas we can support as we enter Spring is our digestive system. RNM’s Lindsay Kluge shares her favorite detox foods & herbs for spring.

The body likes to transition slowly – from resting to waking, from low energy to high energy, from emotion to emotion, and especially from season to season. It’s during the seasonal shifts that we often see an uptick in illness and acute symptoms, and this is often due to the dramatic change in weather and temperature from day to day. It’s confusing for the body to have abrupt external and internal change, and although our body’s have an amazing ability to adapt and transition, we can always offer additional support during the seasonal shifts. One of the biggest areas that can use support as we enter Spring is with our digestive system as we move away from heavier, warmer meals to lighter, more fresh seasonal foods. Two of my favorite gentle detox foods & herbs for spring include the Ayurvedic recipe for Kitchari, along with cumin, coriander & fennel (CCF) tea.

Kitchari Cleanse

My favorite way to enhance and support the digestive system with the shift into spring is with a 3 day Kitchari cleanse along with daily herbal CCF tea after meals to enhance digestive function, balance the internal energetics of the digestive tract and also build up and nourish the lower digestive tract (large intestines and bowel) with detox foods and herbs. Many of the “detox kits” on the market these days focus on rapid cleansing and not the nutritive component that is so needed by the body. Any type of cleanse breaks the body down to some extent, and you need to build yourself up before you can break it down. That’s why I gravitate towards kitchari whenever I need to re-set and nourish my digestive system. It’s a basmati rice and mung dal based dish with warming and balancing detox foods and herbs to support the liver while allowing the intestinal tract to absorb extra nutrients and promote daily bowel movements.

Cumin, Coriander & Fennel (CCF) Tea

The addition of cumin + coriander + fennel tea is helpful to combine with any cleanse (and works beautifully with kitchari) because it’s balanced and tri-doshic (good for all body types) and supports the body’s endogenous production of digestive enzymes for optimal food absorption. Make a teapot to sip on throughout the day, or have a small mug (about 6 ounces worth) after meals.

Fennel – one of the best carminative herbs (helps alleviate gas and bloating) that’s aromatic, cooling and mildly antispasmodic in the lower GI (large intestines and colon) to soothe digestion especially after heavier meals with lots of heavy proteins and savory foods. Fresh fennel seeds should be slightly sweet, a little pungent and very aromatic.

Cumin – a very aromatic and anti-inflammatory herb that also functions as a mild bitter tonic. Bitter sensation on the tongue and in the upper GI (stomach and pancreas) help to stimulate the endogenous production of digestive enzymes which break down your macro-nutrients (like proteins, fats and carbohydrates) into smaller, more digestible pieces that are easier to absorb. Energetically, cumin is a warming spice which helps to balance the cooling qualities of both fennel and coriander.

Coriander – the seed of the cilantro leaf, is perhaps the most cooling ingredient in this formula which helps to reduce excess heat from the digestive tract, thus supporting the liver in its detoxification process as well.

Healing Kitchari

  • 1 c basmati rice
  • 1/2 c mung dal
  • 3 teaspoons kitchari spice mix (available here)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 cups chopped vegetables (like carrots, broccoli, spinach, beets or turnips)

Wash rice and mung dal and soak overnight. Drain the soak water. In a medium sauce pan, warm the ghee. Add the kitchari spice mixture and sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice and mung beans and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until tender (about 30-45 minutes). If you are adding vegetables to your kitchari, add the longer cooking vegetables halfway through the cooking. Add more water if needed. Typically, kitchari is the consistency of a vegetable stew.

If you’re new to food based mono diets, I would strongly recommend you only start with one day at a time and you can always work up to 3 (or more) over time. The kitchari daily cleanse is just as supportive as a 3-7 day timeline, and it’s flexible enough to add in additional foods such as eggs, carrots, beets, greens and cabbages if you need some extra sustenance or proteins to maintain blood sugar levels if that is of concern. Everyone’s needs are different and working with a nutritionist may be beneficial before incorporating detox foods and herbs for Spring into your diet to ensure you’re getting in everything you need for your unique body type and situation.

About The Author

Lindsay Kluge is a Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and received her Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2012. She has been with Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013, and specializes in therapeutic holistic nutrition, circadian rhythm balance and sleep physiology, digestion, and Ayurvedic nutrition. She offers individualized nutrition and herbal medicine consultations that include meal planning support, custom compounded herbal formulas, nutrition guidance and general wellness support.  Learn more about services that Lindsay offers at Richmond Natural Medicine by clicking HERE.