Continuing our series on detox, this month we look at how we can find relief from common detox symptoms like nausea and constipation, the natural way, without having to resort to pharmaceutical medicines.
In our July article on detox, we commented that when you start a detox (by changing your diet to exclude certain products like caffeine, chocolate, refined sugar etc), many people experience detox symptoms within the first 24 to 72 hours. These symptoms can commonly include:
- Nausea (and vomiting)
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Skin rashes or irritations
To help to start to relieve most of these symptoms you should:
- Drink water
For all detox symptoms, it is essential to keep drinking water. Drinking water helps to flush toxins out from the body faster. Room temperature water is better for the digestion, rather than ice cold. Remember to drink regularly throughout the day. Aim to drink at least three to five litres of water per day to keep your body hydrated.
- Deep breathing
Find a quiet place, close your eyes and start to deepen your breath. Breathe in fully, taking the breath into your lungs and your tummy (allow the tummy to expand as you breathe in and to fall as you breathe out). This deep breathing activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, which helps us to relax. Perhaps you can visualise breathing out and letting go of any pain or discomfort each time you exhale.
Take a siesta or go to bed earlier. Switch off your phone or computer, make the room dark (blackout curtains or an eye mask) and cool. Then close your eyes. Even if you do not sleep for long, lying in a cool dark place really helps, as your body can relax and your bodies’ energy can be diverted to cleansing.
Below we look at some of the symptoms in more detail.
Nausea (and vomiting)
Specific actions you can take to help provide relief from feelings of nausea, and sometimes for vomiting include:
For centuries, ginger has been used to help relieve nausea, as it is believed that it triggers the production of certain enzymes which neutralise stomach acid. So, make a mug of warm water with fresh ginger in it (either cut the ginger into small chunks or grate it) – leave the ginger to steep for a few minutes then drink. You can also grate ginger and add to the top of dry food or rice.
- Drink a peppermint tea
Peppermint has a calming effect on the lining of the stomach
- Lie still
Keep still – moving can affect the balance mechanism in your inner ear, which can make nausea feel worse (and may lead to vomiting). Maybe place a cool wash cloth or towel on your forehead. (Remember to breathe – focusing on your breath can help you to forget the feeling of nausea).
- Smell a lemon or peppermint
Sometimes, the citrus smell of a freshly cut lemon can help to reduce feelings of nausea! So too, can the smell of peppermint.
If nausea is linked to a headache, massage can help by rubbing the scalp or the back, neck and shoulders. You can either do this yourself, or seek a professional to have maximum impact.
Try pressing the acupressure point P6 – this is on the inside of the wrist (so turn the palm of the hand towards you, then, from your wrist, move about 2 inches closer to your armpit and the point is between the two tendons).
- Put your head between your knees
Sitting on the floor, with your back against the wall, put your head between your knees. Dizziness can sometimes lead to feelings of nausea, so sitting in this position can help to regain balance or to feel more stable.
- Get some fresh air
Sit outside and breathe in the fresh air. Or direct a fan to blow some cool air onto your body.
- Eat something dry
Plain boiled rice and also bananas can sometimes help with nausea. (As can toast!)
Sometimes vomit is an action taken by the body to get rid of something that it needs to. If you need to vomit, do so. Then find somewhere cool and dark to lie down. It will pass.
- Drink a glass of lemon water
First thing on a morning, before eating anything, add a slice of lemon to your water (room temperature or slightly warm water is best). The addition of lemon to warm water helps to stimulate the digestive system and get the bowels moving.
Rubbing your abdomen and tummy can help to stimulate the digestive and elimination system.
- Eat an apple (or other fresh fruit)
You may have heard of the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apples contain pectin (a soluble fibre) so a great way to encourage bowel movement is to eat an apple, anytime of the day (away from meal times). You can also eat other fresh fruit on a morning, by itself (not with any other food), which will help the digestive system to work more effectively. Dried fruits like prunes or figs can also work.
- Add psyllium husk to your juice
If you are on a three day juice detox (or longer), add psyllium husk to your juice. Juicing removes much of the fibre from the fruit and veggies, so adding psyllium husks to your juice will add the fibre back and bring bulk to your juice. Remember to also drink a large glass of water, as psyllium husk can absorb water.
Walking, swimming, cycling, and rebounding all encourage our bowels to get moving through peristalis – a wave like motion the ripples through the intestine, which encourages the contents to move forward to be expelled.
- Yoga poses
Wide knee squat pose is great for relief from pain associated with constipation. It also places the body in a position which encourages bowel movements!
Increase the amount of magnesium you are eating. Natural sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, avocados, bananas and beans – so all of the food we serve at La Crisalida! If you are juicing, eat a banana or add a banana to your juice (make your normal juice then mix in the banana using a blender).
- Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly
Take your time when you eat, to make sure you completely chew each mouthful of food. Our digestive system starts in the mouth, as chewing and saliva breaks down your food, making it easier to digest.
Remember, if you are juicing for a longer period, the amount of fibre and bulk that goes into the body is much reduced. Therefore there is less to be removed from your body via elimination (so your stools might be smaller).
Sometimes, when we change our diet or go on a detox, our bowel movements become faster. This might be expected when we start to eat a high fibre diet, like we serve at La Crisalida. Regular movements (three times per day, after each meal) is normal, and is different to diarrhoea. The definition of diarrhoea is frequent loose or watery stools, more than three times per day. In this article we are talking about diarrhoea during detox, when the body is trying to cleanse itself (not when it is caused by bacteria). We want to calm your system and replace electrolites (sodium, potassium, chloride) that are lost from the body.
Add ginger to your food, chew on a piece of ginger or steep some ginger in warm water to make a ginger tea.
- Psyllium husk
One of the properties of psyllium husk is that it soaks up excess water, so mix 1 spoon of powder in a large glass of water and drink it.
- Avoid fruit juices
Fructose can be difficult to digest, so cut out fruit (apples, pears etc) from your juices for a short time, until your diarrhoea has settled.
- Avoid roughage
Avoid things like cabbage and beans
- Eat a ripe banana (or applesauce)
Ripe bananas contain pectin and potassium. Pectin is a water soluble fibre that soaks up excess fluid. This may help to reduce the amount of fluid in your system.
- Eat plain rice
- Eat cooked carrots
Lightly boil or steam, then puree the carrots. Or make carrot soup. Carrots also contain pectin.
- Maintain your water intake
Keep drinking water to avoid dehydration. Room temperature water is better for your system than ice cold water.
- Drink chamomile tea
To replace salts, you can eat olives or add soya sauce (or tamari sauce) to your rice or other foods.
Diarrhoea normally disappears within a day or two. If it does not, speak to your doctor.
Bloating and wind
Bloating and wind are not really common detox symptoms, but can be experienced when someone changes their diet to include a higher proportion of veggies, lentils, beans, chickpeas etc,. This can be due to the higher proportion of fibre in these food types. Trapped wind can lead to discomfort.
Give your tummy a gentle massage. It can help to move the wind through your system allowing it to be released therefore easing any discomfort.
- Drink Peppermint or chamomile tea, or warm lemon water
Calming on the stomach, peppermint also helps to release trapped wind! Chamomile is a great all-round relaxer. Lemon appears again on our list – a slice of lemon in warm water, is particularly effective drunk first thing on a morning.
- Apply heat
Sometimes using a hot water bottle can help to soothe and release trapped wind. Lie down on your back (or on your side if this is more comfortable) and place a hot water bottle on your tummy and lower abdomen – this helps to relax the muscles. Remember to cover your hot water bottle with something soft to diffuse the heat better, for maximum comfort. Combine with an occasional massage or rub of the tummy.
- Let it out!
If you have wind, release it. Sometimes walking or gentle exercise can help. For some people lying on your stomach will help.
- Chew food and eat slowly
When eating, remember to chew your food thoroughly and to eat slowly. Gas is created when the body finds the food hard to break down – by chewing, food is more easily broken down, so less likely to lead to wind.
Skin rashes and breakouts
The skin is one of the major parts of the body involved in detox. For some people, changing diet can lead to spots or rashes appearing. Keep drinking water. Put suncream on if you are sitting in the sun during the hottest part of the day. Try going out early morning or late afternoon/evening when the sun is less strong, without suncream, to allow the skin to feel the warmth and healing rays of the sun.
Remember, all of these home remedies are given for symptoms relating to detox. If you experience long running (more than 24-hours) nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, and you are not detoxing, speak to your doctor.
We hope that these natural remedies will help to cure any detox symptoms that you might experience. If you have any other natural techniques that you use, do let us know.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).