Full Body Cleansing: Beyond the Liver and Digestive System Part 1

When doing a cleanse, why just focus on the liver and digestive system?

It just makes sense to involve ALL of the eliminatory organs. I think it is helpful to also support elimination of the skin, lungs, kidneys and lymph when cleansing. Following are a few basic suggestions to get you started. If you have never done a cleanse before, or if your diet has been poor, go slow. I like starting with a three day cleanse. Before starting a cleanse, be sure that you feel well and have some time in your schedule to rest and relax every day. Those who are sick or who have a debilitating illness, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not do a cleanse.

When cleansing, it can be very illuminating to keep a journal. I recommend keeping track of everything you are eating and drinking, as well as each time you have a bowel movement or urinate. You can also track your mood, activities and any symptoms you may be having. Common signs of detoxing during a cleanse include headache, muscle ache, fatigue, grumpiness, skin rash, pimples, eczema, lethargy and feeling unwell.

Sometimes, when recommending a cleanse, I will suggest a focus on whichever body system acts up when a person gets sick. I call this a person’s red flag. That system tends to be the weakest link in the body. It tends to let us know when we are overdoing it, eating poorly, not getting enough sleep or when our stress levels are too high. In my experience, that area can always use a little extra focus during a cleanse.

The Basics:

  • Drink lots of good clean water. Water bottled in plastic is not recommended.
  • Eat only whole, organic foods and juice, fresh whenever possible.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Light exercise is helpful to eliminate wastes throughout the body.
  • Stay warm. The body needs energy to eliminate wastes. For this reason, I recommend avoiding cleansing in the wintertime.
  • Make sure you have at least 1 bowel movement every day.
  • Do something special for at least one eliminatory organ each day of a cleanse. See below for details.
  • Take it easy. Don’t plan big things. Rest.
  • Eat only whole foods when going on and off fasts or cleanses.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Although it is very rewarding to do a cleanse, it isn’t easy.

Diaphoretic Herbs:

diaphoretic tea


The skin is our largest eliminatory and digestive organ. It is helpful to evaluate your body care and household products before doing a cleanse. After all, why would you want to put something on your body that isn’t healthful? I recommend eliminating toxic body care and household cleaning products for good! Avoid synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, sulfates, lead (in some lipstick), formaldehyde, phthalates, toluene and parabens.

  • Dry brush every morning. You can do this with a soft, natural bristle body brush. Always start at your hands and feet and brush toward your heart. If desired, you can first get wet in the shower. Then add a few drops of your essential oils to your brush. Once finished brushing, wait 20 seconds and then continue with your shower.
  • Hot baths open the pores of the skin and encourage sweating, helping the skin eliminate wastes. You can add essential oils to bath salts or Epsom salts (30-60 drops of essential oil to 1-2 cups of salt for an average sized bathtub).
  • Body scrubs can help to remove dead skin cells, as well as stimulate lymph flow and circulation.
  • A nice hot cup of tea with diaphoretic herbs such as yarrow, peppermint and elder flower can help to sweat out those toxins!
  • Light exercise is good for encouraging circulation, moving the lymph and helping you sweat.
  • Bentonite Clay packs can be placed over the face, liver or kidneys to draw out toxins through the skin. To do this, simply mix bentonite clay with water until you form a thick paste. Spread this over the area, let dry and rinse well.
  • If your skin is having blemishes or if you get a rash, try using live yogurt over the area as a mask to help adjust the pH and encourage a healthy bacterial balance on the skin.

Detox Vinegar Bath This bath is excellent to use if you are fasting, doing a cleanse, have a cold or flu, or to prepare your body for the change of each season.

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground sage leaf
  • ½ cup Epsom salt
  • ¼ cup bentonite clay
  • 30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 30 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 30 drops peppermint essential oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Grind your mustard seed and sage leaf in a blender, coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. In a bowl, mix the Epsom salt, clay, mustard seed and sage leaf powder together. Add the essential oils and mix well. Get in a hot bath, and add all ingredients to the bath, including the vinegar. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Rinse well in the shower. To aid in the detox process, be sure to drink plenty of water during and after your bath.

detox vinegar bath

Respiratory System:

The lungs help to maintain a healthy pH in the body, especially the blood. They take in oxygen and release Co2 (our waste gas). They also warm the air we breath and help to filter our particulate such as pollen, dust and air pollution.

  • When you are cleansing, avoid smoke, pollution, synthetic fragrances and airborne chemicals.
  • Steams can help moisten and clean the lungs. Warm a pot of water o the stove until it is steaming and then transfer it to a table (remember to protect your furniture with a trivet or hot pad). Put a towel over your head and lean down towards the water so that the towel is covering the pan well. Close your eyes and add 1-3 drops of essential oil. Breath deeply through the mouth to get the steam into the lungs. If you want to treat the sinuses, breath through your nose.
  • Essential oils for steams: Eucalyptus radiata, Bay Laurel, Atlas Cedar, Lemon
  •  Exercise is an excellent tool for encouraging expectoration and cleaning out the lungs. Breathing exercises and yoga can be useful as well.
  • If your lungs or sinuses tend to give you trouble or if you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke, consider doing a steam each day during your cleanse. You may also want to incorporate expectorant herbs such as elecampane, grindelia, balsam root, poplar bud, horehound and mullein or expectorant essential oils such as basil, benzoin, bergamot, cedarwood, eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, marjoram, peppermint, sandalwood or myrrh.
  • Using a neti pot an amazing way to keep the sinuses in top condition. It is basically rinsing out the sinuses with a little tea-pot. Using a neti pot with a warm saline or herbal solution is useful for sinus infections, mucus accumulation, colds and flu, chronic congestion, particulate in the air, allergies, hay fever, some sore throats, and even ear infections.

Expectorant Herbs:


How to Use a Neti Pot:

  • Fill the neti pot with 1 cup warm water (filtered or boiled) or herbal tea. You want it to be about as warm at the water you would use to take a shower.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, Celtic salt, rock salt, or kosher salt (NOT table salt) and stir until dissolved.
  • Adding 20–60 drops of an herbal extract such as goldenseal or Oregon grape root can be very helpful for fighting off a sinus infection.
  • Aloe vera juice or marshmallow tea can be added to soothe irritated mucus membranes
  • Bend over the sink and tilt your head to one side, placing the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril, letting the water run out the lower nostril.
  • After using half of the pot, repeat on the other side.
  • This process can be done 1–2 times a day.

neti pot

Deep Breath Oil An excellent blend for the respiratory system, these oils are antimicrobial, decongesting, and help to thin mucus.

  • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus  essential oil
  • 10 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops Tea Tree essential oil
  • 5 drop Thyme linalol essential oil

 Add 5- 10 drops of this formula to a humidifier, steam inhalation, essential oil diffuser, spray bottle (with water), or 1o drops can be added to a tablespoon of vegetable oil and rubbed on the chest and back. Do not take orally.

Did you like this article? We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comment section below. You may also be interested in part two of Full Body Cleansing where I focus on the kidneys, lymph, liver and digestive system.

© 2014 Elaine Sheff, Clinical Herbalist IMG_3077Elaine Sheff has been studying medicinal plants since 1987. A Clinical Herbalist, she is a graduate of both the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies and the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. She is passionate about the inherent healing connection between people and plants. Elaine has a longstanding clinical practice providing herbal consultations for individuals with health concerns. A best selling author, Elaine teaches herb classes throughout the United States and is the co-founder of Meadowsweet Herbs. She is a certified instructor of Natural Family Planning, a safe, effective birth control method used to avoid or achieve pregnancy.   You can often find Elaine in her garden, homeschooling her children, or cooking some delicious gluten-free meal.

9 Comments on “Full Body Cleansing: Beyond the Liver and Digestive System Part 1

  1. Great information, Elaine. I so enjoy all your posts. Looking forward to part 2.

    • Carlotta, I am glad you are enjoying my posts. Part two is coming later this week. Enjoy!

  2. Thank you so much, Elaine. I am going to do these cleanses, so many people do them in January and it always felt unnatural to me, You explained why, our bodies need to be warm. You are such a treasure! Thank you for sharing so freely!

  3. Many thanks Elaine!!! I’ve been waiting and wanting to do a cleanse! Django will be 2 Friday and I think when part 2 of your series is revealed, I will be ready, thanks to your awesome plant wisdom!!!! <3

    • Cindi, You are so welcome! I’m glad it is helpful. Part 2 is coming soon.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been meaning to do a cleanse. I just have one question; there are so many juice cleanse products in the market todya. Would you recommend doing a juice cleanse? Thanks in advance.

  5. Hello,

    I’ve read both of your articles, very informative! I have so many health issues but what bothers me the most is chronic, daily headaches. It’s been suggested that it may be a guy issue. I’m going to do a cleanse soon. I really think it may help me dramatically.

    By the way, I’m looking for someone like you that may be able to help me Portland, Oregon. Any suggestions?

    Thank you again!

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