Five Rules For Successful Spring Cleansing: Health Wisdom of Ancient and Modern Masters

Friday Mar 20 | BY |
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"The road to health is the one that begins with an understanding and commitment  to cleanse and detoxify the body." Dr. Bernard Jensen

“The road to health is the one that begins with an understanding and commitment
to cleanse and detoxify the body.”
Dr. Bernard Jensen

Over two thousand years ago, Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine, and one of the greatest healers of all time put together his ideas, experience, and theories about diet and healing in an extensive volume of writing called the Hippocratic Corpus. Because his work was so extensive, no one could read them all. So he summarized his wisdom in a collection of medical pearls called the Hippocratic Aphorisms.

It’s not surprising to me that people have used fasting and cleansing diets as a way of healing for thousands of years. The ancient masters knew that body cleansing is an art. It is one of the inner keys to life long health. You can go about it on your own, but following a few simple time-tested rules helps assure success and safety.

The 5 Rules of Cleansing:

  1. Learn
  2. Prepare
  3. Organize
  4. Practice
  5. Transition

First, learn the correct way to fast and cleanse.

We learn how to fish, swim, and garden. Health is as natural as these, but like fishing or swimming we have to learn the right way of doing it.

You can learn a lot about fasting and how we heal from ancient masters. For example, your health status, age, and the season of year make a difference. Hippocrates made this clear.

“In winter and spring, stomachs are warm and sleep longest. Accordingly, more food should be given in these seasons, for the body produces more warmth and thus needs more nourishment.”

From this aphorism, we learn that you shouldn’t fast in the winter or early spring. During the colder months, eat well to build a strong body. The best time for cleansing is when the weather warms in late April and May. Summer and early fall are also good times for a cleansing program.

Hippocrates knew that age matters. Not every one should fast. Cleansing programs require adjustments be made according to your age.

“Old people bear fasting most easily, then adults, much less youths and least of all children. The more active they are, the less do they bear it.”

From this aphorism you learn that children should not fast, they need to eat nutritious foods composed of a balanced diet. Teenagers and young adults need abundant energy derived from food, and unless they are unwell, should not fast. Those from 30 to 60 may fast or practice intensive cleansing programs. People expend less energy when over 60, so they tolerate fasting better because they are more comfortable when eating less food. However, extreme cleansing can weaken older people and they take longer to recover, so they should not practice intensive fasting.

Your body takes clues from fasting or cleansing, adjusting and readjusting its internal balance called homeostasis. But, remember that age makes a difference in results and recovery. Youth is resilient. Older folks require more planning. Their bodies are less resilient. But, older people tolerate cleansing better than young people.

Second, prepare by setting aside sufficient time.

Regardless of age, if you prepare your body for the toxic burden you’ll cause during a juice cleanse of water fast, you’ll benefit more.

Dr. Bernard Jensen, who was famous for fasting cures, mentored me in the late 1970s in the art of natural healing at his health ranch in the hills above Escondido, California. Just as they were part of Hippocrates teaching, fasting and diet were integral to Dr. Jensen’s therapies. He called his programs “tissue cleansing.”

Water fasting is easy to do, but difficult to carry out properly and can damage sensitive organs and tissues. Don’t just dive in to cleansing. Decide what type of cleansing you’ll undertake. Buy supplements and foods in advance.

Third, organize by having a plan.

Organize what you’ll need during your program. You may need fresh juices, specific nutritional supplements, or enough pure water. Set up a space in your kitchen or other part of your home for juicing. Set aside a quiet space in your home or garden for healing.

Plan time to focus on your program and allow additional time for your body to heal. You’ll have to slow down. It’s not wise to fast while rushing through life: riding subways in Manhattan, or frustrated while sitting in Los Angeles freeway gridlock.

Fourth, practice a method.

There are many different cleansing and detoxification programs available. But, I recommend those that are tried and true based on long clinical experience, not clever marketing. Remember, this is your body, your health, and your life.

Because our bodies are repositories of everything we’ve eaten, drank, and that we breathed in, including toxic chemicals in the environment, the wise approach is to prepare the body for fasting or intensive cleansing by cleansing the colon and detoxifying the liver. Colonics can be helpful, but are not for everyone. Herbs like milk thistle, yellow dock, and gentian promote your liver’s detoxification pathways.

But, don’t force your body. Go gentle and take it slow. You may not achieve all the results you desire from one cleanse. You will likely have to complete a series. Over time, your health will return.

If you want results, devote yourself to a cleansing program. Don’t go about it haphazardly. Don’t be impatient. Impulsiveness and extreme regimens do more harm than good. Take some time off. Stay home. Be quiet. Go on retreat. Do nothing for several days.

Fifth, focus on transition to a new, healthier routine.

After your cleanse your body needs time to recover. Allow time for your body to achieve a natural state of repair and regeneration.

Based on my studies and clinical experience, I’ve developed the following rule: 25% cleansing, 75% rejuvenation. Transitioning after your cleanse matters. Eat light, nourishing foods. Reintroduce a healthy balance of carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle, and fats for the nervous system. Get enough nutrients from a plant-based diet. Add supplements for micronutrients and cofactor nutrients, as well as concentrated polyphenols as found in green tea.

After more than thirty years of clinical practice, I’ve come to respect the work of the nature cure masters like Dr. Jensen. I’m impressed by the ancient medical wisdom in ways that I didn’t appreciate as a young doctor. Food maters. Cleansing also matters. Health matters.

Eating and enjoying food, and now and then taking time to not eat to allow our body to focus on detoxification is part of the balance in life. Learn to incorporate tissue cleansing into an integral lifestyle plan for health, wellness, and longevity.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. June Hanson says:

    Fasting, cleansing, is something that is never mentioned any more. Did you ever get advice from your Doctor or a clinic, or see it advertised? Why? They would never get any business. No one wants to hear about detoxification. Why, that’s only for addicts. Yes, we are food addicts.

    Born with chronic constipation. Colonics, kept me alive. I, too, in the 1970’s, followed Dr Bernard Jensens program. Did Spring, Summer & Fall. Now, I know why I was always cold, could not complete a fast in the winter.

    Fasting, cleansing, is something that is never mentioned, any more. Did you ever get advice from your Doctor or clinic or see it advertised? Why? They would never get any business. No one wants to hear about detoxification. Why, that’s for addicts. Yes, we are food addicts. Born with chronic constipation, colonics kept me alive.

    I, too, in the 1970’s, followed Dr Bernard Jensens program. Did Spring, Summer & Fall. Now, I, know why I was always cold & could not complete a fast in the winter.

    An internal cleansing feels better than a shower after a long day of working in the dust and covered with dirt. In fact, it is far more beneficial. Truly, remember, after fresh juice fast, how great & marvelous a dish of lightly steamed veggies tasted.

    As years went by, life became so busy, there was no time nor interest. Having to cook for someone, while trying to fast, is not recommended.

    So, hopefully, this summer, Dr Williams, you can plan a fast for me, as you know, when and what my body needs.

    Never, been on a supervised one, will truly look forward to it.

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