Detox 101

The process of detoxification does not have to be daunting or time consuming. In this post we will learn how to safely detoxify the body to improve your overall health and well being.

What is detoxification?

To begin, detoxification is the process of cleansing the body. You will work to cleanse the blood, lymph and skin systems within the body. This process should be gentle, as too much detoxification can release stored toxins too quickly and do more harm then good. It should also be a simple process that works to restore the body systems holistically. Quick fix diets and aggressive cleanses can deplete you and leave more building to do after the initial cleanse than is necessary.

When to Detox:

Many people find Spring as a good time to start a detox/cleanse. You may already be in cleaning mode preparing to shed Winter clutter and prepare for Summer. Why not extend that to your body, as well?

Detoxes can help to remedy:

  • Sluggishness
  • Poor circulation
  • Fatigue
  • Joint Pain
  • Allergic Responses
  • Bloating

Methods of Detoxification:


  • Gentle Juice Cleanses- stick to 3 day juice cleanses that are made from organic, raw juices
  • Sugar Detox- removing simple carbohydrates (such as sugary treats, soda and other processed foods) and replacing them with complex carbohydrates, good fats and proteins can help the body process your food in more effective ways
  • Removing Additives and Artificial Ingredients- while many things in our food supply these days are “general regarded as safe” this is no way means they are the optimal option for one to consume
  • Whole Food Diet- less processed foods will be gentler on the digestive and elimination systems and keep you fuller longer
  • Drink More Water- this is an easy thing to add in. Rather than drinking large cups, try for 1/2 a cup every half hour. This will keep your body hydrated throughout the day.

Bath/Skin care:

  • Dry Brushing- used daily, dry brushing can help improve skin quality and circulation
  • Mineral Baths- adding mineral salts like himalayan and epsom salts to a bath can help pull toxins from the body and improve muscle function
  • Clay- kaolin and bentonite clays can be added to baths or used as masks to draw impurities out of the skin 
  • Switching to More Natural Products- many of the products you may be using each day contain harmful chemicals that are absorbed into the skin. Too find products that are healthier alternative please check out the Environmental Working Group’s database

Alternative Medicine:

  • Massage- manual therapies like Manual Lymph Drainage and stretching can help to flush toxins out of the body and encourage proper circulation
  • Acupuncture- your acupuncturist can help support detoxification through the use of needles and/or herbs
  • Yoga- the stretching and breathing techniques utilized in yoga can help to promote proper circulation and support and nourish the organs

It is helpful to start slow and keep in mind that the body may react less than favorable to a detox plan at first. This is completely normal as it gets accustom to a lessening of the toxic load. Give your plan at least a week (except for the juice cleanses, which should be limited to 3 days) before expecting results.

Natural Allergy Relief

There are natural ways you can find relief this allergy season. Read more to find more about managing your symptoms naturally!

Dietary Changes

The foods you eat during allergy season can have an impact on your allergic response. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may need to avoid them only during certain seasons or all together.

Foods to Avoid

Dairy, while helpful for some, can cause increased mucus and swelling in the body. If you suspect you are bothered by dairy, you can try eliminating all dairy for 2 weeks from your diet to check for relief from the symptoms. Otherwise you may want to cut down on dairy consumption while experiencing allergy symptoms. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also trigger something called Oral Allergy Syndrome. This syndrome is the result of cross-reaction from certain types of pollen. For example, if you are allergic to ragweed, cantaloupe may trigger numbness and swelling in the mouth. You can find a handy chart here to help you track which foods to avoid.  

Foods that Help

Berries and onions contain a compound called quercetin. This compound can help to lower the histamine response and has anti-inflammatory properties. Pineapple contains a compound called bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that is responsible for providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Fish and certain types of seeds are high in Omega 3 oils. These oils are also anti-inflammatory and protect the delicate nasal passages. Local, raw honey contains pollen and propolis which can help to build immunity in the body to local allergen sources. You can also find quercetin, bromelain and Omega 3 oil supplements at your local health food store.


Nettles has been used for centuries to combat the symptoms of seasonal allergies. This herb can help to reduce allergy responses such as sneezing and itchiness. Eyebright is an herb that can be used to help relieve itchy eyes. These herbs can be used in tincture, tea or compress forms.

Physical Changes

As simple as they sound, actions like vacuuming and dusting with more regularity, not wearing shoes in the house and washing your face/showering before bed can help keep the pollen out of your living spaces and greatly increase the air quality inside your home. You may also want to try daily saline rinses to clear nasal passages of debris and/or mucus.


You can use yoga to help find relief for your allergy symptoms. Inversions such as standing forward bends, bridge pose and downward-facing dog are simple poses to help drain the nasal passages. You want to avoid staying in these poses longer than a few minutes as to not cause swelling from pressure. Fish pose can help open the chest area for increased lung capacity and balance hormones. Nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, can help clear blocked nasal passages.

World Doula Week

March 22-28 celebrates World Doula Week. Let’s learn more about what a doula is and how they can help you during your labor and delivery.

What is a Doula?

A doula is a person who offers emotional and physical support during your labor, delivery and immediate postpartum period. Doulas work in a variety of birth settings: home, birth center or hospital. Often doulas meet with families before the labor for one or more prenatal meetings. This helps the doula get to know the family and help them to prepare for the impending labor. During labor, the doula will either meet the family at home or at your chosen birth location. Your doula will provide comfort measures, support and advocacy during the entire labor. Once the baby is born, your doula will help you transition to the postpartum setting and facilitate breastfeeding (if you chose to nurse).

Benefits of a Doula

Doulas have been shown to:

  • Reduce the use of medical interventions such as pitocin, vacuum or forceps and cesarean section
  • Provide comfort for the mother and reduce the need for pain medication
  • Facilitate shorter, more productive labors

During your labor, your doula will use comfort measures like massage, essential oils, warm compresses and positioning to help you through each contraction and keep your labor progressing. Your doula will also be a sounding board in the conversation about the benefits/risks of any interventions that arise throughout the labor. One thing your doula will not do is replace your clinician/care provider. They are there solely for your emotional and physical well-being. A doula can also help the partner focus fully on the mother during the labor. This support helps transition the family unit and promotes bonding during and after labor.

Where to find a doula in the North Virginia area?

Birth Options Alliance: Local organization that highlights birth services in the DC Metro area

DC Doula Match: A website about local doulas with fees, contact information and availability.

“Meet the Doula” Events: Many local groups host “Meet the Doula” events to offer a chance to meet local doulas in a low pressure environment.

Benefits of Prenatal Massage

It can be difficult to maintain balance during pregnancy. It seems like if it’s not your hormones, it’s your ligaments. Massage therapy is a safe and effective addition to your prenatal care that can help you to maintain posture as well as hormone and fluid levels in the body. It can also help to keep your organs functioning better as they react to the body changes through pregnancy. Research has also shown that massage therapy can provide the added benefit of shorter, more productive labors and speedier recovery time for the postpartum period. Massage therapy can be a wonderful compliment to a healthy pregnancy. If you have any questions about whether massage during pregnancy is appropriate for you, ask your birth care provider.

Massage Through Your Pregnancy

First Trimester

While there are massage therapists that prefer to not work during the 1st trimester, there is no evidence to support that it should be avoided. But even with that caveat many women may not want to have massage performed during this time. Frequent urination, morning sickness, breast tenderness and dizziness may make a full hour session uncomfortable. Your therapist can work with you to create a shorter session designed for stress and fatigue relief. Massage in the first trimester may also allow you a time to focus on yourself at the start of this new journey.

Second Trimester

Massage during the second trimester is like “preventative maintenance” for what is to come. Many women comment that the second trimester is the most comfortable time of the whole pregnancy.  Your morning sickness is probably over, but your body is just beginning to shift and grow. You may also experience a boost in energy levels. Massage during the second trimester can help to encourage deeper breathing and help alleviate back pain. This is also a time to encourage body awareness as your body grows and changes with your baby.

Third Trimester

During the third trimester, massage will help to prepare your body for labor. It will help alleviate the pain caused by joint separation or ligament pain. You may find that your stress levels rise during the third trimester as it finally sinks in that you will have the baby and soon. Massage can help you relax and, as in the first trimester, give you time to focus on just yourself.

During Labor

While you will not be feeling up for getting a full body massage during labor, massage is an excellent comfort measure to be used during early and active labor. In addition to traditional Swedish-style massage techniques, acupressure points located on the body can be used to provide pain relief and labor stimulation. If you have a doula, they will most likely perform some sort of labor massage to help with pain management and stress. If you do not have a doula taking a series of childbirth education classes and/or a workshop in labor massage for couples can be very beneficial for you and your partner to prepare for labor.