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Circadian Rhythm Reasons to Cleanse in January
Ayurveda suggests cleansing and detoxing when seasons change from winter to spring and summer to fall, but I also have a large number of patients do a short cleanse in January, to reset their digestion and mood after the holidays.
Circadian science backs up the instinct to cleanse at this time, too.
The human body’s natural response to winter, without the use of artificial light, is to produce more melatonin, which encourages deep sleep.
According to new research on circadian rhythms, melatonin also plays a huge role in helping us detoxify. Since we naturally produce more melatonin in the winter, nature offers us the opportunity to boost detoxification during this darker season.
However, if the sun sets at 5 p.m. and we don’t turn lights and screens off until 10 or 11 p.m., we block natural melatonin production for those five to six hours. Melatonin is the body’s night janitor, responsible for detox, rejuvenation and repair. Missing six hours of that each night puts us in harm’s way.
Supporting the body with an Ayurvedic cleanse mid-winter can help mitigate the risks of light-induced melatonin deficiency and its related health concerns.
In one study, melatonin was shown to be a powerful detoxifier of BPA (bisphenol A) in plants. BPA is toxic to both plants and animals. It is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. In this study, BPA caused significant free radical damage to tomatoes as measured by increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative degradation of lipids. The application of melatonin on the tomato plant reversed free radical damage, increased glutathione production (a liver detox enzyme), and activated genes that regulate BPA detoxification.
Many studies have documented the ability of melatonin to activate the same detox pathways in humans and protect cognitive function as we age.
Melatonin has also been found to boost immunity and mood during the winter, when we need it the most.
Winter Cleansing with Ghee and Abyhanga Balances Vata in the Winter
The cold and dryness of winter are the primary aggravators of vata. Most of us experience these vata imbalances as sleepiness, worry, an exacerbation of dry skin, stiff joints, occasional constipation, and dry sinuses–which can all result in compromised immunity.
The process of oleation, or using ghee, in Ayurvedic cleansing, is not only used as a detox agent, collecting toxic material and helping us flush it out, but also as a restorative process for the intestinal lining and the microbiome, which supports a whopping 70 percent of our immune response.
The intestinal track, which is the main target of our Ayurvedic Short Home Cleanse, is considered the seat of vata and the nervous system. Ghee has the highest food source of butyric acid, which is the main driver of a healthy gut lining, gut microbes, and immunity.
In addition to using ghee, adding a daily Ayurvedic massage (abhyanga) to your January short home cleanse can help balance vata and the nervous system, and protect your skin from unwanted dryness.
Try our Short Home Cleanse and let us know how it helps! Get the free ebook here.