OUR bodies operate in a cycle that remains constant each day, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Providing the body with nutrients and energy while dispelling waste is a natural way to keep it healthy. However, when the waste fails to be discharged, it will turn into toxins and become a health risk.
The body provides signs that toxins have accumulated, so adjusting daily patterns can help the body dispel pathogenic substances in different organs more effectively.
There are generally two kinds of toxins — external ones that invade the body and those born within, says Jiang Zaifeng, health consultant at Bao Zhidi TCM Culture Salon.
The toxins invading from outside usually refer to pathogenic substances like air and water pollution, as well as pesticide residue. They can enter the body through the air, foods and sometimes with skin contact.
Toxins from within the body refer to common waste produced by metabolism. They won’t do any harm if they are dispelled through defecation, urination and sweating. However, these toxins will accumulate and cause health problems if they are not discharged by the body in a timely fashion.
Though there is no easy way to measure how much toxins have accumulated in the body, there are several signs indicating a good cleansing is in order.
Daily defecation is the most important way to expel toxins. It is advised to have a bowel movement at least once every three days to avoid toxins from accumulating.
Harmful substances in the stools may be reabsorbed if they remain in the colon for too long. This may result in digestive system disorders that lead to problems like poor appetite, abdominal distention, bitter taste in the mouth and even colon cancer.
To move stubborn stools and relieve constipation, add more fiber to the diet and exercise regularly. TCM doctors do not recommend cleansing the colon by laxatives or colonic irrigation as both may lead to digestive system disorders.
Smelly breath is often caused by accumulated pathogenic heat in the lungs, spleen and stomach. It can also be a result of accumulated food in the stomach and intestines due to indigestion.
Eating too much spicy food, overeating and fatigue can all result in pathogenic heat accumulating within the body, causing problems like oral ulcers, tooth decay and indigestion accompanied by smelly breath.
Rinsing the mouth with water after eating can help prevent bad breath. Switching to a plain diet, ensuring daily bowel movements and possibly adjusting digestion with a TCM doctor’s advice may also help.
TCM practitioners believe chloasma, large brown patches on the skin, is a symptom of an energy imbalance. It is often accompanied with energy stagnation in the liver and energy deficiency in both spleen and kidneys.
The energy imbalance directly leads to toxins accumulating. The brown patches usually appear on the face.
A healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, high in protein and low in fat is strongly recommended. TCM practitioners also recommend avoiding spicy foods.
Acne occurs when excess sebum is secreted and blocks the pores. Western medicine often imputes the problem to endocrine disorders, while TCM states it’s a result of toxins within the body.
Accumulated pathogenic dampness and heat within the body due to an unhealthy lifestyle is a common reason for the problem. This may include eating too much greasy and spicy foods, staying up late and irregular defecation.
Adopting a healthy diet with less spicy, fatty and sugary foods, leading a regular life and avoiding cigarettes, alcohol, strong tea or coffee may help reduce acne.
A dull complexion is a sign toxins have accumulated in the lungs. TCM believes the lungs and skin are closely related. Healthy lungs usually mean the skin looks nourished.
It is advised to visit places with fresh air often if possible. Taking deep breaths can help dispel the toxins in the lungs. Foods like white fungus, turnip and lily’s root can also help the lungs and relieve the problem.