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Alternative medicine puts a spring in your step

by Michelle Gamage March 17, 2015
Alternative medicine puts a spring in your step

How detoxifying your liver will lead to a better life this season with fewer allergies

The imminent arrival of spring means more than shoving your parka into storage for another glorious eight months. It also means changing how you care for yourself.

It’s very important to adapt to the changing seasons by switching up your diet and exercise regime, said natural health and alternative medicine therapist Lisa-Francesca Lewak on Thursday, March 13, during a talk she gave in the Hall building Greenhouse.

Our bodies know what is best for us, better than our brains do, because our bodies are still communicating with nature and saying, “hmm, spring is happening out there and that means that something needs to happen in here,” said Lewak.

And that means our bodies are telling us it is time to detox.

Lisa-Francesca Lewak explains the benefits of mung beans, which can aid digestion, in the greenhouse on March 13. Photo by Michelle Gamage.

Lewak mixed modern North American shamanism and ancient Chinese medicine during her talk, which taught a handful of students how to naturally care for their bodies.

And that means, first and foremost, listening to your body and paying attention to what it is telling you. Never do anything that doesn’t feel right, and don’t push your body to do what it doesn’t want to do, said Lewak.

Ancient Chinese medicine tells us that spring’s element is wood, said Lewak, which is connected to the liver and the gallbladder. The liver is responsible for hundreds of functions in the body, she added, which means that if the liver is not cleansed or detoxed it can get backed up, which leads to people getting sick.

“Spring is a time to clean,” said Lewak, adding when life naturally cleans itself, all you have to do is get out of the way and let it do its thing.

To detox the body Lewak recommends starting simple and doing a “soft cleanse,” where you wake up and drink warm water with lemon or lime juice added to it, and let that work its way through your body for half an hour.

Other gentle ways to cleanse the liver are to eat leafy greens and bitter herbs. The leaves and flowers of dandelions can make a tasty and healthy salad, and the roots can be boiled to make a tea that cleanses the whole body, said Lewak. Add some kale, parsley, or alfalfa to the salad for an extra boost.

For those looking for a more hard-core cleanse, Lewak suggests that you kick off the day by eating half of a raw onion and a whole clove of garlic for a week, which will clear your body of any parasites you may have picked up.

Fasting, although a cleansing process, is something that Lewak hesitated to promote.

“I’ve seen some people do crazy things. In our society, people don’t really know how to fast,” said Lewak.

This ties back to the concept of listening to your body. If you don’t feel like eating a meal, don’t force yourself. If you don’t feel like eating for 12 hours, try fasting for that time, said Lewak. But make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid exercise.

“You have to take care of yourself, otherwise the body will react,” she said.

A final, simple way to help your body is to pay attention to chewing. Eating alone and taking time to notice how you are chewing has endless benefits, such as increasing the amount of saliva you produce and aiding your digestion, she said.

Maybe spring would be a good time to spend less time cramming food in your face alone in the dark of your room while binge-watching Netflix, and spend more time incorporating leafy greens into your diet. If not for the sake of health, then do it to avoid spring allergies.

Allergies in ancient Chinese medicine are related to the liver, said Lewak, and that means detoxifying and rejuvenating your liver will lead to less hay fever and other springtime-sneezing fits.

Lewak will be back in the Concordia Greenhouse on April 9 to discuss the health benefits of chocolate.

For more on alternative medicine, go to Lewak’s website at goingbeyondcentre.com.

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