Best Herbs for Internal Cleansing

The case for ridding the body of accumulated waste is a strong one. Powerful natural healers over the years have pointed to internal cleansing time and again as a cornerstone of optimum health. Natural health giants including Dr. Bernard Jensen, Dr. Norman Walker, Ph.D., Dr. Jon Matsen, author of Eating Alive, one of the best natural health primers ever written, Dr. Paul Bragg, Dr. Herbert Shelton, Dr. Paavo Airola have all emphasized the need to cleanse our internal bodies. The list of advocates goes on and on. The question no longer is whether to detoxify, but how.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, of Kellogg’s cereal fame and subject of the film The Road to Wellville, offered his guests a variety of cleansing programs at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Later, Dr. Jensen helped thousands of patients relieve a wide assortment of ailments through internal cleansing at his ranch retreat in Escondido, California. But these days it isn’t practical for most of us to drop everything for days, weeks, or even months at a time to “clean house”. We may no longer have the time, but our need to detoxify is greater than ever.

Today, toxins from every direction bombard our bodies. Poisons pollute the air we breathe. They seep into the water we drink and infiltrate the food we eat. There’s just no avoiding them. In 1993 over 271 million pounds of toxic chemicals (phosphoric acid, ammonia, sulfuric acid, methanol etc.) were dumped into our water supply. Agribusiness uses 33 times more pesticides today than 50 years ago. The simple truth is your filtering and eliminative organs were not designed to process such a heavy load. Eventually they become overworked, sluggish and toxins begin to accumulate throughout the entire body.

Staying inside won’t work either. The EPA reports that levels of pollutants inside buildings can be as much as 100 times greater than outdoor pollution levels. Time magazine, December 21,1998, in an article titled This Place makes Me Sick, reported on the escalating problem known as sick-building syndrome, a disease of modern architecture in which sealed, energy conserving buildings have become breeding grounds for some particularly insidious stuff. These include out-gassing of paint, vinyl flooring, insulation and furniture; chemical contaminants oozing from copy machines, fax machines and laser printers; molds, fungi, bacteria and dusts belching from dirty air ducts and inadequately maintained air conditioners. It’s enough to make you sick…and it does.

But if this toxic monster seems unbeatable, don’t despair. Therapeutic, internal cleansing can take the load off your eliminative organs and free them up to do their work. Remember that these poisons are hiding all over your body, in all the soft tissues, organs and systems. Avoid the mistake of concentrating solely on the colon. A colon cleanse will do you some good, but improvement will be marginal. The large intestine is only one of your body’s five channels of elimination, albeit the most obvious one. The lungs, lymph system, kidneys and skin each have crucial roles to play in the cleansing process, and you’ll need to address them all to get maximum results. The liver, the primary filter for the blood stream, will almost certainly need detoxifying. However, unless it is especially weak or toxic, cleansing the liver should wait until you’ve lowered the toxic load on the rest of your body.

Fortunately, modern herbalists have formulated some excellent cleansing products you can use to great effect, without putting your life on hold. Keep in mind, different herbs target different organs and systems. A cleansing product’s design should be comprehensive enough to do a thorough job. The best cleanses activate all five channels of elimination and promote the release of toxins from every nook and cranny. Here’s what to look for.


Channel #1 – The Colon

Unless you are having 2-3 good bowel movements every day you are constipated and invariably toxic.

Therapeutic Herbs

  • Chickweed to strengthen the bowel.
  • Fennel seed to relieve gas by improving digestion.
  • Ginger Root, which acts as a cleansing agent.
  • Marshmallow removes hardened mucous from the intestines.
  • Peppermint cleans and strengthens the bowel.
  • Plantain, one of the best herbs for neutralizing poison and breaking up intestinal mucous.
  • Slippery Elm heals and soothes the bowel (and the lungs).
  • Fenugreek lubricates the intestines and dissolves hardened mucous.
  • Health Food for the Colon
  • Flax Seeds– a gentle bulking agent.
  • Miller’s Bran– a fiber to help restore peristaltic action.
  • Whey– to acidify the colon.
  • Brewer’s Yeast– supplies B-complex vitamins, amino acids and minerals to support nerve supply to the colon.
  • Yogurt– supplies friendly bacteria.
  • Super-Green Foods– chlorella, spirulina, and blue-green algae help detoxify and build the entire body.

A colon friendly diet is largely vegetarian with lots of high fiber vegetables, fruits, whole grains, cereals and salads.


Channel #2 – The Lungs

Every time you exhale you are eliminating waste.

  • Therapeutic Herbs
  • Black Cohosh– helps to loosen and expel mucous from the bronchial tubes.
  • Fenugreek– helps expel phlegm, toxic waste, and protects against infection.
  • Ginger Root– cleansing agent for the lungs.
  • Licorice Root– reduces excess fluid in the lungs.
  • Mullein– loosens mucous.
  • Marshmallow- removes mucous.
  • Slippery Elm– soothing and healing to the lungs
  • Lobelia– relieves bronchial spasms and congestion.

Health Food for the Lungs

A diet for lung health should be high in vegetable proteins, whole grains, and low in refined carbohydrates and starches. Pitted fruits like apricots, peaches and plums are good for the lungs, as are cultured foods like yogurt, kefir and miso.



Channel #3 – The Lymph System

This circulatory system removes cellular debris from all over the body and is home to a large part of your immune system.

  • Therapeutic Herbs
  • Black Cohosh– stimulates secretions of the lymphatic system.
  • Echinacea- improves lymphatic drainage.
  • Fenugreek– promotes the expulsion of toxic waste from the lymph.

And because liver exhaustion and stress weakens lymphatic function, support your liver with:

  • Dandelion Root– a powerful liver detoxificant.
  • Milk Thistle– very protective and cleansing to the liver.
  • Health Food for the Lymph SystemToo many saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and insufficient water intake makes lymphatic flow sluggish. A colon friendly diet is also good for the lymph. You’ll also want to add some potassium rich foods like broccoli, bananas and black olives. Fresh vegetable juice made from carrots, celery, spinach and parsley is great for the lymph system and the liver. Buy it freshly made at the health food store or, if you are feeling particularly motivated, get a juice extractor and make it yourself using 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, ½ a bunch of spinach and ½ a bunch of parsley.



Channel #4 – The Kidneys

Regulation of water and electrolytes, maintaining normal acid-base equilibrium, retention of vital substances and the elimination of metabolic waste is the kidneys’ responsibility.

  • Therapeutic Herbs
  • Burdock Root– helps detoxify the kidneys.
  • Ginger Root– detoxifies the kidneys.
  • Horsetail– tones the kidneys and bladder.
  • Health Food for the KidneysEmphasize garlic, onions, papayas, bananas, sprouts, leafy greens, cucumbers, and watermelon- all are healing to the kidneys. Try to avoid heavy starches, red meat, dairy products (except cultured), refined, salty and fatty (fast) foods- they all inhibit the kidneys’ filtering ability. In general, a healthy diet that includes plenty of water will support healthy kidneys.



Channel #5 – The Skin

The body’s largest organ also happens to be the largest organ of elimination, removing over 20% of your body’s waste. If you want to detoxify you’re going to have to sweat. 

  • Therapeutic Herbs – Herbs that cleanse the blood have a beneficial impact on the skin.
  • Therapeutic Herbs –Black Cohosh- neutralizes poisons in the blood.
  • Therapeutic Herbs –Yellow Dock- a great blood builder.
  • Therapeutic Herbs –Burdock Root- one of the best blood purifiers.
  • Therapeutic Herbs –Dandelion Root- detoxifies the liver and the blood.
  • Therapeutic Herbs –Yarrow- opens the pores to permit free perspiration.

Health Food for the Skin

Foods for healthy skin include: mineral rich foods like leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, sunflower and sesame seeds, fish and sea vegetables. Cultured foods like yogurt and kefir supply friendly bacteria. Eat lots of high water content foods; fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water, 6-8 glasses of bottled or filtered water every day.

Turbo-charging the cleansing process with herbs and lifestyle modification has helped thousands of my clients relieve digestive problems, lose weight, improve poor skin, eliminate allergies, constipation, fatigue, headaches, brain fog, menstrual problems…the list goes on and on. Chances are, it can help you too.



Sam Rose, CN MS is a licensed and certified nutritionist and owner of Rose Nutrition Center in West Los Angeles.  He can be reached at or 310-473-8835.

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