From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Living in Balance: Boost Energy With Detoxification,” by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, in the July/August 2009 issue. Article summary: Natural medicine systems align around a central principle that maintains cleansing is critical to success in staying healthy and reversing disease. And what they’re all so concerned about is waste. In fact, they’re very concerned about making sure the body eliminates all its metabolic leftovers, and new, harmful substances do not enter the body and wreak havoc.

by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa

To address underlying toxin accumulation, herbalists use a broad spectrum of remedies that assist the body in removing waste products from the tissues.

In a gentle cleansing program, it’s critical to have at least one bowel movement, or up to several, per day, so use a light laxative herb if necessary.

Tasty sarsaparilla root (Smilax officinalis), though native to tropical America, has a history of European use, dating back to the 16th century, as a blood purifier.

Several of sarsaparilla’s saponin constituents have been shown to be effective in treating psoriasis, a toxicity disease. In a controlled study, one of these compounds, sarsaponin, greatly improved symptoms in 62 percent and completely cleared the disease in 18 percent. A 2007 study found sarsaparilla saponins showed anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes.

Sarsaparilla binds endotoxins, bacteria byproducts absorbed from your digestive tract. If these endotoxins evade the liver and circulate in the blood, they contribute to gout, arthritis, psoriasis and fever.

Take 3 to 12 grams of sarsaparilla root per day as a tasty tea, or the equivalent in capsules.

British herbalists, especially, reach for the liver detoxifier burdock root (Arctium lappa), which they consider to be specific for addressing eruptions of the head, face and neck, and they esteem burdock for just about any liver toxicity condition, including eczema, psoriasis and boils.

A member of the daisy family, it is loaded in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, lignins and bitter glycosides. Taiwanese scientists recently established the powerful liver protective effect of burdock. A 2008 Dutch study found burdock reduced skin allergy by reducing leukotriene release.

Use burdock as fresh juice or in a stir fry. If you prefer, use the root powder in capsules.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is an excellent detoxifier of the liver and gallbladder. This vegetable contains cynarin, which promotes bile flow, and has antitoxic liver functions similar to milk thistle.

The globe brings blood to the liver and supports regeneration. It reduces blood fats, including cholesterol, by a mechanism similar to niacin, and effectively treats gallstones.

One study of artichoke extract showed a significant reduction in elevated cholesterol (12.2 percent) and triglyceride (5.7 percent) levels and the patients also lost body weight. A 2008 study again produced a significant reduction of cholesterol and an 11 percent improvement in general well-being in 12 weeks.

You may juice the raw globe or steam it as a vegetable. Artichoke extract, made from the whole plant, is available as a dietary supplement.