So you've decided to do a juice cleanse

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By Paula Connelly

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Click here to read the Spring 09 Feast article, Get juiced: Fresh, healthy alternatives to the Master Cleanse.

I asked Carolynn Kraskouskas, owner and operator of Be Whole Again! bodywork and nutritional therapy (Be Whole Again!, 3150 18th Street Mlbx 511, Suite 536, SF; www.bewholeagain.net) to help lay out the basics of planning a detox:

It is important to remember that each person is unique and each cleanse should be designed to work towards your personal goals. Your first step should be to set a goal and figure out the organs you'd like to target in your cleanse. Specifically, what you want to move, slow down or remove. Most people cleanse for weight loss and greater regularity, when they feel like their system has become sluggish, generating a feeling of a lack of health. They are interested in digestive cleanses, which allows their organs to rest and cleanse themselves. However, it is crucial to remember that if you cleanse anything you often take the good with the bad. That is why one of your primary goals in cleansing should be rebuilding. Cleanses need to be sandwiched with a program that rebuilds the organs as well as cleanses them. Rainbow grocery sells popular cleanses in a box that also rebuild.

Keep in mind that our eliminative channels for waste and toxins function in a hierarchy: bowels, kidneys, lungs, skin, and, for women, menstruation. Spending some time cleaning out your bowels before you detox can help to lessen the stress on your other channels during detox, and considerably lessen adverse detox symptoms during your fast, like headaches, rashes and diarrhea. Then you can tackle your targeted organs. It's good to do some gentle exercise like walking or yoga and a sauna or steam room can help you to sweat out some of those stubborn toxins. Also, you should be aware that you might have to deal with surfacing emotions. This is also a mental cleanse. Food, and the habit of eating food, provides a comfort zone that distracts us from fully experiencing some emotions. Most of the time this is a good thing because we need to function productively and not dwell on negative things. However, every once in a while it's good to "clear our cache" to lighten the accumulated mental load of every day life. Expect to go through highs and lows and don't attempt any cleanse for less than two weeks because you'll likely experience more negative effects than positive.

Depending how slow you are feeling inside, you may need to start by cleansing the skin and the lungs with light bowel movers to get things going. Skin diseases, like rocesea or excema, are helped by cleansing, but since most skin diseases are viruses and bacterias, you might need an anti bacterial or anti viral herb as well (such as oregano, olive leaf, collodial silver or dandelion or yellowdock).

For 3-7 days before your cleanse, your diet should be all fruits and veggies, then one day of just fruit and veggie juice, then begin your cleanse.

Whole foods, foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, are the best for all steps of this process. Some people are too sensitive and need to rebuild before they can even start to cleanse. These people should eat fruits, especially pitted fruits and apples, along with herbs, like marshmallow. This helps prep the intestinal track, large and small intestines, descending and ascending colon, and sphincter. Visit the environmental working group's updated list of the most pesticide laden fruits and vegetables of the year at www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php to determine when to buy organic. For example, this year it is most imperative to buy organic peaches.

If your goal is to moving things along and generally clearing out, you want to use gentle stimulators and regulators, which often include bitters. Examples of some bitters are parsley, cilantro manna stems, angelica, aloe, rhubarb, senna, myrrh and carline thistle. Some of these taste pleasant and some don't. Due to years of eating refined foods, we have actually developed digestive issues with bitters, so some people need stronger cleansers including activated charcoal , hulls and husks to help remove accumulated waste from your intestinal track. You'll be shocked to know the magnitude of waste that the average person has accumulated in their intestines. Although highly controversial, many raw vegans advocate using enemas to assist in cleansing the colon. Read one girl's fascinating, first hand account of "The supersonic colonic", here. *Warning: this is not for the weak of stomach.

All cleanses target the liver. It is generally understood that everything that passes through our body, passes through the liver, so to help your liver, you should take things like dandelion, milk thistle, burdock, and tumeric. These are all eatable in whole food form. I recommend a dandelion and red cabbage salad with a raw garlic, lemon and cayenne dressing. Cleanses will also go after the kidneys. Parsley and hydrangea will help your kidneys while also aiding to cleanse your blood and assimilate water into the body.

Some people will want to target their pancreas, especially people with Type II diabetes. This is beneficial for people who have become so defunct that their system is no longer creating food enzymes. You can take general food enzyme supplements, like amalyse, protese and lipase. After all, enzymes are the champions of the raw foods movement. Naturally occurring enzymes and vitamins are killed when food is heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit and we need enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions in our bodies, like digestion. To put this in perspective, many drugs and poisons are enzyme inhibitors. Aspirin, for example, inhibits specific enzymes that that produce the inflammation messenger prostaglandin, thus suppressing pain and inflammation. But food enzymes also eat excess inflammation in the body. For this reason, people with joint issues are good candidates for cleanses. Ginger, turmeric, holy basil, oregano, and skullcap are examples of anti-inflammatory herbal supplements that also help provide a euphoric and happy feeling while cleansing.

If you are overweight, artichoke can ease an exhausted gallbladder during a cleanse. People who love to binge should include magnesium, chromium, and zinc in their cleanse to help regulate sugar levels. Chromium and magnesium also stimulate the release of muscles, which allows the bowels to let go of waste more easily. Women crave chocolate during their periods, because they are deficient in magnesium, more of which helps their stomachs relax and cramps to diminish.

Cleanses benefit your every day life and wellness by giving you a more efficient system. Think of it like cleaning a dirty bike chain or getting an oil change. The more junk in your system, the harder it has to work, the more supplies it needs to keep running, the more exhausted one feels, leading to the caffeine and sugar cycle that, in part, got you into this mess. When coming off a cleanse, remember to ease your way back into eating regular foods again, starting with a raw vegan diet one full day, then veggie heavy diet, then moving on to proteins and fats. Remember, fats are awesome!

The toughest part about a raw juice fast is the maintenance. You're going to need a juicer and a blender. I've used the Juiceman Jr. juicer because it's cheap and (relatively) easy to clean. Raw juice is also extremely perishable and should be drunk immediately if possible but there are steps you can take to store it up to 24 hours after juicing. Once you feel that health high, I promise you'll want to go back for more. And as Juicey Lucy says, "Juicing is discipline, it will always be juicy."