Essential oils for a pre-summer detox
Earlier in the year we explored the ways in which essential oils can help to spring clean the mind. This month, with Summer well on the way, I thought I'd look at the ways they can also help to spring clean or detox the body, stimulate our metabolism, boost energy levels, and get our bodies beach-ready for the holiday season ahead.
Of course, our bodies are extremely sophisticated, and toxins are removed naturally via the skin, digestive system, lungs, kidneys and liver. Some experts would argue that a ‘detox’ is just a myth. However, I believe that we can indeed help our bodies eliminate waste products through life style choices such as eating nutritious and cleansing food, exercising, incorporating dry body brushing into our daily regime and using essential oils reputed to aid the removal of toxins.
Our bodies are constantly battling to break down and eliminate toxins – from food additives, cosmetics, household cleaning products or alcohol, through to the toxic waste produced by our metabolic processes. Detoxing and ‘assisting’ our body with toxin removal gives our liver and kidneys a well-earned rest and helps our body to work more efficiently – resulting in healthier skin and hair, weight-loss, improved digestion and increased energy levels.
Although you can detox at any time of year, the lead-up to Summer is an excellent time to do a detox, as our appetites naturally diminish as the weather gets warmer, and we have the added incentive of wanting to look and feel great on the beach or in our summer clothes!
Essential oils for a Summer detox
While there is a wide array of essential oils reputed to help detoxify and purify the body, I have focused on my four personal favourites: Juniperberry, Peppermint, Grapefruit and Lemon, which may be inhaled or diluted and applied topically.
Juniperberry essential oil
Juniperberry essential oil is steam distilled from the crushed, dried or partly ripe berries of Juniperus communis and, like all essential oils, has a complex chemical profile comprising of esters, sesquiterpenes, lactones, coumarins, oxides, acids, monoterpenes and alcohols. Juniper is reputed to possess depurative properties, assisting blood purification from substances such as uric acid. Possessing sudorific properties, the oil increases sweating, aiding removal of salts and waste products. As a carminative Juniper oil helps to expel gases, helping to maintain a healthy digestive system, whilst its diuretic properties aid weight loss. Juniper blends well with Grapefruit and Lemon essential oils.
Safety note: People with kidney problems and pregnant women should avoid Juniper oil.
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of Mentha piperita. The main chemical constituents of this oil are menthol and menthone. Possessing carminative properties Peppermint helps reduce flatulence and is reputed to aid digestion by helping the flow of bile, as well as encouraging a less acidic internal environment. The oil is said to cleanse the liver of toxins due to its hepatic properties. Peppermint blends well with Grapefruit when used for cleansing and purification purposes.
Safety note: People with high blood pressure and pregnant women should avoid this oil.
Grapefruit essential oil
Grapefruit essential oil is expressed from the peel of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi). One of its main chemical constituents is D-limonene - a powerful phytochemical antioxident that protects cells from free radical damage. Grapefruit oil is said to increase energy levels and metabolism and reduce sugar cravings as well as hunger pangs. Possessing hepatic properties, this oil supports the liver, it also stimulates the lymphatic system and, as a natural diuretic, reduces fluid retention. As the oil has anti-fungal properties it can reduce the yeast responsible for causing Candida symptoms such as food cravings. Grapefruit oil blends well with Peppermint and Juniper essential oil.
Safety note: Grapefruit oil should be avoided if on statins. The oil is also phototoxic, so should not be used on the skin prior to sun exposure.
Lemon essential oil
Lemon essential oil is expressed from Lemon rind (Citrus limon). Similar to Grapefruit, one of its main chemical constituents is D-limonene. Lemon oil has depurative properties and supports the natural cleansing functions of the kidneys, liver and lymphatic system. Lemon blends particularly well with Juniperberry.
Safety note: Sensitisation can occur in some people. It is also phototoxic so should not be used on the skin prior to sun exposure.
Aromatherapy blends to get your body beach-ready
Summer Bikini Diet
Diffuse several drops of Grapefruit oil in a burner or vaporiser at the office or at home to help reduce food cravings!
Cleansing Abdominal Blend
Mix 2 drops Lemon essential oil, 3 Juniper, 2ml Avocado oil and 8ml Sunflower oil. Massage blended oils into the abdomen in a clockwise direction twice a day.
Mix 6 drops of Peppermint essential oil, 3 Grapefruit and 10ml Moisturising Lotion. Dry brush your skin before applying the lotion to affected areas twice a day.
Body brushing helps to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells whilst stimulating the circulation and lymphatic system to flush out toxins. Use a natural-bristle brush and firmly stroke the skin with long, sweeping upwards movements in a direction towards the heart.
Pre-Summer Body Wrap
Mix 8 drops of Juniper essential oil, 4 Lemon, 4ml Avocado oil and 20ml Sunflower oil. Massage into the skin and wrap body in an appropriate body wrap (available from beauty product suppliers). Use once per week.
Other top detox tips
- Start each day with a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This flushes the digestive system, rehydrates the body and gives you a little boost of Vitamin C.
- Eat fresh organic vegetables (ideally eat more raw vegetables in salads etc), wholegrains, pulses, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
- Avoid meat.
- Cut out alcohol, caffeine, dairy, sugar, bread, pastries, pasta and other processed foods.
- Drink 2 to 3 litres of ‘clean’ fluids per day e.g. water, fresh juices (especially vegetable juices), green tea, or herbal teas.
- Consider taking a probiotic supplement to fill your gut with good, digestion-enhancing bacteria.
- Try and do 20 minutes of ‘brisk’ exercise each day to get your blood pumping and help flush out toxins.
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