Diary of a Liver Cleanse.
The week of 19th March 2012 I started to get really frustrated with not be able to practise yoga asana (or do any exercise for that matter) due to an injury. I was browsing a website which offered infra-red saunas, as a friend had recommended that I try one to help speed up the muscles’ healing process, when I started to read about the clinic’s detox programs. There was a link to an article entitled “10+ Reasons to do a Liver & Gallbladder Flush” (please see http://www.hydroholistic.com/blog/cleansing/10-reasons-to-do-a-liver-gallbladder-flush).
I had first heard about this procedure from a fellow student on a shamanic healing course in October 2010. As he had raved about doing liver cleanses and their benefits I had been thinking “These hippies, they really do take things a step too far…. Can’t see myself getting round to that I am afraid.” Now I have just completed my first cleanse and the only nagging point is that apparently it takes 6-8 flushes to clean out the liver and gallbladder completely, with recommended intervals of 3-4 weeks between flushes. Can I really go through this faff another 5 times I ask myself?
I decided to do the cleanse so that I could do something good for my body whilst being unable to exercise. I found another website with instructions on how to do the cleanse (as the first website want you to do it under their instruction and of course charge for this. They offer a colonic irrigation the day after the cleanse to remove all the gallstones but I am pretty sure in my case this would be unnecessary as a lot of water seemed to be coming out all by itself thank you!) The strict diet means that were I exercising as normal I would have had little inclination to follow it, but what with no exercise on the agenda, a quieter than normal schedule client-wise and a free Friday night the following week I really had no excuse. (The day after the cleanse it is not suitable to go to work, no-matter what your job, so you need to set aside a weekend evening.) I started to prepare myself mentally, gee-ing myself up for it, so to speak. This is not a “whim” type procedure. I needed to psychologically prepare myself. So here’s what the “ordeal” involved…..
On Monday 26th March I went out to buy all the necessary ingredients. I was looking for Epsom salts in Wholefoods along with the other kitchen salts but was having no joy. Despite having a myriad of different types of table salt, from pink mountain salt, to Caribbean sea salt, to sacred-rock salt (something like that anyway; I was in the big store in High Street Kensington – massive sensory overload!) Epsom salts were nowhere to be found. Strange. Eventually I discovered that Epsom salts are sold by Holland and Barratt (H&B) and are basically bath salts. You are meant to luxuriously bathe in these salts, and it clearly states on the packaging “not to be taken internally”…. Oh well!
On Wednesday 28th March, I started the diet. Ideally you are only meant to drink fresh unpasteurized apple juice for 3 days. If you do eat you are meant to eat fresh fruit and raw vegetables only, and frugally. I was quite diligent about drinking a lot of apple juice as it is the pectin in the juice which helps to soften and flatten the stones, thus aiding their passage through the bile ducts, and I ate only fresh fruit and vegetables, but definitely not “frugally”. I had fruit for breakfast on Friday morning (30th March) and then stopped eating. Whether that counts as only doing the diet for 2 days is unclear but 3 days of apple juice PLUS the day of the cleanse, where you are basically going without food, just seems a bit extreme to me and whilst the 3 days was manageable, 4 would have been much harder I feel as by the Friday afternoon I was really hungry and so dosing up on heavily honeyed decaffeinated tea and coconut water. Just as the less you eat the better, similarly, the earlier you stop eating before the cleanse starts at 6pm, so much the better. The latest that you can stop eating is 2pm on cleanse-day. Having only had breakfast, I was feeling rather pleased with myself as I looked at my printed out schedule at 5.45pm in preparation for the first step which was to begin at 6pm. To my horror the instructions clearly stated “do not eat or drink after 2pm. If you break this rule you could feel quite ill later.” I decided there was no way I could wait until the following evening to do the cleanse and I would press on ahead anyway. I figured that this was primarily a reference to eating, rather than drinking. Surely tea and coconut water couldn’t be that aggravating?
So at 6pm I ingested my first dose of diluted Epsom salts – 3/4 of a measuring cup’s worth of foul-tasting liquid. The salts are taken in order to open the bile duct valves and thus ease the stone’s journey to freedom. At 8pm I took my second dose of Epsom dose which was a bit “eurgh” but perfectly manageable. The instructions said I wouldn’t feel hungry. I felt very hungry. At 10pm I took the special ‘only-a-crazy-person-would-drink-this-stuff’ mixture; being a measuring cup’s worth of olive oil and fresh grapefruit juice shaken up together. After imbibing this mix you lie down immediately and try to go to sleep. The idea is that this mixture shocks the liver into dumping its entire content, including the normally dormant but pernicious gallstones. The instructions recommend taking the sleeping pills ‘Ornithine’ with the warning “Don’t skip this or you may have the worst night of your life!” (sic) but H&B didn’t sell these and I thought I would forgo any other type of sleeping pill as my body was going to be under enough of an assault as it was; I didn’t want to add sleeping pills into the mix. I had had a lavender bath just before downing the mix and I fell asleep relatively quickly. I awoke at 3am feeling nauseous and uncomfortable. My stomach was in a right state and I could feel it trying to process a lot of bile which really felt like coming up, rather than going down, for expulsion. I had a fairly unpleasant half an hour feeling really sick and weird, with my digestive system churning and gurgling. At 6am I had my first bowel movement (BM) which wasn’t too bad. My intestines were clean because of the fast since Wednesday morning and I was grateful for having a pre-prepared clear and clean passageway. I took my third dose of Epsom salts at 6.15am. This time round I was retching getting the cup down and found the dilution, though the same dosage as the previous night, much harder to swallow. There was a lot of spitting in between gulps. I went back to bed but couldn’t get back to sleep easily. My abdomen was making extraordinary noises by now; gurgling, almost groaning, in a very loud and unfamiliar fashion. Everything felt out of sorts. This continued for the next few hours. At 8.10am I glugged down the fourth and final cup of Epsom salts with some difficulty and went back to bed. Thirty minutes later I had another much heavier BM but there were still no sign of the wretched gallstones. I figured that I didn’t have any to expel and that whole process had been a complete waste of time. Although I then did feel entitled to enjoy a moment of smugness for the fact that I didn’t have any in me! I eat a lot of transfats due to a cake and biscuit consumption that should leave me obese, but generally I am pretty healthy and I only drink alcohol occasionally. Yes there was a ten year period when I abused and assaulted my liver with heavy alcohol consumption as per the standard British teenager and twenty-something but in the last four+ years I have been a light drinker and in the past two+ years have hardly drunk at all. Perhaps my virtuousness had paid off…. Fifteen minutes later I had a full-on BM and 11 stones came out. Disappointingly only 3 of them were large. The stones were soft (because of the apple juice I had been diligently drinking) and bright pea-green. Fifteen minutes later and I expelled 5 small and one huge stone, which looked a lot like a pistachio nut. My BMs were basically gushes of fluid and if I prodded my belly you could hear all the liquid swilling around. An hour later, another BM and only 1 stone. Twenty minutes later, and 2 more stones. At 10.45am another BM, still gushing fluid, but this produced one lousy stone to show for my efforts; although admittedly it was a pleasingly large one. Now that some stones had been expelled, and thus I obviously did have them in me, I felt cheated that not more were coming out. You do not feel any stones being expelled – you have to look into the toilet bowl and see them floating on the surface of the water. They float because of the cholesterol and automotive grease inside. Finding them is very satisfying!
Once things had calmed down, by 11.35am, I was able to have a cup of tea and a banana, and at 12 noon I ate a proper breakfast. The cleanse had basically finished, although throughout the day I continued to have BMs without too much warning, and sadly without many more stones coming out, except for maybe the odd small one here and there. Even as late as 8.20pm my final BM of the day was still very far from normal.
In summary, I am pleased that a number of stones came out (approximately 20 in total, but with the majority very small) and I do feel that any other debris must also have got swept out along the way in the course of my many BMs during Saturday, which can only be a good thing. No need for a colonic irrigation any time soon, put it that way. However I definitely did not expel anywhere near as many stones as the above photograph and I just hope that this means that my liver is generally clean and thus not in such need of being cleansed like this, rather than that most of my stones just did not get extracted. I do feel that I was effectively cleansed and I am hoping that this procedure will improve my skin, namely reducing facial acne. If it does, it will have been worth it. At this point I can see myself doing another cleanse. Just not for at least another 6 months!