For a short cleanse or a week of panchakarma you are requested to respect your body by giving it time and certain considerations. The more completely you can clear your schedule for the cleanse, the better. More importantly, pick a time when you can minimize your exposure to stress. Ideally, you would not be working at all during the cleanse. If this is not realistic for you, at least minimize social engagements and get familiar with the preparation of the diet during the weekend. In general, eliminate any unnecessary commitments and give yourself as much unstructured time to rest as possible. A menstruating woman should also schedule her cleanse around her cycle so that she is not bleeding at any point during the three-day cleanse.
Once you have found a workable timeframe put your cleanse on the calendar and come up with a plan for acquiring the necessary supplies ahead of your start date (see our recipes and shopping list below). When the cleanse starts you will want to focus your energy on the process of detoxification and renewal. In other words, aim to be finished running around gathering supplies by the time you start the cleanse.
If you are in the habit of taking coffee, caffeine, tobacco products, alcohol or any recreational drugs on a regular basis, you may find it helpful to gradually reduce or eliminate their use in the days leading up to the cleanse. Similarly, reducing your intake of fast foods, processed foods, meat, refined sugars and sweets ahead of the start date can be very beneficial. You might also consider enlisting the support of close friends or family members who know what you are up to, what your intentions are and can encourage you through the process.
What to Expect
During the cleanse, you will be eating a simplified diet of oatmeal and kitchari. This diet is substantive enough that you can maintain your essential responsibilities while resetting the digestive system, supporting the elimination of toxins and balancing vata, pitta, and kapha. Freshly prepared foods are best, so you will want to cook your oatmeal, kitchari and teas fresh each day—at whatever time works best with your schedule. While you will want to avoid eating leftovers from previous days, it is acceptable to prepare all of your food for the day in the morning, if that works for you. Garnishes such as cilantro chutney and sesame seed chutney can usually be kept for several days without issue.
It is not uncommon to experience mild constipation during a cleanse. If your bowel movements slow in frequency or volume, or if your stools become more difficult to pass, please communicate that to the practitioner who will be able to support the daily flow. Healthy elimination is critical to the detoxification process, so it is best to be proactive about relieving any discomfort as soon as you are aware of it.
- In general, eat as much as is desired at each meal, enough to feel satisfied, but be careful not to overeat
- Eat simple oatmeal or kitchari for breakfast
- Eat kitchari for lunch and dinner, allowing at least three hours between meals
- You can garnish your kitchari with a little melted ghee, fresh coriander Chutney and sesame seed chutney to ensure that your system stays well-lubricated and that you continue to enjoy all six tastes in your diet
- It is best to avoid snacking between meals; but, if you need a little something extra, you can enjoy some fresh fruit or a few raw nuts
- If the monodiet is causing a sense of deprivation, you can try steaming your vegetables and serving them as a separate side dish, garnished with a little melted ghee, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Or, have a side of ½ avocado with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt
- Try not to eat anything after 7 p.m.
- Drink at least 8–12 cups of room temperature, warm, or hot fluids each day to ensure adequate hydration and to help flush toxins from the system
- Ideally, most of your fluids should be taken between meals
- Appropriate fluids include water, and detox teas
We suggest complementing your diet with the following herbs:
- Triphala powder (½ ounce) or Triphala tablets (6 tablets)
- Optional: Vata Digest, Pitta Digest, or Kapha Digest tablets can be taken after meals to improve agni (nine tablets)Ask our practitioner for your herbs.
- Rise early enough to give yourself a spacious and relaxed morning
- Upon waking, scrape your tongue and brush your teeth
- Sip 8–16 ounces of hot water to cleanse the system and to awaken the digestive capacity
- Optional: Gentle Exercise
- Slow, gentle movements will support cleansing; more than that can be counterproductive
- This is not a time to push yourself physically
- Consider walking, tai chi, qigong, or gentle yoga
- Take a bath or shower, using soap strategically (not all over the body)
- After that, you’ll want to have plenty of time to prepare your breakfast, kitchari and teas for the day without undue stress
- Eat simple oatmeal or kitchari for breakfast (ideally between 7–8 a.m.)
- Eat kitchari for lunch (ideally between 12–1 p.m.)
- Eat kitchari for dinner (ideally between 5–6 p.m., but no later than 7 p.m.)
- About a half hour before bed, take Triphala
- Steep ½ teaspoon triphala powder in a cup of freshly boiled water for ten minutes, cool and drink
- Or, take two to six Triphala tablets with a glass of warm water
- Retire for the night by 10 p.m.
- Sleep is the body’s best time to detox so be sure to get plenty of rest throughout the cleanse
- Keep your activities as quiet and mindful as possible
- Surround yourself with things that you find uplifting and nourishing
- Minimize stress and exposure to frantic or disturbing environments
- If intense emotions arise during or after the cleanse, greet your emotions with compassion, observe them with detached awareness and allow them simply to move through, honoring yourself in the process
- REST as much as possible. You can ensure that the bulk of your energy is devoted to cleansing by minimizing the number of resources that your body allocates elsewhere
Shopping for a Seven-Day Purification:
- Optional: Organic Rolled Oats (4 cups)
- Optional: Raisins (¾ cup or 4½ ounces)
- Optional: (1½–3 cups apple, apricot, peach, or pear)
- Organic white basmati rice (21 ounces)
- Organic yellow mung dhal (21 ounces)
- Organic ghee (clarified butter)—available at most health food stores (10 ounces)
- Optional: Organic Roasted Sesame Seeds (1 cup per batch of sesame seed chutney)
- Vegetables for kitchari (16 cups total), such as:
- Green Beans
- Summer Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Winter Squash
- Viveda Spices for your body type. You can also have garnishes on hand
- Black Mustard Seeds
- Black Pepper
- Optional: Cardamom powder (for oatmeal)
- Optional: Cayenne Pepper (for sesame seed chutney)
- Cilantro (¼ pound per batch of fresh coriander chutney)
- Optional: Cinnamon powder (for oatmeal)
- Cumin seeds whole
- Coconut, unsweetened and shredded
- Coriander powder
- Coriander seeds, whole
- Fennel powder
- Fennel seeds, whole
- Optional: Ginger powder (for oatmeal)
- Ginger root, fresh
- Hing (Asafoetida)
- Mint, fresh, or dried Peppermint
- Pink salt
- Optional: Nutmeg (for oatmeal)
- Sweeteners: Barley Malt or Raw Honey; Turbinado Sugar (light brown cane sugar)
- Turmeric powder
Care after your cleanse:
After you complete the three-day cleanse or panchakarma, your body may continue to process toxicity for a few days. And, your digestive system will have become accustomed to a very clean diet; you may even be somewhat sensitive to overly stimulating or processed foods. A slow transition back into your normal routine and a more diverse diet will help to preserve the benefits of your cleanse. For a couple of days afterwards, eat primarily simple, whole foods, gradually diversifying your menu. This is not the time to celebrate with pizza and a beer! Also, pay special attention to how you handle potentially aggravating foods like dairy, wheat, soy, and nightshades after the cleanse. Your body may have some new information to offer you about your relationship with specific foods.
As you wrap up the cleanse, take some time to reflect on your life so that you can move forward with whatever new intentions feel important to you. This is a potent time to cultivate a deeper level of inner awareness, to listen to your body, and to honor every aspect of your being as you transition out of the cleanse. You might also take some time to appreciate your body for all the ways it serves and supports you. Remember too, that you’ve offered yourself a valuable gift with this cleanse—one that requires a certain level of discipline and commitment. Congratulations on your accomplishment. We hope that it serves you in a multitude of gratifying ways.
The final step following your cleanse is rejuvenation. This step can take up to three months. Rejuvenating foods and practices are usually sweet and comforting, and most people find this phase of the cleanse quite enjoyable. Your practitioner may suggest certain herbs for tissue rejuvenation.
Recipes from the book of taste: