This year, the summer solstice aka the longest day of the year falls at 4:31am on June 21. In a nutshell, the science behind this is when the Earth orbits the sun over the course of each year, its axis always points at the same direction in space. Summer solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted nearest to the sun (about 23.4 degrees). The Sun travels the longest path through the sky and the day therefore has the most daylight.
Many festivals and traditions have been built around the longest day as is provides a great opportunity to pause and reflect. The term solstice is derived from the Latin term 'solstitium': 'sol' = sun 'sistere', to stand still. Other traditions mark it as a time for new beginnings and growth.
In some spiritual circles, it is considered that fasting or cleansing during the Equinox and solstice is more effective than at other times in the planetary calendar. Unlike January, when the body really just wants to hibernate, be cosy and fill up on comforting food, the solstice is a great time to schedule a cleanse as the days are
warmer, we spend more time outdoors, we tend towards lighter foods anyway; and our bodies' are going through natural shift as the cosmos revolves around us. Managed well, a cleanse at this time of year will enable you to enjoy the benefits of greater energy, improved digestion, clearer skin, weight loss and improved mood as we move back towards shorter daylight hours.
Our body is exposed to an increasingly large number of foreign chemicals on a daily basis. The majority are synthetic chemicals that find their way into our food, air and water. Some are consumed through pharmaceutical drugs, applied in our toiletries, found in common household items, cleaning products, airborne pollutants and even our sunscreen!
Overexposure to toxic substances and an inability to properly metabolise them can negatively impact an individual’s health. This puts additional load on the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system and bowels producing a wide variety of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, allergies, flu-like symptoms, poor skin, hair, nails, bad breath, muscle and joint pain.
How to do a gentle Cleanse?
Cleansing doesn't have to mean eating only carrot sticks for a week, eating nothing but cabbage soup or fasting day in day out (and I certainly wouldn't recommend any of these unless for incredibly specific reasons under professional supervision).
Methods of elimination could include drinking more filtered water, eating unprocessed whole foods with less protein and animal derived foods or eating during a set window to give your body a longer time overnight to rest and digest. Reducing the work the liver and kidneys have to do through taking a break from alcohol, caffeine and even supplements could also be incredibly beneficial.
You can support the body's natural ability to detoxify through eating supportive foods. These include artichoke, broccoli and other cruciferous veg, beetroot and carrots, leafy greens, avocado, turmeric and green tea. Naturopathic techniques such as body brushing, Epsom salt baths and simply resting more will help too (a great excuse to sit down and watch a box set). Don't forget that even exercise works wonders as it promotes sweat. Make sure to keep it at a level where you can have a good chat so as to reduce the stress on your body.
What to expect
You may notice some transient side-effects (which will quickly disappear) however it is worth timing a cleanse around a low stress week. Side effects could include: headaches, increased perspiration, breath odour, skin outbreak, increased urination or bowel movements and mild fatigue.
When Not to Cleanse
Avoid cleansing during illness unless supervised by a qualified practitioner and always check with your GP if you are taking any medication (or recreational drugs for that matter), pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.