Keeping Clean: An Inside Job
by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)
Most of us spend a lot of time keeping things clean. We bathe, wash dishes, vacuum our carpets, sweep our floors, take our cars to the car wash, and launder our clothes. However, very few of us ever give thought to the idea of internal cleanliness. But, it isn’t just the outside of the body and our environment that must be kept clean. We also need to be clean on the inside.
Every day, as we consume foods and beverages and burn them for energy, the body creates waste products. Eliminating these by-products of metabolism is so important that the body has many different systems for breaking them down and eliminating them. Were it not for the incredible efficiency of the lymphatic system, the liver, the kidneys, the sweat glands and oil ducts in our skin, our colon, and the mucus membranes of our sinuses and lungs, our body would suffocate in its own waste in a couple of days.
Just because we aren’t dead, however, doesn’t mean that our eliminative organs are working at peak efficiency. When a furnace, automobile, or any other mechanical device starts to get dirty, its efficiency diminishes. The same is true for the body. If the efficiency of one or more eliminative channels drops just 10-20% it won’t be enough to kill us, but it certainly will have a gradual, and cumulative effect on our energy level and health.
That’s why traditional herbalism and naturopathy have always placed a heavy emphasis on hygiene, not just external hygiene, but internal hygiene as well. Therapies dedicated to opening up and strengthening eliminative channels have been collectively known as cleansing.
Cleansing is especially important in modern society. While public sanitation and attention to external cleanliness have helped to ensure we don’t have plagues or get diarrhea from contaminated water, we have a new problem on our hands—environmental pollution.
Every day we are exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of chemicals, many of which did not even exist 100 years ago. These chemicals are present in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we consume and products which come in contact with our skin. We have air pollutants from automobiles and industry. We have water pollutants from agricultural runoff, industrial contamination, and even from the water treatment delivery systems that bring treated water into our homes.
The foods we eat also contain chemicals. There are traces of agricultural chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are used on crops. Processed foods are also laced with additives—preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents, texture enhancers, and so forth. My personal health regime involves avoiding as many of these chemicals as I can by purchasing foods in as natural a state as I can, and using organically-grown foods whenever possible.
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