In this increasingly toxic world, we all need to take care to cleanse our system of the poisons. Blood cleansing herbs are a great way to undo some of the damage wrought by our contaminated environment. Blood cleansing improves circulation, removes toxins from the bloodstream, helps neutralize excess acidity and may reduce certain types of cancer.
I will start by describing the qualities and contraindications of each of the herbs.
Yellow Dock – In traditional herbal medicine, yellow dock is thought to be a general health tonic. Yellow dock is thought to benefit the digestive tract, liver and skin. One of its primary uses by herbalists is for skin conditions associated with poor digestion, poor liver function or “toxicity”. It’s great for acne and other congestive skin conditions, which is why it’s become my all-time favorite cleansing herb.
Yellow dock has a mild laxative effect, due to constituents called anthraquinone glycosides. It appears to stimulate the release of bile and digestive enzymes. Yellow dock may cause mild diarrhea in some people. Call your health practitioner if you experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
Yellow dock should not be used by people taking drugs that decrease blood calcium, such as diuretics, Dilantin, Miacalcin, or Mithracin. Yellow dock should also not be used by people with kidney disease, liver disease, an electrolyte abnormality, or pregnant or nursing women.
Excessive use of yellow dock can cause a blood disorder called metabolic acidosis and life-threatening calcium deficiency in the blood. Call your health practitioner if you experience signs of low blood calcium, such as fatigue, seizures, confusion, muscle spasms, and numbness around the mouth.
Oregon Grape Root – Herbalists use Oregon grape root in the treatment of bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and eye infections. It has a sedative effect on the smooth muscles lining the digestive tract and can relieve stomach cramps and abdominal pain.
Oregon Grape can be used in skin washes to deter the over production of skin cells that occurs in placque psoriasis. One of the advantages to using preparations of the whole herb, as opposed to using products that only contain berberine extracts is that Oregon Grape Root contains tannins that ease inflammation, irritation, and itching of the skin.
Herbalists consider Oregon Grape an excellent alternative to the now endangered Goldenseal. They are not botanically related, but they both contain the immune-stimulating, infection-fighting, antiseptic constituent berberine. Herbs that contain berberine are scientifically proven to protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Warning: Do not use Oregon Grape Root when chronic gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation is present, such as irritable bowel. The herb is not a problem for nursing mothers unless the baby has jaundice, however it should not be used while pregnant. Limit use to no more than 7 consecutive days for adults, 3 for children, exercise caution when using in children. Taking vitamin B6 supplements can give infectious bacteria resistance to the antibacterial toxins in the herb. So, deep six the B6 until you have completed your treatment.
Red Clover - Red clover blossoms are anti-inflammatory and contain beta-carotene and vitamin E. Red Clover purifies the blood because it acts as a diuretic and helps cleanse the liver, which otherwise circulates toxins through the bloodstream.
Chaparral - Chaparral leaves contain a powerful antioxidant and are an effective herbal antibiotic. Chaparral cleanses the lymph system, clears heavy metals from the blood and may be able to drive tumors into remission. Chaparral is a powerful blood purifier, but consumption could be harmful to the liver. If you already have a liver disorder you may be wise to avoid Chaparral. If you are in good health, you should still take care not to over use this herb.
Burdock Root – Traditionally herbalists all over the world use Burdock Root as a blood purifier. Burdock has been used by herbalists worldwide to treat a variety skin diseases such as abscesses, acne, carbuncles, psoriasis and eczema. Burdock can be either taken alone or combined with other remedies, such as Yellow Dock and Sarsaparilla. The beneficial effects of this herb includes increasing circulation to the skin, helping to detoxify the epidermal tissues. Burdock Root has been reported to destroy bacteria and fungus cultures. It is a popular detoxifying agent that produces a diuretic effect on the body which aids the filtering of impurities from the bloodstream. By promoting perspiration, Burdock Root eliminates toxins through the skin. By producing a detoxifying effect, Burdock Root aids blood circulation and produces a variety of positive side effects. Burdock Root contains inulin, a carbohydrate that strengthens the liver. The high concentration of inulin and mucilage aids in the soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. The high concentration of inulin is helpful for individuals that are afflicted with diabetes and hypoglycemia as it provides helpful sugar that does not provoke rapid insulin production. Inulin, which is very high in Burdock, is a resinoid or camphor-like hydrocarbon that is aromatic, stimulant, expectorant, tonic, stomachic, and antiseptic.
Burdock Root contains polyacetylenes that gives the herb its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is used as a mild laxative that aids in the elimination of uric acid or gout. It is classified as an alterative, diuretic and diaphoretic. It helps the kidneys to filter out impurities from the blood very quickly. It clears congestion in respiratory, lymphatic, urinary and circulatory systems. Burdock releases water retention, stimulates digestion, aids kidney, liver and gallbladder function. It also functions as an aperient, depurative, and antiscorbutic.
Decoctions of Burdock have also been historically used for soothing the kidneys, relieving the lymphatic system, rheumatism, gout, GI tract disorders, stomach ailments, constipation, catarrh, fever, infection, fluid retention and skin problems. An article in Chemotherapy identified the chemical arctigenin contained in Burdock as an “inhibitor of experimental tumor growth.”
Both European and Chinese herbalists have long considered burdock root’s “lightly warming, moistening effect an excellent tonic for the lungs and liver.” It reportedly stimulates toxic waste through the skin and urine, improving digestion and is good for arthritis and rheumatism. Burdock is an aid to circulation because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
A recent study showed that Burdock blocked dangerous chemicals from causing damage to cells, suggesting the possibility that burdock may help decrease the risk of developing cancer from toxic chemicals.
Burdock root is rich in many minerals, including iron, which makes it a valuable restorative herb for the blood. Burdock root can be ingested cooked or raw, as a tea/infusion or tincture. To make a tea/infusion, dry the root and simmer in hot water, or use cut and sifted dried herb. A standard tincture dose is 30 drops twice daily.
Pokeroot - Pokeroot is found throughout the United States, Southern Europe and Northern Africa. It is beneficial for glandular disorders and cleans the blood by cleansing tissues and purifying the lymphatic system. Taken in large quantities it can upset the stomach and intestinal track; limit ingestion to five to 10 drops of tincture every three hours.
Sheep Sorrel – Sheep sorrel is high in vitamins, chlorophyll and iron. Dr. Marilyn Tucker, formerly of drmarilyntucker.com, explains that the chlorophyll helps promote healthy liver function, while the iron and vitamins cleanse and replenish the blood. Additionally, sheep sorrel is a diuretic, which cleanses the blood and the entire system. “The herb helps to clear the system of poisons and is also good for skin problems of all kinds”.
Now that you are familiar with the innate qualities of each herb, you can wisely choose the ones that will best serve your detox purposes. To get you started, here is one of my favorite blood cleansing recipes:
Blood Cleansing Infusion
½ tsp. Oregon Grape Root
¼ tsp. Yellow Dock
¼ tsp. Burdock Root, c/s (cut and sifted dried herb)
8 oz. Boiling hot water
Pour boiling hot water into a cup and immediately add herbs, in an infuser or tea bag. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, but I prefer 20 or until the water is cool enough to drink. The longer they steep the stronger the infusion.
The first week, you should drink only one cup of blood cleanser a day; the following week, you may drink two a day. In the weeks thereafter, you may take up to three cups of the blood cleanser in a single day, but no more than three. You may remain on a blood cleanse for as long as three months at a time, four at most. Then you should take a break of at least two months before starting again. I always wait three to six months, depending on how I feel. As the saying goes, “if it’s not dirty why clean it?”
There is another great Blood Cleansing recipe in our video – Blood Cleansers: Why? What? How? Click the link to view it. But these recipes are just to get you started.
You should feel free to experiment with herbs. Just remember to always research any herbs that you are interested in BEFORE consuming them. Herbs are amazing natural creations, but when used improperly, or by those whose systems simply can’t handle them – for whatever reason, they can also be dangerous. Be mindful of dosages and precautions. Not everyone can use every herb.
Note: Only use measuring spoons to measure the herbs. DO NOT use table/utensil spoons! You’d think that this would go without saying, but I have discovered over the years that it really does need to be said.