For thousands of years, yogis have traditionally practiced detoxification rituals in the morning. These rituals are part of a system of healing known as Ayurveda. Detoxification and morning rituals are so important to Ayurveda that many practitioners become dedicated to following a morning routine which can last for several hours. Ways to effectively detox in the morning include: rinsing the nose with a neti pot, scraping the tongue, emptying the bladder and bowels, practicing yoga and meditation, and boosting functions of the digestive system by consuming certain cleansing drinks or foods. (Learn more in A Morning Routine for Conscious Living.)
A morning detox drink made with fresh lemon, raw honey, ginger and sometimes other spices (like turmeric or cinnamon) helps keep the digestive system in order, clear accumulated toxins and rev up appetite. It is beneficial for priming the body to metabolize nutrients and facilitating healthy bowel movements so you enter the day feeling light and invigorated. It might even leave you looking fresher, more relaxed and well-rested, too!
As a fruit, lemons are extremely low in sugar. They are high in antioxidants and vitamins, including immune-boosting vitamin C. Like other citrus fruits, lemons are a good source of the antioxidant group called flavonoids, which are tied to reducing inflammation, cancer protection and many other health benefits. Research shows that lemon juice contains vital nutrients that can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and cellular metastases while protecting healthy cells and offering many anti-aging effects.
When it comes to digestive health and detoxification, lemon juice is beneficial because of its chemical structure. It works similarly to the digestive juices found in the stomach by helping the pancreas produce bile and metabolize nutrients. In the process, it reduces indigestion, acid reflux and fluctuating blood sugar levels. Lemon has also been shown to improve the appearance of one's skin as it increases vitamin C counts (slowing down signs of aging) and stimulating the liver which in turn flushes out waste and toxins.
Did you know that ginger is one of the most widely used dietary condiments in the world and has been part of healing tonics for more than 4,700 years? Similar to lemon, ginger (Zingiber officinale) has cancer-protective properties due to it's high concentration of gingerol. Gingerol has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have shown that ginger helps regulate the immune system and offers protection against colorectal and ovarian cancers.
But where ginger really shines is in its ability to boost digestive health and curb an upset stomach. Ginger has been made into stomach-soothing teas for centuries. It's been given to pregnant women suffering from nausea, those with digestive illnesses, people recovering from surgery or trauma, and many more. It’s been shown to help the stomach release its contents into the small intestines in people with slowed gastric emptying (dyspepsia). It reduces stomach bloating, helps treat constipation, lowers inflammation associated with gastrointestinal disorders and acts like a muscle relaxant by soothing the gut lining and helping food move through the bowels more easily. Ginger is also capable of healing malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies by regulating the production of acids and enzymes that break down foods throughout the entire digestive system.
How To Make Detox Tea
As part of a healing morning ritual, plan to make and drink a fresh cup of lemon ginger tea shortly after waking up. Many believe this drink’s effects are strongest when consumed on an empty stomach. You can also sip this detox tea with breakfast, in between meals or at other points in the day when you’re feeling sluggish.
Start by purchasing high quality ingredients: organic lemons and fresh ginger root. Use a simple handheld peeler to grate a small piece of the fresh ginger, about one half inch long. Place the ginger into a teapot or mug and cover it with very hot or near boiling water. Allow the ginger to steep for at least several minutes before cutting your lemon in half and squeezing approximately one half’s worth of juice into your mug.
If you prefer to sweeten your detox drink you can add raw local honey after it has cooled a bit. Boiling water can destroy the many beneficial and delicate enzymes in raw honey, so avoid adding it while the water is still very hot or microwaving the mixture once in your mug.
Other Detox Spices
In addition to adding ginger to your morning detox drink, other warming spices can be incorporated including turmeric, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. These spices have many of the same benefits although each acts in a slightly different way. Turmeric for example, is one of the most well-known anti-inflammatory ingredients there is, offering protection against conditions like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. (Learn more in Why Do Yogis Love Turmeric?) Cinnamon is known for stabilizing blood sugar, curbing sugar cravings and helping prevent energy dips between meals.
In the summer, pour your favorite rendition of this detox drink over ice or make it using cooling herbs like fresh cut basil. To prep ahead in order to cut down on work in the morning, you can make one larger batch and fill up several glass bottles or mason jars. Then keep it refrigerated so it's ready to drink when you wake up. Rather than microwaving it, gently warm it in a pot over the stovetop.
After Drinking Your Detox Tea
Once you finish drinking your detox tea, eat a modest, healthy breakfast. The detoxifying ingredients in the tea will prime your digestive system to produce the appropriate enzymes needed to help metabolize your meal properly. Keep in mind that another Ayurveda practice related to detoxing is to consume a small breakfast, rather than eating a big meal that can leave you feeling tired afterward. Though each person's body is different, many people feel better and experience improved digestion when they split their daily meals into more manageable sized portions and don’t overload their system with one to three large meals each day.