NATURAL MEDICINE with DR. MONIQUE: Coming clean in the New Year

By on January 27, 2015

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – It’s the time of year to hit the reset button, and cleansing can be great part of your plan. There are

a variety of cleanses, but which one is best for you? In this article, I’m going to review some of the many choices available to help you sort it out.


A cleanse is a temporary, complete change of your food intake, undertaken to improve your health and, in some cases, to identify foods that might not agree with you. You will likely lose weight during a cleanse, but it’s a different approach than a diet. A cleanse is about your total health, not just the five pounds that showed up after the holidays.


Practiced for centuries by people interested in physical and spiritual improvement, fasting — eating no (or very limited) food for a prolonged period of time — should be done during a retreat, not while carrying out your normal life of work, exercise or parenting. My mother, a health food nut from the ’60s, would rent a condo near the beach for a week to focus only on her fast. She was not working or taking care of children and a household, she was focusing on her health — body, mind and soul. When you are eliminating the intake of all nutrients, you are not able to produce as much energy and you should be in a less-demanding environment. If you have never done a fast, consult a doctor prior to starting.

New studies have revealed that intermittent fasting can be beneficial to our health. A recent and popular new fasting format is the 5:2 fast, which consists of five days of normal eating and two non-consecutive days of consuming 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. Both methods have been effective in reducing cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. The 5:2 also reduces IGF-1, which is a growth hormone related to aging and cancer.


Juice cleanses are the addition of juice to your diet, or drinking only juice for a period of time.

If you are just juicing, it will give your body a break from digesting foods. Juicing can kick-start your body’s elimination processes and organs, specifically the colon, liver, kidneys and skin.

There are many benefits to adding juice to your regular diet: It increases your vitamin and mineral intake, and provides enzymes and antioxidants essential for health.

If you are not up to getting out the juicer, there are a variety of places to purchase juice in the valley. Make sure it’s organic, though, or you may be doing more harm than good.


An alkaline cleanse is when you eat foods that are alkaline when metabolized, such as broccoli, green leafy vegetables, lentils, pineapples and raspberries. This counteracts the effects of foods that are acid-producing in a poor diet, such as processed meats, alcohol and coffee, as well as the effects of stress, tobacco, and limited or excess physical activity. As part of the cleanse, you test your first-morning urine to measure progress, seeking the optimal pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

I did an alkalinizing cleanse for a week when I was in naturopathic medical school and the difference was very noticeable.


There are two methods for colon cleansing. The first is a regimen of supplements and foods. The second is a series of colonics. The reason for colon cleansing is that the Standard American Diet [SAD] can cause a build up of undigested food in the colon. This produces toxins that are reabsorbed into the bloodstream, making us feel fatigue and leading to weight gain. You can get things moving with your diet. First, increase your fiber intake by 20 to 35 grams a day. Under a doctor’s supervision, take herbs, magnesium and fiber. These all have a laxative effect and should be used with precaution, as taking too much can disrupt electrolyte balance.

A colonic, aka colon hydrotherapy, is a water enema that reaches a larger portion of the colon. Find an experienced colonic therapist, since there are certain conditions where this is contraindicated.


This is my favorite. Why? Because you can still work, exercise and continue with routine life on this cleanse. Try it for a week or three, eliminating all alcohol, coffee, refined sugar, dairy, gluten (wheat, barley and rye), soy, eggs and corn. Foods you should eat include lean meat, fish, beans, rice, vegetables and fruit. Dietary restriction cleanses are great to reset your system. They improve colonic as well as systemic health.

In order to heal, you can have an effect on your digestive system by cleansing for a week or two. Cleansing your tissues or your liver takes longer. Take it slow when you reintroduce food and decipher which ones have the most negative impact, eliminating them or keeping them to a minimum. You don’t have to do everything perfectly to become healthy. Health is gained by becoming aware of how your environment affects you, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Give it a try and good luck!

About Dr. Monique Lai

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