The Kitchari cleanse is a very mild version of the traditional “Pancha Karma” cleanse and can be safely performed at home with minimal guidance. This particular cleanse is suitable for all body types, as it can be modified to fit everybody’s individual needs. This cleanse consists of taking in a mono-diet of the classical Ayurvedic dish, Kitchari, which will allow the digestive system to take a much needed break, giving it new light and the ability to properly flush out toxins in the system.
The Kitchari cleanse can be performed solely as a mild mono-diet cleanse, or it can go a bit deeper by adding the appropriate herbal regimens and daily practices. This cleanse typically is done for 3-7 days, depending on the individual’s schedule and the amount of cleansing needed to be performed. Ideally, this is a planned out regimen that includes multiple pre-cleanse and post-cleanse regimens that will allow the system to ease into the cleanse and eventually ease out of it. If you are not careful, a cleanse can do more harm than good, further destroying the digestive system and depleting the energy levels.
***Please note that a cleanse of any kind should be avoided during menstruation.
Benefits of a Proper Kitchari Cleanse:
- Increases the digestive capacity
- Removes toxins from the system
- Removes heaviness and congestion from the body
- Removes heaviness and congestion from the mind
- Enhances the “Satvic” (balanced) state of an individual
- Enhances energy and feelings of wellness (prior to the cleanse; during the cleanse one may experience low energy due to the flushing of toxins and mild diet)
- Increases one’s confidence and motivation levels
The pre-cleanse is typically 3-7 days in length and performed directly before the actual Kitchari cleanse. Here is a general list of some of the important aspects of the pre-cleanse.
- Begin to phase out junk food, refined sugar, processed food and other harmful foods in the diet at least 7 days before the cleanse. It is not recommended to go from eating pizza and cookies every day to a mono-diet of Kitchari overnight. This is considered too drastic and could potentially cause a harmful reaction during the cleanse.
- Begin to perform Abhyanga Self-Oil Massage at least 5-7 days prior to the cleanse. Abhyanga Oil Massage is a classical way to prepare for a cleanse as it begins to loosen the deep rooted toxins, allowing their removal during the actual cleanse. Read how to perform an Abhyanga Oil Massage here.
- Take a Ginger/Baking Soda bath each night before bed. This bath mixture is a great addition to the pre-cleanse as it increases the circulation and promotes sweating, both of which will help to enhance the cleansing process. Perform this each night for 3-5 days before the cleanse. Find this ginger bath blend in my 7-day Detox Kit.
- Take in 1-2 Tbsp of Tikta Ghrita (Bitter Ghee) 3-7 days prior to the cleanse. This herb-infused ghee contains the most powerfully cleansing herbs available in Ayurvedic medicine. This herbal medicine will enhance the cleansing process 10 fold to ensure the removal of deep seated, stagnant toxins throughout the system. Read more on Tikta Ghrita here.
- Take Triphala Churna each night at least 7 days before the cleanse. Triphala is a traditional cleansing herbal formula that will flush out the GI tract, cleanse the liver and blood, promote elimination and increase the digestive capacity. Order Triphala here.
Kitchari Cleanse Procedures:
This section is to roughly guide you through the actual mono-diet cleanse itself. The Kitchari Cleanse is generally is performed for 3-10 days depending on the individual needs and the desired results. During this cleanse, you are free to eat as much Kitchari as you feel you need; however, it is normal to feel a low appetite especially after a couple days into the cleanse. Here are some important recommendations when performing a Kitchari Cleanse.
- Set specific dates for when and how long the cleanse will be. This is very necessary so you can make sure not to perform the cleanse during any big events, times of travel, stressful situations, excessive work or other intense situations. If there is too much work, stress and external stimulation, this can end up causing you more harm than good during this sensitive time of cleansing.
- Eat a mono-diet of a cleansing Kitchari recipe. This means that you should not take in any other foods at this time. The Kitchari can be made out of mung beans (split or whole) or red lentils; basmati rice, and easy to digest, well-cooked veggies such as carrots and greens. ***Please note that basmati rice is not recommended for everybody and especially not Kapha types. In these cases, one should replace the basmati rice with quinoa, millet or brown rice as appropriate. The Kitchari should consist of these main ingredients along with a large amount of spices, ghee, cilantro and lemon/lime juice to help increase the digestion and encourage the removal of toxins. Click here for my Cleansing Kitchari Recipe.
- Remove any caffeine, tobacco, alcohol or other substances from the daily regimen. This is a very important and mandatory step to take during the Kitchari cleanse. Your body becomes extra sensitive during times of cleanses and continuing any harmful substances such as these will cause more damage than health during the cleanse. If you feel you cannot give up any of these habits during this time, it is best to not to perform the cleanse until you feel can.
- Drink a detoxifying herbal tea throughout this time. The addition of a detoxifying herbal tea will help to flush out the toxins during your cleanse. There are many different herbal options out there including my Om Shanti tea blend and Healthy Digestion tea.
- Continue the Abhyanga Oil Massage and the Ginger/Baking Soda Bath each day during the cleanse. Oiling the body and inducing sweat are both well-known therapies to remove deep seated toxins. Without practices as these, the toxin removal will remain only on a superficial level.
- Continue taking Triphala Churna each night during the cleanse. This herbal formula is a classic recipe for cleansing the system and flushing out toxins. Taking this prior and during the cleanse will enhance the effectiveness of your Kitachri cleanse. Puchase Triphala Churna here.
- Make sure to make quiet time for yourself during the cleanse. This practice may look different for each individual depending on what may resonate with you personally. I prefer to do a restorative Yoga session each day, followed by gentle breath work (pranayama) and meditation. Other people may prefer to journal, sit in silence, be out in nature, take a gentle walk (if the temperature is appropriate), art therapy, music therapy or whatever feels good to you. Just remember that a cleanse has to have some mental detoxification to be truly healing! Read my article on “How to Perform a Mental Detox” for more ideas here.
The way you come off a cleanse (any cleanse) is by far just as important as the cleanse itself. If you come off eating ice cream and pizza directly after the cleanse, the results may impair your health and digestion far worse than before performing the cleanse. In fact, you may become permanently allergic to a food if you eat it too soon after a cleanse. So for your own sake, please remember these important factors while coming off of your cleanse.
- Slowly ease yourself back onto a “normal” healthy diet. After eating only Kitchari for 5-7 days, it is important to come back into your normal diet gracefully. In general, for the first week I recommend eating only well-cooked meals using lots of spices and ghee. Avoid raw food for this time, refined grains, refined sugar and all processed foods. Here are some good recipe options for the first week after your cleanse: Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup, Christmas Kitchari, Ojas Increasing Oatmeal, Quinoa Stir-Fry and Sautéed Kale with Golden Tahini Sauce. After one week, you can begin to add more foods in, but try your best to continue a healthy diet that is appropriate for your constitution and the season.
- Begin to ease your way back into your normal routine. Just as we must slowly introduce new foods, we also must slowly introduce new activities. This may include your exercise routine, power Yoga classes, intense workloads, traveling, extreme hikes and so forth. After a cleanse, the energy is quite low and must be gracefully regained to become more vital than ever. If this suggestion is not follow, you will instead be left dull, depleted and susceptible to illness.
- Slowly incorporate a healthy Rejuvenation Therapy. After the cleanse, one is likely to feel sensitive and slightly depleted. To rebuild the body and mind in a healthy way, a proper Rejuvenation Therapy is needed. This includes taking rejuvenating foods, herbs and lifestyle/behavioral practices. Read my article on Rejuvenation to find out specific details.
- Drink my Rejuvenating Ojas Shake 2-3 times each week, post-cleanse until the strength is restored. Click here for the recipe.
As you can see by reading this article, a cleanse is not something that should be taken lightly. One needs to take time to properly plan a cleanse out. It is also highly recommended to use your resources and let a knowledgeable Ayurvedic Practitioner help to guide you through each step. This will ensure the most powerful results and ward away the possibility of causing harm to your system. A proper cleanse will leave you feeling light, energized and full of mental clarity. Alternatively an improper cleanse will leave you feeling depleted, lethargic, dull minded with continued symptoms of indigestion.