Detoxifying herbs are a great compliment to any cleansing program to heighten the results, but they can also be beneficial to take in smaller dosages for daily health and maintenance. Whether taking them for either purpose, it is important to chose the ones that are specific for your individual needs, current imbalances and overall constitution (Prakrtti). As you will see, not all detoxifying herbs are made the same. In fact, each herb possesses special energetics and healing properties that makes it unique when compared to the others. So if you are looking for a detoxifying herb that is more specific for cleansing the liver, killing unwanted parasites or increasing digestion and elimination; this article will help you to decide which herb(s) may be the best options for you and your needs.
Before we move on, it is always important to note that these articles are to help educate; however, I am not a promoter of self-diagnosis, nor self-treatment when it comes to herbs. You see, even though an herb sounds great on paper, you may still not know the dosage to take it in, or if you should combine it with other herbs to balance off any harsh effects that the herb may possess (or even avoid it all together). For example, Neem is an incredibly cleansing herb and is great in the proper context. Unfortunately, it is also extremely drying and provoking to Vata, and therefore should not be taken by those with a strong Vata imbalance.
This is only one example, but all herbs have the power to either heal us or to create further imbalance. And so in conclusion, it is best to eventually find a knowledgeable practitioner to help guide you in these types of situations. So with that being said…
7 Powerful Ayurvedic Herbs for Detoxification
Specific Uses: Blood cleanser; treats skin disorders; beautifies complexion
Manjistha is a great option for detoxification when it comes to Ayurvedic herbs, especially for Pitta types. Manjistha is a bright red root and as its color may indicate, its main action is to cool and cleanse both the blood and liver. It is also highly revered for its ability to beautify the complexion and is often used to treat most skin disorders including acne, redness, rash, eczema and psoriasis. Some other special properties you can find with Manjistha is its ability to break through obstructions (tumor, stones, toxins, etc), promote healthy circulation, heal wounds and mend broken bones.
Specific Use: Treat parasitical infestation
Vidanga is Ayurveda’s top anti-parasitical herb, making it a must for a well-rounded detoxification formula. Whether it is an unwanted parasite, worm, bacterial or fungal infestation, Vidanga is essential to combat these invasive guests. Although it is not commonly talked about in the West, these issues are all very real for many people, and unfortunately often go undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
Some common symptoms of parasites (of all kinds) include chronic gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, sugar cravings, heavy coating on the tongue, vertical lines on the nails (showing malabsorption), pink and puffy around the nails, chronic low energy, poor digestion, poor absorption of nutrients, and an overall feeling of unwell for an extended period of time. Since parasites are hard to detect at times and often go undiagnosed, it is typically a vital herb to include for any cleansing program.
Specific Use: Detoxify and strengthen the liver
Perhaps one of the most beneficial herbs for strengthening and cleansing the liver, Kutki (aka Katuka) is an essential player in many Ayurvedic detox formulas. As with many cleansing herbs this Indian root is extremely bitter in taste, giving rise to its cooling, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Besides being a must-have liver tonic and blood cleanser, Kutki is generally used for reducing Pitta imbalance, alleviating skin disorders, promoting elimination, aiding in weight loss, stabilizing blood sugar, treating allergies and boosting sluggish digestion.
Specific Uses: Cleanse liver and blood; anti-inflammatory; balance Pitta
I have chosen to add Guduchi to this list of powerful detox herbs, not only because it is just that, but also because it is much more “gentle” in action and therefore is often used in higher dosages without any harsh effects. Unlike any of these herbs mentioned before, Guduchi is tri-doshic by nature, meaning it is beneficial for all doshic types and imbalances. Although it is heating in action, it is a main herb for treating many Pitta disorders; and although it is quite cleansing, Guduchi also is known as a rejuvenative (rasayana) as it helps to promote strength, immunity and longevity. Although I can go on and on about this amazing herb, I will just end by mentioning that another special trait of Guduchi is the effect it has to calm the mind and promote the intellect, making it again unique from its detoxifying “peers”.
Specific Use: Increase digestive fire (Agni) and metabolism
When looking to detoxify the system, one must always look to increase the digestive fire simultaneously. Therefore, no detox formula is truly complete without a powerful Agni-kindling (aka digestion boosting) tonic. Chitrak is quite possibly the best herb available in Ayurveda for this purpose. Chitrak is often used for all types of sluggish or weak digestion issues, including gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, slow digestion (Manda Agni), slow metabolism, dull appetite and sleepiness after food. Although its main use is to boost digestion, Chitrak also is useful for burning toxins, cleansing the blood, removing stagnation, treating many intestinal disorders and killing parasites.
Specific Use: Liver and blood cleanser; skin and eye disorders
A bit more well known, the bitter Neem leaf is yet another must-have for this detoxifying herb list. Although you will not need much, this bitter tonic carries powerful blood cleansing properties along with notable anti-parasitical, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions. Neem has an affinity for both the liver and the blood, making it a great option for skin disorders, especially with a Pitta involvement (i.e. rash, irritation, redness, acne, eczema, psoriasis). Its cooling nature also helps with treating Pitta in the GI tract, and is useful for alleviating hyperacidity, nausea, vomiting, ulcers, colitis, gastritis, diarrhea and Crohn’s disease. If this isn’t enough , it is also a main Ayurvedic herb for treating the invasive Candida (among other fungal and bacterial infestations), due to its potent antimicrobial nature.
Specific Use: Detox deep-rooted toxins; anti-inflammatory; antimicrobial (bacteria, virus, fungus, parasites)
Last but definitely not least, I leave you with not just a detoxifying herb, but an insanely detoxifying formula that has been used traditionally for thousands of years. Mahasudarshana is the equivalent to an herbal antibiotic (and beyond), as it is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial, viral and fungal infections. This Ayurvedic formula is made up of some of the most powerfully cleansing herbs in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopia and its list of health benefits go on and on.
Besides detoxification, this formula is used for killing unwanted parasites, treating infections, flushing out the lymphatic system, alleviating allergies, boosting immunity and even reducing sweet cravings. Some of the main herbs in this formula include the very herbs we have just discovered in this article such as Neem, Kutki, Vidanga, Guduchi and Chitrak. Other main ingredients in Mahasudarshan include Chirata, Kutaja, Triphala, Trikatu, Musta, Turmeric, Daruharidra and Bhumyamalaki, making this one of the most bitter, cleansing and antimicrobial formula available in Ayurveda.