Every now and then I like to do some internal housework by treating my insides to a good old cleanse. Even though I eat what I consider to be a very healthy diet, I also probably don't manage to drink quite enough water all the time - all these nuts are quite dehydrating - and I do eat meat which is pretty tough to process. Plus sometimes your digestive system needs a little period of calm in terms of dealing with large amounts of protein or fatty foods. I guess it's a little like Lent after the stodgy winter months - without mountains of chocolate eggs at the end. I used to fast and take herbs, but once I'd heaved a nearly ten pound Finley out and spent the next few years fantasising about sleeping past 6am, fasting didn't seem quite so appealing. I guess I just didn't have the reserves anymore?
Well I realised that I hadn't done a cleanse in a good long time and whilst Summer is a little later than the traditional Spring purge - it seemed as good a time as any to do it. I wanted something gentle and thorough and considered a juice cleanse or maybe a couple of weeks of soup and salad? But during my internet wanderings on the subject I was reminded about an oxygen based cleanser that sounds just like the sort of thing you put down the drains when they are a bit silted up - but I promise you, is nothing of the sort.
Now oxygen therapy isn't new to me, I first found out about it right back when I was starting to have all my gut trouble and had been told it was just IBS. We were living in Brixton at the time and I was recommended a wonderful colonic hydrotherapist called Jean Clarke. At home we simply called her, 'The Batty Lady' - referring to the area of one's body she worked on, not her mental health you understand. Our upstairs neighbour had been to see her too because she had skin problems and told me every gory detail when she got back. She was so dehydrated that The Batty Lady put her on a course of oxygen therapy before she would even contemplate getting in there with the equipment. What the oxygen did was to gently fizz through her digestive system, gently lifting away anything that was, erm... stuck there. Now some people would have been revolted by all of this, but I loved it and listened rapt to every word. Maybe I did absorb some of those Catholic tenets from my early childhood - because for me, bowel cleanliness is pretty damn holy.
Over the years I've toyed with the idea of oxygen therapy, but never gone ahead with it. I've even recommended it to patients with bowel problems and felt that I should really try it out myself so that my knowledge was authentic. So when the cleansing urge came upon me and I found this oxygen cleanser again, I took it as a sign from the universe and just went ahead and ordered it. The testimonials were amazing and I awaited its arrival impatiently.
Finally it came and I cracked open the bottle instantly - mixing a teaspoon of the chalky powder into a huge glass of water and downing it before I could taste a thing. Then I squeezed the juice of half a lemon into the glass as instructed and downed that too.
When my mouth finally un-puckered I continued with my day - feeling slightly apprehensive that I may be about to puff up like a character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and find myself being rolled about the house by oompa-loompas. Nothing happened. A little internal gurgling maybe - but no fireworks.
When Nick got home I told him about the powder and the lemon juice and he asked me how it worked?
'Well', I started - about to launch into a full chemical explanation, 'it's magnesium'
And before I could finish my sentence he guffawed loudly and shook his head, explaining to me that magnesium was highly combustible and that all he remembered from those distant chemistry lessons was exploding little pieces of it on contact with air.
I clutched my stomach and wondered what I'd done. Surely I hadn't just willingly swallowed something that was explosive? What if I needed to fart? Did I need to be careful about naked flames? Everything felt ok, but I took my bedtime dose a little more hesitantly in case this was the one that unleashed Niagara during the night.
The next morning I awoke after a good night's sleep and still nothing. Hmm? I downed another chalky pint and followed with the lemon juice chaser.
In fact there was nothing at all that whole day (and I'm a regular girl) so I began to be worried that somehow everything was stuck in there because my intestines were in shock and why didn't I just go with my gentle juice fast like I usually do?
The following morning the cogs were rolling again and then half an hour later they were rolling again, and again, and again until I considered spending the morning in the bathroom with a good book. Suffice to say - the cleansing had begun. I felt slightly high from all the activity and drinking of water and also relieved that there wasn't anything actually wrong with my insides - it was just a time delay.
The great thing is that I can cleanse with minimal adjustments to my diet, I've already given up grains, potatoes, sugar and dairy! All I need to do is cut out the meat for a week, increase my fluid in take and watch how many (very well chewed) nuts I consume. For lunch I made some vividly orange carrot and ginger soup to soothe things along and support my eliminative organs as they did their work and decided not to venture too far from home, you know - just in case.......
Cleansing Carrot and Ginger Soup (3-4 portions)
This is a picture of Finley's bowl with a swirl of yogurt. If you're cleansing then have this without yogurt.
Olive oil or Duckfat
1 stick of celery (supports kidneys)
1 - 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger - peeled (calms digestion and stimulates circulation)
2 bay leaves (aid digestion, diuretic - stimulates kidneys)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (supports both digestive system and liver)
Good grating of fresh nutmeg (aids digestion)
1lb 4oz organic carrots, chopped - peeled weight (supports kidneys, liver and digestion)
2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped (antiseptic & antifungal)
700ml boiling water
Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with oil or add a spoonful of duckfat, chop the celery and ginger finely and saute until translucent.
Add bay leaves, turmeric and nutmeg to the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cook off the bitterness of the turmeric.
Stir in garlic and then carrots and allow to sweat for five minutes while you boil some water.
Pour in water and simmer until the carrots are tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and add some more salt and maybe a squeeze of lemon or thin down with a little boiling water if too thick.
Serve with a little swirl of creamy cold pressed oil or yogurt on the top, a teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds are also delicious sprinkled over at the last minute.