Generic BarkerThe holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, includes all the Christmas parties, as well as the big day itself, and ends with a bang on New Year’s Eve.  You sat yourself down and made a list of goals and things you would like to accomplish in this next year.   But when you wake up on January 1, you feel anything but invigorated.  You probably feel tired, bloated, and maybe a bit stiff.  You are beginning what I call the holiday excess withdrawal.  Others call it the holiday hangover.

In wealthy countries, the vast majority of disease arises from bodily excess caused by overeating rich, greasy, highly seasoned, denatured, and/or intoxicating foods.   This could be an excess of meats (especially red meats), eggs, cheese, and other dairy products; too much fried food, salt, and extremely sweet food; refined and rancid flour and oil products;  and chemical ingredients, drugs, and alcoholic drinks.  When the body can no longer tolerate any further excess it begins to malfunction.

The main remedy for the withdrawal symptoms from too much holiday celebrating is cleansing and purging.  Whatever has caused these symptoms must be eliminated.  As a general rule, bitter foods and herbs are used to reduce these symptoms and signs.  The bitter flavor is cooling and helps move the bowels.  Here are some suggestions of foods and herbs to emphasize in the next few days, or even weeks, to help your body detoxify itself and reach a better balance.  The majority of the foods taken should be raw or lightly cooked.

Bitter Herbs – Goldenseal, echinacea, and chaparral; even the common chamomile is quite bitter.  The roots of dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, and rhubarb (yellow dock and rhubarb also treat constipation).   Honeysuckle flowers are useful, along with the chamomile flowers.  It is always best to check the various other properties of herbs before using them.  The easiest way to take these is as a tea decoction.

Bitter Foods – celery, lettuce, asparagus, rye, and amaranth, are just some examples.

Low-fat Fruits and Vegetables – sprouts (especially alfalfa), fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens) sea vegetables, micro-algae (especially wild blue-green and dunaliella), cereal grasses such as wheat or barley grass greens, grains, and legumes (especially lima, aduki, and mung beans).

Other Good Excess Reducing Foods – mushrooms, carrots, radishes, and fresh figs.

Sweeteners – If sweeteners are used, small amounts of stevia leaf or raw honey may be tolerated

Oils – One of the few oils I would recommend for excess is fresh flax-seed oil.

Start including an awareness practice that quiets the mind, such as silent contemplation, meditation, self-reflection, or prayer.

Activity is another healing practice.  Certain activities blend with awareness practices.  Examples include tai ji, various yoga systems, and qi gong.  Other activities are likewise important.  These can include manual labor, physical chores (e.g., helping the elderly or ill with housework), sports, walking, weight training, or any of the numerous exercise programs that are currently available.

In reducing the excess from the holiday season, it is essential not to over-reduce.  In the Chinese healing arts, they call this practice of preserving balance “Protecting the ‘righteous qi.'”  Therefore, when using raw-food diets, bitter purgative herbs, and other reducing techniques, it is important to continually monitor your condition to avoid a slide into a different type of imbalance.

The Inner Classic says that “Excess causes one to forget what is proper and good, and to become careless.”  May you have a proper, good, and balanced 2017.