As of late, the western world has started to realize we are living lives that are not sustainable for our environment and not sustainable for our bodies. The recent discovery in the West of Ayurveda, the traditional and ancient science of Indian medicine has begun gaining traction for its potent healing abilities and thought-provoking spiritual rituals. One of these being a tasty dish suitable for all people called Kitchari.
The word Ayurveda can be broken down into two Sanskrit words - Ayur, which means science or knowledge and Veda which means life. So, Ayurveda is the science or knowledge of life. It has been studied for over 5,000 years and focuses in on the imbalance in the human being rather than the disease the human being has. There are three body constitutions or make-ups in this system of medicine (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and every person falls within a certain percentage of all three. This makes up a person’s Ayurvedic dosha. Knowing a person’s dosha is crucial in this system of medicine because the way in which a person lives their life can be balancing or unbalancing for their unique dosha.
Click here to find out your unique dosha!
According to Ayurveda, the agni is the body's metabolic fire, the strength with which one digests not only food, but experiences and emotions as well. The science of Ayurveda is based upon balancing out the agni in order to achieve vibrant, optimal health and well-being. In our world today, it seems almost rare to find someone that has never had digestive issues - whether it be something as simple as not eliminating regularly, to something as complex as SIBO. And so with this knowledge, we begin to look at how we can increase the agni, or digestive fire of the body... and as for me, I always look to kitchari.
What is it?
Kitchari is a healing dish/soup that has the ability to balance out all three doshas. It is tri-doshic, meaning it is balancing and restorative to Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Kitchari is a dish made up of split yellow mung beans (mung daal) and white basmati rice. Different spices and herbs are added to or taken out of it according to a person’s dosha and their imbalances at that time. This dish is used for any type of illness in Ayurveda, it is fed to a sick person as a mono-diet for any amount of time because it is an incredibly gentle and nourishing food for the body, mind, and soul.
How it works
Doing a kitchari cleanse is an empowering way for one to take hold of their own health and begin to heal the body from the inside out, starting with the digestive system.
There are many ways to do a kitchari cleanse, I often follow and base my information off of Dr. John Douillard's 4 day short home cleanse. But traditionally, this cleanse is done for three days, eating kitchari for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, without snacking in between meals (if possible). Because of the gentle nature of this dish, it is very easy on the digestive system, allowing your body to focus on detoxifying multiple systems of the body including the lymphatic, digestive, the digestive accessory organs (gallbladder, kidneys, liver), and fat-soluble toxins that may be released during this cleanse. I will be explaining the 4 day cleanse and the way that I typically follow it.
What to expect
This cleanse is definitely one of the more gentle ones out there, that being said, it is still a cleanse. Day 2 is usually the day where I begin to feel some aches and pains of the body detoxifying, but this is a good sign, a sign that the cleanse is working! It is best to rest as much as possible during the cleanse in order to allow the body to focus on releasing toxins. This cleanse will help to clear not only the body of toxins, but the mind as well, so if there are some emotional ups and downs, allow them to pass through and take the necessary time to reflect upon them. This will help all aspects of the detoxification process. If at all possible, plan to do the cleanse over a long weekend or at least day one and day two over a regular weekend - we wouldn't want the stressors of work coming in and rattling the emotions while we are trying to do something to stabilize and balance them!
It is also good to know that this cleanse can potentially constipate or slow bowel movements for many people. This is normal so do not be alarmed if this does end up happening. It will all come out by the end of the cleanse ;)
Following the kitchari cleanse
For the four days of the cleanse, kitchari will be the sole dish, eaten three times a day, garnished with some fresh cilantro. There will be herbal supplements that are recommended to enhance detoxification pathways as well, these will be taken before and after meals depending on the certain herb. And of course, let us not forget, the morning ghee.
Snacking should try to be avoided as best as possible, but if need be, some plain sprouted almonds or a piece of fresh fruit can be eaten. During this cleanse, going about everyday life should be totally doable, although keep in mind that the body is cleansing and some feelings of fatigue may occur. At that point it would serve best to listen to what the body is saying - if a nap is needed, then goodness, take one! Taking unnecessary stressors out of your life for these four days can be very helpful and supportive to your personal 4 day cleansing journey.
Morning Ghee Protocol
Each morning, upon waking up, a certain amount of ghee will be consumed. The amount increases daily. Starting your day with this will lubricate the entire digestive system, enhance the healthy flora in your intestines, stimulates fat-soluble cell detoxification. For a little more information on ghee and why it can help you transition into a new season, check out this blog post. The idea of consuming ghee may be a bit daunting or disgusting, so mixing it with a bit of homemade almond milk or very pure coconut milk and a touch of cinnamon is always a good idea!
Day 1: drink 2 teaspoons of melted ghee
Day 2: drink 4 teaspoons of melted ghee
Day 3: drink 6 teaspoons of melted ghee
Day 4: drink 9 teaspoons of melted ghee
Wait 30 minutes before consuming anything.
There are different herbal supports that can be taken before and after eating meals. They can vary depending on dosha - a predominantly Pitta person would most likely want to choose the cooling digest whereas someone who tends to be a cold person may want to choose the warming digest.
The cooling digest would be taken with meals, it is a warm cup of water with a pinch of each fennel, cumin and ginger powder. The warming digest also known as "ginger pizza" will be consumed 15 minutes prior to eating each meal - this is two slices of ginger with a squirt of lemon juice and a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt.
Then we have a lymphatic supporting herb, the one traditionally used is manjistha, it has very similar effects to red root, this can be used as an alternative as manjistha is somewhat difficult to find without ordering it online. These herbs support the detoxification of the lymph throughout the cleanse. Capsules or tablets are the best form at about 400 mg each.
Turmeric capsules at about 500 mg each is the last herbal support, it helps to support stress response, build and nourish the blood, and also helps with full body detoxification.
The last night of the cleanse will call for prune juice - this will be used as a laxative.
The daily routine & tips
Rise each morning with the sun, allow yourself time to prepare for the day. This will include cooking your kitchari in the morning, enough for the entire day. Fresh kitchari is best, but realistically it can be difficult trying to fit this into your morning routine. If that is the case, you can make enough for the entire cleanse, jar it in 16 oz mason jars and refrigerate or freeze them. This is normally what I do because it makes it easy to take to work, then I will heat it up at work in the toaster oven or in a double boiler.
Drink the correct amount of ghee for the certain day of the cleanse, melt it in warm water or warm coconut or homemade almond milk, add a dash of cinnamon for taste. Wait 30 minutes, then prepare the herbal digestive support (warming to be taken 15 minutes before eating and cooling to be taken with food). Have about 12 oz of room temperature water.
Eat your first bowl of kitchari, garnish is with some cilantro and a squirt of lime.
This will be the routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner - choose two meals in which the manjistha (or red root) and the turmeric capsules will be taken after. Two capsules will be taken after your two chosen meals. I do mine after lunch and after dinner.
Drink plenty of water during the cleanse, sipping on warm water rather often (every 15 minutes if possible) is great for hydration and also really supports all detoxification pathways. Any other water drank during the cleanse will have a greater detoxifying effect if it is consumed at room temperature.
Gentle exercise can be a wonderful support to detoxification - gentle forms of yoga, tai chi, chi gong, or just getting outside for a walk. Don't push too hard, the last thing we want to do is cause stress in the body!!
Take a warm epsom salt bath before bed if you have the time. This can be ultra relaxing and give your muscles and mind a nice break. Turn on some relaxing music and have a little you time!
Have dinner early (around 5-6pm) and get a good night of rest each night. Our bodies a detox and repairing machines while we are sleeping, so it is crucial to ensure we are providing the opportunity to ourselves.
Ending the Cleanse
One the last night of the cleanse, there is a "final flush". Two hours after having an early dinner, take a nice warm (epsom salt) bath or a long hot and steamy shower. Then, it will be time for the laxative. Prune juice is the laxative I have chosen to end this cleanse. There are different options - for those with sluggish digestion, dissolving 1 tablespoon of epsom salt in a cup of water then adding a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice may be a better option. After taking the laxative, head to bed. The laxative can take effect during the night, but generally will hit most upon rising the next morning. Waiting for the laxative effects to wear off before eating anything the next day to make sure the cleanse is effective, although if you have been eliminating rather regularly throughout the 4 days, you may not see a huge impact from the laxative.
Ease back into daily eating habits after this cleanse, maybe having a sweet potato or another gentle food will be best on your tummy the following day.
Tri-doshic Kitchari Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
This should make enough for the entire cleanse - As I mentioned earlier, this can be jarred up and put into the fridge or freezer (I prefer the freezer to keep it fresher).
Here's what you'll need
3 cups of split yellow mung beans
1 cup of rice
3 tbsp of fresh ginger (grated)
2 tbsp of Turmeric powder
2 tbsp of fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1.5 tsp of fenugreek seeds
1.5 tsp of coriander powder
4 bay leaves
Rock salt and black pepper to taste
18-21 cups of water
**If you want to add in some veggies because this may not be satiating, that is always an option, cook them with the kitchari or steam them separately (avoid cooking them with fats during the cleanse).
Here's what you'll do
1. Place all spices except cloves and bay leaves in the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. Allow the spices to slightly toast, till you can smell the aroma.
2. Measure out and rinse both the rice and mung beans until the water runs clear. Add them into your pot along with the bay leaves and cloves.
3. Add in your water, the amount can vary depending on the consistency you want, but the runnier the better, that's what I say at least.
4. Stir all ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat - then turn back to medium heat and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes. At this point your kitchari should be ready to go! A very simple recipe if you ask me :)
I hope you all have transition as smooth as ghee into the Fall season! Enjoy this recipe and the cleanse too. If you want a more in-depth take on the cleanse I would recommend Dr John Douillard's E-book, check it out.
And please don't hesitate to comment and ask questions, I would love to hear from you all and what you think of it!
Happy Fall my friends, may this season bring you joy, self-love and happiness because you deserve it..... Ohhh and lots of pumpkin goodies too!
Love and Light,
Disclaimer: This cleanse should not be followed without the approval of your qualified healthcare practitioner.