Our bodies and mood can start to feel quite sluggish, especially at the start of the year after a pretty epic holiday season of eating and drinking.  Often we feel a need to treat our bodies a little more kindly and consume foods and drinks that will nourish us and help us to feel internally lighter and cleaner.

Our bodies already have proficient systems in place, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin, that work hard to keep us free of toxin build-up.  That said, there are things we can do to help those systems out and not give them extra work to do.

One very important thing we can do is drink plenty of water.  Water is essential in healthy digestion, lubrication of joints, and removal of waste products.  In addition, limiting alcoholic drinks and staying active play important roles in keeping your naturally built-in detox systems in top shape.

That said, there are some herbs and greens that are said to help with that feeling of sluggishness by aiding in the digestive process and supporting the body’s natural detoxification systems.

1. Dandelion

Dandelion is fast overcoming its reputation as a pesky lawn weed.  Its leaves are proven to be highly nutritious and are rich in vitamins A, C, K, E, and a number of B vitamins.  It also contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Dandelion root is high in inulin, a type of soluble fiber, that is said to promote healthy gut bacteria in your digestive system.

Dandelions also contain high levels of beta carotene and polyphenols.  These important antioxidants are said to protect again cell damage and protect against certain diseases.

In addition, though more research is needed, some studies suggest that dandelion may help to protect against liver damage.

Dandelions have quite a bitter flavor, but the leaves, roots, and flowers can be used to make tea or enjoyed as a coffee substitute. You could also make this Dandelion Green Smoothie or this Spring Salad with dandelion greens.

2. Stinging Nettles

With a terrifying name like that, it is not surprising that nettle isn’t more widely used.  However, with careful and correct processing, such as drying or cooking, sting nettles can become an incredibly nutritious and useful vegetable and herb.

Stinging nettles are often touted as one of the most nutrient-dense foods around and are packed with vitamins A, C, K, and some of the B vitamins.  They are high in several minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.  They also contain a number of antioxidants including beta carotene and various polyphenols.

It is also thought that stinging nettles may help protect your liver from inflammation and toxins.  You can enjoy stinging nettles as tea or in a soup.  Try this Foraged Nettle Soup for its cleansing and nourishing effects, and bake this Wholegrain Nettle Bread for dipping.

3. Burdock Root

Though native to Asia and Europe, burdock can be found growing wild in the USA. Burdock has a very long taproot that it uses to mine minerals from deep in the ground. It has long been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic and as a  digestive aid.  It also contains high levels of powerful antioxidants and is a good source of inulin which increases healthful bacterial in the gut.  Some research suggests that it may help in the detoxification of the blood and help with blood circulation in the skin.

As well as being used to make a bitter tea, burdock root can be eaten as a vegetable just like other root veggies.  Check out this OGP recipe for Japanese Sautéed Burdock Root.

4. Peppermint

Peppermint is well-loved and fairly widely used due to its pleasing minty flavor that is used in tea, toothpaste, and treats.  Peppermint, however, comes with a number of health benefits that can help lift your mood and release sluggish feelings of bloatedness.

Various studies suggest that peppermint can have a soothing effect on digestive discomfort by helping to ease pain, release trapped gas, and quell symptoms of indigestion. Peppermint is also thought to have a positive effect on mood and can help to relieve feelings of fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

A bonus is that peppermint is very easy to grow for yourself.  Grow it in a pot to help keep it from taking over your yard. It can become a great medicinal to have right there on your porch.

This article is for informational purposes only.  Seek advice from a medical professional before using herbs medicinally, especially for pregnant women.  Also, research any new herb for allergy information before consuming it.  If foraging wild edibles and medicinals, always make sure you have a 100% certain identification. 

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