Six Tips for a Spring Detox

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Diet & Detox Self-healing

A few weeks ago, nature gave us northerners the first flirtation of spring. The temperature climbed to a balmy 60 degrees in Boston, where I was doing some work. My down jacket, sweater, hat, and gloves proved to be burdensome. Then, as has been the norm this winter, nature retreated, and the following day the temperature plummeted and we got more snow. Quite frankly, I was annoyed. Enough already. For so many of us in the northern hemisphere, it has been an usually cold and snowy winter. And our bodies, minds, and souls are ready for spring. That irritation I felt is associated with the liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine. When spring comes, the liver gets energized. And like me, yearning for a break from the cold, the liver wants to get on with it, too. And what is the liver’s job? Cleansing and detoxifying the blood! So this spring, I want to give you a regimen that will align you with the rising energy that is so much a part of spring and rebirth. You can support your liver by doing the following:

  1. Upon arising each morning, cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. Add hot water and drink slowly. You can “up the ante” on this by adding a dash or two of cayenne pepper. A touch of honey or Stevia won’t hurt, but see if you can get used to an unsweetened version. The sourness of the lemon triggers nerve and hormone activation of the liver, which enhances digestion. This is also good for sluggish bowels. Avoid all icy-cold liquids for a week and re-evaluate. (My acupuncturist has given me this advice for about 20 years. And I finally decided to follow it!) Icy-cold liquids shut down the digestive fire that is key to any detox and to optimal digestion. In hot climates, they routinely drink hot liquids for their cooling effect. Let’s all try this together and see how well it works.
  1. Have this same lemon drink at noon. And again in the evening.
  1. Eat vegetables from the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnip, and collards. These contain glucosinolates, which contain sulfur compounds that help protect the liver and improve it’s ability to eliminate toxins and excess hormones. (I love Kale salads, which are increasingly available in restaurants!) Aim for two servings a day.
  1. Spice it up! Add turmeric, curry, ginger, and cumin to your meals. These spices are excellent for your digestion. I love to add turmeric to scrambled eggs or tofu. It’s golden-orange color is the traditional color of the robes of Hindu monks. And adding it makes me feel as though I have made my food more sacred (and delicious). Curry is good with just about any vegetable or legume dish.
  1. Take five CONSCIOUS BREATHING breaks per day. Stop what you’re doing right now. And do the following: Take a nice long slow deep breath through your nose. Pay attention to how your lower rib cage expands. Relax the back of your throat. Hold it for a count of five. Then slowly exhale. Repeat three times. You have just helped your body metabolize stress hormones and put your nervous system into rest-and-restore mode. Nice, eh?
  1. Sweat it out. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. And the health of your digestion system is reflected in the health of your skin. You can enhance the health of both your skin and your digestion with regular movement, such as a 20-minute walk after dinner or dancing to your favorite beats while you wash the dishes or clean up a room. Try a movement break after each meal. Ten minutes is fine if that’s all you have. Regular use of an infrared sauna, steam room, or a BioMat is also very, very helpful.

Choose whichever of the above speaks to you—or do ALL of them. That way, as the sap rises in the trees, and your liver wakes up, you will be in perfect alignment with the newness of spring—and the rebirth of your own body and life! If you enjoyed or were inspired by this blog, please leave me a comment on or on my Facebook page.

Last Updated: April 1, 2014

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Frances Tutt
    2 years ago

    What is the recipe for the grapefruit lime peel detox?

    3 years ago

    Could you give me the recipe using 3 organic grapefruits & 3 organic lemons peel & simmer 3 hours , how much water do you add & do I use the peelings or the protect against spike protens . Thank you

  3. candy
    9 years ago

    Thank you for posting will try lemon water again for you have any idea why someone would be chemically sensitive and there lymph back up with toxins when they breath them in and their brains react to the chemicals right away and then electricity..thank you very much christine

  4. […] sprouts, cabbage and kale. I eat at least one serving from these everyday, and according to Dr.  Christiane Northrup, they “contain glucosinolates which contain sulfer compounds that help protect the liver and […]

  5. Bev
    10 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, I’ve been drinking lemon water and lemon in my tea off and on for many years. I feel it is cleansing my body. I will try It in hot/warm water also. Do you think it would be cleansing enough to cure/eliminate the “buzzing” I’ve been experiencing in my head since November? It’s soooo annoying and disrupting my life! I have other issues as well. I wish you held office hours in the Boston area! Thank you for your many years of helping women!

    1. Betty
      6 years ago

      Ya I can relate to this too,
      what is the Buzzing sound, Mostly low pitch sound, mine just started mot to long ago,
      it’s like listening to the seashore in my head of a continue Buzz??? so what is up with this?

  6. Jean
    10 years ago

    Thanks for the reminders! I so enjoy your radio show on Hay House and your level head and laughter! I’ve learned so much from you and you’ve inspired me through menopause to stay lighter. You keep it real! 🙂

  7. Renetta
    10 years ago

    Dr. Northrup,

    Do you have any thoughts on the use of Vitamin K-2 as being necessary if one is taking Vitamin D-3 orally? I have read articles suggesting the need for taking both in order to avoid calcium build up in arteries. I do take a Vitamin D-3 supplement in the winter months and recently tried taking Vitamin K-2 but seem to have experienced side effects in my feet and hands similar to neuropathy. Just wondered if you had any opinion on this. Thanks for all you do!

  8. Christiane Northrup
    10 years ago

    For those of you wondering about your thyroid and the brassica veggies, it would be FAR more effective for you to stop worrying about those veggies and instead make sure your water has no flouride or chlorine. Use flouride– free toothpaste. And make sure to get enough iodine. Many many supplements are available including iodoral, atomidine, and Lugol’s solution. check out

  9. David
    10 years ago

    Suffered from rosacea. Derm Rx’d daily antibiotics in perpetuity. Daily core/ab routine was down to 5 painful reps. Chiropractor gave me New Health Perspectives Liver & Gall Bladder Flush. Followed protocol. At end of week, I passed about 50 stones the size of jumbo olives, 200 the size of cherry pits, and hundreds the size of Concord grape seeds. Rosacea cleared in weeks. Now at 51 years, daily core routine includes a minimum of 500 sit-ups. Will add lemon water. Thanks Dr. Christiane!

  10. Donna
    10 years ago

    Sounds good; I’ll give it a try.

  11. Kat
    10 years ago

    Thanks, very helpful. Will give it a try.

  12. Janice
    10 years ago

    Thanks for posting this. I followed your suggestion and had lemon in hot water this morning. I forgot to bring a lemon to work and a lovely woman in my school cafeteria went out of her way to get me one – then I shared all these suggestions with her! Thank-you so much. I listen to you every week. I appreciate you so much!

  13. Nancy
    10 years ago

    Thanks for the info on detox, I will try the lemon drink. But you don’t say how long to do the lemon drinks. How log should you drink the lemon drinks 3 x a day for? I don’t do Facebook either. Thanks.

  14. Kris
    10 years ago

    Thank you for this info! Interesting and easy steps to take!

  15. Molly
    10 years ago

    I like this very much. Excellent advice.

  16. Stephanie
    10 years ago

    Thank you as always for sharing your knowledge
    And also your honesty!
    You have ‘finally decided to follow the advice you have
    been given for 20 years’!
    I can relate to that! It’s time to say ok
    We can take care of ourselves too!
    Thank you Dr. Northrup

  17. Denise Campitelli
    10 years ago

    A very timely post!

    Wanted to let you know that I bought “Beautiful Girl” for my great niece and when we were reading it and I asked her if she knew she was perfect just the way she was, her reply was “Of course I am!” Feeling good that a 3-year-old is responding with that much conviction!!

  18. Lola
    10 years ago

    As always, your advice is simple and sensible. No gimmicks, no doom and gloom. For thirty years, I’ve been reading your books and newsletters as well as listening to your recordings and radio spots. Your influence has been invaluable. I feel good and look good. At almost sixty, I’m making life good, healthy and fun. L

  19. Joan
    10 years ago

    Your information is always so inspiring and motivating. Can’t wait to try the detox over the weekend.

    Do you have any articles on PCOS regarding diet and or how to treat hair thinning. Thank you. Love, love getting your emails. Hope you come to Boston again!!!! 🙂

  20. Elizabeth
    10 years ago

    @beth; beets, avocados, leafy greens, garlic, walnuts and grapefruit, among others are good for liver health.

  21. Jennifer
    10 years ago

    Do you have any advice for those of us who are supposed to limit the vegetables listed due to thyroid problems? Is there anything else we can eat to support our liver?

  22. Tere
    10 years ago

    Thank you, once again! Excited to do this in sync with you. Lots of love

  23. Lorraine
    10 years ago

    Thanks for the liver detox suggestions. I already take warm lemon water each morning, but now I’ll add afternoon and evening drinks, too — and add the cayenne pepper.
    I’ve been on Lipitor for well over 10 years now, and I am concerned about my liver. I have it checked regularly, but anything I can do to help myself is welcome advice.

  24. beth
    10 years ago

    For years I have taken the same dose of medication for my thyoid. The last bloodwork that was done indicated the need to increase the dosage. I have since been trying, through diet, to help my thyroid heal. The research I have done tells me to minimize the amounts of goitrogens I consume. As a vegetable lover I was shocked at all of my favorites that are on this list. What does this mean for my liver!

  25. Pamela Jane Rogers
    10 years ago

    Thank you – excellent timing! I do have 1/2 sqeezed lemon in water every morning first thing after coconut oil pulling, and after reading your blog, I’ll begin today with an afternoon and evening lemon drink too. Breathing now – thanks again for this information!

  26. Melissa Lee
    10 years ago

    I’m off to speak at a writer’s conference tomorrow, but when I return I’m beginning this cleanse. It sounds perfect for me! Thank you for sharing!

  27. Page Lambert
    10 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, I’ve been admiring you and reading your books for nearly 20 years. Thank you for all you do for the women of the world. I love these easy, inspiring “Six Tips for a Spring Detox.” As a matter of fact, I’m going to share them at my upcoming “The Art of Revision” one-day seminar. Revising our writing, renewing our bodies, re-envisioning our lives. I love it!

    Page Lambert
    Connecting People with Nature
    Connecting Writers with Words

  28. Mary
    10 years ago

    Thank you I also used to drink warm water with lemon years ago. I’ll be going back. I Need to be reminded what works.
    59 tomorrow and have been feeling depressed on and off for the past year.
    Will be looking for insight on the blogs. Not a Facebook fan.
    Sincerely, Mary Elizabeth

  29. Lois Steele
    10 years ago

    Very nice, timely, and helpful.
    Been thinking and reading about detox plans – never have done one. Your advice is always so well founded and motivating. Think I will do your plan.
    Some questions: What else to eat? ones normal diet with the Brassicas? Should one exercise strenuously enough sweat?
    Thanks – hope to hear from you.

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