Spring is the perfect time of year to embark on weight loss and cleansing programs.
The two often go hand in hand. A cleansing program will 'kick start' your body and help you lose weight. People who go on cleansing programs often lose weight even if that was not the intended result.
"If you're starting a program of weight loss, start with a cleanse," says Janice Peters, owner of Ladysmith Health Food Store in Ladysmith,B.C. "You will have a more efficient system."
There are a variety of cleanses available; from seven days to 30 days. Some will kill parasites or deal with candidiasis.
"The parasite cleanses have been really popular these days," says Sharon Featherstone of Practical Magic in Duncan, B.C..
Look for ingredients like black walnut, cloves to kill parasites and grapefruit seed extract to kill off bad bacteria. Milk thistle and dandelion are good for the liver.
"Springtime is liver time so a lot of times we recommend something for the liver," says Angie Sewell of Self-Heal Herbs in Victoria, B.C.. "The cleaner the liver, the better the body functions."
The liver has more than 600 functions. It plays such a huge role in our health that many people take for granted. Problems with PMS, skin problems, constipation, frequent illnesses and more can all be related to an overloaded liver.
Sewell says she is careful about recommending cleanses to people who are taking pharmaceutical drugs. They should check with their doctor before starting a cleansing program or weight loss program to ensure the herbs are compatible with their medication.
Those who have never done a cleanse before might wonder which program to take.
"I suggest they start with a whole body cleanse," says Featherstone. "It will kick start the eliminating organs. You want to follow a somewhat restrictive diet. That's how the products will work better."
With most cleanses, those partaking will be encouraged to avoid red meat, sugar, simple carbohydrates, coffee and alcohol. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water is encouraged. It's all part of eating healthy that will naturally encourage the body to lose weight.
A whole body cleanse will clean the blood, the liver, the colon and the kidneys. It's a great way to move those poisons out of the body, shrink the fat cells and give you extra energy to enjoy new spring activities. (See sidebar for specific information)
Weight Loss
Weight loss supplements are extremely popular, however one needs to be careful what to buy so you understand exactly what the product will do.
Two ingredients to look for which are popular are CLA - Conjugated Linolenic Acid and Hoodia Gordonii. CLA helps the body break down and metabolize existing body fat.
"It reduces the body's ability to store fat and to break down the fat to use as an energy source," says Featherstone.
Sewell says chickweed also helps metabolize fat cells while the thyroid glands (which can have an impact on weight in women) are supported with seaweed supplements.
Hoodia is a herb grown in South Africa which has been quite effective at reducing appetite.
"It reduces appetite but it doesn't take effect right away" says Peters. "Long term use will give you better results. It takes a couple of weeks. I carry the one from Flora. The government did all the research on that one."
She said customers should look for a product with a 50 to 1 or 20 to 1 extract, which means it takes 20 pounds of herbs to get one pound of extract. "So that's a fairly high ratio," says Peters.
Two other supplements are worth considering to support your body while on a program. Take a greens supplement containing algae or spirulina, it will provide your body with important amino acids and help reduce cravings. Also, take essential fatty acids such as flax seed, hemp oil and evening primrose oil. These good fats will satisfy your body and also reduce cravings.

Whether you are cleansing or on a weight loss program, you can accelerate your results with several therapies. You might wish to try the far-infrared sauna or consider a detoxifying foot spa, also known as an ionic foot spa.
"The main thing for the foot spa is removing toxins and heavy metals," says Debbie Shkuratoff of The Zen Room in Duncan, B.C.. She says she was a smoker for 37 years and quit two years ago. She did 14 sessions with a foot spa before purchasing one.
"It's hugely beneficial. I noticed more energy," she said.
Shkuratoff also has a far-infrared sauna that she says is effective for detoxifying and weight loss programs.
"You burn 600 calories in a half hour session which is equivalent to jogging for six miles."

When to Do an Herbal D-Tox
If you have one or more of the following symptoms, then it's time to consider a d-tox.
- frequent fatigue and low energy, recurring headaches, excess weight, chronic constipation, food allergies, powerful food cravings, impaired digestion, skin problems, irritability and mood swings, candida infection and frequent colds.
- Look for a cleanse with ingredients like psyllium and cascara sagrada to move the colon, milk thistle and dandelion for the liver, ginger, fenugreek and lactobacillus for the digestive system.

Author's Bio: 

Marilyn Zink is the publisher.editor of the Herbal Collective magazine and owner of http://www.herbalcollective.ca , both which provide information on herbs, holistic health and wellness for people and animals. Visit http://www.herbalcollective.ca or email info@herbalcollective.ca for more information.