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Home arrow News arrow 9 Days of Ayurvedic Detox: My Honest Review Backed by Scientific Research

9 Days of Ayurvedic Detox: My Honest Review Backed by Scientific Research

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 21, 2023
9 min read 979 Views 0 Comments
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Inspired by the popularity of Ayurvedic detox programs in the US, I decided to try one for myself. Read on to discover my impressions and results, as well as a detailed explanation of the process and science behind it.

9 Days of Ayurvedic Detox- My Honest Review Backed by Scientific Research

Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing tradition, has been around for 5,000 years and is still popular today. Nearly 250 million Americans use Ayurvedic medicine to stay healthy and prevent disease.1

The appeal of this approach lies in its simplicity. Ayurveda says good health comes from a balance between mind, body, and spirit.2 Disruptions of this balance lead to all kinds of illnesses.

To restore balance, Ayurveda uses natural methods such as diet changes, yoga, supplements, purges, meditations, and massages.

A popular way to try the Ayurvedic tradition is through so-called detoxes. Various celebrities, from Kourtney Kardashian to Ricky Williams and Steve Jobs, have practiced these before.3, 4, 5

Ayurvedic detoxes are on the rise due to their vague health benefits and quickness. Special centers offer many short-term programs, where prices range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.

Having personally experienced one of these detoxes, I’m here to share my honest insights and takeaways before you consider trying it.

Using my example and scientific studies, I tested the Ayurveda detox for 9 days. In this article, discover what an Ayurvedic detox is, what it can do for you, and how its effectiveness compares with medical professionals and scientists.

Ayurveda Detox: the Definition, Benefits, and Indications

“Ayurveda” comes from “ayur” (life) and “veda” (knowledge), literally meaning “knowledge of life.”6

It believes that diseases don’t manifest immediately but accumulate over time. Therefore, Ayurvedic doctors put a lot of focus on preventing diseases.

To help your body with that, you need to get rid of toxins. In Ayurveda, the purification process is called “panchakarma.” Aside from preventing diseases, it boosts immunity, improves overall health, prolongs youth, and boosts beauty.

@itskoppen Panchakarma, explained. #yoga #ayurveda #panchakarma #panchakarma🌳 #breathwork #breathworkhealing #ayurvedic🌼🍵🎶 #ayurveda #fyp #education #explainedin60seconds #explained ♬ Infinite – Tarik

Ayurvedic detoxes are less intense versions of panchakarma. They do not involve bloodletting or vomiting. Instead, they include simple diets, treatments, and activities.

Symptoms to try the Ayurvedic detox

  • Irritability, anger
  • Lack of energy, constant sleepiness, forgetfulness
  • Extra pounds which don’t go away
  • Skin redness and dryness, tired look, hair breakage and loss
  • Increased mucus, puffiness in the morning
  • Irregular stools or frequent constipation

Benefits and effects promised

  • Boosted energy and concentration
  • Improved digestion 
  • Healthier liver and gallbladder
  • Skin and hair looks better
  • Maintaining blood sugar levels
  • Feeling calm and peaceful, reduced stress and anxiety

Basically, this detox sounds too good to pass up. Now before you start googling where to buy one, let me share my experience.

Begin With Traditional Therapies

On the first day of the program, I started with the following treatments:

#1 Tongue scraping

Cleaning the tongue using a special scraper is beneficial for overall oral health and digestion. Also, it helps to restore the taste sensations lost due to plaque buildup.7

#2 Gandush – oil pulling

Next, I did Gandush, which involves taking a spoonful of coconut oil and keeping it in the mouth for 10–15 minutes.

Expert image border Dr. Donika Vata
Donika Vata, MD
General practice doctor and Health Reporter expert

Practicing Gandush improves sleep quality, stimulates the excretory system, calms the nervous system, and improves skin condition and complexion. Also, the movements in the oral cavity during Gandush help stimulate the digestive system, which is beneficial for overall health.

#3 Abhyanga – oil massage

After that, there is Abhyanga – a massage technique that involves oiling the entire body with coconut oil using massaging movements. Studies have shown that Abhyanga massage significantly reduces subjective stress experience and leads to a decrease in heart rate.8

Begin With Traditional Therapies
Health Reporter edit

#Yoga and meditation

The last step (yes, still before breakfast) is yoga practice, followed by meditation. In addition to the anti-stress and general healing effect, it stimulates metabolism by activating healthy digestive processes in organs and tissues.9

Some of the postures I practiced directly relieved the symptoms of intestinal cramps or constipation, such as:

  • The cat pose (Marjariasana)
  • The plow pose (Halasana)
  • The downward-facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • The forward bend (Uttanasana)
  • The king of fish pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Yoga and meditation
Health Reporter edit

During the detox, I had to do all 4 activities daily. In the beginning, it seemed impossible, but I soon got used to the process, and everything took no more than an hour and a half.

Eat Like a Yogi

The first portion of food – green buckwheat with coconut milk and a cinnamon stick – I cooked and ate enthusiastically. However, during the day, the enthusiasm began to fade quickly.

I could hardly contain the last portion of buckwheat.

It’s kitchari time!

On the second day, I had kitchari as my main dish. Then, I alternated it with buckwheat every other day for the rest of the detox experiment.

Kitchari is a traditional cleansing dish in the ancient medicine of Ayurveda, and it’s good for controlling appetite and food cravings as it digests slowly and doesn’t stimulate the desire to snack.

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Edibel
Edibel Quintero, RD
Nutritionist and Health Reporter expert

Kitchari dissolves toxins stuck on intestinal walls, thereby improving digestion and strengthening the immune system. The dietary fiber in this dish helps with constipation. Moreover, kitchari cleanses the gastrointestinal tract very gently compared to raw vegetables, for example.

To make kitchari, use any lentils with white basmati rice cooked with spices and ghee. This dish is rich in protein, calcium, iron, potassium, thiamine (B1), vitamins A and C, low in cholesterol, and gluten-free.10, 11, 12

Eat Like a Yogi
Health Reporter edit

Baked apples: the perfect sweet treat

The only sweet snack I could eat during the detox was baked apples with cinnamon. By the way, they are of great benefit to the body:

  • Baked apples contain a lot of pectins that benefit the gastrointestinal tract and intestines, help with bloating and constipation, and remove toxins.13
  • Eating baked apples improves blood count and normalizes blood pressure.
  • Baked apples are easier to digest. They have a mild diuretic effect and are recommended after poisoning or severe illness to cope with puffiness.14

Let’s spice it up

A significant role in Ayurveda belongs to spices and herbs, and I used many of them. It’s actually scientifically proven that certain spices have a beneficial effect on the body:

  • Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.15
  • Cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels and possesses a powerful anti-diabetic effect.16
  • Ginger treats nausea, has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and may aid in pain management.17, 18
  • Cardamom helps reduce blood pressure.19
  • Cloves are a powerhouse of antioxidants and a rich source of minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.20
  • Cumin has significant antioxidant activity.21
  • Coriander seeds contain dietary fiber and have antioxidant properties that can enhance the healthy functioning of the liver.22

As a supplement, I took Triphala pills. They have anti-inflammatory effects and are very good for digestive health.23, 24

When I craved something sweet, I ate a spoonful of chyawanprash, an Ayurvedic jam with a sweet and spicy taste. Studies prove that regular consumption of chyawanprash can improve overall health and immunity.25

Let's spice it up
Health Reporter edit

Thus, I had an unusual but simple menu. I’m pretty picky about food, yet my diet was tasty and varied, thanks to the spices. This Ayurvedic food doesn’t cause stomach discomfort, so you can get used to it easily.

A Detailed Review of the Ayurvedic Detox Process

The first 2 days of the detox were the most challenging. I felt like I had no energy, and my body craved sugar and stimulants, such as coffee.

However, the body is capable of rebuilding, and even though it was difficult to adjust to a new diet of buckwheat and kitchari, it became easier over time.

On the 3–4th day, I noticed new inflammations on my face, which could signal that my body was undergoing cleansing and regenerative processes.

I also began to experience food in a new way – tasteless buckwheat and kitchari started to have sour, spicy, salty, and sweet facets.

A Detailed Review of the Ayurvedic Detox Process - Ayurvedic menu
Health Reporter edit

My typical bloating after meals disappeared in the first few days of the diet and did not return until the end of the experiment. The edema in my face was also reduced.

Daily yoga and meditation made me feel better, and clarity came to my mind. Gandush and Abhyanga became rituals that brought me peace each day. I felt more harmonious, and my internal anxiety decreased.

By day 5–6 of the detox, my body had adjusted to the new way of life. The skin on my face cleared up, my weight was reduced by 3lbs, and I had more energy, strength, and focus.

It wasn’t all smooth, though. I sometimes messed up my diet and allowed myself to eat a brownie or candy. But, when I did, I found the food tasted too sweet and artificial.

Also, I replaced coffee with plant-based matcha and chicory, and sleep returned to normal with no feelings of anxiety or “mad squirrel” after use. I started going to bed earlier, which resulted in no disturbing awakenings in the middle of the night.

The most challenging day of the detox was day 7, which required me to eat only green vegetables. It was pretty easy in the morning, but as the evening approached, I started to give up.

To keep going and make my dishes more enjoyable, I used different vegetables and spices.

On day 8, I drank 4 tablespoons of castor oil on an empty stomach, which had a laxative effect. Then I cooked a light mung bean soup, and the following 9th day, I returned to eating kitchari and baked apples.

A Detailed Review of the Ayurvedic Detox Process
Health Reporter edit

Results: How the Ayurveda Detox Worked for Me?

Here is a summary of the outcomes I experienced:

Improved digestion and energy levels

  • Bloating and discomfort in the stomach disappeared
  • Increased energy and focus
  • Improved productivity at work
  • Drowsiness went away

Сlearer skin and hydration

  • Skin became noticeably cleaner, less oily, and more hydrated
  • Wen and comedones disappeared
  • Puffiness reduced in the morning

Weight loss and physical strength

  • Lost 6.5lbs
  • Body became stronger
  • Able to perform previously difficult yoga asanas

Developing new habits

  • Learned to eat 3 times a day
  • Rekindled my passion for cooking healthy meals
  • Started regularly practicing morning yoga

Limitations and challenges

In my opinion, the hair condition has not changed much – probably it needs more time to improve. In addition, the pre-detox state reappeared when returning to the old lifestyle.

Among the things that came back are:

  • 3lbs
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Acne, comedones
Expert image border HR_author_photo_Edibel
Edibel Quintero, RD
Nutritionist and Health Reporter expert

You might lose all your hard-earned health benefits and weight loss if you break down right after trying an intense detox.

 

When you’re done, it doesn’t mean you should eat anything in any quantity, go to bed late, and stop treatments the next day. It’s best to avoid major changes in the daily routine and diet the first few days after finishing the program and slowly introduce previously forbidden foods.

 

By trying healthy habits during an Ayurvedic detox, you’ll see which ones you can stick with. It is vital to be consistent with nutrition, procedures, and exercises to maintain the benefits for a long time.

Overall, I felt both physically and mentally better after the program. However, I can’t be sure if that was because of the complex detox or because I just ate healthier and took better care of myself.

So I can’t promise you miracles, but if you’re interested in making positive life changes, Ayurveda detox is worth considering.

Final Thoughts

Despite popular belief, many practices I used during Ayurvedic detox are scientifically proven. For example, according to researchers, the principles of Ayurveda are beneficial as a complementary therapy to conventional treatments.26

In other words, incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your health regimen can be a help. You can borrow from Ayurveda:

  • A conscious approach to nutrition.
  • Choosing whole grains and unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
  • Healing treatments for stress and general well-being, such as Abhyanga and Gandush.
  • Regular practicing of yoga and breathing exercises, meditation.

Remember to see a therapist if you want to try an Ayurvedic detox.

Overall, it was an unusual, exciting journey for me. Some of the things, such as Gandush, yoga, and kitchari, became part of my daily life.

Yet, don’t expect the detox to be easy. This is especially true for people who like to do things in their own way and not stick to strict rules.

But you can’t learn anything new if you do everything the old way. Ayurvedic detox can help you avoid life becoming a routine where you only wait for the right moment.

Get to know yourself in a new way, notice your emotions and mood, try new tastes and habits, and if you suddenly want to break loose, know it’s always your choice.

Because you never know what will come first – the next day or the next life.

Sources

  1. Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:
    https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurvedic-medicine-in-depth
  2. A glimpse of Ayurveda – The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198827/
  3. Kourtney Kardashian recently tried a sex fast, and said it felt ‘crazy’ to forego orgasms but ‘it made everything better’ in the long run:
    https://www.insider.com/kourtney-kardashian-gave-up-sex-during-an-ayurvedic-cleanse-2022-3
  4. What exactly is an Ayurveda diet & lifestyle? – Strength and Soul
    https://strengthandsoul.co.uk/ayurvedadiet/
  5. NFL dropout Ricky Williams chilling in Sierra / He’s been found studying the healing arts
    https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/NFL-dropout-Ricky-Williams-chilling-in-Sierra-2633730.php
  6. Bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4230501/
  7. Impact of tongue cleansers on microbial load and taste:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15191584/
  8. Pilot study investigating the effects of Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage on subjective stress experience:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21568717/
  9. Role of yoga therapy in improving digestive health and quality of sleep in an elderly population: A randomized controlled trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34391308/
  10. Mung bean: technological and nutritional potential
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24915360/
  11. Potential nutraceutical benefits of basmati rice bran oil as analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31969284/
  12. Traditional Indian spices and their health significance:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296352/
  13. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/
  14. Apple-Derived Pectin Modulates Gut Microbiota, Improves Gut Barrier Function, and Attenuates Metabolic Endotoxemia in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808856/pdf/nutrients-08-00126.pdf
  15. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22407780/
  16. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19930003/
  17. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10793599/
  18. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20418184/
  19. Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum):
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20361714/
  20. Anti-inflammatory activity of clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28407719/
  21. Cuminum cyminum and Carum carvi: An update
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210012/
  22. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): A promising functional food toward the well-being
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29433220/
  23. The anti-inflammatory effect of Triphala in arthritic-induced rats:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25289531/
  24. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28696777/
  25. Chyawanprash: A review of therapeutic benefits as in authoritative texts and documented clinical literature
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037887411630513X
  26. Ayurveda — Johns Hopkins Medicine:
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ayurveda
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Nadzeya Sankovich is the Vice President of Communications at Health Reporter. Previously a professional journalist, she continues to write scientific articles and conduct research. With a background in sociology and medicine, she has worked with various healthcare organizations, from charities to telemedicine platforms.

Nadzeya is also a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps underserved communities. Through her work, she empowers people to take charge of their health and well-being.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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