The clothes are puffier, the farmers' markets are closing down, and suddenly all you can wear are boots: Winter is here, and with it the massive temptation to slide back into bad habits. In order to resist the urge to slip, try one of these natural detoxes to enter the new year feeling great. As the seasons change, our bodies are adjusting their homeostatic rhythms, making now a great time for a cleanse. Done right, a quick detox diet can perk up your brain as well as your body. "There's a psychological component to a cleanse," says Alycea Ungaro, a New York-based wellness guru and celebrity trainer who works with Madonna and Uma Thurman. "It's a chance to hit the 'reset' button."
Devotees swear that this 5,000-year-old practice cures everything from bad skin to indigestion. New York acupuncturist and skin/digestive specialist Selma Rondon recently cured a patient's explosive hives in a day, after antihistamines didn't work; patients with constipation or bloating quickly feel re-energized, too. Rondon, who learned Mandarin to read authentic Chinese texts, tackles toxicity by examining patients' tongues — the color clues her in to how internal organs are doing — then inserts slim needles into the energy lines that run through the body. She also reviews diet and advises against consuming too much alcohol, meat, or raw food. (A consultation is $125; hourly sessions are $80; selmarondon.com)
Best for: Digestive issues
For centuries, the Japanese have used white charcoal to soak up substances, from poison to bad breath; its pores absorb a range of gases and toxins. The technique is landing stateside thanks to Sort of Coal, a line that incorporates the porous charcoal, produced from sustainably harvested forests in Japan and Korea. Products include edible charcoal powder ($22) — it attracts and absorbs intestinal toxins — soap ($25), and water purifiers ($30), which replace chlorine with minerals. (sortofcoal.com)
Best for: Removing daily environmental impurities from air and water
Doctors credit caffeine with reducing swelling and upping our fat-burning mechanisms when applied topically, which explains its omnipresence in cellulite creams. At Hawaiian SpaHalekulani, the Espresso Limon slimming treatment incorporates essential oil from a potent South American coffee plant to smooth and firm skin. Wild cinnamon and lemon oils are added to boost circulation, while massage and body-brushing soothe limbs and open pores further. ($280 for 80 min; halekulani.com)
Best for: Cellulite, lymphatic drainage
Salt fights bacteria and inflammation and creates a negative-ion environment — the reason a dip in the sea feels great. At the Williamsburg Salt Spa in New York City, you can re-create that effect in "caves" full of salt, which is pumped into the rooms in controlled amounts; temperature and humidity are regulated, too. In the lungs, sodium chloride dispels bacteria and mucus. Sessions improve allergies and respiratory ills. ($25 per session; williamsburgsaltspa.com)
Best for: Respiratory problems, asthma, flu, colds
Dr. Pratima Raichur, a longtime ayurvedic practitioner in Manhattan, works wonders for your complexion "with her holistic approach to health and life. Raichur nourishes and cleans skin with essential-oil-based treatments; detoxifying facials combine natural and antibacterial ingredients like sandalwood, aloe vera, red clay, and rosemary with a blast of steam to cleanse and exfoliate skin, and pressure-point massage around the nose and eyes clears sinuses and the puffiness that allergies can cause. (Detox facials start at $178; pratimaskincare.com)
Best for: Allergies, sinuses, acne
Aside from being relaxing, hot water increases blood flow and sweating and dilates the capillaries near the skin's surface; your body expels the bad stuff and drinks in any herbal oils and salts. Elemental Herbology's Detox Bathing Infusion ($35) enhances these effects with ingredients like grapefruit oil (a purifier and astringent) and rosemary oil (for circulation). It also makes our cut because of what it leaves out: parabens, sulfates, preservatives, and synthetic fragrances and colors. (elementalherbology.com)
Best for: Fluid retention, bloating
The very technology used on preemies in the hospital, infrared heat penetrates skin almost two inches to warm the body directly, rather than heating the air around you. The infrared sauna at The Arcona Studio in Santa Monica, California (frequented by Diane Lane), is made of sweet-smelling Canadian cedar and confers all the benefits of a traditional sauna: Your pores open, shedding dead cells and toxins like zinc, lead, and cadmium; your heartbeat increases and blood vessels dilate as sweat evaporates; and after just a few minutes, your face develops a fetching rosy glow. ($30 per session; arcona.com)
Best for: Jet lag
More nutritious than sugary juice fasts, the iZO Cleanze, an organic-vegetable juice diet, is a hush-hush favorite among lean beauties like Adriana Lima and Natasha Henstridge. The service delivers portable daily coolers of nutrient-packed liquids for custom-length fasts that incorporate ingredients like kidney-cleansing almond milk, fibrous green vegetables (kale and celery), and purifying teas to clean the liver and boost immune function. Juicing for more than three days? Add light exercise, such as brisk walking, to counteract a slowing metabolism. (Starts at $100 a day; izocleanze.com)
Best for: Dropping the last 5 pounds
The health benefits of tea have long been known (it's good for your metabolism, heart, and skin) and I.AM.YOU. studio took a good thing and made it better. They combined traditional Chinese medicine and Indian medicine with modern day dietary theories to create loose tea, made especially for detoxing. These teas are formulated as a supplement to healthy meals (meal plan included), and are meant to distress, cleanse, de-bloat and reenergize. ($180 for 7 day program; iamyoustuido.com)
Best for: Increasing energy
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian approach to preventative health and healing, can be used for more than a skin care. At Ayurvedic Yoga, they combine yoga, self-care, and medicinal food and herbs to cleanse the body. The program provides constant support, and supplies needed for the detox such as abhyanga oil, ayurvedic herbs and vitamins, and tea. Because this cleanse focuses heavily on eliminating obstacles to good health, you're likely to leave after eight days with a new mindset, as well as a bit of a glow. ($175 for 8 day program; ayurvedicyogadetox.com)
Best for: A clearer head
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I'm a writer and editor based in New York City. I love a good coat, a well-articulated feminist rant, and face masking (yes, that’s a verb) like it’s nobody’s business.
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