2 Week Ayurvedic Cleanse | My Experience + Update

 reading time: 7 min

This is the last part of my 3 part series around my Ayurvedic at-home cleanse. In this first part I wrote an introduction and overview of the procedure of "panchakarma", the 14 day cleanse. In part two I shared with you what I ate during my cleanse in February. And today, to round things off, I'm going to go into the physical, emotional and mental effects the panchakarma had on me, as well as some challenges I faced, and helpful habits I've adopted into my daily life.

I think over the past year we've all become quite conscious of our immune system and overall health. My "goal" with this cleanse was mainly to calm my constitution (or rather, my kapha imbalance) in order to balance my overall health and well-being, to rekindle my creativity (through boredom – which is something we rarely tolerate because we constantly seek entertaining distraction through our phones, laptops and TVs), and to just spend time with myself and listen to my thoughts.

How the cleanse affected me physically:

Due to the bland mono-diet consisting of plain rice and mung beans (
kitchari) as well as the measured out portion sizes (3 tbsp of dry basmati rice and 2 tbsp mung beans per meal) I naturally ate less, more slowly and more mindfully than I "usually" do. Since the kitchari didn't taste particularly exciting, I didn't really crave going back for seconds. One of the reasons I explicitly wanted to undergo this Ayurvedic treatment (as opposed to for example a juice fast or therapeutic fasting) was that I didn't want to cause my body any (additional) stress by depriving it from food. I didn't want to trigger the eating disorder from my past.

Luckily, this didn't happen. However, I did end up shedding some weight (emotionally and physically), which actually felt surprisingly good. What felt even better was that after each meal I wasn't stuffed (like I often feel after eating because I tend to overeat 'cause - what can I say - I've come to fall in love again with food, and more often than not will my appetite get the better of me, as opposed to waiting for my actual physical hunger), but I felt just comfortable. Not full, but also not hungry. This made me realize once again how we so often use (or rather abuse) food for comforting ourselves or to – once again – avoid boredom.

A little tip for you: Try to notice the first time you burp (or have the urge to burp) when eating. This is a signal from your body, trying to tell you "that's enough for now". Just give it a try and build up that consciousness to actually notice the first burp. Here's a great article on that!

Another thing I noticed after a few days was that my skin had dramatically cleared up – my skin was clearer than ever. My face was practically glowing! (This was probably due to the triphala powder as well as the daily oil massages and dry-brushing.) The oil massages, which I always combined with a bit of lymphatic drainage for my face, were probably also the reason why my face looked less puffy than usual and more "defined".

How the cleanse affected me emotionally:

Like I mentioned in my overview on the panchakarma, the process of an Ayurvedic cleanse won't just lead to a physical detoxification, but also a cathartic release of emotions. Which means that you will be most likely be confronted with some deep rooted built-up emotions.

Since this is quite personal, I'll keep it short. But in general I was surprised that most of the feelings that came up were positive ones. Yes, there was this one day towards the beginning of the main cleanse where I was overwhelmed by an intense wave of anger and frustration (which I scribbled furiously into my poor journal to let off steam), and then there were moments of sadness, disappointment, pain. But most of the feelings that came up were feelings of joy, of gratitude and abundance. Feelings of connectedness – to myself, to nature, to the universe. This sounds terribly cheesy, but it's how I felt most of the time. Peaceful. Grateful. Content.

How the cleanse affected me mentally:

Now this is something that surprised me as well. To be quite honest, I had secretly expected or hoped to experience a noticeable increase in mental clarity. I imagined it feeling like a cloud or mist had been lifted. That didn't happen though, and I'll admit I was a bit disappointed.

However, what I did notice is that
1) once I did start speaking again (after all, I had also spent almost 14 days in complete silence), I felt more articulate and like I was choosing my words with more care. So I guess this definitely counts as improved mental clarity, right? And
2) after ending my cleanse and slowly re-integrating regular day-to-day practices like answering e-mails and working on articles, I found myself struggling to focus on those tasks, and it even made me feel slightly dizzy to be sitting and typing on my computer. So I had to take it slow. Only then, once back in my "normal" day-to-day life, did I realize that I had been living a much more slow-paced and composed (and electronic-free) life over the past 14 days. And I badly wanted that back!

The best part:

Something I didn't think I'd enjoy that much – and ended up loving – was the Abhyanga aka the full-body self-massage with warm oil I did each morning. It's hard to explain, but somehow
being with myself in silence for about 1 hour, tending to myself, "marinating" in warm oil, was the most wonderful and nourishing feeling. Especially after taking a warm shower afterwards! I'd never felt that clean before, especially when also oiling and washing my hair. Just next-level refreshed and ... at peace. Yeah.

I also really enjoyed going for long, slow, mindful walks every day, sometimes even twice a day, and soaking in the spring sun.

Lastly, I don't think I would have felt as harmonious and connected if it hadn't be for the inspiring and healing content of the self-help literature I read during my cleanse (Sacred Woman by Queen Afua and You the Healer by José Silva & Robert B. Stone) as well as listening once again to the free 21 Days of Abundance meditation program by Deepak Chopra. I felt like I was being cleansed and healing from the inside out!

The worst part:

Even thinking about it makes me gag slightly. Brewing 1 tsp of triphala powder (a mild herbal laxative for digestion & colon cleanse and a very powerful immune-boosting antioxidant) in 1/2 cup of boiling water every evening became a real struggle that sometimes even made me feel nauseous. I still managed to stick to taking it every night, but it was without a doubt the most dreaded part of my days during the cleanse! Perhaps taking it in capsule  form would have been a better idea ...

Another thing I really struggled with were the hours between 6 p.m. (so after having my dinner) and 9 p.m. (which is when I did my last meditation for the day and went straight to bed after that). I "couldn't" read – because I had done enough reading over the course of the day and didn't want to strain or distract myself –, I couldn't talk to my fiancé J, I couldn't watch anything (obviously), and I couldn't sit in our backyard and enjoy the sun – because there wasn't any. So instead, I often just lay on the sofa and stared up at the ceiling.

Oh! I almost forgot: Maybe the hardest part must have actually been to see J eat his regular meals. You can probably imagine how hard it was to sit there with my little bowl of flavourless kitchari and see him stuff his face with a delicious looking sandwich or a heavenly smelling coconut curry! I was basically drooling, lol. Not only did I miss yummy flavours – I missed eating vegetables so much!!!

What I've adopted into my everyday life:

- Abhyanga. I don't do this every single morning now, but at least once a week on the weekend. I usually also oil-massage my hair which feels extra luscious.
- Taking triphala powder. You might not have seen this coming (I honestly didn't myself until I read more on the health benefits of triphala shortly after my cleanse had ended and spontaneously decided to keep taking it daily), but I have since switched to taking this on an empty stomach in the mornings instead of in the evenings. I find that adding a bit of orange juice helps fight the nausea I sometimes get.
- Adding flaxseed oil to my breakfasts. Only 1 teaspoon though, and not every single day because I honestly forget a lot of the time.
- Eating three meals per day, at around 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., with no (well, almost no) snacking in-between, especially not after dinner. 
- Incorporating kitchari into our meal plan.
- Avoiding kapha-aggravating foods, and incorporating as many kapha-pacifying foods as possible.
- Drinking warm smoothies instead of cold ones.
- Go to sleep around 10 p.m. and get up between 6 and 7 a.m.
- Doing one digital detox day each week, usually on Thursdays. Instead of spending the day in front of my computer, I take care of "off-line" duties that have been left undone, do some self-care rituals such as doing a face mask, relaxing in our backyard, reading, and just enjoy some me-time ...

six weeks later ...


It's April 24th today, so more than 6 weeks have passed since my Ayurvedic cleanse, and I just re-took the dosha imbalance test over at Banyan Botanicals to see how things have changed since or rather due to my cleanse. The result even exceeds my expectations: As you can tell from the graph above, both my kapha and my vata have gone down remarkably (compared to my test results prior to the cleanse), while my pitta has stayed more or less the same (you can clearly see that when taking the grey bars in the graph as point of comparison), therefore my kapha and vata are no longer HIGH, but only ELEVATED, while my pitta is still at about the same "level" as before (ELEVATED) and is therefore now the most off-balance. Which means that a) the cleanse had a very noticable effect on my physical and mental health - yay! -, and that b) instead of working on reducing my kapha I'm now going to focus more on pacifying my excess pitta. It's a journey, guys ...!

I hope my little testimonial here gave you some insight, and perhaps you want to do your own Ayurvedic cleanse some day ... If so, let me know how it goes!