Using Fat to Detoxify Your Fat Cells

One of the unique, and most beneficial, aspects of the Ayurvedic home cleanse is the technique of oleation - which basically means oiling the body. I have talked a little bit about this method in previous newsletters and blogs, but today I want to go more in depth, so that even if you have completed a cleanse with me and have some understanding of this concept, I can shed more light on it.

In Sanskrit, oleation is called snehana and is part of the traditional preparation procedures for panchakarma. Panchakarma means "5 therapies" but we use it to indicate the ancient Ayurvedic purification program that the Mindbody Cleanse is based on. During the home cleanse, we oil the body from the inside by taking clarified butter (ghee) on an empty stomach upon rising for 7 days, and from the outside by using oil for daily self-massage. The basic purpose of this process is to saturate the fat cells, allowing toxins that are stored in the fat cells (such as pesticides, heavy metals and emotions) to be released.

But how does this work?

Liquid fats have a penetrating quality that allows them to pass through minute channels and break obstructions easily. This means they spread easily into the tissues and are quickly absorbed. They stimulate secretions in the tissues that allow greater flow, so that waste, toxins, and excessive doshas can begin to move out of the cells. In this way, the fat works like a soap to loosen that gunk that doesn't belong stored in the body.

This process is profound, because it is not only effective – more importantly, it is gentle. The lubricating quality of the fats we use for purification protects the tissues. Many modern cleansing methods are very harsh on the tissues and the lining of the intestinal tract, which in the long run is actually detrimental to your health. This method simultaneously pulls toxins out while protecting and nourishing the tissues, as well as soothing vata, the air and space elements in the mindbody that are normally aggravated by the detox process.

In order to achieve this removal of toxins it is important to reach complete saturation of the tissues, called samyagsnighdhatha in Sanskrit. For this reason, we take ghee in increasing amounts for 7 days until saturation is achieved. Signs that the body is fully oleated may include soft and oily stools (possibly loose), an aversion to ghee, slight nausea that isn't relieved after a few minutes, the body feeling soft and supple and senses being clear (ie. sense of smell, taste, vision is very strong). By oiling the body on the outside with organic, unrefined natural oils we further support the efforts to reach complete saturation. Shirodhara (oil poured on the forehead in a continuous stream) is another method of oleation that can support the process during a cleanse.

It is valuable to note that the Sanskrit word snehana means much more than just oleation.  Like all Sanskrit words, our English translations can only point to a meaning.  I find it usually requires ten or twenty English words to get a comprehensive idea of what the Sanskrit word is truly trying to convey.  Other translations of this same word include love, lubrication, binding, cohesion, transparency, nothing to hide, coming together, flow, saturation and opening up.  With this understanding, it is easy to see that this technique also supports our ability to soften and surrender to the cleansing process.  When we are able to “go with the flow” we are not building up toxins and emotional gunk like we are when we are in resistance to what is happening in our world – instead we are allowing that stuff to flow out of us.  When we have complete transparency, especially to ourselves, we are able to release the negative emotions and memories that arise – these are stored in the fat cells, too, and often surface during the cleansing process.  When we are able to open up and come together with others we are able to be totally present in our relationships.

With this understanding, it becomes clear: this cleansing process is about so much more than pesticides and what we eat.  Oleation provides us with a mental and emotional shift that allows us to genuinely clean out. The result is that we can live and love fully, in harmony with nature, and achieve our highest potential.




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