Dietary change is an age-old technique for purifying the body. Add nutritional supplements, elimination methods and mental imagery, and you have a powerful combination for detoxification.

Dietary change is an age-old technique for purifying the body. Add nutritional supplements, elimination methods and mental imagery, and you have a powerful combination for detoxification.

Each spring and fall for the past four years, Hidden Springs Wellness Center in Ashland has held a four-week "seasonal cleanse" workshop to facilitate body-mind detox. The program employs a holistic blend of cleansing techniques designed to induce lasting health improvements.

"Lifestyle change is the Holy Grail of alternative medicine," says Rod Newton, co-owner of the center and co-leader of the cleanse classes. "The four pillars are exercise, diet, detoxification, the healing power of the mind."

Newton says that cleansing leaves him with more energy, speeds up the healing process and reduces many aches and pains. The spring 2012 workshop runs Wednesdays from April 18 to May 9 or Mondays from April 30 to May 21, with introductory classes April 11 and 23, respectively.

"I had chalked it all up to getting older," Newton wrote in the workbook he gives to class participants, "until I did more regular cleansing and watched the symptoms disappearing."

This monthlong cleanse can be just the right catalyst for people looking to make permanent changes in their lifestyles and health, says co-instructor and Ashland naturopathic physician Bonnie Nedrow.

"It's long enough for people to do, so they can have a feeling of what life can be like without many of their symptoms," says Nedrow.

To achieve this change, says Nedrow, we must detoxify our bodies of a lifetime of environmental and food-based toxins. The first step in the process is avoiding toxins, and this means changing the diet. Radically.

"We take out the top eight allergen food groups," says Nedrow (see sidebar on page 20). "This especially helps people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, osteoarthritis and Parkinson's."

To guide class participants in choosing cleansing foods without these allergens, Nedrow teamed up with chef Jeff Hauptman to write "The Cleanse Companion Cookbook."

After avoiding new toxins, the second step is mobilizing the body to eliminate toxins stored in organs and tissues. Class members add fiber to the diet and consume special supplements, including antioxidant vitamins, protein powder, probiotics and magnesium citrate to support the body's most powerful detox organ, the liver.

"The liver needs magnesium to mobilize toxins," Nedrow explains. "Most of us don't get enough magnesium in our diets."

The third step is to eliminate toxins using the body's four channels of elimination: colon, bladder, skin and lungs. Class participants are encouraged to enjoy saunas that alternate with cold plunges, scrub their skin and take colonics or other forms of enema.

The final step of the cleanse is working with the power of the mind to enhance the mind-body connection, though by the final week of the cleanse, all four steps are in process simultaneously.

"Everything we do with intention is much more powerful," says Nedrow.

For many class members, toxic emotions arise during the cleanse. To work through these issues, participants practice deep breathing and use guided mental imagery aided by a compact disc they received in the class packet.

On a dark and cold evening in November, 27 program participants attend fall's fourth and final class in a round, yurtlike conference room at Hidden Springs. The group meetings serve as both learning and moral support for a process that at times can be physically uncomfortable and mentally tiring.

Several participants report sleep problems, sugar cravings, bowel difficulties, fatigue. Others report the disappearance of aches and pains they've had for years.

"I'm free of pain now," says Kathleen Abelsohn, an Ashland resident. "I also have no cravings for sweets, and it's helping with candida."

Abelsohn has taken this cleanse class before, as have several of the other students.

"After the first cleanse, I came away with more food awareness of what didn't serve my body's nutritional needs," says Abelsohn.

Several couples undertook the program together, saying that lifestyle change is easier when it's supported at home.

"It's very helpful to do this together, especially coming to the class," says Robert Laporte. "They turn this into a real community."

Robert and his wife, Paula Baker-Laporte, were first-timers in the class, though they have tried other cleansing techniques together.

"This is a very gentle and supported cleanse," says Baker-Laporte. "I now have less muscle and joint pain."

The benefits of the four-week cleanse are as much educational as physical. Class members realize that to maintain the improved health they periodically feel during the cleanse, lifestyle changes they voluntarily adopted must become permanent.

"Long-term I want elevated health," says Baker-Laporte. "I have one life to live, so I want it to be the best I can."

For more information, call 541-488-8858 or see