The session with Anna, Woodland Herbs' resident herbalist, starts with a chat about detox as a concept, in an effort to open my mind to the process. Reassuringly, Anna agrees with me that ‘detox’ is an abused phrase, used to sell inappropriate products to misguided consumers, a practise she dismisses as potentially dangerous, as a detox ought to be a tailored process, not something that can be bought off the shelf.
Detox, having no specific medical meaning, is simply an umbrella term relating to the process of aiding the body’s natural mechanisms for ridding the body of toxins. For some people, this may mean a fasting period, or temporarily cutting out sections of your diet that are harder to digest, such as red meat. Whilst this can be effective, Anna favours the idea of implementing smaller changes, relating to specific areas deemed as troublesome to the patient personally. This more gentle approach allows a patient to make realistic, long term beneficial lifestyle changes.
Although Anna is quick to point out that she is not a doctor (but a ‘medical herbalist’), my appointment has the feel of a very personal consultation, asking what I might hope to get from a detox, and running through a comprehensive and rather intimate series of questions relating to my diet, sleeping patterns, digestion and mental wellbeing.
After assessing my answers, I'm pleased to find that I am not in need of an extreme detox, and instead she gives me a dry skin brushing brush to aid circulation, and rooibos tea to reduce my caffeine intake. The time around dissertations and exams is certainly a poor time to start an intense detox, which can be a decidedly unpleasant process. Interestingly enough, January — the season of good intentions — is not a particularly suitable time to detox either, as the body is in a semi hibernation during winter and will not respond as well as in springtime.
Whilst I still have my doubts about the motives of detox products available in the shops, I am now more receptive to the idea of this holistic, individual approach for achieving more subtle, longer term results. For now, I’ll stick with my rooibos tea, and will leave the fasting to someone else.
Woodland Herbs is an external partner of the University SRS and offer preferential rates for treatments to its members, from massage to reflexology.
See University of Glasgow Sport for details.