The Teaching of Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens
The following is adapted from Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating (2000), Chapter 20.
Because of the toxicity of the inner environment of our bodies and the outer environments we live in, it is safe to say that all of us have some stored toxins in our system. As one shifts to a healthier diet and away from a flesh-centered one, the stored toxins begin to come out of the tissues. The process of detoxification can be understood by the physical phenomenon known as diffusion. The chemistry of the diffusion process says that elements move from areas of higher concentration to those of lower concentration. With a more toxic diet, such as a flesh-centered one, nutrients and well as accompanying toxins found in these foods flow into the blood and lymph from the intestinal tract. If their concentration is higher than the toxins in the cells, as is often the case with a flesh-centered diet, those toxins diffuse their way into the cells, where they are then stored.
When the toxicity level of our diet is decreased by switching to vegetarian foods, the difference between the concentration of toxins in the intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid changes. The cells become more concentrated with toxins than the extracellular fluid because less toxins are put into the latter by a vegetarian diet. Because of the law of diffusion, the toxins that are now more concentrated in the cells begin to flow back into the extracellular fluid. Toxins are diffused into the bloodstream and then go to the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and skin systems, where they are eliminated. If the organs of elimination become overworked, then they may go into malfunction. This is called a healing crisis. Typical detox and healing crisis symptoms are bad breath, pimples on the body, nausea, headache, liver pain, odoriferous stool and urine, and general malaise. Sometimes the blood, organs, and glands become so overloaded with toxins that one actually gets sick. Sometimes the toxins come out in the form of a past disease that our organism is releasing form the system. The health pioneer, J. H. Tilden, M.D., actually defines disease as a toxemia crisis. Although there may be other primary causes for disease, such a deficiency and genetic causes, the root of many diseases is the toxins produced by the excesses so prevalent in Western society.
Healing crises usually occur when the body vitality reaches a point where it is healthy enough to throw off the toxins. A crisis may last for a few days or even weeks. In my clinical experience, one is unlikely to have a major healing crisis if one detoxifies slowly over a few years rather than going onto a diet that is so clean and pure that the detoxification process is greatly accelerated. Speeding up the recovery from a healing crisis is facilitated by daily enemas, plenty of rest, taking in alkalinizing fluids such as fruit and vegetable juices (which neutralize acid toxins), and maintaining a positive attitude. Seven- to ten-day ‘relative’ fasts can also speed up this overall detoxification process. I define a ‘relative fast’ as follows: if one is on a flesh-food diet, one would undertake several ‘meat’ fasts by eating an ovo-lactovegetarian diet. If one is a lactovegetarian, eating a dairy-free diet for a while or doing several juice fasts may help one shift to a cleaner diet.
In my clinical experience with juice fasting, although people may get transitory healing crises for several days, the fasts provide a controlled and safe situation where one can ‘reset one’s dietary dial’ to a healthier diet. After a few positive experiences of fasting on a purer diet, one has enough positive feedback that the transition to the next step goes much more smoothly. After each stage of the transition, people seem to rise to a new level of well-being, energy, love, and light. More energy becomes available to experience one’s aliveness in service for the spiritual awareness that is so important for our sensitivity and openness.
Although the discussion thus far has focused on the accumulation of toxins from dietary origin, any habit of body or mind which decreases our vital energy results in the accumulation of toxins in the body. Along with a healthy diet, one needs to develop a new lifestyle that further enhances one’s total well-being. The better one feels, the easier it is to find time to exercise, meditate, rest, drink good water, sun oneself, deep breathe, spend time with significant others, and experience the joy of communion with the Divine. All these factors increase the vital force, which then helps one detoxify more easily and at progressively deeper levels.
It is also useful to understand that acid toxin production is a normal part in our metabolism. Exercise produces lactic acid built-up. Protein digestion produces sulfuric and phosphoric acid. Cell metabolism produces carbonic acid. A vital body can easily discharge these toxins, as well as many environmental toxins to which one might be exposed. The idea is not to obsessively spend time running from toxins, but to develop such a vital body force and such good health habits that one is able to handle the different environmental toxic stresses to which one is exposed. This does not mean one ignores common-sense avoidance of toxic environmental situations.
In this detoxification process, one becomes cleaner and more vital over time. If people move too fast, however, they may become so pure that they actually become too sensitive to the environment or so filled with vital energy that they become ungrounded in their lives. This is where the art of of spiritual nutrition becomes important. It guides one beyond rigid concepts based on the mythical ideal. The core idea of the art of spiritual nutrition is to find a diet that best establishes balance, function, and harmony in one’s life. This artful, intelligent, appropriate diet choice both supports one’s daily function in the world and enhances one’s communion with the Divine.