Monthly Archives: September 2014

Detox Series: Colon Cleansing

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I do dozens of cleanses. Some I’m obsessed with, some I haven’t been too impressed by. I think I’ve driven my boyfriend crazy by this point, with my herbs and supplements and intermittent fasting. “Date night tonight, babe?” “Nope, sorry, I’m doing a liver flush tonight, which means I can’t eat anything and need to be in bed by 10pm.” Poor guy.

Nonetheless, I felt that it was about time to start spreading the knowledge and sharing my (amazing!) experiences to help you on your path to a happier and healthier life. Today I’m going to talk about colon cleansing (which we all need!).

If we lived in a perfect world, with clean environments, healthy products, and pure food, we wouldn’t have to worry about proper elimination. Our bodies would take care of that themselves. Since this is definitely not the case, however, we do have to worry about it!

Why We Need To Worry About “Toxicity”

A lot of people say that our bodies’ natural detoxifying organs (liver, kidneys, lymphatic system) do a fine job of dealing with toxicity, and that the idea of “cleanses” or “detoxes” are over-hyped. While it’s true that our bodies naturally detoxify themselves on a daily basis, from an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are not prepared to deal with the toxic load they are dealing with today. For most of history, the toxins that your body is trying to fight off every day did not even exist

To be fair, the idea that “chemicals are bad” is a very misleading concept. A chemical substance, from a chemistry standpoint, is just a form of matter. You have chemical processes within yourself that are working all the time. Even mother nature is comprised of chemicals. So a lot of people hear that and dismiss chemical “toxins” as a bunch of bologna. This, though, is over-simplifying the issue.

Just because chemicals exist does not mean that they have always existed in the same forms or quantities that they do today. It does not mean that our repeated exposure to them isn’t harmful. On the contrary, we know that it is.

A perfect example of this is geochemist Clair Patterson, who first exposed the dangers of lead toxicity resulting from lead-additives in gasoline, paint, and other household products during the first half of the 20th century. The big companies behind this problem refused to acknowledge his findings, and denied the evidence of lead toxicity, claiming that lead has always existed in the environment and hasn’t proven to be harmful.

Lead propaganda from 1923

It took Patterson a very long time to prove that the levels of lead in our environment due to man’s tampering was, in fact, unnatural, and dangerous for us. This was all in spite of their attempts to make sure that he didn’t show up to trials and couldn’t get his evidence. These companies played dirty.

Sound familiar? This same fight continues today, with other harmful substances. You can’t expect every business to prioritize ethics over profits… human nature would imply otherwise.

All this is to say that your body needs your help. It is being bombarded with things it cannot possibly handle, and your first step in counter-acting that problem starts here: with colon cleansing.

Why Colon Cleansing?

It is said that you are supposed to have a bowel movement after every meal, because there is always something from your food that your body cannot completely assimilate and utilize. Even babies, who drink pure mother’s milk, poop frequently. To think that we, as Americans, can often go DAYS without pooping is horrifying. This is a result of our modern diet and our industrialized world.

Food and waste products that are no longer needed (and toxins that the body needs to eliminate) go through your colon, and are supposed to leave fairly quickly. The longer they sit in there, the more they rot and ferment, creating more toxicity that your body re-uptakes. The longer it stays in there, the worse it gets.

Some effects of a toxic body include skin issues like eczema and acne, hormonal imbalances, irritability and mood swings, irregular sleeping patterns, low energy, concentration issues, depression, poor immune system, and weight problems, to name a few.

The reason colon cleansing is the first step in any detox regimen is because without a clean colon, all your other organs get re-toxified (so to speak) fairly quickly. Conversely, if you have a clean colon, this induces a cleansing affect on the rest of your body. This is a very important step!

The other thing you need to realize is that a clean colon isn’t as simple as pooping regularly. You could have a bowel movement once per day, or more, and still have a very toxic colon. Most sources guess that we have anywhere from 5-15 pounds of waste matter along our colon walls, that, without cleansing, would otherwise accumulate and block up our digestive system for our whole lives.

This waste accumulation happens a number of ways. Medical Insider explains it like this:

Modern diets are often low in natural fiber and also high in mucus producing foods, such as dairy products, white flour, meat (especially processed meats), eggs, potatoes, beans, rice, grains, fish, peanuts and fats (and low in fresh vegetables and fruit), and food, drink and drugs high in toxins, for instance coffee, alcohol, recreational drugs and pharmaceuticals. When we talk about mucus producing foods, we mean that they tend to stimulate the digestive tract to produce more mucus, rather than mucus in the nasal passages.

However, a large number of people have a very mild immune system reaction to certain food proteins that resemble viruses to the immune system, mainly dairy and wheat, which may well cause nasal congestion as well as adverse immune system activity in the digestive tract. This is a separate topic and is discussed on the Food Allergy and Intolerance page.

Such diets lead to more mucin being produced in the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. The mucus can indeed be cleared away by pancreatic juices (from the pancreas) but mucus-forming foods form such a large proportion of modern, western diets that the pancreatic juices are not effective in clearing it away. As the mucus and food particle solution passes through the intestines, moisture is removed and absorbed back into the blood stream. As more moisture is removed and reabsorbed, the mucus becomes sticky and gluey. In passing, it leaves a coating on the intestinal wall. Layer tends to dry out over time, compacting and hardening. Over the years, layer after layer of gluey faeces builds on the intestinal lining. It gradually forms into a tough, rubbery, black substance (hardened faeces mixture) found in lumps in the corners of the intestinal tract and covering the walls and villi themselves. This is known as ‘mucoid plaque’, and causes constipation, a reduction in the absorption of nutrients through the intestinal wall, and is a breeding ground for candida, harmful bacteria and parasites.

Toxins are absorbed into the mucoid plaque over time, including biotoxins and heavy metals. The liver relies on the colon being clear in order to effectively eliminate toxins from the body through the digestive tract. The build up of mucoid plaque and congestion in the colon (affecting the normal passage of stool) results in the build up of large amounts of toxins in the digestive tract. Harmful micro-organism activity also produces additional toxins. The body tends to produce more mucin to try to wash away the mucoid plaque, which mixes with the mucoid plaque to exacerbate the problem. Low fiber diets slow down the movement of food in the GI tract and do not act to remove mucoid plaque and prevent mucoid plaque formation.

So if you consume any dairy, meat, eggs, GMO corn or grains, caffeine, alcohol, or medications, for example, chances are you have a lot of waste build up, whether you have regular bowel movements or not.

Because all these mucous-y, sticky substances “bake” in your very hot 98.6-degrees body, they harden and get stuck along the walls of your intestines (both large and small). This makes it extremely difficult to remove with regular diet modifications (like just consuming more fiber). It also makes it very difficult for your body to absorb nutrients effectively- if at all.

This requires extra effort to remove, if you want things to start functioning properly again.

How Can I Cleanse My Colon?

There are so many ways you can get cleansing, depending on your budget and what you’re hoping to accomplish. Most commercial laxatives are harsh and toxic, and can not only damage your colon and damage the villi in your small intestine, but create a dependency on them, robbing your body of its natural ability to excrete waste. They dehydrate the body and have no health benefits whatsoever. There are many healthy ways to cleanse and detox the colon, however, and here I have listed many methods, all of which I have personally tried and had positive results from.

  • Colonics and enemas-   Both of these methods involve using warm water to gently flush away waste inside the colon, as well as to soften and wash away the gunk that is caked up along the colon walls. Colonics are superior to enemas, because they are able to clean the entire colon, whereas enemas use a much smaller volume of water, and therefore clean only the sigmoid colon and not into the transverse or descending colon (see image below). One benefit to enemas is that they can be used anytime at home, whereas colonics have to be administered by a professional, which can get pretty pricey. For colonic-like enemas that reach farther into the colon, you could look into “high enemas” which involve holding onto larger and larger quantities of water. This can be time consuming and uncomfortable, but the results don’t lie.                                                                                                                                                                              You should only be using filtered water in enemas, boiled first, and cooled to body temperature. This ensures that you are not adding more toxicity to your body with bacteria or amoebas, heavy metals, chlorine, and other gross things found in unfiltered tap water. (Well water is not free of these things either.) I like to add bentonite clay or activated charcoal to the water when I boil it, to further purify it. I am also a huge fan of coffee enemas, which I will discuss later in this series.                                                                         What to expect: after a colonic you will experience a very flat stomach. Some people have some bloating or fatigue for a couples hours afterwards (it takes a lot out of you- no pun intended.) Days afterwards you should have high energy and a positive outlook and your skin might clear up. After an enema you will experience the same results (minus the bloating) on a lesser scale. 
  • Salt Water Flushes- This is an old Ayurvedic method of cleansing the colon. It involves taking 2 tsp of pink rock salt (Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt, or Real Salt) in one quart (4 C) of warm-to-room-temperature water on an empty stomach in the morning. This creates a flushing action, as the salt water has the same gravity as the blood, so the kidneys do not pick up the water and the blood does not pick up the salt. It runs straight through your small and large intestines, cleaning both, making this an extremely effective cleanser. It also replenishes electrolytes to your cells, and helps restore the pH of your body (it is very alkaline). For more really detailed information and instructions, check out this post from Health Beyond Hype. This is an especially cheap and healthy method, which only requires about an hour or two in the morning. (Note: it is extremely important that you do not use regular salt or commercial sea salt for the flush, as these are very toxic and harmful for your body in large quantities.)                                                                                                                  What to expect: your stools will be watery, but it shouldn’t be very unpleasant. A large portion of the gunk and muck in your bowels will be emptied. I usually experience a burst of energy afterwards, and a much flatter stomach.
  • P & B Shakes- This might sound exciting, like a peanut butter milkshake, or at least something delicious.  Unfortunately, this stands for psyllium husks and bentonite clay (which is a little bit like flavorless Malt-o-Meal). You use 1-2 tsp of psyllium husk powder and 2 T of colloidal (liquid) bentonite clay into 1-2 C of water.  You can also add a couple capsules of activated charcoal in place of the bentonite clay, for the same effects. The psyllium husk bulks up in the water fairly quickly, so it needs to be stirred or shaken vigorously to ensure that it doesn’t get lumpy (this is where the name comes from). P & b shakes are the best known way to clear out mucoid plaque (the hardened, rubbery gunk on the colon walls) from your body. Often water-flushing methods like enemas, colonics, and salt water are rendered ineffective at getting some of the older, tougher stuff unstuck- especially in the small intestine (enemas and colonics never reach the small intestine). Psyllium works by bulking up in your intestines, both loosening the plaque and also attaching it to itself, and bentonite clay works by soaking up all the toxins and muck that comes along with it. It is recommended that you drink a lot of water with p & b shakes, so that they don’t constipate you and further the problem. Once your body gets used to one p & b shake a day, you can slowly add another and work your way up to three or four a day for maximum effects. Don’t take them within two hours of any medication or nutritional supplement, as both the “p” and the “b” can absorb them, rendering them ineffective. For more information, see p & b shakes at curezone.com                                                What to expect: there will be more fluffy bulk to your bowel movements, making them much more comfortable to pass than some of these liquidy-options. You will soon start to see black, rubbery ropes attached to these bm’s. This is mucoid plaque. It’s always extremely gratifying to see them come out of your body! It’s amazing how much can be up there. This method also helps your body regulate its own bowel movements, as you are giving it quite a bit of fiber every day. Expect to become very regular! 
  • Epsom salts- This action works the same as the salt water flush, for similar reasons. To flush with Epsom salts, you would add 2 tsp to 1 C of water and take it in the morning on an empty stomach. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, and so will replenish your body of magnesium- something most of us are deficient in without regular supplementation. This is another cheap option and readily available, as you can find Epsom salts just about anywhere. The Viva Mayr detox clinic (a celebrity and royalty favorite) is known to use these as a daily requirement, first thing in the morning.                                                                      What to expect: this will be exactly like the salt water flush- your stools will be watery. The cleaner your system is, the faster it will get through. I had a friend come to me recently saying “You should have warned me!” So for some cleansing newbies, recognize that it will keep you near the toilet for a while. After the first few times, though, it will go quicker and not take as long to clean yourself out, so stick with it! Your stomach will always be nice and flat afterwards. 
  • Magnesium citrate- This is a much gentler version of the Epsom salt flush, and tastes a whole lot better, too. I like to use Natural Calm in the raspberry-lemonade flavor. While I like to also use this drink to de-stress during the day or to wind down for bedtime, it does have a mild laxative effect, which can be maximized on an empty stomach in the morning.       What to expect: like I said, it’s a much gentler version of the Epsom salts in every way. It will be slightly less watery, slightly less flushing action, still the same gunk cleared out (although a little less might be cleared out). 
  • Mag07- This supplement works by oxidizing the colon both in the small and large intestines (while also not harming any of the beneficial bacteria), restoring the pH of your body and liquifying the contents of the colon. Mag07 claims to be able to liquify mucoid plaque as well, although no one is able to confirm this, as the contents are broken down and we can’t tell the difference, although many experts swear by it. Many people use Mag07 supplementation as an alternative to colonics for entire-colon cleansing. I would recommend Aerobic Life or Detoxy. It is recommended that you take Mag07 on an empty stomach before bed. For an ultra-cleansing effect, I use it at night and in the morning for a week at a time.                                                                                                                                             What to expect: this does liquify the contents of your bowels, so your bm’s won’t be completely formed. Everyone’s body is different, so the dosage will affect this as well. To have a more comfortable bm if 2-3 pills aren’t working, up your water intake instead of your dosage. I haven’t noticed a flat stomach the way I have with some of these other methods, although that is secondary to the detoxification it gives you, and a lot of others do claim to have these benefits as well.

Many people claim it is harmful to cleanse the colon because you can become dependent on it (which generally isn’t true if you use these methods, but you should always give your body a break from cleansing to let it re-set) and because you can wipe out beneficial bacteria- a problem easily solved with probiotic supplementation. Certain types of minerals can be depleted depending on the type and frequency of the cleansing method you are using  (especially the colonics and enemas), so if you are doing this a couple times a week, try to supplement those.

*(Enemas and magnesium citrate are generally safe for pregnancy. Mag07 is said to be as well, but I’d consult your doctor for that or anything else on the list.)

Benefits I’ve noticed- Clearer, brighter skin would be a major, major difference here. Less dark circles under my eyes, less bloating, an increase in positive thinking and elevated moods, more energy, and a great immune system. Oh, and when I am not cleansing, I have normal bm’s, at least once a day!

Have you personally tried out any of these methods? Do you plan on trying it after reading this post? Comment below and tell me all about it!