Colon Cleansing: Don't Be Misled By the Claims

hospital care image (big) "Colon cleansers effectively eliminate large quantities of toxic waste, affecting the condition and vitality of the entire body." "Colonics...increase the release of old, encrusted colon waste, encourage discharge of toxins and parasites, freshen the gastrointestinal tract and make the whole cleansing process easier and more thorough.""Cleansing is the first step in a good weight control program."So read ads and promotional materials for so-called internal cleansers—enemas, laxatives, strong herbal teas, powders, and pills meant to clean out the large intestine, also known as the colon or bowel. You can find these products online, at health food stores, and even in some supermarkets and pharmacies.

The Sales Pitch

The sellers of all these colon scrubbers say periodic cleansing is crucial for the body's well-being. The general pitch goes as follows. We live in an age in which toxins easily accumulate in the body—the air we breathe is polluted and the food we eat is laden with pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Our bodies, unequipped to deal with all these poisons, fall behind in eliminating them, and we end up sick.Furthermore, as one company puts it, certain foods "tend to stick and putrefy in the folds and pockets of the intestines. When your colon is not eliminating wastes properly, toxins are reabsorbed into the blood, poisoning the entire system and weakening your other eliminative organs." More succinctly stated, "the colon walls are encrusted with stagnant waste."

Misleading Information

Do not always believe what you read. Many of the claims are a mix of truths and half-truths. You do not need to spend lots of money to help nature do its job. The body is perfectly capable of eliminating toxins in a timely, efficient manner. Consider that the cells of your gastrointestinal tract turn over every three days—fast enough so that there is no crust or putrefying food in your colon. Also, bacteria in the colon naturally metabolize and thereby detoxify food wastes. And mucous membranes lining the intestinal wall block unwanted substances from entering the body's other tissues. The liver works to neutralize toxins, as well.

Normal Bowel Movements Are Variable

Some sellers of intestinal cleansers turn you, the consumer, into a diagnostician, telling you signs to look for to determine that your body is not working properly. One of these signs is having fewer than 2-3 bowel movements a day. But that has nothing to do with whether you require a laxative or other medication. The number of bowel movements considered healthy over a given period of time differs from person to person. It can be anywhere from a few times a day to a few times a week. Only when your typical pattern changes might something be wrong.

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