Is colon cleansing a load of crap?
Colon Cleansing is one of those activities I would definitely have to file under the 'pretentious', 'wankery' and 'waste of time and money' categories. I'm not a doctor, or medical professional, but the whole idea of 'colon cleansing' does not sit right with me. So I decided it time to do some internet based research.
The idea that, due to the polluted environment in which we live, our bodies accumulate a range of 'bad toxins', is an easy one to sell. I mean, look at the fumes pumped out the exhaust of the cars that pass you by as you're walking. You're breathing in those fumes at some level, surely they are being absorbed into your system somehow? Surely they are getting stuck in there doing you bad? Consider the food you eat, and the additives and chemicals used in it's preparation, the pesticides used on fruit and vegetables. Obviously eating this tainted produce is causing you to collect toxins within your body? On the surface that all makes sense, that's why it's such an easy sell, and why the 'cleansing' industry is such a profitable one.
Colon cleansers come in a number of disguises capsules/tablets, enemas, and the method arguably most popular with the A-List, "high colonics" which flush large amounts of water through the intestines. Do these expensive treatments do anything other than lighten the load of your wallet.
Colon cleansing is based on the theory of "autointoxication", which suggests that waste collects in the colon, causing toxins to form and spread throughout the body. While the theory of "autointoxication" was accepted by doctors in the 19th century as fact, actual scientific research has since debunked the theory as false. Medical experts agree that the theory of "autointoxication" is false, but that the colon is capable of looking after itself.
Colon cleansing is really a strange fad, says Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, director of nutrition at the American Council on Science and Health in New York City. "The body can cleanse itself quite well. The kidneys and lungs remove toxins and by-products from the blood stream, and regular bowel movements remove any waste products from the gastrointestinal [GI] tract."
David L. Diehl, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University, and chief of gastrointestinal endoscopy at Bellevue Hospital Center, agrees. "High colonics are often touted as a way to cleanse the colon of 'adherent stool' that has been there for years or even decades," he says. "The problem with this concept is that there is no such thing. The body does a good job of eliminating stool, and there are no 'pockets' in the colon that collect stool for years."
Furthermore, there is the potential for a colon cleanse to actually do you more harm than good. As well as the potential for causing vitamin or mineral deficiency and dehydration, high colonics can potentially harm the colon, causing small tears or internal damage. If you're interested in reading a little more on the potential pitfulls feel free to read more here, although, I'd avoid it if you've just eaten lunch.
Detoxification in general has it's share of critics from the medical community.
The detoxification theory can enable con artists to gain great power over their customers by diagnosing and curing "potentially fatal" (but nonexistent) illnesses. "They have to invent the idea of toxins," says Peter Fodor, president of the Lipoplasty Society of North America, "because that gives them something to pretend they can fix."
It can be terrifying to believe that one's body is being poisoned by toxins from within. But if this were true, the human race would not have survived, says Vincent F. Cordaro, M.D., an FDA medical officer. "A person who retained wastes and toxins would be very ill and could die if not treated. The whole concept is irrational and unscientific."
I actually tried to find any medical endorsement that would support the claims of health benefits colon cleansing supporters often raise, but had no luck in finding anything of substance. The closest I found was this:
Although doctors may recommend colon cleansing in preparation for a medical examination of the colon, most don't recommend colon cleansing for better health or to prevent disease. This is because:
* It's unnecessary. Your colon doesn't require enemas or special diets or pills to eliminate waste material and bacteria. It does this naturally on its own.
* It may be harmful. Your colon absorbs water and sodium to maintain your body's fluid and electrolyte balance. Some colon-cleansing programs disrupt this balance, causing dehydration and salt depletion. Long-term or excessive cleansing programs can lead to problems such as anemia, malnutrition and heart failure.
In short, a quick search will turn up numerous quotes from medical doctors debunking the myths associated with colon cleansing, whilst it is very difficult to find medical information that supports the use of colon cleansing.
Colonic irrigation was an obvious target for the aptly named, Penn and Teller Bullsh!t! series. Here's an entertaining little clip of a guy that paid $500 to have a tube shoved up his butt and liquid pumped into him. Maybe he should have done some research before accepting the tube up his... this should probably carry a NSFW warning.
I guess since this post contains medical themes, it should also carry a suitable medical disclaimer... We are not liable to any user or anyone else for any decision made or action taken based on the reliance upon the information contained on or provided through this post. In short, if you have any questions, go see someone who knows what they are talking about like a doctor or medical profession. :p