What is it?
No doubt you’re familiar with the notion of a colon cleanse, even if you’ve never done one.
Sometimes it’s medically necessary; for example, in the instance of a colonoscopy. Whereby your doctor will prescribe you with a diet to follow for 1-2 days prior to the procedure, and likely a drink or tonic that is used to expel contents of the colon. Required for the doctor to be able to see inside your colon, and not have it clogged up with waste, so to speak.
Then you have colon cleansing enthusiasts, who believe the colon needs to be frequently cleaned of waste build up from years of eating, drinking, and breathing. The waste that has built up on the walls of the colon produce toxicity in your lower intestine; apparently entering the blood and causing you to feel fatigue, bloating, irritated skin, weight gain, depression.
Though this theory of waste filled colons, and related symptoms isn’t commonly accepted amongst healthcare professionals.
In Chinese Medicine, we know the above symptoms are related to a poorly functioning gut rather than a full colon. Once we see signs of improvement in the functioning of the stomach and spleen, patients see a disappearance of the aforementioned symptoms.
But we’re not here to talk about Chinese Medicine.
What is involved in a colon cleanse?
There are two ways a colon cleanse can be performed.
The first option involves taking potions and laxatives to cleanse from the inside, causing frequent visits to the bathroom.
The second option is colonic irrigation, where a practitioner flushes out the colon by sending water into the colon through a tube in the rectum, flushing clean water into the body, and waste water out.
Does it work?
Undoubtedly, a lot of waste leaves the body in both these methods. It’s hard to know the answer here; the truth is, there hasn’t been enough research or studies to know for sure. The colon, or lower intestine, is the last stop in the digestive tract. Here is where water is extracted from the food we’ve eaten and absorbed into the body to keep us hydrated, while the waste is excreted. Laxatives cause purging from the colon; this results in a loss of water and often, dehydration. Dr Nat TCM. has written a blog on the topic of laxatives here if you want to know more.
Are there any known side effects?
The main issue here is that we don’t know the effect on gut bacteria. Bacteria in the colon is crucial for your health, and changing the population or removing some of this bacteria could cause serious problems. This area hasn’t been studied enough, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution, particularly when your health is involved.
Gut bacteria has been shown to have an effect on the brain,including mood disorders. The different contents of gut bacteria are currently being studied to see their effect on depression and anxiety. Watch this space.
Colon cleansing has been explored by cultures for centuries, in the traditional yoga practice, part of the cleansing process is a salt water flush. This involves a nose, throat and eye wash and…yep, you guessed it, a colon flush; all with salt water.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘master cleanse’ but not to be confused with the Lemon Detox Diet; it’s simple, relatively safe and effective.
The details on a salt water flush…
It’s designed to help cleanse your colon and force bowel movement.
Sea salt is loaded with trace minerals, and despite what you might think, is actually necessary for a healthy system. A diet low in sodium can affect the hydration of cells, and disturb your levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium – the last thing most people need.
Ideally practised in the morning, you drink a large glass of sea salt water, wait around for a few hours, then spend considerable time in the bathroom. In yoga, some light stretches and twists follow the drink to get the ‘digestive tract’ moving and churning.
Until more research on the safety of colon cleansing has been performed, it’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare professional before undertaken a colon cleanse.
Yours in cleanse,