Many people greet the New Year with a burst of enthusiasm and a new resolve to start their health and fitness on a new footing. That’s why Gyms start their year jam packed and only in February see who is there for the long run.
For some it’s the Gym and for others their focus is on…the bathroom! Colon cleansing has received lots of attention over the last few years and has spread from circles of Naturopathy and herbal geeks to be much more mainstream.
Much of the writing though has been done without the benefit of expertise or experience so here I am pulling lots of useful info together – gathered from my experience of doing this stuff for 30 years and professional training in Nutritional therapy and Naturopathy.
So if Colon Cleansing is one of Your New Year Resolutions this is what you need to know
Is this really detox?
Colon cleansing is called colon cleansing because what we are doing is cleaning it out with gentle fibre and boosting its health with specific herbs and nutrients. We are not detoxing the colon, we are just cleaning it out and helping the body eliminate solids easily. This has detox implications for the whole body – on the digestion, immune system and on the skin. Heck it may even lessen severe cases of asthma and even depression, so the importance of colon cleansing cannot be questioned but by itself it is not a detox- but read on to see how it fits into the bigger picture.
The Whole “Colonics vs Enemas” Question – Which is Best?
One of the obvious ways to clean any tissue is with water. The use of a water flush for colon cleansing probably stated thousands of years ago with a purification process in Yoga called basti. Some people were taught to draw water into their lower colon purely with their own muscles – gradually learning the technique by trial and error. Others used sometimes a thin bamboo tube to make the process simpler.
Now these cleansing techniques can be used by the average person using an enema at home or by visiting a colonic clinic.
Use of an enema kit gives a powerful boost to any herbal or dietary colon cleansing programme. It does take some getting used to but with gentle relaxation and persistence perhaps over several attempts success is gained.
You find by experience that enemas can wash out the lower bowel and be used to apply herbal or other medicines to the body bypassing the upper gut entirely. This can be a lifesaver in difficult cases. Last of all use of an enema triggers the nervous system to go into its healing mode and you feel a very deep relaxation afterwards. Some people may need to practise using an enema kit after they have had an Epsom Salts bath because that will get them into a deeply relaxed state in which use of the enema is easier.
I never advise use of colonics since I want people to have control over their detox and cleansing and going to a clinic for something you can do at home for no cost makes no sense to me.
Is This Required for Detox?
Our first point in this list of 7 Tips for Successful Colon Cleansing asked whether or not we were cleansing or detoxing. The fact is that detox requires that you do a Colon cleanse first.
If you jump directly into a liver detox without cleansing your colon then you risk damaging your gut as the liver dumps its entirely nasty load of toxins into the bile it secrets – which then after being collected in the Gall Bladder is dumped in the gut.
Not only is there actual damage to the intestinal wall and maybe to the gall bladder too but you can expect to go through “Detox hell while the body deals with all the mess caused by this huge mistake.
When you cleanse and nourish the colon first and clean you diet up so that your meals have tons of natural fibre from oats, apples, pears etc. the sludge and toxic bile is buffered by the fibre and its effect on the intestinal lining is reduced. The process still needs to be slowly and in stages but it can be managed without undue distress and overblown “detox reactions”.
This is why my first Detox book was called “Detox Your Body in 3 Steps!”
Colon cleansing then, as we’ve seen so far, is partly a mechanical process involving the use of a water enema to flush and move “debris” along and out of the colon. Herbs can help. We do not need strong herbs to do this but gently low dose well tolerated herbs such as meadowsweet, plantain, dandelion and so on. Dosage instructions need to read carefully and I always advise eating a high vegetable and fruit diet while you are are using colon herbs. I think it prudent to start with low doses and slowly work up to the advised dose. Also a sensible amount of water and tea need to be consumed. Not the usual 8 glasses a day urban myth – just sip water regularly through the day and eat well. A lot of the water the body needs is in the Beets, tomatoes, greens and other healthy foods we eat and not in sloshing bottles of water down our throats.
Water does not flush toxins away it just dilutes your electrolytes and will make you ill if you drink too much of it.
Three cheers for vitamin C! All by itself it does more for the colon that most other nutrients. And nobody realises that this secret help is working away in the background all the while. Just boosting your dose to say, 3 grams a day may solve many cases of constipation all by itself, although you daily dose needs to be found by slowly upping your dose and seeing how that works. In any case of doubt hop along to your local Naturopath or Nutritionist who can supply 1 on 1 advice.
Fibre / Fiber
Fibre is way more interesting and powerful than most people realise. There are many different kinds of fibre. The usual distinction of soluble and insoluble is only the beginning. In so called “health shops” I notice ugly looking bags of material called fibre which people are supposed to eat to “Keep them regular”.What nonsense this is ! Fibre means the fibre in the apples you eat, the oatmeal, the pears, the barley, the greens. You get the picture now I’m sure. It is a normal and healthy part of a decent diet and cannot be added from a packet labelled fibre. Constipation may be caused by insufficient vitamin C, poor diet or lack of exercise and is easily cured usually by fixing these lifestyle factors.
Laxatives Are NOT the Answer!
This is another wrong headed way of dealing with constipation that might seem OK in the short term, but is harmful when taken repeatedly.Constipation means that something in your lifestyle needs fixing. So go to a Naturopath who can do a “Diet Review or critique” for you – problem solved. Taking strong laxative herbs is a very bad idea whoever recommends it. It is not part of any Holistic or Natural Health philosophy all of which recommend a healthy diet strong in plants which naturally have all the vitality and fibre we need.So we’ve covered 7 Top tips to help your colon cleanse go well. There are lots of others so keep an eye on this blog and my Facebook page and you’ll get even more practical info and techniques to help you detox and boost your health and longevity.Any questions? Please ask ’em below and please Share this info with others! Thank you.
Alex Newell ND