Wolf said she would worry about people with kidney disease or heart problems trying colon cleanses, because these individuals already have trouble maintaining fluid balance in their bodies, and the electrolyte shifts could be an issue. She said she would also tell people with gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohn's disease (a condition involving inflammation in the GI tract), ulcerative colitis (which involves inflammation in the large intestine), and recurrent diverticulitis (in which a person develops inflamed pouches in the wall of the colon) to avoid colonics.
In 1998, the FDA reclassified several herbal laxatives including senna, aloe, and cascara sagrada as category III, meaning they required further research. Research for senna proceeded, but no results or comments were forwarded to the FDA for aloe or cascara sagrada. As a result, in 2002, senna was once again listed as category I (approved for over-the-counter use), but aloe and cascara sagrada, despite hundreds of years of history and being driven by similar anthraquinones, are now listed as category II (insufficient data).14
Psyllium seeds and husks are rich in soluble fiber and have long been used to ease constipation and digestive system upset. As the University of Maryland Medical Center says, "Many well designed studies have shown that psyllium relieves constipation. When combined with water, it swells and produces more bulk, which stimulates the intestines to contract and helps speed the passage of stool through the digestive tract. Psyllium is widely used as a laxative in Asia, Europe, and North America."26 Studies show that in addition to increasing stool weight, supplementing with psyllium seed husk produces stools that are slick and gelatinous. Psyllium is unique in contrast with other viscous fibers. It is resistant to fermentation, whereas other soluble fibers tend to ferment in the colon. That's a significant advantage. Researchers also observed that psyllium seed gel provides lubrication that facilitates the propulsion of colon contents and produces a stool that is bulkier and moister than are stools produced when using comparable amounts of other bowel-regulating fiber sources. The bottom line is that studies have shown that an unfermented gel component of psyllium seed husk promotes laxation as a lubricant in humans.27
The average person carries 5 or more pounds of waste in her colon, according to the website Colon Health. Doing a colon cleanse will cause you to eliminate that waste and drop those pounds. The weight loss won't be permanent, though, because you'll continue to eat, digest and eliminate food. Instead of taking an herbal supplement to shed the waste and drop the pounds, talk with your doctor about more permanent ways to lose weight -- if that's what you need to do.
For many people with colon related issues, like irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease, gluten wreaks havoc on the digestive system. Even if you don’t have one of these conditions, gluten may still contribute to inflation in your gut and colon. If you don’t want to cut out all grains from your diet, there are some great gluten-free alternatives like quinoa that also contain fiber and colon-friendly nutrients.
Processed foods typically contain a long list of additives and chemicals used to prolong shelf life and add texture or flavor. Avoid these whenever possible. Increasingly, additives, like emulsifiers, in processed foods have been linked to colon cancer and can cause constipation. The best way to avoid these additives, and other harmful chemicals, is buying certified organic foods that are raw or minimally processed.
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16. Jing Yang, 1 Jinhua Yin, 1 ,2 Hongfei Gao, Linxin Xu, Yan Wang, Lu Xu, and Ming Li. "Berberine Improves Insulin Sensitivity by Inhibiting Fat Store and Adjusting Adipokines Profile in Human Preadipocytes and Metabolic Syndrome Patients." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 363845. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310165/
There are lots of herbal supplements on the market that can be used to support a gut cleanse, but there are also great 'everyday' herbs you can add to your food that will help support cleansing of the gut. Try fennel seeds, which aid in elimination of mucus buildup and relieves gas. Peppermint is soothing for any digestive upset and helps alleviate bloating. Oregano has both anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. If you suspect you may have an overgrowth of yeast or fungus (a common issue!) it's important to address it by including some herbs to your gut-cleansing plan.
Pau d'arco (Tabebuia heptophylla) comes from the rain forests of Brazil and other areas of South America. The active component is lapachol. Pau d'arco works well in the formula because of its proven ability to help control Candida.35 This amazing herb also nourishes the body's defense system and helps protect against pathogenic organisms. It has been used for centuries to improve immune function, detoxify, and reduce pain throughout the body -- especially in the joints. Research has shown that it contains a natural antibacterial agent, has a healing effect on the entire body, cleanses the blood, and kills viruses. Pau d'arco has been used as a treatment for AIDS, allergies, all infections and inflammations, anemia, asthma, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, as a blood builder, bronchitis, all types of cancer,36 colitis, cystitis, smoker's cough, diabetes, eczema, fistulas, gastritis, gonorrhea, hemorrhages, hernias, Hodgkin's disease, liver disease, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, osteomyelitis, Parkinson's disease, polyps, prostatitis, psoriasis, rheumatism, skin cancer, skin sores, spleen infections, snake bites, ulcers, varicose veins, warts, and plain old wounds.
Colonics do work to flush loose waste and sediment from rectum and large intestine, but they have several drawbacks. They can actually weaken bowel muscles over time. Colonics don't draw toxins from bowel pockets or from tissue. They do, however, flush all bacteria out--the good as well as the bad. Colonics can also disrupt natural pH (acid/alkaline) balance) in the large intestine. Finally, depending on the skill of your therapist, you run the risk (low) that some water retained in the equipment from another patient's previous use may be injected into your colon. Yech! Should You Clean Out Your Colon?