The colon, also called the large intestine or bowel, is situated in the abdominal cavity after the small intestine in the lower part of the digestive tract. The large intestine is approximately six long feet from end to end. The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from the food that you eat and then the leftover waste is passed into the large intestine. The large intestine carries out a variety of vital functions including the completion of the digestive process, storing waste, extracting and maintaining the water balance in waste, absorbing water soluble nutrients, and synthesizing critical vitamins. In the colon, these functions are carried out with the help of billions of living bacteria which inhabit the colon. The colon itself produces no digestive enzymes.
The colon can be very easily disturbed by a number of factors that will adversely affect its internal ecosystem, such as an accumulation of toxins and their byproducts in our bodies as the results of an unbalanced diet, overeating, alcohol abuse, and exposure to toxins in our everyday environment. When this happens, a colon cleansing procedure is reccomended in order to restore its proper functions. This procedure may also reduce or eliminate several adverse symptoms of the accumulation of toxins in the body, such as impaired digestion, gas or bloating, chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, protruding belly, powerful food cravings, recurring headaches, fatigue, skin problems and rashes, and even irritability and mood swings.
There are numerous ways to cleanse the colon. Likewise, the various proponents of this treatment all claim that their products and/or services work best to cleanse the colon to achieve optimal health. In this article we take a look at the pros and cons of these various procedures.
Colonic Irrigation Using Colon Hydrotherapy
Colon hydrotherapy involves the infusion of water into the colon via the rectum. No drugs or chemicals are used, but the procedure requires vast amounts of water which is sometimes mixed with minerals, herbs, or other organics such as coffee. The liquid can be administered using an FDA-approved class II colon sanitary hydrotherapy devices or by a gravity-fed enema-like system. Some hydrotherapists recommend colon irrigation in cases where control of excretory functions has been comromised, if tolerable by the patient. Other practitioners recommend it for a variety of condition that may stem from the accumulation of fecal matter in the large intestine
Colonic irrigation should not be used in people with various bowel, rectal, or anal pathologies such as colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or hemorrhoids particularly since colonic irrigation carries a risk for perforation or infection.
Use of Colon Cleanser
Gentle colon cleansing can be done by ingesting products that contain specifically blended nutrients and supplements that are formulated to maximize one’s elimination. These are called “colon cleansers.” There are many colon cleansers in the marketplace. Colon cleansers are classified by the FDA as foods and dietary supplements, and not as drugs. The FDA therefore does not pre-approve colon cleansers under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. On the other hand, the FDA does monitor manufacturing practices and labeling for compliance and certifies certain ingredients in foods and dietary supplements as “FDA GRAS (generally recognized as safe).” One therefore should use colon cleansers containing ingredients that have this latter designation.
Most products contain fiber. In the colon, fiber swells and absorbs fluids. This sets up a fluid gradient that moves contaminants out of the crevices of the colon and into feces that is destined for expulsion.
Many colon cleansers also contain herbs. The use of irritant herbal laxatives should be avoided in favor of milder herbs such as fennel, peppermint, and licorice. The latter ingredients do not depend on irritating the colon to produce elimination and are less likely to produce internal damage.
Some colon cleansers provide the body with healthy minerals and vitamins. Also it is a good idea to check the ingredients list provided with colon cleanser products for the presence of soy, eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, or other constituents that may cause an allergic reaction in people who have particular food allergies.
When cleansing the colon, even with the use of body cleansers containing ingredients that are generally recognized as safe by the FDA, it is important to stay properly hydrated. Eight to twelve glasses per day of clean filtered water is recommended during any cleansing cycle. Eating a proper diet, drinking plenty of fluids and enjoying daily healthy activity and mild exercise aides in the cleansing process.
Colon Cleansing Systems
Inner cleansing can also be facilitated by fasting for short periods of time if this approach has the approval of your physician. When fasting, solid food is replaced with fruit juces, herbal teas or broths for one to three days. Alternatively, several colon cleansers are packaged and supplied as part of a cleansing system that contains the colon cleansing components as a capsule or liquid that is taken with a glass of water plus nutritional shakes or snacks that have been formulated to complement the activity of the primary cleanser.
There are several systems available that are used from a few days to over a month. The cleansing supplement is not taken daily over a prolonged period of time, since after the colon is cleaned, a healthy equilibrium in the bowels needs to be reestablished during non-cleansing days. The colon cleanser cleans the bowels and the nutritional and other supplements provided in the system further support healthy colon function and aide in the reestablishment of the helpful friendly flora of bacteria that resides within the colon. Directions are usually providing regarding the amounts to be taken and timing of each supplement utilized in the cleansing system. Many cleansing system allow you to tailor the program to fit your schedule. Although the latter flexibility is an important attribute of several colon cleansing systems, moderating the ingestion of alcohol or caffeine is strongly recommended during a colon cleansing program.