But a recent visit to the extended family brought the issue to the fore.
The colon emptying ceremony
Regrettably I timed my visit on the afternoon of the colon evacuation ritual. The event is not formerly scheduled into the calendar, but apparently happens once every 6 months or so. On this occasion 3 out of the 5 members of the family had decided to participate. The method of choice was an unidentified seed, simply referred to as an Indian bean.
The bean had been swallowed shortly before my arrival, so I had the pleasure of watching the drama unfold. There was a great deal of excitement and nervous anticipation as to who would be the first to experience a colonic draining. Officially, being last was the ultimate prize, since this would be a symbol of one’s resilience and strength and ability to overcome the power of the bean. However, did I mention that three people were playing this game, in a house with two bathrooms, so there was a big temptation to fake the onslaught early, to ensure occupancy of the two available toilets.
Shortly after my arrival the bowel evacuation began in earnest. Once the initial thrill of the first bowel movement was over – the excitement died down. The next 4 hours or so was punctuated by
groaning and complaining and vanishing acts. Family members disappeared for 15 – 20 minute intervals to relieve themselves – somehow, they managed to co-ordinate activities around toilet availability. Hours later it was over, a triumphant air replaced the pongs permeating down the passage way, as they congratulated each other on their superclean colons. The family bond stronger for having endured the trauma together.
Ravenously hungry, they gathered round the kitchen table, each brought a big cushion with, since by this time sitting on the hard chairs was too painful to contemplate. They then proceeded to begin filling up their empty colons with cakes and cookies.
Were they better off ?
Colon emptying sounds like a good idea
The idea cleaning things out is inherently appealing, because getting rid of the old junk in your garage or your life, typically improves appearances.
The custom, of periodically expelling the contents of an otherwise healthy colon, is universally practiced. Colon cleansing was adopted by ancient civilizations and is routinely practiced by many cultures today.
A variety of tools are available, from traditional formulations, to do it a home lotions and potions, through to more medical like experiences offered by colon hygienists at spas and clinic.
Chemicals create a moving experience
All colon cleansing procedures involve using chemical(s) which irritate the muscles in the digestive tract. The upset muscles respond by contracting more than usual. The increased muscle contractions expel the contents of the gut out.
The good, the bad and the ugly are expelled.
The clean sweep
The more violent the contractions the cleaner the colon.
The violence of the contractions, brings on the unpleasant sensations of the experience i.e. cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting, but the benefit is nothing is left behind.
Good microflora pushed out along with everything else
Your gut microflora are accustomed to the normal rhythmic motions of the gut. They are more than just passengers on the train, they work hard to serve you by assisting with the breakdown of the food you’ve consumed and creating special goodies, that help you function optimally.
The colon cleansing experience ,turns the usual sedate train ride into a wild roller coaster. But this is not like riding the Big Dipper at the fun fair – there is no health and safety on this ride. Your gut flora find themselves taking the ride, without any bars in front to hold on to.
Most of them are swept out – leaving an unhealthy vacuum.
A squeaky clean gut benefits who ?
So let’s review the colon cleansing thing …………
You endure discomfort, as chemicals, terrorize the walls of your gut. In many cases, the identity of the chemical(s) is unknown and if they terrorize the wall of the gut, what else do they do ? They could cause liver toxicity or kidney failure.
You expel ……………… everything.
- Including lots of water and ions, which put you at risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
- Most of your digestive helpers.
When you’re done, you start filling it up once more, with the same junk, but it will take some time for your gut to recover from the evacuation. As you wait to be recolonized by the good guys, there is always a chance you could pick up a bad guy or two.
It’s a no brainer for me
I think terrorizing my gut microflora is counterproductive to good gut health. Do everything to cultivate your microflora so they serve you well – don’t traumatize them with an unnecessary colonic clean.Colon cleansing—a dangerous practice returns. The Journal of Family Practice (2011) 60(8):454-457. Ranit Mishori, Aye Otubu, Aminah Alleyne Jones
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