colon talk

I’m not sure a photo is necessary in the case of this post!

If you’re squeamish, you may want to hold off on reading this post until way after you’ve eaten! Wednesday just past, I had a colonoscopy. According to my Internist in the States, every woman should have a routine colonoscopy around the age of 45; this view is not shared in the UK as 50 is the recommended age. Because I had been experiencing so much bloating and discomfort after a recent trip to South Africa- turned out I did have an infection that was treated with antibiotics and the symptoms lessoned- I decided that it was time to have one. I did, by the way, have a polyp removed that turned out to be benign.

The preparation is pretty intense, as you know if you’ve had one. You need to eat bland and boiled food for two days before the procedure, then fast after breakfast the day before AND drink a sweet, lemony drink that initially goes down well, but then makes you want to gag after the first glass! Moviprep forces you to expel EVERYTHING that’s lingering inside your bowel and colon. The best way to make it palatable, since you have to drink 2L over the course of 3-4 hours, is to make sure the drink is cold and you can add ice if you wish. It’s really not that bad- I didn’t actually gag- but it’s not a drink you would ever order at a restaurant!

I have to admit that spending time “expelling” wasn’t the worst part for me, since I am one who has done a colonic cleansing and even home enemas in the past. Just to finish the colonoscopy discussion; the procedure was no big deal. A light sedative totally relaxed me and I watched the whole thing on a TV monitor. I was incredibly tired from the sedative afterwards though (never asked what it was, but it was administered intravenously), slept for about three hours at home, and ended up canceling dinner plans due to still feeling weak and slightly out of it that evening (and I was really looking forward to going out that night!).

Why am I telling you about this?? Because as I awaited the colonoscopy, I learned from a nurse while he went through a series of pre-prep questions including whether the Moviprep was truly effective, to which I responded with a definitive “YES!”, and then he told me something surprising. He said, “This is the only kind of colonic cleanser that really works. People who do those colonics at spas have no idea. They don’t fully clean the colon like the stuff you drink before a colonoscopy!”

I’ve done colonic cleansings to try to relieve certain digestive issues I periodically experience, like gas and bloating. I thought that having a “clean colon” would relieve these symptoms, even if only in the short-term. Last summer I saw a holistic nutritionist who recommended coffee enemas (please do NOT try this at home, unless you’ve been instructed by a professional!), but I have to admit that they never achieved what I recently experienced.

A few days after having the cleanest colon of my life, I believe that proper diet, including fiber, and drinking plenty of water (1.5L/day) are the best ways to achieve a healthy digestive system. And in my unprofessional opinion, coffee, especially in the morning, does a pretty good job of acting like a colonic cleanser!

From the March 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Do I Really Need to Cleanse My Colon?
By David L. Katz, MD
David L. Katz, MD
Photo: Mackenzie Stroh
Q: What’s up with all the ads for colon cleansing products? Does my colon really require cleansing?
— Barbara Adams, Landrum, South Carolina
A: No, your colon does not require that. The reason behind the onslaught of advertising for colon cleansing enemas, diets, and supplements is that, in a nutshell, if you’re buying, someone will be happy to sell.The colon is designed to do just what it does—remove solid waste from the body. Eat a wholesome diet, and it will perform admirably. Insoluble fiber—found abundantly in whole grains, vegetables, beans, and lentils—is of particular importance in keeping things moving along as they should. Since these foods are just plain good for you, eating more of them will benefit your colon as well as all your other vital organs. Good hydration will also help your colon with digestion, so drink plenty of water.

There are circumstances in which the body needs help detoxifying itself, such as when a chemical toxin or heavy metal has accumulated in the body. But in such situations, doctors follow medical protocols involving a variety of specific chelating agents that bind with the toxin and escort it out of the body before it can do harm.

Colon cleansing isn’t always benign, either. It can deplete you of vital nutrients, and doing it regularly could lead to malnutrition, anemia, or heart failure. Considering that under ordinary circumstances your colon—along with your kidneys, liver, and spleen—is more than qualified to cleanse itself, my advice is to save your money and skip the cleanses.


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