A word (or two) about colon cleansing...

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Sarita
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   Posted 8/14/2007 9:43 PM (GMT -7)   

From the Mayo Clinic:

"Proponents believe colon cleansing provides health benefits — by removing toxins from their bodies, and boosting their energy and their immune systems. But doctors take a different view.

Although doctors may recommend colon cleansing in preparation for a medical examination of the colon [i.e., colonoscopy], most don't recommend colon cleansing for better health or to prevent disease. This is because:

  • It's unnecessary. Your colon doesn't require enemas or special diets or pills to eliminate waste material and bacteria. It does this naturally on its own.
  • It may be harmful. Your colon absorbs water and sodium to maintain your body's fluid and electrolyte balance. Some colon-cleansing programs disrupt this balance, causing dehydration and salt depletion. Long-term or excessive cleansing programs can lead to problems such as anemia, malnutrition and heart failure."

Just FYI...


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dbab
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   Posted 8/15/2007 7:04 AM (GMT -7)   
Good info Sarita... thanks for that. I have thought about it also but just a little concerned about disturbing my body's flora. I have heard both good and bad about them, I'd be interested to hear my doctor's view on them although I know he has never recommended them to me in the past. I'm doing quite well on the Miralax anyway, don't think I want to mess with a good thing.
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stkitt
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   Posted 8/15/2007 8:09 AM (GMT -7)   

Thanks Sarita,

That is what I have always understood too. Mayo is pretty sharp, so I guess I would go with them. 

 


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Keriamon
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   Posted 8/15/2007 8:24 AM (GMT -7)   
Is it just me, or is "toxin" the new buzz word? Eveyone talks about this that and the other "flushing toxins" but what the heck is a toxin anyways? And how did I get them in there? Looks like if toxins are coming from bad water and/or pesticides in food, the best thing to do is to go organic; then you wouldn't have to flush. Right?

"Data" is the other word that's WAY overused nowadays. People seem to think if they just use that word, they will show everyone how scientific they are, even when they're not at all. It makes me grind my teeth now when I read it. Sarita, I forbid you to use it in any of your medical papers! Lol.

Sarita
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   Posted 8/15/2007 11:56 PM (GMT -7)   

You're right, Keri - use of the word "toxins" kind of infuriates me.  It's entirely too vague of a term (in my not-a-doctor-yet opinion, which doesn't really count for much, but oh well).  I feel like the general public is so brainwashed into being petrified about our normal bodily functions so that some people can make a buck.  Or maybe I'm just being jaded (which is entirely possible as well).

My goal as a doctor will be to educate people as much as possible.  Hence, I have to educate myself first.  If someone has something scientifically relevant to this topic, I'd love to see it. 


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gutastrophe
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   Posted 8/16/2007 12:09 AM (GMT -7)   

I agree with everyone on the over-use of the word "toxins".  I do believe it's a somewhat bogus dx to sell products. 

I also want to reiterate my opposition to the "colon cleanse" products that are sold in health food stores and on the internet (accompanied by those lovely "photos" of the "stuff" that allegedly comes out of people).

 

BUT, I want to be clear about my position on colon hydrotherapy.  It was not something I chose to do for the cleansing of "toxins".  It was recommended to me by a GI specialist because I had become impacted from chronic constipation due to my IBS.  Contrary to what the Mayo folks have to say, there are times that the body does not eliminate everything it should. Rather than assault the system with laxatives, magnesium caltrate, or other stimulant remedies that throw the bowel into spasm, this treatment gently and naturally removes the impaction and gets the system moving again on it's own.  It is not something I would do just for the "heck of it".  It is, however, a much more natural and gentle treatment for chronic consitpation, when the system is not doing it's job.


Sarita
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   Posted 8/16/2007 12:19 AM (GMT -7)   
I haven't done a lot of research about this but it's good to know it worked for someone.  I'm just hesitant when I hear about side effects like gangrene or perforated bowel used in the same sentence as a purported treatment.  Granted, even colonoscopy prep suspensions can cause acute inflammatory responses in rare occasions...so I'd advise people to simply run it by their doctors before they try a new therapy!

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Keriamon
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   Posted 8/16/2007 7:22 AM (GMT -7)   
That hydrotherapy sounds more like a deep enema than anything.  I agree that it could help constipated people who can't seem to get impactions out, especially right before they need to have a colonscopy (too much laxative prep seems to be quite horrible on people who are very backed up). 
 
Gut, I can't remember if you said where you had your procedure done.  Was it in a doctor's office?

gutastrophe
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   Posted 8/16/2007 9:44 AM (GMT -7)   
Keriamon said...
That hydrotherapy sounds more like a deep enema than anything.  I agree that it could help constipated people who can't seem to get impactions out, especially right before they need to have a colonscopy (too much laxative prep seems to be quite horrible on people who are very backed up). 
 
Gut, I can't remember if you said where you had your procedure done.  Was it in a doctor's office?
The treatment WAS recommended by my GI specialist.  He suggested this instead of the typical colonoscopy prep for the very reason you have cited.  In addition, folks like myself who have excessively used laxatives to self-treat often build up a tolerance to them.  This is why he recommended hydrotherapy.
 
You are exactly correct.  It is nothing more than a deep enema, what the old folks used to call a "high colonic"!  And, as Sarita stated, is similar to a colonoscopy EXCEPT that the water is the only thing travelling through the colon.  In that regard, it is actually much safer than a scope which winds it's way through your insides.  It's pretty hard for me to imagine how anyone could get gangrene from a deep enema, where the only thing being introduced into the body is warm water. 
 
I went to a licensed clinic with professionally trained hydrotherapists.  The clinic was also recommended to me by my GI guy.  He told me he had been sending his patients there for a few years for various problems like chronic constipation, scope preps, etc.  In addition, everyone who worked at the clinic, including the owners, had suffered with bowel problems of one type or another.  It was a holistic clinic which offered belly massage, nutritionist on staff, supplements, etc.

Keriamon
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   Posted 8/16/2007 11:18 AM (GMT -7)   
I think Sarita was referring to some of those colon cleanses involving inserting tubes way up into your colon, which, handled incorrectly, can indeed cause bowel perforation. I would have thought that your treatment would have involved some sort of tube in order to make sure that the water is getting high enough up in there, or is done by force of water from the anus alone?

gutastrophe
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   Posted 8/16/2007 10:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Keriamon said...
I think Sarita was referring to some of those colon cleanses involving inserting tubes way up into your colon, which, handled incorrectly, can indeed cause bowel perforation. I would have thought that your treatment would have involved some sort of tube in order to make sure that the water is getting high enough up in there, or is done by force of water from the anus alone?
There is no tube inserted.  There is a rectal speculum which is inserted only into the anus, much like a signmoidoscopy speculum.  It goes no further than a few inches.  The water is controlled with pressure from the machine and the hydrotherapist, in collaboration with the patient.  You can guide the therapist by telling her what you feel, if there is any discomfort, if you feel a "release" approaching, etc.  There is nothing invasive about the treatment.  No tubes or machinery within the bowel itself.  Just warm water! :-)

Marsky
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   Posted 8/17/2007 5:32 AM (GMT -7)   
Well, if this does work for IBS patients, then who am I to criticize it. I just know that anything inserted or water/air inserted stimulates my colon and wow, I'm just about camped out in that bathroom down the hall. I joke they might as well book me a hotel room (if one existed, down the hall). To get into a car after such an ordeal, for me, would be so risky.

I had to endure a one hour and 15 minute rectal ultrasound prior to my first colon surgery (for one inch malig. tumor barely inside). It was sheer torture - air, water, pumped in, lying this way, that way, drawing up my knees, tight to my chest and then straightening them out, over and over again, meanwhile the probe is barely inside as you described gutastrophe was extremely uncomfortable. Later my Gastro doc said I should have been sedated.

I do wish you well with this but by now, even though the Fleet's Phos. Soda is awful to endure, I prefer just sitting on the pot, letting the prep do it's job.

gutastrophe
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   Posted 8/18/2007 11:01 AM (GMT -7)   
Marsky said...
Well, if this does work for IBS patients, then who am I to criticize it. I just know that anything inserted or water/air inserted stimulates my colon and wow, I'm just about camped out in that bathroom down the hall. I joke they might as well book me a hotel room (if one existed, down the hall). To get into a car after such an ordeal, for me, would be so risky.

There seems to be some confusion about colon hydrotherapy.  They do not just fill you with water and send you on your way.  The machine that delivers the water has a tube through which the waste flows out.  Your colon is flushed into a recepticle.  Here is a picture of the equipment used.
 
After a treatment, I have felt better and "emptier" than I ever have before.  There is no residual discomfort, spasm, pain, or D. 
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