The human species has always demonstrated an oral fixation from the very first time we calculated we could eat whatever was chasing us before we became the dinner. The challenge has always been to satiate our preferences within the limits of the unfairness of ruminants granted four stomach to our one. Early Greek and Roman writings “Satyricon” by Protoneus and Seutonius, sage to Emperor Hadrian come to mind mentioning emetics to empty the stomach and like substances placed in the nether end provide clues to the extraordinary steps we have evolved to bypass this limitation. Thus the beginnings of the socially accepted behavior of purgation in designated areas named the VOMITORIUM. Contrary to current popular belief, the term was first used to describe passage way behind and below the amphitheatre that “disgorged” the patrons after the entertainment. What better way to satisfy your oral urges without having to leave your seat and miss a single note of the performance!
Over the next several centuries we evolved an efficient collage of methodologies to rapidly disgorge both top and bottom ends of the digestive tract for the sole purpose of freeing up an expanded capacity for our eating urges thus arriving at our current practices of bulimia at the oral end and the more trendy “detoxifications” at the other. I wont belabor the established and irrefutable risks of bulimia but will reaffirm chronic vomiting is still very much a risk behavior in young women convinced by peer pressure they are imprisoned in a socially unacceptable body habitus. Added to the peer issue of the psychological damage to an evolving personality resulting from this form of bullying is the issue of the proven damage to immature dentition from the repetitive exposure to highly acidic stomach contents and the potential for rupture of small blood vessels in organs such as the eye resulting from the forced emesis. There is the worst case scenario of tearing or rupture of the oesophagus. But, where I wish to focus our primary attention today is the trending vernacular of the 21st century….DETOXIFICATION….defined as dietary oral or physical evacuation of the intestine.
First, we must clarify and define the term “toxin” as being any harmful substance gaining entry to the human body through any portal. Contrary to trendy weight control industry scare tactics that extra drumstick at Thanksgiving is not a toxin and engaging in punitive cleansing procedures has no value and is potentially harmful. The human intestine is an organ as is your heart and lungs. It is constantly in motion and evacuates itself with an individualized regularity barring the presence of a few diagnosable diseases such as low thyroid or induced constipation from excess indulgence with opioids and similar drugs.
FACT: The human body is continuously detoxing itself 24/7 primarily via the liver and kidneys with smaller processing components through exhaled air and surface loss in perspiration.
FACT: Most toxins are fat soluble and therefore stored in fat cells no where near the lumen of the intestine.
Therefore, subjecting your body to the dangers of products skilled marketing gurus label with sophisticated titles such as “colonic hydration” has no redeeming merit. The downside of such practices range from electrolyte imbalance leading to heart arrhythmias even coma to activation of latent inflammatory bowel disease with the potential for catastrophic bleeding or perforation.
If you still have the urge to purge after your splurges, I must strongly recommend the following safer first steps.
Increase your water intake. That is how the kidney functions most optimally and it is the carrier vector for the detoxing metabolic processes in the liver.
Add fibre to your diet to enhance the elimination process. Common practice in the emergency department is to give awake overdose and poison patients an oral slurry of charcoal to adsorb the toxin. Fibre has a proven similar benefit with the ability to remove trace amounts of heavy metals and chemicals present in our food and environment.
Be active. Not only is it an aid to digestion but enhances respiratory eliminations and the role of perspiration in cleansing.
Love your vegetables(not overcooked) and your spices and herbs proven natural best detoxers.
Finally, I need to differentiate the absolute need for older individuals to continue the sound medical practice of regular scheduling of colonoscopy for its irrefutable diagnostic value in spite of the anecdotal discomfort issue.
And THAT is my bottom line.
Dr. David Carll