Friday, March 8, 2013

Colon Scrubs?

Here in the United States, we like to present a clean outside, but there is also a lot of talk about keeping our insides clean as well.  I've already written about colon cleansing here, and once again, just when I thought I've heard it all, one of my alert readers will find something else.   New to me was the ingesting of diatomaceous earth for colon cleansing.

First of all, I am going to take issue with their diagrams/graphics as that is what jumped out at me first.  They have a picture of a "normal" colon and then right next to it they have a picture of some grumpy looking molds on what is suppossed to be some part of the human anatomy.   If you can't show a "real" picture of of what a "moldy" intestine looks like, and trust me there are some fine looking pictures out there on the internet, then that is a red flag that the condition might not exist.  You can find plenty of pictures of intestinal parasites and other disorders like ulcerative colitis (Google it if you really want the pictures), but grumpy molds and "toxins" are not easily found.  Also, they appear to have placed a picture of a large intestine (aka colon) right next to an odd diagram of a small intestine, and they are apparently implying that they are the same part of the body.  Well, they are connected, but they are not the same thing and have different jobs.  Moral of the story here is you don't want to take something for a condition that doesn't exist, and you should be wary of information provided by someone who can't quite get the body parts right. 

*For a tutorial of the parts of the digestive system and how the different parts work, watch/read this mini program from National Geographic.  Go ahead and watch, it will help this blog make more sense.

Second of all, you really don't want to scrub the colon.  Seriously.  Your small intestine produces mucus for a reason--to protect the rest of the small intestine from the acidic contents of the stomach.  That mucus also helps fecal matter pass through the large intestine/colon for ease of elimination.  Imagine what your nasal passages would be like if you didn't have any mucus (aka snot) in them, or if your mouth didn't have any saliva!  I'll say it again, you want to have a certain amount of mucus in your colon, it isn't a nutrient blocker.

Third, what if you do have parasites or "bad" bacteria in your system?  The DE doesn't have "magic" sensors that eliminate the bad with the good.  Wouldn't you want to, I don't know, maybe want to take a targeted anti-biotic to deal with that particular problem (and take a pro-biotic along with it, and later eat more pre-biotics)?  As in, wouldn't you want to take something that has some science behind it as far as dosage and side effects are concerned?

So, DE for "colon health" is not necessary.  But what about taking it as a mineral supplement?  We do actually need a certain amount of silica to keep rebuilding bone regularly.  If you eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, and truly whole grains you will typically get enough silica (these products absorb it from the soil).  There is a possibility of silica deficiency (dry and brittle nails being one of the symptoms), but I couldn't find any information on how widespread it is without someone trying to sell me something (i.e. no good sources).  So far I didn't find any harm in ingesting small amounts of DE as a supplement, but I know many of the people I work with have a "more is better" attitude and I would fear for their safety in the long run.

Take home message--Diatomaceous earth doesn't "help" your colon, nor would you want it to.  Small amounts taken as a supplement are probably ok.

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