Category Archives: Medical Treatment

Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

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Having this conversation when death is staring you or a loved one in the face is not the most ideal situation. Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.”

I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. It needs to sink in: at any age your life could be at risk, and at any age you could die. When your life is threatened, if you have specific desires, you’ll need someone comply with decisions. It could happen today. You need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.

AdvanceDirective

Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and subsequently with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document, and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That scenario doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
    • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering, or will you want to be allowed to die?
    • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
    • Will you want to donate your organs?

endoflifedeath

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention, Medical Treatment

Straight, No Chaser: Treatment of Acid Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

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If you experience heartburn two times a week or more, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Because there are significant differences in the severity of GERD, you should know when varying forms of treatment may be necessary. This Straight, No Chaser focuses on treatment of mild symptoms. For discussion of more severe GERD, visit www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com or discuss the options listed below with your healthcare provider.

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Mild symptoms As is the case for many diseases, simple dietary changes away from foods that increase acid producing and reflux symptoms often can be sufficient. As a reminder, such foods include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, fatty foods and peppermint. With mild symptoms, over the counter medications such as antacids or antihistamines might be all that’s needed. Additional considerations such as the following have been shown to be helpful in some people with mild reflux and is worth the effort.

  • avoiding large meals
  • avoiding late meals
  • avoiding tight-fitting clothing
  • elevating the head of your bed six to eight inches
  • increasing the chewing of gum or use of oral lozenges (this is related to saliva production, which can neutralize acid)
  • quitting smoking (smoking actually reduces saliva production)
  • weight loss

acid_reflux_treatment

If and when medicines are used for mild symptoms, there are two classes of medicines used.

  • Antacids — Antacids such as Maalox, Myalanta and Tums are commonly used for short-term relief of acid reflux. The frustration you may have experienced in taking them is related to the fact that these medicines only neutralize stomach acid very briefly after each dose.
  • Histamine antagonists (aka antihistamines) — These medicines, including cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid) and ranitidine (Zantac), reduce acid production in the stomach and are often helpful as a first line effort.

Moderate to severe symptoms — For patients with moderate, severe or refractory symptoms of acid reflux, or for those with complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease, different treatment options must be used.

  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — This class of prescription medicine is stronger and more effective than the histamine antagonists listed above. When these are necessary, it typically takes an eight-week course of treatment to optimize dosing and produce the best results that can be achieved.
  • Surgical treatment — When PPIs are ineffective, surgical options such as strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter and repairing any hiatus hernias (conditions in which the stomach partially slips through the diaphragm into the chest, facilitating more escape of acid into the esophagus) may be necessary.

There’s a lot you can do to avoid taking medicines and needing surgery. Make those better choices and live a healthier, happier life!

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Gastrointestinal, Medical Treatment

Straight, No Chaser: Breast Cancer Treatment Options

breast cancer treatment remedies

The next to last post in this series on breast cancer is on management. Of course, there is no universal treatment of ‘breast cancer’; everything is based on the specific type of breast cancer and the extent of progression upon diagnosis. Management usually involves a team approach in order to balance multiple considerations, which often leads to different treatment modalities being used together.

Breast-Cancer-Treatment-Diagram1

My goal today is to offer an understanding for the different components of treatment, not to get into the nuances of individual treatment regimens. I certainly recommend you engage your personal physician and resources such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society, which will provide you with any and all additional details you may desire.

Breast cancer is treated in several ways, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biologic therapy, and radiation. Let’s review the basics of each.

breast cancer treatment sx

  • Surgery: Under certain circumstances, the cancer has only advanced to a level where it can be surgically removed. Surgical options include cutting out the area affected by the cancer (a lumpectomy), removing the entire breast (a mastectomy), and/or removing the areas where the cancer will drain and spread to other parts of the body (lymph node biopsy/resection). Of course, options aren’t actually quite this simple. Efforts to spare skin and tissue and to retain a cosmetic appearance are important considerations. Sometimes decisions to remove the other breast is made if the risk of breast cancer in that breast is sufficiently high. Additional surgical considerations include breast reconstruction after surgery, which may include one’s own tissue or a synthetic breast implant. These are options to be discussed with a plastic surgeon prior to breast cancer surgery.

BREAST CANCER TREATMENT chemo

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of medication to kill or reduce the cancer. Chemotherapy may be given via an IV (into the veins) or by pills. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to reduce tumor size, after surgery or with other therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence, or as a primary treatment option.

Breast Cancer Myths_Button

  • Radiotherapy (radiation therapy): High energy rays can be aimed at the cancer cells in an effort to kill them. Alternatively, radioactive material can be placed in the body.

breast cancer treatment hormonal tx

  • Hormonal therapy: As mentioned in this post, certain cancer cells are stimulated by hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy blocks cancer cells from getting the specific hormones that assist growth. Different drugs in this class act in a variety of different ways, both direct and indirect, with the same end result of diminishing the ability of hormones to stimulate tumor growth. Yes, this treatment option would be better named hormonal blocking therapy. Hormonal therapy also can be used as a primary treatment option or after other treatment options to reduce the chance of recurrence.
  • Biological therapy: Biological therapy serves to boost the body’s immune system to better help it fight the cancer. It also is of assistance in addressing immune-reducing side effects other cancer treatments may create.
  • Targeted drugs: An additional treatment modality is the use of targeted drugs, which attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells. The most notable example of such an abnormality is the presence of a human growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), a protein that helps breast cancer cells grow and survive..

Complications and side effects of breast cancer treatment are plentiful, and they vary based on the treatment given. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding and infection. Risks of radiation therapy include fatigue and a red, sunburn-like rash where the radiation is aimed. Breast tissue may be altered in texture and may appear swollen. Rarely, damage to the heart or lungs may occur. Common side effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and an increased risk of developing infection. Rare side effects can include premature menopause, damage to the heart and kidneys, nerve damage, and, very rarely, blood cell cancer.

breast cancer treatment decision making team

The teams of medical, radiological and surgical cancer specialists who treat breast and other cancers do phenomenal work. Do your part in reducing your risks and engaging in practices (breast self-exam and mammograms) that allow for early detection. Remember, the days of increasing rates of breast cancer are behind us, and breast cancer survivors abound, with approximately 2.8 million survivors in the US. You now have the tools to be included in those numbers should (heaven forbid) you find yourself afflicted by breast cancer.

breast cancer survivor

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Medical Treatment, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Straight, No Chaser: Your Guide to Fighting Childhood Obesity (Works for Adults, Too!)

Would you start your child on a fad diet? Of course not. Combating obesity means consistently applying principles that bear fruit (and include fruits over time). So you have an overweight child and want to do better to protect his or her health. Today on Straight, No Chaser, we  discuss tips to promote better habits and health. You may want to keep this list. Of course it starts with you. Be careful! You may discover these tips work for you as well.

Things for the parents to do

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  • Understand that this process involves many individuals (e.g., you, your physicians, dieticians, psychologists – even your personal healthcare consultants). None of you should be expected to do this alone. Ask for help.
  • Appreciate that you are the message. Your words are not enough. You are your children’s role model. They will aspire to look and be like you. Protect your own health.
  • Don’t isolate your child. Get the entire family involved in developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.
  • Don’t mentally punish your child. If they are led to believe they did something wrong or disappointed you, they could adopt dangerous behavior to compensate or punish themselves. Be supportive and positive.

Healthier eating habits

kids-healthy-eating

General conditions

  • Make healthy choices easy and unhealthy ones more difficult. Put nutritious foods where they are easy to see, and keep high-calorie foods out of sight. It takes multiple servings for anyone’s tastes to get used to new foods. Stick with it!
  • Figure out how to avoid fast food. When you do go, choose the healthier options, such as salads with low-fat dressing.
  • Plan special healthy meals and eat together as a family. Make it an adventure, and make it fun and rewarding.
  • Don’t use unhealthy foods as a reward when encouraging kids to eat. Promising dessert to a child for eating vegetables, for example, sends the message that vegetables are less valuable than dessert.
  • Don’t make your child clean his or her plate. This promotes overeating.
  • Learn to limit eating to specific meal and snack times. At other times, the kitchen is “closed.”
  • Avoid large portions. Start with small servings, and let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry.

Limit the bad

  • Avoid any fats that are solid at room temperature (e.g., butter and lard)
  • Avoid foods that are high in calories, sugar and salt (e.g., sugary drinks, candy, chips, cookies and French fries)
  • Avoid refined grains (white flour, rice and pasta)

Add the good

  • Introduce fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains (e.g., brown rice). Don’t worry. They’ll eat them if that’s the option you’re providing.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or substitutes (e.g., soy beverages)
  • Offer your child water or low-fat milk instead of fruit juice
  • Serve lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, soy products and eggs

Control the snacking

  • Go with air-popped popcorn without butter
  • Gradually train your kids to like fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruit served plain or with low-fat yogurt
  • Gradually train your kids to like fresh vegetables like baby carrots, cucumber, zucchini or tomatoes
  • Snack on low-sugar, whole-grain cereal with low-fat or fat-free milk or a milk substitute fortified with calcium and vitamin D

Stay physically active

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Kids need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Several short 5-10 minute periods of activity throughout the day are as effective as one 60-minute session. If you are starting from scratch, start from where you are and build up to the 60 minutes target. It only works if you stay diligent.

General considerations:

  • Be the message! Show your child that physical activity is fun, and demonstrate how you enjoy it. Have family activities that include being physically active, such as a walk.
  • Encourage participation in organized sports or classes, such as basketball, dance or soccer.
  • If sports don’t work, other fun activities include dancing to music, playing tag, jumping rope or riding a bike.
  • Assign active chores such as making the beds, sweeping/raking or vacuuming.

Activities that kids choose to do on their own are often best. Try these – and play with your kids. You need to be active, too!

  • Catching and throwing
  • Climbing on a jungle gym or climbing wall
  • Dancing
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Riding a bike
  • Shooting baskets

Cut back on inactive time spent watching TV or on the computer or hand-held device.

  • Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day.
  • Substitute these relatively inactive activities with stimulating ones such as acting out books or stories or doing a family art project.
  • When watching TV, get up and move during TV commercials. By all means, discourage “couch-potato” activity of snacking when sitting in front of the TV.

I know this is a lot, but your kids are worth it, as are you. These actions are habits, not just actions. Work over time to incorporate as many as possible into your family’s routine, and I promise you’ll see the difference.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Health Prevention, Medical Treatment, Pediatrics/Kids Health

Straight, No Chaser: Should I Take a Daily Aspirin?

heart aspirin

So… I’m stuck on a desert island, and I’m allowed to take two medications. I’m pretty sure aspirin is going to be one of them. This begs the question “Who should take a daily aspirin?” The answer is actually easy: anyone and only anyone whose physician recommends it. The better question is when will your physician recommend it? In yesterday’s Straight, No Chaser, we reviewed the expanding use of aspirin. That was the “why” of it all. Today we look at the “how” and “when.”

The benefits of aspirin in reducing heart attack risk have been known and well described for quite a while now, and you should check this list to see if you’d benefit from taking a daily aspirin. Truth be told, it’s of such importance that if you’re of a certain age, you should have this conversation with your physician at your next physical exam. Here’s a partial list that will get you a daily aspirin or very strongly considered for one.

  • If you’ve previously had a heart attack
  • If you’ve had a coronary artery stent or surgery
  • If you’ve previously had a stroke (caused by a blood clot) or TIA (transient ischemia attack, aka ‘mini-stroke’).
  • You’re a male over 50.
  • You’re a female over 60.
  • You have a bad risk factor profile (i.e. You smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, are overweight, don’t exercise or have a personal or family history of heart disease)

The above list actually isn’t exhaustive but is sufficient for most individuals’  ability to remember to start a conversation with their physician.  These considerations will be measured against others that would suggest you shouldn’t be taking a daily aspirin (e.g. allergy, bleeding ulcers, a bleeding disorder or if you’re taking certain other medications).

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under Cardiology/Heart, Health Prevention, Medical Treatment

Straight, No Chaser: Toxin and Detoxification Series Summary

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I want to thank you for all the positive responses to the series of posts on toxins and detoxification. You have shared many personal stories and asked many great questions. I guess I’ll continue to accept your being shy (especially on these topics) about asking personal questions publicly, but keep contacting me here. To that end, I’ll summarize by sharing some of your thoughts and making a few final comments.

You can’t escape toxins, but you can pretty easily reduce your exposure to them. For the things you can control, “everything in moderation” is a pretty good rule of thumb for most, except for cigarette smoke into your lungs. That just needs to stop.

Your body does a great job of detoxification through the lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines and skin. This process is retarded by age and the effects of toxins on these systems.

There are a lot of fad diets and questionable methods of detoxifying. Most have risks that should make you cautious. None are more effective than tuning your body to do its best work. Furthermore, these methods are invariably more effective in the short-term than the long-term.

Now, to some of your questions.

1. So are you saying bowel movements are good enough to detox the intestines?

Until and unless your bad habits catch up with you, yes. Consider the ways the large intestines (the colon) handle toxins.

  • If healthy, the colon sheds old cells about every three days, preventing a buildup of harmful material. It regenerates new healthy cells in their place. It’s lining includes mucus membranes that can keep toxic substances from reentering the blood and tissues.
  • You have “natural” bacteria that reside in the colon. They actually detoxify food wastes for you. (One of the potential issues of colon cleansing is the removal of these bacteria.)
  • The liver’s main function is to neutralize toxins.
  • Your bowel movements remove waste and toxins from you. Although the number of bowel movements vary between individuals, your body (if healthy) is able to regulate when you defecate based on your needs.
  • Increasing the number of bowel movements doesn’t improve weight loss. That’s because the body absorbs most calories before they reach the large intestine.

Nothing in a colonic or juice fast will match this level of effectiveness. Spend your efforts keeping your body healthy. Increase your fiber, water, fruit and vegetable intake. Lower or eliminate the intake of red meat, cigarettes and alcohol. There’s your detox program all day long.

2. So what’s the verdict on the detox diets and colon cleansing?

Consult with your physician. I’d imagine that using the diets as a starting point for lifestyle changes would be endorsed. I’d doubt that any fad diet would be endorsed.

3. You said tap water is no longer good? Should I exclusively drink bottled water?

Actually filtered water is even better.

4. Are you suggesting I stop wearing makeup?

You’re beautiful just the way you are.

5. Have you ever had a colonic?

Yes, and it made me feel dirty. (Was that serious, or a joke?)

6. I’d never do that.

Actually, you will. (Well, almost.) Many men over 50 will have a colonoscopy to evaluate for the possibility of colon cancer at some point. If and when you get that, you’ll get your colon cleanse solution one to two days before the procedure and maybe an enema in addition. At least you’ll be under the care of a physician, and you’ll get a sedative first!

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Health Prevention, Medical Treatment

Straight, No Chaser: Natural Colon Cleansing (Colonics) as a Means of Detox

C’mon. Be honest. You knew we’d end up here (no pun intended). Isn’t colonic cleansing one of those things that makes you wonder who the Greek guy was who first thought of this centuries ago? Perhaps even more interesting would be talking to the first guy who volunteered for this …  I promise to (try to) do (most of) the rest of this post with a straight (no chaser) face.

What Is It? Colon cleansing is done primarily via two methods.

  • You can take supplements by mouth that will stimulate expulsion of the contents of your intestines.
  • You can have a tube inserted through your rectum to irrigate your intestines.

Why Do It?  Allow me to set the table by explaining the premise for colonic cleansing. It’s actually a pretty simple and linear train of thought.

  • You have toxins in your intestines from undigested food.
  • Over time, those toxins can get reabsorbed back into your blood and cause damage to your organs (as previously discussed here).
  • You’d like to get rid of the toxins by flushing and irrigating them out of your system.

Proponents of colonic cleansing claim potential benefits such as weight loss, improved immunity and mental outlook and reduction of the risk of colon cancer.

The Methods

Oral colon cleansing (through supplements, oral laxatives, or enzymes) and colonic irrigation (through inserting of a tube) are variations of the same theme. Oral cleansing stimulates massive contractions of your intestines with subsequent massive bowel movements. (Think of the effects of Draino – and please don’t try taking any Draino and say I told you to; it’s just an analogy.)

Colonic cleansing involves placement of a tube through the rectum into the colon and irrigating the colon with several gallons of the chosen solution (sometimes including herbs, enzymes, caffeine or probiotics) until the contents are clear, suggesting the stool has been removed (like a high power wash or enema – again please don’t do that at home…).

At the end of either process, all we can say for sure is that you will have a lot less stool in your intestines.

The Risks

I love the phrases “Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe” and “Safe doesn’t necessarily mean effective.” They especially come to mind when I see the phrase “natural colon cleansing.” Colonic cleanses, even if effective, are risky. Keep in mind the following.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these colonic procedures.  Don’t ask me why, but that means that nothing about the procedure has been quality checked in the same way medicines and medical procedures have to be. To be fair, there is a massive case history of these procedures being done safely in the overwhelming number of cases.
  • If you decided to get a colonic, you may be receiving one from someone who’s not licensed, depending on the state or country. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ask to see credentials before you allow someone to give you a colonic … and please speak with your primary care physician about options.
  • Consider the fact that this is a medical procedure. Even in the hands of the best therapists, things go wrong. If and when something happens, will the therapist be able to address the issue? Ask your therapist what will happen if you have an allergic reaction to any solutions being used.
  • Other risks include dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, infection, rupture of the intestines and depletion of probiotics. (You may recall that in my previous post that I discussed that the intestines have toxin-repellent mechanisms already in place. Probiotics are part of that internal process.)

You should not be undergoing colonics without your physician’s approval under any circumstance and not even then if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Any lower digestive tract tumor (cancer)
  • Any recent surgery, especially of the intestines
  • Specific digestive tract conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis or diverticulitis
  • Bad hemorrhoids (as opposed to the good ones)
  • Significant heart, lung or kidney disease (You will be receiving a medical procedure in a place not equipped to deal with emergencies should one occur, and no one can tell you that one won’t happen while you’re on the business end of a rectal tube.)

Does it work?

I can make the following comments with complete confidence and no equivocation.

  • There has been very little medical research on the benefit of colonic cleansing. Therefore, any global claims of benefit, include those listed above, are unjustified when placed against the standard by which the medical community judges these things. It is very unlikely that will ever change, as I don’t exactly foresee a sufficient number of research subjects lining up (or backing up) for a randomized, double-blinded study anytime soon … That’s not to say it doesn’t work, and there is a theoretical basis for why it would work. It’s just that sufficient medical evidence that it works hasn’t been put forth.
  • I know individuals (and not just the colonic hydrotherapists/hygienists who are obviously incentivized to promote the procedure) who swear they feel better getting this done. Of course, this could be attributable to a placebo effect. Alternatively, here’s something that proponents of colonics don’t seem to discuss that is quite reasonable. There are specific medical ailments related to the nervous system (which has several trigger points in the intestines) that are improved by relieving constipation; clearly colonics do that. Perhaps proponents don’t want to see the procedure reduced to a complex way to provide an enema.
  • I know there are natural methods of cleansing that are at least as effective as colonics.  I’ve discussed these here.

So what does all this mean?  Given the last bullet point above, the issue can be addressed with either of two analogies.

  1. If you wash a car that already has rust on it, you aren’t really fixing anything.
  2. If you repair a car that still functions as new, you aren’t really improving anything. I’m all for maintenance, but when you’re discussing the body, if you take care of it, it sustains itself rather well.

In my “toxin summary post” tomorrow, I will answer your questions on the entire toxin and detoxification series and add a few final thoughts.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

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