There is a lot of controversy about the benefit of using over-the-counter colon-cleansing kits.
These products, available at health-food stores and drugstores, claim to eliminate toxins from the body... promote better colon function... relieve constipation, gas and bloating... and boost energy. And many natural products do just that. My advice: Everyone can benefit from colon cleansing, especially those who have constipation. These products can stimulate bowel movements... help flush toxins (such as by-products of environmental pollutants, pesticides and chemicals from household cleaners) from the body... improve absorption of nutrients... and reduce inflammation.
How they work: Colon cleansers are sold as powder, capsules or tablets and are typically taken for one week to 30 days. They cost about $20 to $35 for a package that contains all you need for one detoxification. Products that are most effective contain fiber such as psyllium, oat bran or flaxseed, and herbs that act as natural laxatives such as senna and cascara, or rhubarb root, fennel seed and marshmallow root. Other ingredients, such as dandelion root, milk thistle and turmeric, help to improve bile flow from the liver and eliminate toxins. You should have at least one complete bowel movement daily, and optimally two to three, without any diarrhea, while doing the cleanse.
One of the keys to successfully using a colon-cleansing product is to eat a healthful diet during the treatment and to continue the healthful diet indefinitely. Otherwise you will negate all the cleansing benefits and the toxins will build up again. I tell my patients to steer clear of processed foods and dairy products, and to consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat proteins (except for red meat) and a plentiful supply of fiber (at least 30 grams daily). Important: Drink 60 to 80 ounces of water daily during the colon cleanse to prevent dehydration. Caution: If you have any type of gastrointestinal disease, such as colitis or Crohn’s disease... kidney or liver disease... or suffer from hemorrhoids, speak to a nutrition-oriented physician before using these products.
Don’t use products that contain more than 250 mg of cape aloe or 500 mg of magnesium citrate—because too much can lead to diarrhea. Good brand to try: ReNew Life Organic Total Body Cleanse is a 14-day, three-part program that uses gentle, natural laxatives (800-830-1800, www.RenewLife.com, $34.99).