The colon cleanse is an ancient remedy that cleans gunk out of your intestines and digestive tract. This makes it easier for nutrients to be absorbed by your body and paves the way for future detoxification. But how can one tell if a colon cleanse is actually working? Some people may find it difficult to figure out whether the cleanse is working, but there are both subtle and obvious signs to note.
There are two main ways to do a colon cleanse: powdered and liquid supplements, and what's known as "colon irrigation." Laxatives, powerful herbal teas, special enzymes, herb-based powders and antiparasite capsules are used to force the colon to expel contents. Ingesting such potions over an extended period of time leads to a cleansing of the colon area. On the other hand, "colon irrigation" has a similar effect but it is a single procedure that uses a colonic machine. The colonic machine works just like an enema, only it uses much more water and doesn't smell as bad. As the patient lies on a table with a hose inserted into her rectum, the colonic machine pumps up to 20 gallons of water into the person's system. With the water up the rectum, a therapist can massage the patient's abdomen. Later, the therapist will wash out fluids and waste through another tube. This process, sometimes repeated several times, can last an hour. To achieve a similar effect and pay less money, however, a patient can simply give themselves an enema with coffee.
A colon cleanse is designed to help with problems such as hemorrhoids and constipation, but health experts say that the cleanse also has a great effect on one's nervous system and can even assist in stopping body pain like headaches. Practitioners of alternative medicine recommend that a patient embarking on a detoxification program targeting organs like the liver start his detox with a colon cleanse to achieve better results. There are a number of effects that suggest a colon cleanse is effective: Headaches going away; bowel movements improving and becoming more predictable; the bowels voiding greater amounts of stool, or softer stool; swelling of the rectum or rectal pain diminishing or going away; hemorrhoids going away; and an overall general sense of comfort.
One of the best ways to tell if a colon cleanse is effective is to closely examine the contents of one's stool while undergoing a colon cleanse. In extreme cases, according to testimonials and photographs posted on the website of DrNatura, one of the most popular colon cleanse packages, patients have reported expelling long strands of brown waste from their bodies, some stretching over a foot long. One patient voided a 3-foot-long strand of brown gunk from his bowels, which he photographed for posterity. This gunk had previously lined his intestinal walls. After the colon cleanse, he could digest more easily, his belly shrank, and he could see his abdominal muscles better.
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Peter Holslin is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. He has been writing professionally since 2003. He has contributed to "The Onion A.V. Club-New York," Cokemachineglow.com, and "San Diego CityBeat." Holslin holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from The New School.