Anybody ever flush out their gastrointestinal tract?
October 19, 2004 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Anybody ever flush out their gastrointestinal tract? I don't mean just an enema, as that's totally lower-GI based. I'm talking about really detoxifying their insides. I heard about a product on the radio a year or two ago (something akin to this, but less snake-oily) that purports to do this, and have no idea what it is or what it's name is, all I know is that it supposedly flushes out most of the gunk in your small and large intestines and can really improve health. Anybody know what I'm talking about, and does anybody have any recommendations?
posted by taumeson to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You've heard of Colonblow, I assume?
posted by mrbill at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2004

real helpful so far. thanks for nothing.

obviously not EVERYTHING in your intestines. i have no idea its impact on your body's microflora, but i suppose we'd want that to be minimal.

again, anybody have their own experiences to share?
posted by taumeson at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2004

You might want to look at this as well.

This topic of discussion came up on the SA Forums this morning...
posted by mrbill at 12:09 PM on October 19, 2004

I've never done this and have no experiences to share--but there have a few good threads about it in the blue. I don't have time to look them up, but you should--some people do share their experiences, and there are some pro and con comments as well. The best thread responded to an article in the Guardian written by a journalist who does a cleanse at a resort.

As I recall: basically a fair number of people said they'd done it and it was awesome. Then, some actual doctors (one a GI specialist of some kind) called bullshit and said that there just isn't anything up there, pointng out:

a) that they can stick a little camera up your intestines, and there is no occlusion or anything of the kind;

and b) that the quantities of material supposedly flushed out of people's colons, intestines, etc. simply were not possibly correct: e.g., if 50 pounds of material is compacted into your colon or intestines, then you should've been 50 pounds overweight and you should now be 50 pounds lighter--sounds sensible to me.

The general consensus was: your digestive system works great, and, except for your appendix, stuff just doesn't 'get stuck' up there. If you're feeling unhealthy--no exercise, poor diet, pollution, etc.--then you need to exercise, learn to cook, or move; but you can't retroactively undo years of bad health with a cleanse, which is essentially what these products claim to do. Poor nutrition, etc., accretes not inside your intestinal tract, but in the rest of your body, where lack of nutrients and toxins do their evil deeds. (So spake MeFi at the time.)

Anyhow, I know this doesn't answer your question directly; but I've been interested in stuff like this in the past, and all of these discussion on MeFi really turned me off. It seems like there are very few credible sources one can trust (Dr. Weil is not a credible source) that can assure you that this stuff is safe or that it really does fix anything. And it also seems as though all sorts of other causes--going without food, for instance, during your cleanse--can account for the good vibes you get from the process. From the shockingly large amount I've read about this, the benefits are kidn of like what you get from fasting, except your also ingesting at the same time a bizarre substance made by unknown people you've never heard of as your main source of nutrition--which can be dangerous.

Good luck and be careful!
posted by josh at 12:27 PM on October 19, 2004

I've had it done medically for a variety of GI tests that required nothing in my system. Fasted for two days, then industrial laxatives and "cleansings". Had absolutely zero effect on my health, real or perceived, other than requiring me to eat yogurt to re-introduce healthy bacteria into lower parts.

Multiple docs that helped in the procedures mentioned some people did it as a "health benefit" but there was no recognizable benefit and done incorrectly or too often could be damaging.
posted by karmaville at 12:35 PM on October 19, 2004

If you're, um, "intestinally unbalanced" then you may want to consider eating lots of live-culture yogurt, or taking acidophilus pills (or drinking acidophilus milk). Both should rebalance things by swamping any nasty bugs with bazillions of good bugs.
posted by aramaic at 12:43 PM on October 19, 2004

please don't get angry, but you may want to (re?)read this and this before attempting this. just to weigh possible risks against positive results. i don't mean to tell you not to do this, and granted i haven't given you the answer you seek, but these threads might still be helpful in some way.
posted by ifjuly at 1:03 PM on October 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

karmaville's experience is what i've been expecting to hear, reasoning out what i know about physiology and digestion. i wonder about herbal supplements instead of laxatives, though. some people swear by aloe vera pills, for instance.
posted by taumeson at 1:09 PM on October 19, 2004

If you manage to flush away your stomach lining, then digestive acids will digest YOU.

Only in Soviet Russia, buddy ;)
posted by mkultra at 1:30 PM on October 19, 2004

On a whim I drank a double-shot of wheatgrass juice once. Sweet damn, it certainly flushed SOMETHING out down there, and in a hurry too.
posted by falconred at 1:41 PM on October 19, 2004

I remember the same radio program, and it reminded me of a the perfect word for that "doctor": mountebank.
posted by shepd at 2:07 PM on October 19, 2004

live-culture yogurt

Is that something special, or would any general supermarket-bought yogurt qualify?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:20 PM on October 19, 2004

Is that something special, or would any general supermarket-bought yogurt qualify?

Perhaps not any supermarket-bought yogurt, but many of them will do. All yogurt starts out with live cultures, but some yogurts are heat-treated, which kills them. If a pack of yogurt contains live cultures, it should say so on the packaging. There is often a seal printed on yogurt packages that guarantees a certain number of live cultures, so you might look for that.
posted by vorfeed at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2004

William Lightbody : Oh, no, no, I can't eat fifteen gallons of yoghurt.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg : Oh, it's not going in that end, Mr. Lightbody.

The Road to Wellville
posted by kirkaracha at 3:42 PM on October 19, 2004

What's wrong with a daily dose of Metamucil?
posted by mischief at 4:19 PM on October 19, 2004

Again, here (presumably) is the link to the previous discussion, since josh couldn't be bothered.
posted by jjg at 6:12 PM on October 19, 2004

My husband has to have colonoscopies every couple years. There's this stuff that he's told to take to clear the pipes, so to speak. He can't remember the name of it but your local pharmacist should be able to recommend something.

A word of caution: stay at home and near your bathroom. It works in half an hour or so.
posted by deborah at 6:39 PM on October 19, 2004

Is it psyllium?

GI care seems to have all the answers!
posted by JDC8 at 7:06 PM on October 19, 2004

If you want to really shed your insides out, contract yourself some salmonella.

In terms of flushing the intestines, it rocks. *Everything* comes out, including stomach linings.

The downside is that it hurts to the point of desiring death over the continued pain (but not to worry: you won't be able to kill yourself because you'll be too busy shitting and puking simultaneously.)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2004

Is that something special, or would any general supermarket-bought yogurt qualify?

Some yogurts specifically make a more probiotic version. They advertise, but I can't remember which ones.
posted by callmejay at 9:23 AM on October 20, 2004

The colonoscopy stuff? My Dad says: "Don't leave any doors closed between you and the bathroom".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2004

I've never flushed my own colon, but as an intern I flushed a good many patients' colons. The stuff you want is sold OTC as Miralax or by prescription as 'GoLyteLy'; it is flavored PEG-8000 or 9000 suspension with a careful electrolyte mix. Without going into the specifics, this electrolyte mix is *very* important for safety.

Because of the osmotic and electrolyte properties of this watery liquid, one ounce of it consumed orally results in the excretion of one ounce of it passed anally. Drinking 2 gallons of it will effectively flush your GI tract of its contents in a day-long bout of safe and painless diarrhea. Again, let me emphasize that wrongly diluting it (under- more than over-) can KILL you. So don't do that.

I do not recommend that anyone do this. The idea that undigested material remains in the intestine for years has no basis in fact as far as I know, and I'm not aware of any health benefits of the procedure, even having watched dozens of people undergo it. So I'm just providing the above as general info without recommending that anyone do it. See your doctor for more questions.

On the topic of changing your gut flora: basically the next thing you eat after you finish the flush will recolonize your gut. Your body takes great care with what it permits to live in your gut, using antibodies and the like, so if you're healthy that's not a big worry. I might start with some live yoghurt too, but it's the E. coli that's really going to settle in; you may find your poo smells different if you get recolonized with a different strain.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:28 PM on October 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

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