Why Consider Colon Health?

Author: Joseph W. Duggan, B.Sc.
(News Article – 1982)

From the earliest recorded origins of holistic medicine over 5,000 years ago in ancient India, Ayurvedic doctors of that time and the present have considered poor digestion and an unhealthy colon to be the cause of many of man.s most common ailments. These ancient Indian physicians evolved very advanced methods of detoxifying the body even in those early days. In more recent times, from the 1800.s to the present, Nature Cure Physicians, Chiropractors and Naturopathic doctors have also looked to the colon for the cause of many health disorders. Health researchers of the past forty years have validated ancient healing practices utilized by Hippocrates, Pythagoras, and other great physicians of old that considered a pure diet and cleanliness to be the foundation of good health. Nutritionists studying native peoples have discovered that their diet of whole, natural foods prevents the onset of a wide range of civilized man.s health problems.

Although pollution of our air, water and food is extremely relevant to the onset of many health disorders, most recent research in nutrition, centers around improper eating habits. The heart of these findings indicate that the high fat, meat, dairy, sugar, and low fibre content of the western diet results in poor digestion and assimilation which leads to inadequate elimination and a buildup of toxicity within the body. As Dr. Herbert Shelton said in Fasting for Renewal of Life, .Food and nutrition are not synonymous. You are not nourished by the food you eat, but in proportion to the amount you digest and assimilate.. In fact, the toxicity caused by the food you don.t digest and assimilate literally poisons you.

Our bodies have a very efficient digestive system for extracting nutrients from the food we eat. It is so resilient that we can somehow survive many years of tremendous abuse, impossible food combinations, and in many cases, a lack of water on which the whole system depends. Many people today do not understand how their digestion works, which is understandable, but many more do not know what, or how, to eat, nor the importance of drinking sufficient water. To understand the basics, one must first tour and understand the system.

The Digestive System

Digestion begins in the mouth where food must be chewed until it is in very small bits so that the maximum amount of surface area is exposed to the digestive juices, giving them a chance to break the food down into amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars. It is important to have your teeth in good shape so that food is properly chewed as many digestive problems stem from poor mastication. While chewing is taking place, saliva is mixed with the food and begins to break down the carbohydrates into simple starches. This very fluid mass then passes down the esophagus into the stomach where, depending on the amount and constituents, it will stay for 1 . 4 hours. In the stomach it is churned and mixed with digestive juices. If the food is carbohydrate in nature the juices will be more alkaline, if it is protein in nature, the juices will be very acidic.

A major problem in digestion can occur in the stomach. If incorrect combinations of food are eaten, the stomach has a difficult time breaking it down into its constituents. Therefore, certain food combinations are recommended. For instance, fruit is best eaten alone, proteins (meats, eggs, fish, etc.) are best combined with non-starchy vegetables and salad items or carbohydrates (grains, breads, starchy vegetables, etc.) are best combined with any vegetables or salad items. It is highly recommended that carbohydrate and protein is not eaten together, for example your typical hamburger.

The reasoning behind these recommendations is that fruit requires alkaline digestive juice and digests very quickly when eaten alone, but causes indigestion when eaten with other foods. Carbohydrates require a very similar alkaline process, but proteins require a very acidic digestive juice. When both processes are required for proper digestion at the same time, neither one is efficiently executed. The result is indigestion, bloating, gas, prolonged digestion, etc. When food is well combined it breaks down quickly and remains in the stomach until it is turned into a semi-liquid, chyme, and passes into the small intestine. There the third stage of digestion occurs as it passes through the duodenum of the small intestine and is mixed with secretions from the liver and pancreas.

Problems in digestion can also occur here, for instance if there is liver congestion, or a blockage of the bile duct by gall stones, bile acids cannot pass into the duodenum in sufficient quantities to emulsify the fats and fatty acids will remain undigested in the feces. This will cause the feces to float and may give it a grayish color. If there is weak pancreatic function due to excessive demands, digestive enzymes will not be produced in sufficient quantity. If food has not been chewed properly in the mouth, the enzymes that are produced will not be able to break down the large pieces of food. Protein not broken down completely to amino acids can cause allergies when they enter the blood stream and if left undigested in the intestines, it will putrefy and cause a strong body odor or be broken down by E. Coli in the colon which produce sulfur-like gases. In any case, if complete breakdown of the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates does not occur, diarrhea, gas and loose stools with indigested food in them result.

In most cases, however, this very fluid mass passes along the rest of the duodenum, is mixed with the glandular digestive secretions and moves into the jejunum and ileum sections of the small intestine where most of the assimilation of nutrients occurs.

Assimilation is accomplished along the walls and folds of the small intestine where countless small hair-like villi are located. These villi have tremendous surface area, which increase absorption dramatically. This can be where another problem area can arise if the villi have become congested with mucous due to years of indigestible food combinations and lack of fibre which results in poor assimilation of nutrients. When the food mass eventually passes into the colon, water and many of the vitamins and minerals are assimilated, however, if the walls of the colon are impacted with fecal matter, this process can be impaired.

For optimal digesting and assimilation proper food combining should be observed, food must be chewed thoroughly, the liver, stomach and pancreas must be able to secrete sufficient digestive juices and the walls of the small intestine and colon must be free of obstructions to assimilation. This process proceeds remarkably well in most cases, but efficiency can be reduced dramatically by a lack of water in the system. The average person secretes two liters of water through the sweat glands, lungs, urine, and feces. All of digestion occurs in a water medium, so this water must be replaced every day or digestion is impaired and most important, proper elimination does not occur in the colon.

Processes of Elimination

There are five main channels for the elimination of metabolic waste and toxic materials from the body. The lungs excrete tremendous amounts of metabolic wastes as one exhales, which is why exercise and deep breathing are important to keep the lungs clear. The largest excretory organ of the body is the skin, which regulates the body temperature. On a warm day the skin can secrete two or more liters of sweat through the sweat glands, each of which is like a miniature kidney. Many body toxins are eliminated this way. Another very important route is through the kidneys, which regulate blood volume and blood pressure as well as remove toxins and metabolic wastes from the blood. The average amount of fluid required to keep the kidneys functioning efficiently is a liter of water a day. Another elimination route is the liver, which secretes toxins, which end up in the colon, the most important organ of elimination in the body.

For proper elimination to occur in the colon, efficient digestion and an adequate intake of water are required. Sufficient dietary fibre and a large colony of healthy bacteria in the colon, primarily acidophilus, are also important. If food remains undigested as it leaves the ileum, for any of the previously discussed reasons, it can result in a sticky mass, which coats the walls of the colon. This encourages the proliferation of parasites in the colon, which can be detected by the presence of horizontal ridges in the nails, secretions from the nose, or anal itching. Undigested food also encourages the growth of undesirable bacteria that multiply to produce intestinal gas, some of which can get absorbed into the tissues and be quite toxic. Often a foul breath is indicative of this condition.

When there is not sufficient fibre in the diet, the transit time through the digestive tract is increased, as the muscular contractions of the intestines have no bulk to push against. In the colon, the feces become dry and hard, therefore difficult to discharge. Diverticuli and pockets can develop in the walls of the colon. If there is a lack of water as well as fibre, the feces can become sticky and coat the walls of the colon eventually reducing the size of the channel through which feces can pass. Any or all of these processes can result in constipation and autointoxication.


There is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the term constipation in modern times. In an ideal situation, what goes into the digestive tract should come out, less water and nutrients. This does not mean one bowel movement a day, or two, is normal, but what goes in one day should come out the next, however many bowel movements it takes. These bowel movements should be regular and effortless; completely clearing the colon, anything less is constipation. However, as mentioned before this is facilitated by the fibre content of the food and amount of water consumed.

For example, a typical Western low fibre diet results in an average food transit time (from mouth to anus) of 65 – 100 hours and a retention of eight or more meals of undigested food within the digestive tract. The food transit time of a person on a high fibre diet is 20 – 45 hours with a retention of three undigested meals (one day’s food intake). This is a dramatic difference and it is not hard to imagine what is underneath many of those distended tummies we see everyday.


The process of stewing in your own juice, or of the body literally poisoning itself on its own toxins, is called autointoxication. It results primarily from the colon not clearing itself properly as a result of constipation and sluggish bowel movements. This results in environmental poisons and other toxins remaining in the colon for extended periods of time affecting sensitive tissues and may account for the high incidence of colon cancer in North America. Also, impacted fecal matter in the colon encourages the growth of putrefactive bacteria, which in themselves produce carcinogens and tissue toxicity through their excretions. As these toxins are reabsorbed into the blood stream the other excretory systems get overloaded, particularly the kidneys. Signs of autointoxification are allergies, strong body odor, foul breath, skin eruptions, abnormal hair follicle secretions, weak kidneys, and poor digestion. Some actual clinical symptoms of autointoxication are: frequent headaches with no apparent cause; skin rashes, boils, pimples, etc.; frequent congestion, colds and flu; lower back pain; lowered immune response and slow healing of wounds; unusually low vitality; increased sleep requirements; bad breath, strong body odor, and foul smelling stool; allergies and food intolerances; tumors and abnormal tissue growths as well as PMS, breast soreness and vaginal infections.

Of course if any of these symptoms are severe it is wise to consult a professional health care provider, but the cause and cure remain the same.

Colon Cleansing

There are a number of ways to approach detoxification, some more radical than others. But the main concern is to avoid overloading the organs of elimination resulting in a healing crisis caused by the release of toxins. In colon cleansing, strong non-herbal laxatives are avoided as they generally work by chemically irritating the walls of the colon. Their prolonged use leads to poor muscle tone, faulty peristalsis, and further dependence on laxatives. It is far better to utilize gentle acting powders that form mucilaginous bulk, soften the stool and herbs which stimulate peristalsis, breakdown hardened fecal matter and purge parasites. Some excellent choices are:

Psyllium Husk Powder, one of the finest bulking agents available with mucilaginous (lubricating) action, which soothes and cleanses the colon. It is purely vegetable product with no harmful effects and is superior to emulsions, oils, and agar compounds frequently used as laxatives.

Bentonite, which is volcanic ash ground into a fine powder that swells to 40 times its dry size when added to water. It has a negative charge and acts like a magnetic sponge which removes bacteria, parasites, and positively charged plague and toxins from the intestinal tract.

Butternut Bark, a slow acting remedy for constipation, sluggish liver, colds and flus. It also guarantees no discomfort from painful griping, intestinal spasm, or colic like discomfort making it .one of the most mild and efficacious laxatives which we possess..(Jacob Bigelow, American Medical Botany, Boston. 1817-20.pp.118-19)

Black Walnut has removed millions of tapeworms and other parasites, cured old ulcers, boils, itch and all kinds of skin eruptions, eye diseases, liver and bowel diseases, hemorrhoids, prolapsed and ballooned intestines, varicose veins, and in fact seems to be a panacea for human ailments. Chronic conditions require treatment for a considerable time to produce the desired results.

Chinese Rhubarb Root has many of the constituents found in cascara and senna but is a better laxative. It can also reduce cancer tumors, blood pressure, and inflammation and is valuable for treating chronic diarrhea.

Chinese Licorice Root stands next to ginseng in importance in Chinese herbalism. It is believed to drive out all poisons and toxins from the system and to eliminate the side effects of other herbs used with it. Licorice root relieves abdominal pain and congestion, benefits the abdominal organs, increases peristalsis, and regulates the bowels. Laboratory tests in China have demonstrated that its extracts can help to eliminate or detoxify over 1,200 known toxins including the intoxification due to bad food, drugs, and alcohol. This remarkable capacity as a detoxifying agent is unparalleled in the realm of pharmacology.

A complete colon cleansing program utilizes many elements. First of all eating habits must be changed to improve digestion and assimilation. Sufficient water must be consumed to flush the system and promote complete evacuation of the colon. Herbs and cleansing powders must be utilized to slowly break down and clear out impacted matter in the colon. The application of warm sesame oil to the abdomen helps loosen deposits in the colon. A cup at a time can be also injected rectally and left overnight. These above mentioned herbal elements can be found in one product; Li Chung Yun natural Herb Powder. If this is unavailable, a well proven colon cleansing program is sold by Yerba Prima as well as others available at your local health food store.

Intestinal Flora

The body relies on the presence of bacteria such as lactobacillus bifidus and acidophilus to complete digestion in the colon as well as protect the body from the action of harmful bacteria like E. Coli or yeast such as candida. If antibiotics or colonics (colon hydrotherapy) remove the beneficial bacteria, E Coli or candida can multiply causing intestinal gas as well as long term health problems. Lactobacillus bifida and acidophilus can be obtained in capsule form at your health food store or added to intestinal cleansing powders. After a series of colonics (colon hydrotherapy) or colemas, the liquid lactobacillus culture can be added to an enema and retained in the colon long enough to implant the bacteria culture.

Colonics (Colon Hydrotherapy), Enemas, and Colemas

Once herbs and mucilaginous bulk powders have begun to loosen and break up impacted fecal matter, rapid results can be obtained by flushing the colon with water. A colonic (colon hydrotherapy) is very effective; it fills the entire colon with water under pressure and needs to be applied by a skilled technician.

Enemas are also effective and can be safely administered at home. Colemas involve the use of a colema board, large holding vessel for water and an insert into the anus connected by tubing, which allows for continuous flooding of the colon. The benefit of a colema is that it allows for regular contractions of the colon and expulsion of matter past the very thin insert. This action exercises and strengthens the colon considerably. All of these methods are very effective; the choice should be based on personal preference and the availability of professional services. Colon cleansing can also be carried out in conjunction with fasting, but it is better to seek out professional advice and monitoring before attempting a long-term fasting program. Most people can benefit by utilizing the herbal cleansing programs with an occasional enema. This is a time proven system, which acts slowly, but is very effective and can be carried out without interfering with work or play.

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