I read this article yesterday and thought it was important enough to share with everyone going through a Bowel Cleanse (or who needs to know some more about optimal elimination). It had some surprising information about psyllium vs. flax and other herbal laxatives, etc. (It's lengthy)
Article extracted from "Constipation is a serious health concern"
leaflet published by RenewLife Canada.
By Dr. Leonard Smith M.D.
Medical Advisor for Renew Life
To achieve 2 to 3 bowel movements per day, the peristaltic action of the bowel must be regular and vigorous. Peristalsis is the natural wavelike movement of the colon. This action, when functioning normally, moves food throught the digestive system in less than 24 hours. There are many ways to stimulate peristalsis, but the most important way is through proper hydration of the colon. Constipation is often caused by dehydration.
The key to hydrating the colon is to drink plenty of water, and if you like, you can jump-start the peristaltic action of a sluggish colon by using hydrating minerals and gentle (non-laxative) herbs. Many "natural" products stimulate peristaltic action using herbal laxatives like cascara sagrada and senna. Although better than being constipated, the use of these herbal laxatives is something I am strongly against, as more and more research suggest that although natural, these purgative herbs are habit forming like pharmaceutical laxatives, and they do not restore the colon's independent ability to function properly. Cascara sagrada and senna are laxative or purgative herbs. They work by irritating the colon, causing it to expel its contents. Hydration of the colon is the key to making peristalsis occur naturally, and the use of ingested water and gentle minerals and herbs is a far better solution. Magnesium hydroxide is a gentle mineral that brings water into the colon instead of purging it out. Increased hydration stimulated peristalsis naturally, unlike harsh herbs. Similarly, cape aloe and rhubarb are gentle herbs that naturally stimulate peristalsis.
The colon requires bulk in order for it to move 2 or 3 times per day. Fibre is the key, but the right kind of fibre is critical to adding proper bulk. Optimal intake for most people would be 30 to 40 grams per day. Preferably, the source of fibre shold be split evenly between soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Flax based fibre is the best, for it has a natural 50/50 split. Because it is difficult to eat 30 to 40 grams of fibre per day in your diet, many people supplement their diets with fibre products. It is important to avoid fibres that are predominantly soluble. A good example of the wrong fibre is psyllium, which is almost 100% soluble. Why is this? Psyllium absorbs 40 times its weight in water. When you take psyllium, it can absorb most of the free water in the colon, which leaves the colon dehydrated, which in turn reduces peristalsis. This is why so many people become clogged and constipated when they use a psyllium based fibre supplement. A flax fibre, which is balanced 50/50 (soluble/insoluble), give the user many benefits. It absorbs toxins and creates proper bulk in the colon without dehydrating it.
To achieve 2 to 3 bowel movements per day, lubrication of the colon is critical. There are many good oils, including flax, borage, and fish, which are very effective in providing necessary lubrication for smooth and gentle elimination. The oils not only provide the colon with the lubrication if needs to eliminate 2 to 3 times per day, but they also give the body essential fatty acids (EFA's) that can only be obtained throught the diet. These EFA's are vital to most cellular functions that create good health. Because fats are difficult to digest, it is important to use an EFA product which contains lipase, a digestive enzyme that will assist in the proper breakdown and use of the oils.
These three steps (peristalsis/hydration, bulk, and lubrication) are a simple system that will result in proper daily elimination. In additon to these steps, here are some helpful hints that also create the environment for regular elimination:
- drink plenty of water
- change your diet slowly, adding more fruits and vegetables, especially organic ones. Supplement with a good daily fibre. Lower the amount of refined starches, sugar and processed foods in your diet.
- Take digestive enzymes with your meals
- Exercise! If not daily, then at least 3 times per week for 30 mins.
- Lubricate the colon by taking essential fatty acids in oils such as flax, borage, and fish.
- When traveling, try to maintain a normal diet and regular sleep schedule.
- Create time to go to the bathroom in the morning even it if means getting up a little earlier than usual.
- Position yourself correctly when using the toilet. Keep the feet raised on a telephone book or a device designed for proper eliminative posture. (hahaha, this one's funny)
- Do bi-annual cleanses using herbal combinations designed to support overall body and intestinal detoxification.
- Use colon hydrotherapy/hydration.
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