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Treating Colon and Digestive Health Naturally



This Topic Covers: The importance of colon health and the digestive system; Natural and holistic treatments for constipation;  In depth information on laxatives; How laxatives work; Types of laxatives; Risks of laxative use and colon cleansing; Natural and holistic digestive treatments; and how to heal the colon.

 




Introduction 

www.jonbarron.org The Baseline of Health Foundation

Digestive Disease & Intestinal Health: "Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" THE BARRON REPORT Volume 7, Issue 2:  There is an old saying that "Death Begins in the Colon." This is an oversimplification to be sure, but more accurate than not. In fact, the road to health begins with intestinal cleansing and detoxification -- no matter what the disease or problem What digestive disorders?

  • Constipation and the attendant symptoms of self toxification

  • Diverticular disease (herniations of the colon)

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Crohn's Disease

  • Other Related Digestive Diseases

It is worth noting that many other diseases (that at first glance appear to have no connection with the digestive tract) have been related by many doctors to the bowel. These include: diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, gout, hypertension, varicose veins, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and obesity.

metabolichealing.com - Metabolic Healing, Inc.

Any serious health-improvement program should address the function of the gut flora and mucosal barrier. This is magnified exponentially if one has chronic gut issues, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and behavioral issues.

Because there are so many factors that will impede upon your intestinal flora, maintaining proper digestion, assimilation and intestinal immunity is paramount. All of these factors work together.

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Alarming Statistics – Digestive Disorders

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

All Digestive Diseases

Prevalence: 60 to 70 million people affected by all digestive diseases1
Ambulatory care visits: 48.3 million (2010)2–4
Hospitalizations: 21.7 million (2010)5
Mortality: 245,921 deaths (2009)6
Diagnostic and therapeutic inpatient procedures: 5.4 million—12 percent of all inpatient procedures (2007)7
Ambulatory surgical procedures: 20.4 million—20 percent of all “write-in” surgical procedures (2010)2
Costs: $141.8 billion (2004)8
$97.8 billion, direct medical costs (2004)8
$44 billion, indirect costs—for example, disability and mortality (2004)8

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Alarming Statistics – Colon Disorders

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. More than 4 million Americans have frequent constipation, accounting for 2.5 million physician visits a year. Those reporting constipation most often are women and adults ages 65 and older. Pregnant women may have constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery. Self-treatment of constipation with over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives is by far the most common aid. Around $725 million is spent on laxative products each year in America.

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The Importance of the Digestive System   

 

The importance of foods and digestion to human health cannot be over-emphasized!! 

The entire human body - atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, and organs - is made from food, water, and air. Every nerve, muscle, gland, secretion, bone, and hair begins as food we eat, water we drink, or air we breathe...

Foods carry the potential for building optimally functioning - healthy-bodies, but they must first be transformed by digestion. If undigested foods were to enter our blood, serious illness would result. Undigested foods are incompatible with the body and with health. Our digestive system turns the food material that we eat and drink into material compatible to our body, from which our body and our health can then be built.   

After digestion transforms the foods we eat into compatible components, the body absorbs these components and uses them as building blocks to construct the molecules, cells, and tissues that are the human body.    

Foods supply the energy necessary to maintain life, and the building blocks necessary for the construction of the body. Yet foods are useless for both these purposes until many enzymes and chemicals in the digestive tract have acted upon them. 

Good digestion has to take place before efficient absorption is possible, necessary to generate good health. Incomplete digestion causes many problems, including poor absorption of nutrients, a nutrient-starved body prone to materials, intestinal gas and toxin production, and absorption of undigested materials leading to food sensitivities, allergies, and immune reactions.  

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Understanding the Digestive System 

Everything we eat and drink enters the body through our digestive system...A continuous muscular tube, the human digestive system includes mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestine, and anus. We sub-divide the intestine into duodenum, small intestine consisting of jejunum and ileum, and large intestine or colon. Each part of the digestive tract performs a different set of functions important to health.

Absorption:  From digested foods, the body draws nutrients into itself. It uses these nutrients to build, maintain, repair, and replace molecules, cells, and tissues. Nutritious foods, well digested and efficiently absorbed, provide the basis of radiant health.  

Poor absorption of food components results in a body deficient in building materials. Cells and tissues deteriorate. Digestive enzymes and stomach acid, which the body makes from the building blocks that it absorbs, may become insufficient, making for poor digestion, further decreasing the quantity of nutrients available for absorption, in a vicious circle. Poor absorption therefore leads to poor health.  The efficiency of digestion and absorption decreases as we age.  

Digestive imperfections: Genetically, our digestive ability may not be 100% to begin with. Most of us also have genetically determined needs for extraordinary quantities of one or more of the essential nutrients. Our eating habits may leave something to be desired. We don't chew properly, eat on the run, eat under stress, eat nutrient-poor foods, etc. Digestion deteriorates with age. Stomach hydrochloric acid production declines. Enzyme production decreases. Absorption becomes less efficient.   Elimination of toxins & wastes becomes more difficult. Cell, gland, and organ  functions decline.  

Illness, especially of the gastro-intestinal tract, decreases digestive and absorptive capacity. Diseases of glands, liver, and kidneys also have negative effects on digestion.  

When the digestive system does not work properly, its malfunctions affect our health in many different ways: 

  • Choosing to eat foods with poor nutritional quality may result in obtaining fewer essential nutrients than the body requires for health. 

  • Inadequate chewing can result in incomplete digestion, failure to absorb some of the nutrients that foods contain, intestinal fermentation, gas, and toxin production which affects colon health. Some of these toxins may be absorbed and stress the liver, kidneys, and immune system.  

  • Lack of stomach acid can result in inadequate protein digestion, inability to absorb Vitamin B-12, and intestinal putrefaction with generation of toxins which may be absorbed into the body, and which also affect colon health.  

  • Lack of digestive enzymes results in incomplete digestion, putrefaction, decreased absorption of essential nutrients, and internal toxin production that increases the load on kidneys, liver and immune system.  

  • Inadequate liver function can result in difficulties in assimilating nutrients, especially fats. Nausea or heavy, tired feeling after fat-containing meals is an indication of deficient liver function. If liver function is weak, detoxification processes for which it is responsible may be deficient, leading to negative effects on every cell, tissue, and organ, and allowing toxins to accumulate throughout the body.  

  • Pancreatic insufficiency leads to seriously impaired digestion which affects the entire intestinal tract, mal-absorption which leads to deficiency of essential nutrients in the body, and lowered vitality of all cells and tissues. 

  • Nutrient absorption tends to decrease with age because, like all aging cells, absorptive cells become less efficient in their functions as we age. If magnified, because malnourished aging cells are even less able to do their job.   

Supplementation of the diet with essential nutrients, enzymes, fiber, herbs, and other substances can contribute to significant improvements in health in many of these situations. 

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The Importance of Enzymes  

www.jonbarron.org

Health Depends on Enzymes: "Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in living organisms. In fact, they are required for every single chemical action that takes place in your body. All of your cells, organs, bones, muscles, and tissues are run by enzymes.

Your digestive system, immune system, blood stream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, as well as your ability to see, think, feel, and breathe, all depend on enzymes. All of the minerals and vitamins you eat and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes in order to work properly. In fact, every single metabolic function in your body is governed by enzymes. Your stamina, your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, your immune system -- all governed by enzymes.

Retrieved From  - mercola.com

'This article was brought to you by Dr. Mercola'. You've probably heard of enzymes, and you probably already know they are important for your digestion. But you may not be aware of just how necessary enzymes are to every cell in your body—not just for digestion but for ALL your physiological processes.

Enzymes are composed of amino acids and are secreted by your body to help catalyze functions that would normally not occur at physiological temperatures. They literally make magic happen and are absolutely vital to your life.

More than 3,000 different enzymes have been identified, and some experts believe there may be another 50,000 we have yet to discover. Each enzyme has a different function—like 3,000 specialized keys cut to fit 3,000 different locks. In this analogy, the locks are biochemical reactions.

Enzymes drive biological processes necessary for your body to build raw materials, circulate nutrients, eliminate unwanted chemicals, and the myriad of other biochemical processes that go on without your even thinking about it.

For starters, here are just some of the activities in your body requiring enzymes:

  • Energy production

  • Absorption of oxygen

  • Fighting infections and healing wounds

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Getting nutrients into your cells

  • Carrying away toxic wastes

  • Breaking down fats in your blood, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels

  • Dissolving blood clots

  • Proper hormone regulation

  • Slowing the aging process

And small amounts of enzymes can affect profound changes! Enzymes are the catalysts that cause many essential biochemical reactions to happen—but they are not "used up" IN the reaction. They merely assist—meaning, they accelerate reactions—sometimes to a mind-boggling several million reactions per second!

Enzymes lower the amount of energy needed for a reaction to occur. Without them, some reactions simply would not function in your body. But enzymes don't work alone. Enzymes rely on other elements to accomplish their tasks, such as certain vitamins and minerals. These elements are called "coenzymes."

You are probably already familiar with one of these—coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria (power centers) of your cells where it is involved in making ATP, every cell's principal energy source. Another example is magnesium, which participates in over 300 enzyme reactions.

*ATP defined: “A critically important macromolecule—arguably “second in importance only to DNA”—is ATP. ATP is a complex nanomachine that serves as the primary energy currency of the cell. A nanomachine is a complex precision microscopic-sized machine that fits the standard definition of a machine. ATP is the “most widely distributed high-energy compound within the human body” (Ritter, 1996, p. 301). This ubiquitous molecule is “used to build complex molecules, contract muscles, generate electricity in nerves, and light fireflies. All fuel sources of Nature, all foodstuffs of living things, produce ATP, which in turn powers virtually every activity of the cell and organism. - http://www.trueorigin.org/atp.asp

 

Concept of "Enzyme Potential" -  Dr. Edward Howell spent his entire professional life studying enzymes and can be credited with catalyzing enzyme research. Whether or not this is true, Howell believed you were born with a limited enzyme-producing capacity, and that your life expectancy depends on how well you preserve your "enzyme potential." His theory was that if you don't get enough enzymes from the food you eat, great strain is placed on your digestive system to "pick up the slack," i.e., produce enough enzymes to accomplish the task.

A deficiency in digestive enzymes then reduces availability of your metabolic enzymes. Howell believed this metabolic enzyme deficit was at the root of most chronic health problems.

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Enzyme Basics 

Retrieved From - mercola.com

There are three basic categories of enzymes:

1.    Digestive

2.    Metabolic

3.    Food based

Digestive enzymes, as their name implies, help you break down food into smaller parts that can be absorbed, transported and utilized by every cell in your body. Digestive enzymes are extra-cellular—meaning, they are found outside your cells.

Metabolic enzymes are intra-cellular—meaning, inside your cells, where they help the cell carry out a variety of functions related to its reproduction and replenishment. Your pancreas produces most of these digestive and metabolic enzymes.

Food enzymes - Fortunately, you get (or should be getting) many enzymes from the foods you consume—particularly, raw foods. These directly help with your digestive process.

The more raw foods you eat, the lower the burden on your body to produce the enzymes it needs, not only for digestion, but for practically everything. Whatever enzymes are not used up in digestion are then available to help with other important physiological processes.

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The Importance of Digestive Enzymes 

Retrieved From - mercola.com

'This article was brought to you by Dr. Mercola'. Your Meal's Journey through Your Digestive System: Once consumed, your meal begins a complicated, multi-phased journey of breakdown and conversion into nutrients your body can use. This process is, of course, called digestion, and enzymes play a key role.

There are eight primary digestive enzymes, each designed to help break down different types of food:

  1. Protease: Digesting protein
  2. Amylase: Digesting carbohydrates
  3. Lipase: Digesting fats
  4. Cellulase: Breaking down fiber
  5. Maltase: Converting complex sugars from grains into glucose
  6. Lactase: Digesting milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products
  7. Phytase: Helps with overall digestion, especially in producing the B vitamins
  8. Sucrase: Digesting most sugars

Digestion begins in your mouth, starting with saliva...  Your mouth is where enzymes (primarily amylase) begin to exert their action. Amylase in your saliva begins to break down carbohydrates.

As food passes into your stomach, proteins are worked on by protease. From there, the bolus of food passes into your small intestine, where lipase begins to break down fats, and amylase finishes off the carbohydrates.

Did you know that 90 percent of your digestion and absorption takes place in your small intestine? From here, the micronutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream through millions of tiny villi in the wall of your gut. But what happens when this process goes awry? Disease—or "dis-ease."

Aftermath of the Western Diet: Enzyme Deficiency

Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much "tummy trouble" in our country. Digestive problems cost Americans $50 billion each year in both direct costs and absence from work.

It is a sad fact that 90 percent of the food Americans buy is processed food. Diets heavy in cooked, processed, and sugary foods, combined with overuse of pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics, deplete your body's ability to make enzymes.

Enzymes may be relatively large, but their protein structures are fragile. The amino acids in the molecular chain link together to form certain patterns and shapes, which give enzymes their unique characteristics and functions. When something disrupts the chain's structure, the enzyme becomes "denatured"—it changes shape and loses its ability to perform.

Heating your food above 116 degrees F renders most enzymes inactive. This is one of the reasons it's so important to eat your foods raw. Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. The more food that you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of your digestive enzymes from your food.

In addition to heat, enzymes are also very sensitive to shifts in pH, which is why different enzymes work in different parts of your digestive tract, based on the pH each enzyme needs in order to function.

Enzyme deficiency results in poor digestion and poor nutrient absorption. This creates a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:

Chronic malabsorption can lead to a variety of illnesses. Think about it—if your body doesn't have the basic nutritional building blocks it needs, your health and ability to recover from illness will be compromised.

Besides breaking down food, enzymes (particularly the proteases) can help with gut healing, controlling pathogens, and immune support. Your immune system begins in your gut—and if you have enzyme and digestive issues, chances are your immune system isn't functioning as well as it should be.

Complicating matters, your capacity for enzyme production also declines with age.

How Aging Affects Your Enzyme Production: Research has shown that your natural enzyme production starts to decline by the time you're about 20. Studies show that, every ten years, your body's production of enzymes decreases by 13 percent. So by age 40, your enzyme production could be 25 percent lower than it was when you were a child. And by the time you're 70, you could be producing only ONE-THIRD of the enzymes you need.

Making matters worse, your stomach produces less hydrochloric acid as you age, and hydrochloric acid is crucial in activating your stomach's digestive enzymes.

When digestion of foods requires such a heavy demand, enzyme supplies run short and your enzyme-producing capacity can become exhausted. Why does this matter? The high demand for digestive enzymes depletes your body's production of metabolic enzymes, which every cell in your body needs in order to function.

www.jonbarron.org

Enzymes in Food and the Body: "Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" As it happens, they are produced both internally (most notably in the pancreas and the other endocrine glands) and are present in raw foods that we eat. At birth we are endowed with a certain potential for manufacturing enzymes in our bodies, an enzyme “reserve,” if you will. Nature intended that we continually replenish that reserve through proper nutrition and eating habits. Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. Let's take a look at why.

Most people believe that when you eat a meal it drops into a pool of stomach acid, where it's broken down, then goes into the small intestine to have nutrients taken out, and then into the colon to be passed out of the body -- if you're lucky. Not quite.

What nature intended is that you eat enzyme rich foods and chew your food properly. If you did that, the food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes. These enzymes would then "predigest" your food for about an hour -- actually breaking down as much as 75% of your meal.

After this period of "pre digestion," hydrochloric acid is introduced. The acid inactivates all of the enzymes, but begins its own function of breaking down what is left of the meal.

Eventually, this nutrient rich food concentrate moves on into the small intestine. Once food enters the small intestine, the pancreas reintroduces digestive enzymes to the process. As digestion is completed, nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream. That's what nature intended. Unfortunately, most of us don't live our lives as nature intended!

The Death of Enzymes - Cooked Food: Processing and cooking destroy enzymes in food. (Man is the only animal that cooks his food.) In fact, any sustained heat of approximately 118 - 129 degrees, destroys virtually all enzymes. This means that, for most of us, the food entering our stomachs is severely enzyme deficient. (Actually, there are some enzymes present from our saliva. The amount, however, is minuscule since we only chew our food about 25% as much as is required.) The result is that most of our meals enter our stomachs woefully devoid of enzymes.

The food then sits there for an hour, like a heavy lump, with very little pre-digestion taking place. Even after the stomach acid has done its work, the meal enters the small intestine largely undigested.

At this point, the pancreas and the other organs of the endocrine system are put under tremendous stress since they have to draw reserves from the entire body in order to produce massive amounts of the proper digestive enzymes. The less digestion that takes place before food reaches the small intestine the greater the stress placed on the endocrine systems. Recent studies have shown that virtually 100% of all Americans have an enlarged pancreas by the time they're 40. Is it any wonder that diabetes is so rampant in the United States.

There's also major research showing that enzyme deficient diets contribute to a pathological enlargement of the pituitary gland (That's the gland that regulates all the other glands.). And there is research showing that almost 100% of people over 50 who die from "accidental” causes have defective pituitary glands.

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Boosting Your Enzyme Levels Naturally

Retrieved From - mercola.com

There are four ways to naturally increase your enzyme levels:

  • Increase your intake of raw, living foods

  • Eat fewer calories

  • Chew your food thoroughly

  • Avoid chewing gum

The very best way to get enzymes into your body is by consuming at least 75 percent of your foods raw... While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes). Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods tremendously. Besides sprouts, other enzyme-rich foods include:

  • Papaya, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and grapes

  • Avocado

  • Raw honey (the enzymes actually come from the bee’s saliva)

  • Bee pollen

  • Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil

  • Raw meat and dairy

The best way to bump up your metabolic enzymes is to provide your body with the raw materials and energy it needs to make them. By eating these types of foods, you supply your body with the amino acids and the enzyme co-factors needed to boost your own natural enzyme production.

Another way to lower your body's demand for enzymes is to reduce your caloric intake. Did you know the average person spends 80 percent of his available energy simply digesting food?

By reducing overall consumption, as well as introducing more living foods, you reduce your need for digestive enzymes, which allows your body to put more of its energy into producing metabolic enzymes.

Which brings us to chewing. Quite apart from the esthetic pleasure of an unhurried meal, there are important physiological reasons to chew your food well. Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more time you spend chewing, the longer your saliva enzymes have to work in your mouth, lessening the workload of your stomach and small intestine. Chewing also stimulates a reflex that sends a message to your pancreas and other digestive organs, "Gear up—we've got incoming!" And don't chew gum.

Chewing gum fools your body into believing it is digesting something, so it pumps out digestive enzymes unnecessarily. Why waste those precious resources?

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Digestive Enzyme Supplementation 

www.jonbarron.org  

"Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" At a minimum, you must use a good digestive enzyme supplement with each and every meal you eat -- particularly any meal that contains either processed or cooked food.

A couple of times a week at night (or more often if you think of it), before bed, take your digestive enzyme supplement on an empty stomach.

Which Enzymes Should You Use? The fact is you'll benefit from any good vegetarian based digestive enzyme supplement. But look for one that contains:

  • A variety of proteases, including Papain (to aid in the digestion of protein). Papain, which comes from papaya, is so effective in digesting proteins that it is often used as a meat tenderizer.

  • Amylase (for the digestion of starches and carbohydrates).

  • Lipase (to digest fats).

  • Cellulase (invaluable in breaking down fiber cellulose into smaller units).

  • Lactase (which works in the digestion of dairy products).

I also used to recommend using large amounts of bromelain in the formula --not so much anymore. Bromelain is a great proteolytic enzyme found in pineapples. It digests protein, and it helps reduce inflammation and swelling in joints. Unfortunately, a significant number of people are subject to side effects--such as diarrhea and stomach and intestinal discomfort--when they use bromelain. It can also cause allergic reactions, especially in people who have other allergies...

Pancreatic enzymes are part of a substance called pancreatin (or pancreas juice) produced in the pancreas. This complex includes the enzymes protease, amylase, and lipase and is released both into the intestines and the bloodstream.

In the intestines, pancreatin works to help digest the proteins, carbohydrates, and starches of our meals. Supplementation with digestive enzymes along with a meal helps share the workload of your body's own pancreatic enzymes and can aid in digestion. But what happens if you take enzymes between meals?

As mentioned earlier, pancreatic enzymes are not only released into the small intestine, but also directly into the bloodstream. Why?

Protein molecules that are only partially digested in the small intestine are absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the immune system treats them as invaders provoking an immune reaction. Antibodies couple with these foreign protein invaders to form circulating immune complexes (CIC's). Now, in a healthy person, these CIC's may be neutralized in the lymphatic system. But if the immune system is in any way compromised, CIC's accumulate in the blood, where they initiate an "allergic" reaction. As the number of CIC's builds, the kidneys max out and can no longer excrete all of the CIC's, so they begin to accumulate in the body's soft tissues, causing inflammation.

It is here that the pancreatic enzymes in our bloodstream come into play. Pancreatic enzymes are able to break down CIC's so that they can pass through the kidneys for excretion.

What does that mean for us? Well, if enzymes are taken between meals, the body doesn't need the enzymes for digesting food, so they make their way directly into the bloodstream to aid in the elimination of CIC's.

But it gets even better. Because of their ability to digest foreign proteins, pancreatic enzymes (both those produced in the body and those absorbed into the bloodstream from taking supplemental digestive enzymes) work to clear out infecting organisms such as viruses, scar tissue, and the products of inflammation. For this reason, pancreatic enzymes are frequently used by Naturopaths to treat a variety of conditions, including lung infections, tooth infections, bone fractures, and as a body strengthener before surgery. Specifically, pancreatic enzymes have been used by many healers to aid in a variety of disease conditions, including inflammation, viral disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Note: A dedicated proteolytic enzyme (high protease) formula will be even more effective in this regard than a digestive enzyme formula, forced to do double duty. Ideally, you should use a dedicated digestive enzyme formula with your meals and a dedicated high protease formula between meals.

www.jonbarron.org

"Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" The bottom line is that regular supplementation with digestive enzymes takes stress off the pancreas (and the entire body) by providing the enzymes required for digestion. In other words, digestive enzyme supplements just may be one of the best insurance policies you can give your body so you can enjoy a long and healthy life…

In addition to a longer, healthier, and more vital life, you will also experience a number of short term benefits. These include:

  • You should notice a significant reduction in indigestion and heartburn problems resulting from too much acid in the stomach.

  • Since complex carbohydrates are now being substantially digested before they enter the intestinal tract, you should experience relief from gas and bloating. (Some people may actually notice an increase in activity for several days as their digestive systems come alive.)

  • Look for improved digestion of dairy products caused by lactose intolerance.

  • Diminished food allergies due to more complete protein digestion.

  • Greatly reduced flatulence due to more complete carbohydrate digestion.

  • Since the digestion of enzyme deficient food is an extremely energy consuming task, within a few days of enzyme supplementation you should notice an increase in energy levels.

  • Relief from hiatal hernias.

  • Relief from ulcers. (Digestive enzymes help with ulcers in two ways. First, they help digest so much of your meal during the 40-60 minutes of predigestion that your body requires less acid in the actual digestion phase. This means that taking digestive enzymes will help lower the levels of acid in your stomach. (Those who suffer from chronic low levels of acid need not worry. Digestive enzymes supplements help here too by breaking down so much food in the predigestion phase that less acid is actually required. And over time, decreased demand results in increased reserve capability.)

A Quality Experiment - There is a fun experiment you can perform (that will work with any good digestive enzyme formula) and that will actually let you see the benefit of enzyme supplementation in just a few minutes.

  • Make two bowls of instant oatmeal.

  • Crush (or mix) a couple of digestive enzyme capsules into just one of the bowls of oatmeal.

  • Wait 45 minutes.

Now check. If the formula you are using is any good, there should be a pronounced difference in the two bowls. The untreated bowl should be as expected: congealed, lumpy, stick to your ribs consistency. The bowl with the enzymes will look quite different. It will be “digested” and have the consistency of watery gruel. Which oatmeal would you rather have work through your body: the one that's stuck to the bowl like cement, or the enzyme bowl that's predigested? Which oatmeal do you think is less stressful to digest?

Retrieved  From - mercola.com

If you suffer from occasional bloating, minor abdominal discomfort, and occasional constipation and suspect your enzyme production is low, you might want to consider a digestive enzyme supplement in addition to eating more of your foods raw.

Digestive enzymes should be taken WITH a meal. There are hundreds on the market, so how do you choose a good one? You should look for an enzyme formula with the following characteristics:

  • It should contain a mixture of different types of enzymes, to help digest all of the different components of your diet (including lipase, protease, and amylase)

  • The ingredients should be high quality, all-natural, and free of allergens and additives

  • The supplement should be labeled as to the enzymatic strength of each ingredient, not just its weight

  • It should be made by a reputable company with rigorous quality control and testing for potency

Besides digestive enzyme supplementation, there is another way to use oral enzymes—for systemic use. This requires taking enzymes between meals so they can be absorbed through your gut and into your bloodstream, where your cells can use them metabolically.

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The Importance of Metabolic (Systematic) Enzymes

Retrieved From - mercola.com

Now that you know how important digestive enzymes are for getting nourishment, let's take a look at another type of enzymatic activity—your metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are intimately involved with running your circulatory, lymphatic, cardiac, neurologic, endocrine, renal, hepatic, and reproductive systems, and maintaining your skin, bones, joints, muscles and other tissues.

Every one of your 10 trillion cells depends on these enzymes and their ability to catalyze energy production. As I said before, each of these enzymes is highly specialized as a function of its particular molecular structure.

Consider these two examples:

  • RNA polymerase is an enzyme your body uses to transcribe DNA into RNA, which is used to make proteins.

  • Lysosomal enzyme, produced in the lysosome of each cell (also called the “suicide bag”), breaks down macromolecules and other foreign particles the cell has ingested (such as bacteria) so they can be disposed of. The lysosome is a microscopic garbage disposal!

One of the most important functions of metabolic enzymes happens in your blood. If you think about it, it makes sense. We know that bacteria, fungi, and parasites are comprised of protein, as is the shell encompassing viruses. Enzymes in your blood—primarily proteases (proteolytic enzymes)—serve to break down protein-based foreign bodies, effectively cleansing your blood.

As blood cleansers, these enzymes combat chronic inflammation, which left unchecked can lead to everything from autoimmune diseases, to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Enzymes reduce inflammation in your body by:

  1. Breaking down foreign proteins in the blood that cause inflammation and facilitating their removal via your blood stream and lymphatic system

  2. Removing “fibrin,” a clotting material that can prolong inflammation

  3. Reducing edema in the inflamed regions

It follows, then, that any disease caused by inflammation—which is practically every chronic disease we face today—can be benefited by increased levels of functional enzymes in your blood.

systemic oral enzymes have been used to treat problems ranging from sports injuries to arthritis to heart disease and cancer, particularly in European countries. But most of the research has been published in non-English language journals. This systemic use of enzymes is just now taking off in the United States.

It is crucial that, in order for enzymes to be used systemically, they must be ingested on an empty stomach. Otherwise, your body will use them for digesting your food, instead of being absorbed into the blood and doing their work there.

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Therapeutic Treatment & Benefits of Systematic Enzymes

Reference Source - www.wholebodymed.com

Almost any disease that has an inflammatory component or is classified as an autoimmune disease can be helped with systemic enzyme therapy. Studies done in Europe, show systemic enzymes to be of significant benefit for those with multiple sclerosis. Systemic enzymes are of great help for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, herpes zoster (shingles), and many other conditions.

Systemic enzymes are also very helpful in the world of sports. Taken prophylactically systemic enzymes help prevent injury and allow longer, harder training. If any injury does occur, systemic enzymes will reduce inflammation by supporting the body's natural healing reactions, rather than interfering with them.

If you take an aspirin a day to help your heart, you may want to think about switching to systemic enzymes. 
Aspirin helps decrease myocardial infarction by preventing the blood from clotting through preventing platelet aggregation. However, long-term use of aspirin can cause stomach or intestinal problems, especially internal bleeding. Systemic enzymes also prevent platelet aggregation, and also have an anti-inflammatory effect like aspirin, but without side effects, even after years of intake.

Systemic enzymes also helped regeneration of cartilage, something nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) don't do. One advantage of NSAID's over systemic enzymes is they will act quickly to help the pain. Systemic enzymes need several days to take effect. So if you do get injured taking NSAID's for a few days will be beneficial and usually will not harm you. However, taking NSAID's long-term can have severe consequences. They allow chronic sub-acute inflammation to continue and they actually inhibit the repair processes of your joints. Use systemic enzymes if you have bruises, hematomas, muscle pulls, strains, sprains or just sore muscles.

How much to take. Because the molecular size of these proteolytic enzymes are so large, only a small amount can be placed into a tablet. Unfortunately this means that one must consume a large number of tablets per day; however, they are relatively small and easy to swallow. Depending on what is being treated, one may need to consume anywhere from 15 to 80 these tablets per day.

In order not to have their effect interfered with, the enzymes should be taken at least one hour before a meal or one and one half hours to two hours after a meal with an 8-ounce glass of water. They should not be taken all at once but rather in three to five divided doses. Studies confirm that they indeed are absorbed and their concentration is highest two to four hours after administration.

With something acute like an injury take 30 to 50 tablets per day during the acute phase, tapering down to 15 to 20 tablets per day. In cancer treatment 70 to 80 tablets per day are advised.

I take five tablets three times per day to help prevent heart disease, cancer, backache, and to boost my immune system.

Contraindications
: Systemic enzymes are virtually side-effect free. Toxicological studies have shown no toxic effect on the user or even on a fetus. The only exceptions are for a person who suffers from a lot of allergies, especially to protein. Such a person may not be able to tolerate the systemic enzymes. This is rare.

If a person is going to have surgery or a lot of blood loss is anticipated, systemic enzyme therapy should be discontinued 24 hours prior to surgery. Also, if a person is on anticoagulant therapy, i.e., heparin, the drug dosage may have to be reduced. Even though there have been no effects on a fetus, if you are pregnant, consult a physician before using these enzymes.

There are so many positive effects upon one's health from the use of systemic enzymes, that it is impossible for me to list them all in one brief article.

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Importance of pH Balance  

www.livestrong.com - Copyright Demand Media, Inc.

... Enzymes require a specific pH level to work efficiently. Increases or decreases in pH denature enzymes, halting important metabolic processes. Proponents of an alkaline diet say a low body pH can increase the risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and arthritis, according to the Wolfe Clinic. High acidity may also cause fatigue, muscle cramping and low energy.

The pH of a substance is a chemical reading of how acidic or basic/alkaline it is. Your body tightly regulates pH levels to maintain overall good health. Different organs, cell types and compartments within cells maintain various pH levels depending on their physiological roles. Exercise, diet and medications may alter your body's pH.

When your body is in an alkaline state, you are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases. The foods and beverages you consume each day have a direct impact on the acid and alkaline balance in your body. This balance is measured by determining your pH value, which tells you if your body's fluids and tissues are more acidic or alkaline. On a pH scale of negative 4.5, which is very acidic, to positive 9.5, which is highly alkaline, your body is considered healthy and alkaline if you have a pH level of 7.0 or above.

Retrieved From - www.naturalnews.com

The balance between acidity and alkalinity in your body is referred to as pH, or potential of hydrogen. Different factors can influence whether your blood has too much or too little acid, including food and the health of your organs to filter carbon dioxide from your body. Achieving pH balance is a complex process that occurs within your body, but you can help regulate it with healthy habits.

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The Importance of Acid-Alkaline Balance 

 

ndnr.com - Copyright Naturopathic Doctor News & Review

Acid/base balance is critical, and our system works constantly to keep this balance. Our physiology has different buffer systems – bicarbonate, phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, the use of amino acids, calcium, etc. – all of which contribute to this balance. Our organ systems contribute to this acid/base balance as well.

This balance is so important that, given an imbalance, our bodies will crave certain foods that are sweet, sour, bitter or salty. The body usually knows what it needs, but only when it has been detoxified and at a normal homeostasis. Otherwise, we can crave those things that are not necessarily healthy, like chocolate, nicotine and alcohol.

If a body becomes too alkaline, it can set up conditions that favor yeast and viruses; if too acidic, bacteria seem to thrive. The immune system is affected either way: It seems if the body is too alkaline it affects T cells in a negative way; if it is too acidic, the B cells are not as effective. Even the enzyme systems are affected by this acid/ base balance…

ndnr.com Copyright Naturopathic Doctor News & Review

Acid-alkaline balance is an important concept in natural medicine that is seeing increasing support in the medical literature. Unfortunately, in my experience, it is commonly misunderstood or ignored by NDs. It is also an area of confusion for patients, rife with hype for various diets, alkalinizing supplements, and expensive water-transforming machines. This is unfortunate because acid-alkaline balance influences our health and is something we have control over through various therapies, including detoxification.
 
Enzymes function optimally within fairly narrow pH ranges. For instance, the pH range is 7.3 to 7.5 for blood, 3.8 to 4.5 for the vagina, and 7.2 to 7.8 for semen. Varying from these ranges contributes to loss of function, tissue integrity, and microorganism resistance.

 
Dr. Tim Arnett wrote in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: “It has been known since the early 20th century that systemic acidosis causes depletion of the skeleton, an effect assumed to result from physio-chemical dissolution of bone mineral.”1 (p511) In other words, acid-alkaline balance is so critical for health that the body will go to extraordinary lengths, such as stealing calcium from bone, to maintain an optimal pH.
 
The effects of an acidic internal environment are seen throughout the body. When one system is stressed, another responds. For example, Dr. Arya M. Sharma noted in his extended abstract “Dietary Factors and Metabolic Acidosis”: “Because of the high acid content of most diets, the kidney is faced with the responsibility of excreting [excess acid].”2 (p1926)
 
Environmental toxins, dietary imbalances, stress, and other factors trigger internal acid rain, which in turn triggers inflammation and results in further acidification. As the body becomes more acidic, enzymes bog down, slowing vital functions, especially communications between cells. With inefficiency comes chaos. The person falls into an acidic downward spiral of increasing inflammation and, if not reversed, overt disease.

Alkalinizing the System - Several options are available for correcting pH balance. These include the following:
 
Detoxification: …A number of population studies have found that literally everyone who is tested has some degree of chemical or metal toxicity. While the specifics of detoxification methods are beyond the scope of this article, pH monitoring offers an inexpensive method to gauge the success of detoxification treatments…

Nutrition: Food choices influence the pH of the body. Eaton and Konner9 and Eaton and Eaton10 traced the acidifying effect as diets changed from the Paleolithic diet to the standard American diet.
 
An ideal diet is composed of a balance of acid and alkaline foods. Quality of food is also a factor influencing pH. Factory farming produces vitamin- and mineral-depleted foods that contribute to the acid pool. Organic foods contain more alkalinizing vitamins and minerals. Processing of foods also removes alkalinizing vitamins and minerals. Our ancient ancestors, who were hunters-gatherers, are believed to have consumed diets higher in alkalinizing nutritional cofactors. According to research by Deanna M. Minnich, PhD, and Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, processing of foods has resulted in a “…net acid load relative to the diets of the ancestral pre-agricultural Homo sapiens.”11 (p 62-65)
 
While nutrition is important for acid-base balancing, it is not the only factor, despite what your patients may read on the Internet. Julie is an example of numerous patients I have seen who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, yet her urine and saliva were quite acidic.

Alkalinizing Supplements: Supplements that rapidly alkalinize the body are useful. I prefer an organic vegetable–based powder as a green drink or as a concentrated alkalinizing mineral powder.
 
Because most patients are not consuming recommended levels of fruits and vegetables—5 to 7 servings daily—I usually ask them to supplement with an organic dehydrated green drink. Juicing is an option for those with the time and resources. If after 1 month I have not seen a significant shift in their urine and saliva, I use a concentrated supplement containing an effervescent combination of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and malic acid in a base of dehydrated vegetables and fruits. This usually reverses the acidification within 1 or 2 weeks, and patients report feeling better.
 
It is important to remember that, when essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium move out of storage, there is more space for toxic metals to move in. Therefore, supplying adequate calcium and magnesium is a form of detoxification.
 
Research by Berardi et al
12 demonstrated an alkaline influence of plant-based supplements. Urine pH levels increased from 6.1 at week 1, 6.2 at week 2, and 6.3 at week 3.

Water Alkalinizing Machines: There are several machines on the market that are advertised to alkalinize water. Some of them are quite expensive, running several hundred dollars. I consider these machines a poor choice for the following two reasons:
 
Most drinking water is not highly acidic in the first place. Changing water from pH 6.5 to 7.5, for instance, will have little or no effect on the alkalinity of your body. Other factors have a far stronger effect, unless you are drinking gallons of water daily, which is not advisable.
 
For the price of several hundred dollars for these machines, your patient could buy a lot of alkalinizing supplements. Better yet, he or she could pay for a consultation with you about other factors affecting an acidic condition.

Reference Source - www.acidalkalinediet.net

If we desire optimum athletic or non-athletic physiological health, power, strength and endurance, we must fully embrace the importance of maintaining a proper "acid alkaline balance" in relation to the acid alkaline theory of eating acid alkaline foods according to proper food combining principles so that we will possess millions of healthy body cells that are full of energy for optimum physiological and biological function of our body.

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Food Combining to Improve Digestion

                             

 

Retrieved From - mercola.com

Improper food combining is one of the primary factors that cause gas, flatulence, heartburn, and upset stomach. What’s worse, poor digestion can also contribute to malnutrition, even if you think you’re eating a decent diet…

…If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can painful gas, heart burn, acid reflux and other stomach problems arise, but your body will also be deprived of critical nutrients.

Food combination takes into account the area and complexity of digestion of each food, to ensure it goes through your entire digestive system with ease. Dr. Pickering explains:

There’s only one food that chemically breaks down in the stomach and that’s protein. Proteins require pepsin, a very highly acidic [enzyme] in conjunction with hydrochloric acid. But the hydrochloric acid doesn’t have the ability to break the food down. It just sets the medium for the concentration of the amount of pepsin that’s poured into the stomach to digest whatever food that’s in there. The intelligence of this human body is phenomenal.”

There are three primary categories of food: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins, again, begin their digestion chemically in your stomach. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: fruits and starches. While fruits pass through your digestive system with relative ease, starches require three levels of breakdown; the very first stage is in your mouth. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully chew starchy foods.

According to the rules of food combination, you do not want to mix proteins and starches in the same meal. This means, no bun with your hamburger, no meatballs if you have pasta, no potatoes with your meat... Why is that? Dr. Pickering explains:

“Starches require an alkaline digestive medium to digest. If you put your fist in your stomach while it’s digesting steaks and all that, chances are, you wouldn’t have a hand anymore. The acid is intense... When you mix them both together – an acid-type of food and an alkaline – basic chemistry shows that they don’t digest. They neutralize. Then what happens? If the food is not digesting... it’s going through your body [undigested], throwing it into all kinds of turmoil.”

The Three Commandments of Food Combination

Dr. Pickering lays out three basic commandments of eating that he recommends you not deviate from:

  1. No proteins and starches at the same meal, as they neutralize each other and prevent proper digestion of either food. To ensure proper digestion of each food, wait two hours after eating a starch before eating protein. And wait three hours after eating protein before eating a starch.

  2. No fruits and vegetables at the same meal. Fruits are either a single or double sugar, whereas the starches are a triple sugar. Fruits mechanically break down in your stomach, but chemically, they don’t break down until they reach the third and fourth stage of your digestive system, which are in your small intestine. Starches, again, are broken down in three different stages, starting in your mouth.

  3. “Eat melon alone, or leave it alone, or your stomach will moan.” In short, melons do not digest well with other foods and will frequently cause problems unless consumed by itself.

According to Dr. Pickering, this is also why it’s crucial to not eat dessert after a meal. When you do, it gets trapped in your stomach with all that other food, where it starts to rot as it’s not being chemically digested there. Therefore, eat fruit 30-60 minutes before dinner. The same applies if you want to eat another piece of fruit. Acidic fruits, such as lemons for example, also do not combine well with starches. Lemon and banana is but one example of a combination that is sure to lead to gastrointestinal upset...

Reference Source - www.ion.ac.uk - Institute for Optimum Nutrition

The New Food Combining - Five Steps to Better Digestion

Protein & Carbohydrate - Foods that fight? Of course, since food isn’t either exclusively carbohydrate practical terms separating protein and carbohydrate means not combining protein foods with starch foods. Meat is 50% protein/0% carbohydrate. Potatoes are 8% protein/90% carbohydrate. In between are beans, lentils, rice, wheat, and quinoa. So where exactly do you draw the line, if a line should be drawn at all?...

  1. Eat 80% alkaline forming foods, 20% acid forming foods. This means eating vast quantities of vegetables and fruit, and less concentrated protein foods like pulses and whole grains, instead of meat, fish, cheese and eggs. 

  2. Eat fast fermenting and acid fruits on their own as snacks. Most soft fruits ferment quickly. These include peaches, plums, mangoes, papayas, strawberries and melons. High acid fruits (although alkaline forming) may also inhibit digestion of carbohydrate. This includes oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and pineapple. These fruits require little digestion, releasing their fructose content quickly. Eat them on their own when you need an energy boost. 

  3. Eat animal protein on its own or with vegetables. Concentrated protein like meat, fish, hard cheese and eggs require large amounts of stomach acid and a long stay in the stomach (around 3 hours) to be digested. So don’t combine fast-releasing or refined carbohydrates or food that ferments with animal protein. 

  4. Avoid all refined carbohydrates. Eat unrefined, fast-releasing carbohydrates with unrefined slow-releasing carbohydrates. Fruits that don’t readily ferment, such as bananas, apples and coconut, can be combined with slow-releasing carbohydrate cereals like oats and millet.

  5. Don’t eat until your body is wide-awake. Don’t digest when your body is asleep. Leave at least an hour between waking and eating. If you exercise in the morning eat after this. Never start your day with a stimulant (tea, coffee, cigarette). The ‘stress’ state inhibits digestion. Eat only carbohydrate based breakfasts such as cereal and fruit, just fruit, or wholegrain rye toast.

www.whfoods.com The George Mateljan Foundation, All Rights Reserved

The term "food combining" can be used in several different ways. Most commonly, it is used to describe the planned consumption of different foods at different times in order to optimize the process of digestion. While it is true that different foods digest in different ways and at different speeds, there's no good research evidence to support the practice of food combining when it is understood in this way. However, many people have found food combining for improved digestion to be essential for their overall health, and many healthcare practitioners continue to support this practice despite the absence of research evidence.

Advocates of food combining also focus upon not including fruit as part of a meal. For example, a common recommendation is to wait at least an hour after consumption of any non-fruit foods before eating a piece of fruit…

There are a number of theories used to support this practice. One is that the fermentation of the fruit might take place at the expense of other digestive events. But once again, I cannot find indexed journal research to support these claims. Separate fruit consumption may be helpful for some individuals, but I also believe that many individuals can comfortably consume reasonable amounts of fruit together with other foods!...

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Tips to Aid Digestion 

www.drfranklipman.com Copyright - Dr. Frank Lipman

…Digestion is one of the most important functions for health. A well functioning digestive system will energize you, help your immune system and generally prevent all sorts of diseases. It will make you feel more vital. Here are 10 simple tips to help with digestion:

  • Chew your food well.

  • Sit down and relax while you eat. Eating in a rush and under stress is not healthy and may lead to digestive problems.

  • Make eating a mindful experience.

  • Eat natural, whole, unrefined, unprocessed, high quality foods.

  • Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are 80% full.

  • Eat organic and preferably local foods whenever possible.

  • Try resting your digestive system for at least 10 hours at night. e.g. if you eat breakfast a 7:00 am, try not to eat anything after 9:00 PM.

  • Try doing an Elimination diet for 1-2 weeks from time to time, where you eliminate all refined sugar, processed foods, alcohol, gluten and dairy. Notice how your digestion usually improves.

  • If possible have something bitter before your meal, it stimulates your body’s own digestive juices and therefore helps digestion, e.g. arugula or dandelion root.

  • Try taking a good probiotic formula.

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The Role of pH Balance

ndnr.com Copyright Naturopathic Doctor News & Review

While not diagnostic, a patient’s pH is an indicator of overall health. Ongoing monitoring of pH is a useful method for evaluating the effectiveness of detoxification and other treatments. You will see the pH return to normal as the patient feels better. If the pH is not correcting, then treatment needs to be modified. Monitoring pH also provides an opportunity for the patient to take part in the management of his or her return to wellness.
 
Correcting an acid pH helps patients feel better. It improves the efficiency of enzyme systems, replaces deficient minerals, and reduces inflammation...
 
As with treating any disease, the most fruitful solution to an acid excess is addressing the underlying causes. Look particularly for toxic conditions, such as occult infections and heavy metals, but do not ignore the liver, digestion, and even stress as sources of acidifying elements. Diet and alkalinizing supplements are also important for reestablishing and maintaining a healthy pH balance.

Retrieved From - www.ihealthnet.org Copyright IHealthNet

Basically every cell functions more efficiently when it is predominantly alkaline. Ideally, the body needs to be around 70% alkaline and 30% acid. However, most people in the West have an average of 80% acid and 20% alkaline. This is also why many people are suffering from acid related conditions such as arthritis.

Once food has been metabolized within the body, it will break down into either an alkaline or acid mineral based residue or ash. The pH (potential Hydrogen) value of a substance plays a very important part in this acid alkaline balance; it also determines whether a substance is either acid or alkaline.

Apart from the foods that you eat, do you know that emotions can also affect the acid alkaline balance? Anger and stress will trigger more acid within the body; on the other hand, good feelings increase the alkaline levels in the body.

Here are some useful tips and remedies that can help you maintain a healthy acid alkaline balance:

  1. Try to control your temper and reduce stress. Too much of these contributes to over-acidic body

  2. Smoking increases the acid in your body as well. If possible, try to smoke less

  3. Breathe in deeply and regularly. Breathing more oxygen into the body helps to re-alkalise the system. More carbon dioxide causes more acid in the tissues

  4. Meditation helps to re-alkalise the body

  5. Consume powered organic formulas that contain spirulina, wheat grass, broccoli, alfalfa, chlorella and green foods daily. These can be purchased from your health shop

  6. The body is very acidic when you first wake up from bed. Including fruits in your breakfast is a good way to re-alkalise the body. Freshly made fruit juices are also ideal for breakfast. Try going to apple or pear juice as they will not over stimulate the production of stomach acid. Carrot or celery juice with some fresh root ginger is also very good for alkalising the body

  7. Sodiphos (sodium phosphate) can help to reduce the build up of lactic acid in the body. Taking 600mg daily for 3 months can help to re-alkalise an over-acidic system

  8. Try to take a multi-mineral formula that contains at least 300 to 500mg of magnesium, 600mg of calcium, 90mg of potassium and 25mg of zinc. You may choose to take them in colloidal form which can be absorbed more easily

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What Should You Eat for Proper pH Levels?

www.livestrong.com - Copyright   Demand Media, Inc.

When you eat and digest food properly, the body's pH remains balanced and slightly alkaline, according to "The pH Miracle…" Changing your diet and consuming foods that balance your pH may improve your overall health.

High-potassium Foods may contribute to bringing your body's pH closer to healthy levels, writes Dr. Theodore Baroody in "Alkalize or Die." Although there is not a lot of scientific research on this subject, anecdotal reports indicate that high-potassium foods affect the pH of the urine and support proper function of the kidneys. Foods with high levels of potassium are lemons, white potatoes, ripe bananas, raisins, apple cider vinegar, pears, cantaloupe, oranges and ripe berries. Include some or all of these foods in your diet every day to raise and help maintain your pH levels.

Eat the highest alkaline foods that you can. Broccoli, baby spinach, lettuce, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, avocados, apples, lemons, limes, celery, cucumbers, dates and figs are all examples. Have your diet consist mainly of these foods.

Foods like parsley and alfalfa sprouts have a high pH making them very alkaline in their raw form. Add them to salads and as garnishes to your meals or make freshly squeeze vegetables juices including these foods. Other highly alkaline foods are all melons, figs, watermelon, most ripe fruits, asparagus, kelp, other seaweeds, watercress, wheatgrass and most herbal teas. It is always better to eat these foods in their raw state to obtain their highest nutritional values, says Baroody.

Reduce your intake of acidic foods. Deep-fried foods, fast food, candy bars, white flour products and processed meats are all high in acidity, and you should start by avoiding them. Dairy products, pasta, fish and whole grains are all acidic as well. Reduce your intake of them, even though they are not necessarily unhealthy.

Baking soda is highly alkaline and can assist in balancing your body's pH, according to Drugs.com. Drink a large 8 oz. glass of water mixed with 1/2 tsp. baking soda several times a day for a quick adjustment in pH levels, suggests Baroody. Baking soda can raise your blood pressure, so if you take medicines for hypertension or have untreated high blood pressure, avoid consuming baking soda unless you are under medical supervision. Baroody recommends not drinking more than a total of 4 tsp. baking soda daily, but to only consume this amount if you are seriously ill. Consult your health practitioner for dosing directions.

Digestive Enzymes according to "The Acid Alkaline Balance," may help balance the body's ph. The body naturally produces enzymes in the pancreas; however, many people's bodies do not produce enough enzymes to fully digest their food, according to University of Michigan Health System. Adding enzymes to your meals should help support your digestion and synthesize your food more efficiently, enabling your body to extract the most nutrients from what you eat. Digestive enzymes are available from pharmacies and health food stores.

Drink pH-balanced beverages. Avoid sweet beverages like soft drinks, processed fruit drinks, sugar-laden teas and lattes. Stick with mineral water, green tea, herbal tea and fresh fruit and vegetable juices. You can also add cucumber or lemon slices to any type of water to make it more alkaline.


Consume greens drinks. Greens powders are made of such ingredients as spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass, beet greens and chlorophyll. Mix up a scoop of greens in a glass of cold water and consume it one to two times a day to help boost your alkalinity.

Monitor your progress with pH testing strips. Rip off a small strip of paper from the roll and apply a urine or saliva sample to it. Once it turns color, match it to the color code on the box to see how alkaline or acidic you are. Test your pH first in the morning or two hours after you eat a meal. Check every couple of days to see how you are doing.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Alkaline diets result in a more alkaline urine pH and may result in reduced calcium in the urine, however, as seen in some recent reports, this may not reflect total calcium balance because of other buffers such as phosphate. There is no substantial evidence that this improves bone health or protects from osteoporosis. However, alkaline diets may result in a number of health benefits as outlined below:

  1. Increased fruits and vegetables in an alkaline diet would improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.
  2. The resultant increase in growth hormone with an alkaline diet may improve many outcomes from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition.
  3. An increase in intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems, is another added benefit of the alkaline diet. Available magnesium, which is required to activate vitamin D, would result in numerous added benefits in the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine systems.
  4. Alkalinity may result in added benefit for some chemotherapeutic agents that require a higher pH.

From the evidence outlined above, it would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that are plaguing our aging population. One of the first considerations in an alkaline diet, which includes more fruits and vegetables, is to know what type of soil they were grown in since this may significantly influence the mineral content. At this time, there are limited scientific studies in this area, and many more studies are indicated in regards to muscle effects, growth hormone, and interaction with vitamin D.

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The pH Miracle Diet

www.livestrong.com - Copyright Demand Media, Inc.

All human health problems begin with acidic blood and body tissues, assert microbiologist Robert O. Young, Ph.D. and his wife Shelley Redford Young, in their 2002 book "The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health." If your diet is 70 to 80 percent alkaline-only foods, the Youngs contend you can resist germs and effectively treat every ailment from allergies to intestinal parasites to yeast infections. While the main pH Miracle diet website claims the Youngs have proven the alkaline diet's success with their own studies, the site does not provide the details or give information about studies on alkaline foods that medical institutions have conducted.

The pH Miracle diet -- is based on the idea that to be healthy, you need to consume primarily alkaline foods. The diet is divided into four steps that its authors say will help you transition from unhealthy eating habits to an alkaline diet that will stimulate weight loss, increased energy and better health. Health professionals contend that while the pH Miracle diet contains some good concepts, it is riddled with advice that scientific evidence does not support.

Guidelines: There are four steps in the pH Miracle diet: transition, cleanse, strictly alkaline and maintenance. During the initial transition phase, you are required to spend 12 weeks gradually phasing out what the Youngs term acidic foods and focusing meals on alkaline foods. In step two, you will spend a week fasting, consuming only the juice of green vegetables and nutritional supplements, some of which are natural laxatives. In step three, you must eat exclusively alkaline foods with an emphasis on raw, green leafy vegetables along with probiotic supplements. The final stage, maintenance, allows 20 percent of your diet to consist of soy protein, fish, whole grains and starchy vegetables while the remainder stays focused on alkaline foods.

Alkaline and Acidic Foods: After digestion, acidic foods produce acidic byproducts that accumulate in the body, making it more difficult for cells to function optimally, according to the Youngs. By contrast, alkaline foods preserve the alkaline pH of blood and tissues. On the pH Miracle diet, acidic foods include all types of meat, fish and seafood; all dairy products; nearly all fruits; fats like saturated fat and margarine; corn, vegetable and sunflower oil; all processed foods; all items containing caffeine or alcohol; and nuts like peanuts, pistachios and cashews.

Alkaline foods include all vegetables; citrus fruits; avocados; all types of bean and legume sprouts; oils like olive, flax, hemp and avocado; lentils; grains like spelt and groats; and beverages like alkalized water, green tea, fresh vegetable juice and almond milk.

Expert Insight: MayoClinic.com advises that there is little scientific evidence to support the cleansing step two of the pH Miracle diet, saying that diets containing detoxification phases similar to this may cause dehydration, nausea, extreme fatigue and dizziness. In addition, researchers have not determined if regularly drinking the alkalized water emphasized in the diet yields any real health benefits. While the addition of probiotic supplements to your diet in step three may help improve your overall health, the pH Miracle diet as a whole does not conform to the standards that medical institutions hold for healthy, sustainable weight loss --- a diet that incorporates moderate amounts of all types of low-fat, low-calorie foods and encourages regular physical activity.

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Acid-Alkaline Food Charts

greenopedia.com

This alkaline food chart lists foods by degree of alkalinity from high to low. You can also find an alkaline food chart by type (fruits, vegetables, etc.) and its accompanying acidic food chart on the same page.

www.acidalkalinediet.net - Acid Alkaline Association

This table includes a listing of 114 commonly consumed foods and their PRAL scores. 
A 
negative PRAL score indicates the food is basic/alkaline. 
A 
positive PRAL score indicates the food is acidic. 
A score of 0 indicates the food is neutral.

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How to Test Your pH    

americannutritionassociation.org - American Nutrition Association

Clive Buirski of Premier Research Labs … has personally tested his urine pH for a number of years. Quick summary of his remarks:

- He recommends M.T. Morter's book, Correlative Urinalysis, for those who want to explore the topic in depth.

- Saliva pH is not indicative of the body's soft tissue mineral reserve, therefore he recommends urine pH only.

- Saliva pH can be strongly influenced by what is most recently consumed and he also said that even if you consume an obviously acidic meal, your saliva pH reading will very often rise. Try it yourself!

- Urine pH timing: just before breakfast and just before evening meal

- Urine stream sample: you may capture any part of the urine stream and you only need a few drops to place on the pH strip

- the true test that you have established a healthy balance in your body: that all your morning and evening samples are in the 6.4 to 7.0 range for three straight months - most find that the evening target range is more difficult to attain

- use pH strips that are in .2 increments and a range of at least 5.5 tp 8.0

- Test Details: collect a small sample of your first morning urine in a clean cup. Check the pH of your urine by dipping a small piece of pH tape into your urine; then immediately match the color of the tape to the pH color chart on the roll. The number corresponding to the color tells you the pH. After you wet the tape, do not wait. Immediately match the color. If you delay for a few minutes, you may get a false reading.

Retrieved From - www.naturalnews.com

You can test your own pH simply and inexpensively. All you need are some pH test strips. Tear off two three-inch strips. As you as you awaken, before you drink or eat anything, put some saliva on the test strip. Compare the color to a pH color chart that comes with the test strips. Next, measure the pH of your second urination of the morning. To do this, urinate on the strip or collect the urine in a plastic or glass (not paper) cup and dip the test strip. Again, compare the color to the pH color chart.

Decker Weiss, N.M.D., of Scottsdale, Arizona, recommends doing the saliva and urine tests for 10 mornings in a row. "Ignore the top three and bottom three tests because they're extremes. Average the remaining four to determine your pH," he says. Weiss aims for a pH of 6.8 to 7 in his heart patients, and 7.2 to 7.4 in his osteoporosis patients. You can retest a few weeks after changing your eating habits.

You can order the test strips from www.alkalineforlife.com or by calling 888.206.7119. One roll, which is good for a few dozen tests, is $13.95.

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The Importance of Intestinal Flora 

metabolichealing.com - Metabolic Healing, Inc.

Any serious health-improvement program should address the function of the gut flora and mucosal barrier. This is magnified exponentially if one has chronic gut issues, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, and behavioral issues.

Because there are so many factors that will impede upon your intestinal flora, maintaining proper digestion, assimilation and intestinal immunity is paramount. All of these factors work together.

The intestinal flora makes up roughly 80% of the total immune defenses of the body. The gut is lined with more than 100 trillion micro-organisms, nearly ten times the amount of cells that make up the human body. There are thought to be between 400-1000 different species of bacteria that are normally found in the gut, and there exist intrinsic relationships and complex communication networks among the bacterial species…

It is extremely common that when the gut is severely compromised, the mucsoal barrier is damaged, and the "tight junctions" that normally exist to keep pathogens at bay, are compromised. If this is the case, there will most likely be a greater degree of inflammation that can manifest at places in the body you wouldn't necessarily suspect (such as the brain).

Often accompanying gut flora imbalances are food intolerances of varying degrees. In fact, food allergies and sensitivities may be amplified when one's gut flora is compromised. For some individuals eliminating gluten, dairy and eggs may be essential. For others, low-oxalate diets may be important. In many instances, it may take years of persistent attention to the gut before long-term results are achieved.

It is the opinion of this author, from firsthand experience, that proper, individualized nutrition is the foundation for restoring the function of the gut mucosal barrier.

www.asbrm.com.au - Australian Society of BioRegulatory Medicine - Copyright 2014 ASBRM

What is also becoming apparent is that pH balance plays a key role in optimizing intestinal micro-flora balance. E-Coli, accounts for 70-90% of the aerobes in the bowel and prefers a neutral pH environment. E-Coli are largely responsible for producing Chorismate a precursor for folic acid, Co-Enzyme Q10, Tryptophon, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine.  Acid environments prompted by cereals, grains and other acid-producing animal proteins affect the bowel pH and therefore increase the production of Amines by bifidobacteria resulting in increased headaches, muscle aches and pains.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the large intestine is a highly specialised organ that rivals the liver in metabolic activity. The intestinal micro-flora in the large bowel plays an important role in health and disease thorough multiple ways such as enabling nutrients to be extracted from food, maintaining colon resistance to pathogens, activation or destruction of genotoxins and mutagens and modulation of immune system function.

Retrieved From - www.naturalnews.com

The digestive tract is loaded with trillions of microorganisms that form a natural ecosystem commonly called the gut flora. Certain lifestyle stressors throw off the natural symbiosis and cause a rise in pathogenic microbes, chronic gut inflammation and damage to the gut lining. Healthy micro flora balance is a key health essential.

The beneficial micro flora digests our food and produce enzymes that metabolize protein into absorbable amino acids. These key enzymes also transport key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream where they are effectively carried to cells that are in need of these nutrient packages.

These beneficial species also help the body produce and metabolize vitamin K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid. Without adequate microflora production, the body will suffer from poor calcium metabolism, neuromuscular function and chronic inflammatory conditions due to deficiencies in these very important nutrients.

Two arms of the gut flora: The gut flora has two major arms. The first arm senses our environment by reading the environmental toxins that are coming into the body. When environmental factors such as dust, chemicals, animal hair and pollen fall on the mucous membranes, the progenic bacteria sense and react to them. The second arm is responsible for immune activation and inflammatory based reactions.

When the first arm is damaged, the second arm begins to become hyperactive which leads to autoimmune reactions. Depending upon the genetic tendencies of the individual, this can result in asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto's or Graves thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, etc.


What Should You Eat for Proper Intestinal Flora 

Retrieved From - www.naturalnews.com


A diet high in fermented veggies and drinks such as coconut water kefir, ginger beer, raw sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi help restore microbial balance. Fermented, raw dairy from 100 percent organic, grass-fed cows and goats is outstanding for gut health. This would include amasai, raw cheese and fermented whey. These are some of the best probiotic carriers and have been used for thousands of years by healthy cultures all over the world.

Here are four foods that offer loads of probiotic power in every bite:

Sauerkraut
is a familiar and simple probiotic food. Quality store bought sauerkraut can be found, but you need to make sure it is raw (unheated) so the probiotic cultures are preserved. However, sauerkraut is also incredibly simple to make at home. Shredded organic cabbage and sea salt is enough to do the trick, but you can also add whey to encourage lacto-fermentation or onions and spices to change the flavor up a bit.

Kefir Water, not to be confused with dairy kefir, this kefir drink requires no dairy or milk at all. It can be made at home very easily, and only needs to culture for 24-48 hours. The result is something like sparkling water or juice, tangy and sweet all at the same time. You start with water kefir grains, organic sugar (to feed the grains) and organic fruit or juice to flavor. Most people will find these drinks enjoyable, and kefir water can be especially useful as a replacement for conventional juices and sodas for adults and children alike.

Kombucha another delectable fermented beverage, kombucha is made by fermented organic black tea with sugar and a scoby (also known as the kombucha mother or mushroom). Kombucha typically takes longer than kefir water to ferment, but the result is a beverage so nutritious it can be called medicinal. Many people rave about the detoxification benefits of drinking kombucha every day. Kombucha can also be purchased at health food stores in a variety of flavors, but of course making it at home is much more economic.

Fermented Soy - There are two sides of the coin when it comes to soy. Fermented soy foods includes miso, tempeh and fermented soy sauce. Processed soy products, soybean oil, and any soy that has not been fermented are not healthful and may actually cause damage to your thyroid, digestion and hormone levels. However, on the flip side, fermented soy in moderate amounts can actually be quite healthy, providing protein, vitamins and minerals in addition to natural probiotics.

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Probiotics In Colon Treatment

 

www.usprobiotics.org -   CDRF

Scientists are learning more each day about the role of microbes in keeping people healthy and the multitude of health benefits associated with consuming the right type and levels of probiotic microbes. Research has suggested that probiotic bacteria can:

Some preliminary studies also report that certain probiotics can play a role in reducing the development of allergy in children, decreasing Helicobacter pylori colonization of the stomach, helping patients cope with side effects of antibiotic therapy, managing relapse of some inflammatory bowel conditions, decreasing the risk of certain cancers, decreasing dental-caries-causing microbes in the mouth, and keeping healthy people healthy.

How Probiotics Work: Microbes have been found to play an important role in human health. Most of these bacteria are not harmful, and in fact contribute positively to normal human growth and development. But some of these bacteria can have negative influences. It is therefore important that the balance of microbes be maintained to favor the beneficial bacteria over the potentially harmful ones.

To understand how probiotics work, it is important to understand a little about the microbiology and physiology of the human gastrointestinal tract ref.

Human beings, like all animals, play host to many types and high numbers of microbes on our skin, in our mouths, in women’s vaginal tracts, and all the way through our gastrointestinal tract. In fact, it has been estimated that there are more microbes associated with the human body (about 1014, or 100,000,000,000,000 bacterial cells) than there are human cells in it (about 1013). In addition to this very large number of bacteria, a diverse variety of types of bacteria. It has been estimated that more than 1000 different species, or types, of bacteria make their homes on humans ref

More importantly than the numbers and types of microbes that colonize our bodies is that they interact dynamically with each other and with our human cells. These colonizing microbes have been shown to have important roles in digestion, metabolism, vitamin synthesis, host cell development, immune system function, intestinal barrier function, defense against pathogens, and other activities that are critical to human health. The importance of this colonization to human health and development is reflected in the concept that humans are in effect “super organisms”, composed of their own human genome and the combined microbes that colonize them. 

Taking this into consideration, it is not surprising that probiotics – by directly or indirectly influencing the populations or activities of our colonizing microbes – can impact human health.

Microbe Role in GI Tract: The microbes present in the gastrointestinal tract have the potential to act in a positive, negative or neutral manner. Due to unfavorable conditions, microbes are not very prevalent in the stomach or upper small intestine. However, toward the lower small intestine, they begin to attain higher populations (106-108/gram of small intestinal contents) and in the colon they constitute about 1011-1012/gram of colon contents (a very large number).

Considering the high number of microbes in the intestinal tract, what are their effects? It is known that microbes in the large intestine complete the digestion process on any food components that were not digested in the small intestine, such as lactose in lactose intolerant people or fibers resistant to the enzymes they encounter in the small intestine. There is evidence of non-digestive microbial activities as well. Certain intestinal microbes are known to produce vitamins.

Also, in studies done with special microbe-free laboratory animals, evidence is strong that without normal microbial populations, the immune system functions poorly, and resistance to pathogenic bacteria is greatly reduced. Other evidence suggests that intestinal microbes might act on pre-carcinogenic or mutagenic (capable of inducing genetic mutation) compounds. Depending on the specific microbe, mutagenic or carcinogenic activity can be either increased or decreased.

Disrupted microbiota (dysbiosis) associated with intestinal and systemic conditions has been identified in obesity, metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),  inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, atherosclerosis, type 1 diabetes, autism, allergy, asthma and celiac disease ref, refrefref...

It is apparent that there are advantages in skewing the balance of bacteria toward beneficial ones. Both lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are normal inhabitants of the healthy intestine. Although they are not the dominant genera in either the small or large intestine of adults (bifidobacteria are generally the dominant flora of breast-fed infants), they are non-pathogenic and their presence is correlated with a healthy intestinal flora. The metabolic end products of their growth are organic acids (lactic and acetic acids) that tend to lower the pH of the intestinal contents, creating conditions less desirable for harmful bacteria.

The gastrointestinal tract also serves to bridge the gap between "inside the body" and "outside the body". Along this interface, microbes and foreign antigens colonizing or passing through the GI tract interact with important components of the immune system. This interaction serves to prime or stimulate the immune system for optimal functioning. Normal microbial inhabitants of the GI tract also reinforce the barrier function of the intestinal lining, decreasing passage of bacteria or antigens from the intestine into the blood stream. This function has been suggested to decrease infections and possibly allergic reactions to food antigens.

Brain function: It may seem hard to believe, but evidence is emerging that the gut microbes can impact brain function. If we consider that the gut is known as our “second brain,” then perhaps this concept does not seem so far-fetched. ref The communication between the gut and the brain is bi-directional: the brain controls GI tract function (stress and emotions), but less obvious is that the gut can control pain and emotion. Of particular interest in the discussion of probiotics, is that gut microbes, and probiotics, have been shown to mediate some of this “bottom-up” communication.

Choosing a Probiotic: The potential benefits of probiotic cultures seem vast. The applications range from helping to treat acute intestinal infections to aiding in the digestion of lactose and contributing, over the longer term, to improved health and possibly reduced risk of disease.

What should be considered when choosing a probiotic? ... documentation of type of bacteria (genus, species and strain), potency (number of viable bacteria per dose), purity (presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria), and the extent of research that has been published on health effects, must be provided for any strain being used in a product. Usually the culture or product manufacturer can provide this information.

Reference Source - www.bastyrcenter.org - Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Probiotics Prevent Chronic Intestinal Infection: Chronic or recurrent intestinal infection in people who have had their colons surgically removed can be prevented with the use of a probiotic supplement, according to a study published in Gut (2004;53:108–17).

The makeup of microorganisms in the colon has a profound impact on overall health. Inflammation, the presence of nonhealthful or disease-causing microorganisms, or the use of antibiotics can disrupt colonies of healthful bacteria normally in the colon. Probiotics are supplements of beneficial bacteria that have been proven to effectively restore normal bacterial colonies, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms and increasing immune function. It has been suggested that probiotics might prevent as many as 50% of infections resulting from antibiotic therapy.  

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Medical conditions that have been reportedly treated or have the potential to be treated with probiotics include diarrhea, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), cancer, depressed immune function, inadequate lactase digestion, infant allergies, failure-to-thrive, hyperlipidemia, hepatic diseases, Helicobacter pylori infections, genitourinary tract infections, and others. The use of probiotics should be further investigated for possible benefits and side-effects in patients affected by these medical conditions.

Link to Probiotic Immune Therapy for additional information

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Colon Cleansing

www.webmd.com - WebMD, LLC

The practice of natural colon cleansing dates back to ancient Greece. In the U.S., cleansing the colon -- the large intestine -- became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. But when the theories behind it lost support, it fell out of favor. Recently, though, colon cleansing -- using, for example, teas, enzymes, or colon irrigation -- has experienced resurgence.

Is colon cleansing good for you? The jury is still out. That is because researchers have devoted little study to colon cleansing. For now, here is some information that might help you decide whether colon cleansing is for you.

What is natural colon cleansing? There are two main colon-cleansing methods. One involves buying products; the other involves seeing a practitioner to have a colon irrigation.

Colon cleansing with powdered or liquid supplements. You take some supplements used for colon cleansing by mouth. Others you take through the rectum. Either way, the idea is to help the colon to expel its contents. You can find these products on the Internet or in health food stores, supermarkets, or pharmacies. They include:

  • Enemas

  • Laxatives-both stimulant and non stimulant types

  • Herbal teas

  • Enzymes

  • Magnesium 

Link to Controversial Practices for colonic irrigation ...

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Defining Constipation

www.worldgastroenterology.org - Guidelines - Constipation. PDF World Gastroenterology Organisation, 2007

There are many different causes of constipation, and mostly they are poorly understoodSome patients do not have a clearly identifiable cause; they are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or idiopathic chronic constipation (including STC and pelvic floor dysfunction). As there is no gold standard, self-reported symptoms are necessary, but unreliable. There is no agreement; for example, on what constitutes a BM. Work is continuing to establish a definition of BM on the basis of scales of stool form, as a useful guide to intestinal transit time.

Older people are five times more likely than younger adults to develop constipation. Mostly this is due to diet factors, lack of exercise, use of medication, and poor bowel habits.

Constipation can also be imagined, and symptom perception varies.

The patient’s view. Different patients have different perceptions of symptoms. Some patients regard constipation as straining (52%), while for others, it means hard, pellet-like stools (44%) or an inability to defecate when desired (34%), or infrequent defecation (33%).  

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Constipation is a condition in which a person has fewer than three bowel movements a week or has bowel movements with stools that are hard, dry, and small, making them painful or difficult to pass. People may feel bloated or have pain in their abdomen—the area between the chest and hips. Some people think they are constipated if they do not have a bowel movement every day. Bowel movements may occur three times a day or three times a week, depending on the person.

Most people get constipated at some point in their lives. Constipation can be acute, which means sudden and lasting a short time, or chronic, which means lasting a long time, even years. Most constipation is acute and not dangerous. Understanding the causes, prevention, and treatment of constipation can help many people take steps to find relief.

www.gastro.org American Gastroenterological Association.

The frequency of bowel movements among healthy people varies greatly, ranging from three movements a day to three a week. Generally, stools should be passed without excess effort, straining or discomfort with passage. Constipation is the infrequent and/or difficult passage of stool. Because the function of the large intestine or colon is to absorb water, delayed transit through the colon leads to constipation with hardening of the stools and infrequent bowel movements.

As a rule, if more than three days pass without a bowel movement, the intestinal contents may harden to the point that the person may have difficulty or even pain during elimination. Straining during bowel movements or the feeling of incomplete evacuation may also be reported as constipation. However, the presence of these symptoms with normal frequency of stool passage may require further physiological testing for related conditions of pelvic floor dysfunction. This is a type of constipation where the muscles in the rectal area don’t properly relax and they may hold back stool or lead to difficult passage.

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Constipation Basics 

www.gastro.org American Gastroenterological Association.

Constipation has different definitions, and individuals define it based on family and cultural influence and personal experience.

  • The frequency of bowel movements among healthy people varies from three movements a day to three a week.

  • Patients usually report constipation when there are changes to harder stool consistency, the presence of pellets, straining or feelings of incomplete evacuation, infrequent bowel movements and a sensation of “want to but can’t.”

  • Individuals must determine what is normal for them.

  • As a rule, constipation should be suspected if more than three days pass between bowel movements or if there is difficulty or pain when passing a hardened stool.

  • Constipation is usually a variation of the functioning of colonic muscles, so movement of stools is slower than usual or the muscles contract to hold back stool. It is not a disease and usually can be treated medically.

  • Your doctor will determine when diagnostic studies are needed to identify medical causes of constipation or physiologic testing is needed to evaluate the type and degree of constipation.

  • Most people experience occasional short bouts of constipation. If a laxative is necessary for longer than three weeks, check with a doctor.

  • Prevention is the best approach to constipation. While there is no way to ensure never experiencing constipation, the following guidelines should help:

  • Know what is normal for you and do not rely unnecessarily on laxatives.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes unprocessed bran, whole wheat grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Set aside time after breakfast or dinner for undisturbed visits to the toilet.

  • Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

  • Whenever there is a significant or prolonged change in bowel habits, check with a doctor

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What are Some of the Causes of Constipation?

www.gastro.org American Gastroenterological Association.

In most cases, constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Like a fever, constipation can be caused by many different conditions. Most people have experienced an occasional episode of constipation that has corrected itself over time and with proper diet. The following is a list of some of the most common causes of constipation:

Poor Diet. A main cause of constipation may be a diet high in animal fats (meats, dairy products, eggs) and refined sugar (rich desserts and other sweets), but low in fiber (vegetables, fruits, whole grains), especially insoluble dietary fiber, which helps move bulk through the intestines and promote bowel movements. Some studies have suggested that high fiber diets result in larger stools, more frequent bowel movements and, therefore, less constipation.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Also known as IBS with constipation or IBS-C, it is one of the most common causes of constipation in the U.S. Some people develop spasms of the colon that delay the speed with which the contents of the intestine move through the digestive tract, leading to constipation. IBS-C differs from usual constipation because it is associated with abdominal pain.

Poor Bowel Habits. A person can initiate a cycle of constipation by ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement. Some people do this to avoid using public toilets, others because they are too busy. After a period of time, a person may stop feeling the urge. This leads to progressive constipation. Children may also suppress the urge during toilet training or when going to unfamiliar rest rooms, as in school, and this can progress to constipation later in life (see below). Studies show that suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement may slow down the transit through the colon or lead to incomplete relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, thus holding back stool.

“Pseudo-Constipation.” The false belief that one is constipated is very common and results from misunderstandings about what is normal and what is not. If recognized early enough, this type of constipation can be cured by the patient’s physician explaining that the frequency of his or her bowel movements is normal. One example is when a person has a bowel movement less frequently than once a day. While this is still normal, it is believed to be abnormal. Another example is when an individual feels abdominal discomfort and tries to have a bowel movement but can’t, however the stool has not yet reached the rectum to be properly eliminated.

Travel. People often experience constipation when traveling long distances, which may relate to changes in lifestyle, schedule, diet and drinking water, or some evacuation difficulties when using other toilets.

Pregnancy. Pregnancy is another common cause of constipation, which may be partly due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Fissures and Hemorrhoids. Painful conditions of the anus can produce a spasm of the anal sphincter muscle, which can delay a bowel movement. 

Medications. Many medications can cause constipation. These include pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum or calcium, antispasmodic drugs, antidepressant drugs, tranquilizers, iron supplements, anticonvulsants for epilepsy, antiparkinson drugs and calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure and heart conditions.

Colonic Motility Disorders. The peristaltic activity of the intestine may be ineffective, resulting in colonic inertia or outlet obstruction.

Colonic Inertia. With this condition, the transit through the large intestine is very slow, leading to buildup of stool in the large intestine and even enlargement of the colon. Individuals with this condition may not have a bowel movement for weeks at a time. Treatment involves vigorous oral flushes of fluid (see below) or sometimes surgery. This is a relatively rare cause of constipation.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Some individuals may develop spasms or an inability to properly evacuate the stool. This can be due to structural changes, such as a tumor, that will require specific treatment. It may also be a functional problem where the muscles in the pelvic floor (levator muscles) don’t properly relax to allow easy passage. This is treated by biofeedback of these muscles.

Some less common causes include:

Laxative Abuse. People who habitually take large dosages of stimulant laxatives become dependent upon them and may require increasing dosages until, finally, the intestine becomes insensitive and fails to work properly. 

Hormonal Disturbances. Certain hormonal disturbances, such as an underactive thyroid gland, can produce constipation.

Specific Diseases. Many diseases that affect the body tissues, such as scleroderma or lupus, and certain neurological or muscular diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke, can be responsible for constipation.

Loss of Body Salts. The loss of body salts through the kidneys or through vomiting or diarrhea is another cause of constipation. 

Mechanical Compression. Scarring, inflammation around diverticula (pouches in the intestine), tumors and cancer can produce mechanical compression of the intestine and result in constipation.

Nerve Damage. Injuries to the spinal cord and tumors pressing on the spinal cord can produce constipation by affecting the nerves that lead to the intestine.

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

What causes constipation? To understand constipation, it helps to know how the colon, or large intestine, works. As food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water from the food while it forms waste products, or stool. Muscle contractions in the colon then push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum it is solid, because most of the water has been absorbed.

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon's muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are:

  • not enough fiber in the diet

  • lack of physical activity (especially in the elderly)

  • medications

  • milk

  • irritable bowel syndrome

  • changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, aging, and travel

  • abuse of laxatives

  • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement

  • dehydration

  • specific diseases or conditions, such as stroke (most common)

  • problems with the colon and rectum

  • problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)

 

Not Enough Fiber in the Diet: People who eat a high-fiber diet are less likely to become constipated. The most common causes of constipation are a diet low in fiber or a diet high in fats, such as cheese, eggs, and meats.

Fiber—both soluble and insoluble—is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.

Americans eat an average of 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily,* which is short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults often eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed.

A low-fiber diet also plays a key role in constipation among older adults, who may lose interest in eating and choose foods that are quick to make or buy, such as fast foods, or prepared foods, both of which are usually low in fiber. Also, difficulties with chewing or swallowing may cause older people to eat soft foods that are processed and low in fiber.

Not Enough Liquids: Research shows that although increased fluid intake does not necessarily help relieve constipation, many people report some relief from their constipation if they drink fluids such as water and juice and avoid dehydration. Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should try to drink liquids every day. However, liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and cola drinks will worsen one's symptoms by causing dehydration. Alcohol is another beverage that causes dehydration. It is important to drink fluids that hydrate the body, especially when consuming caffeine containing drinks or alcoholic beverages.

Lack of Physical Activity: A lack of physical activity can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise. Lack of physical activity is thought to be one of the reasons constipation is common in older people.

Ignoring the Urge to Have a Bowel Movement: People who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement may eventually stop feeling the need to have one, which can lead to constipation. Some people delay having a bowel movement because they do not want to use toilets outside the home. Others ignore the urge because of emotional stress or because they are too busy. Children may postpone having a bowel movement because of stressful toilet training or because they do not want to interrupt their play. Specific Diseases:

GI Tract Problems: Some problems in the GI tract can compress or narrow the colon and rectum, causing constipation. These problems include:

  • adhesions—bands of tissue that can connect the loops of the intestines to each other, which may block food or stool from moving through the GI tract

  • diverticulosis—a condition that occurs when small pouches, or sacs, form and push outward through weak spots in the colon wall; the pouches are called diverticula

  • colon polyps—growths on the surface of the colon that can be raised or flat

  • tumors—abnormal masses of tissue that result when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should

  • celiac disease—an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine and prevents absorption of nutrients

Functional GI disorders are problems caused by changes in how the GI tract works. People with a functional GI disorder have frequent symptoms; however, the GI tract does not become damaged. Functional constipation often results from problems with muscle activity in the colon or anus that delay stool movement.

Functional constipation is diagnosed in people who have had symptoms for at least 6 months and meet the following criteria for the last 3 months before diagnosis:3

  • Two or more of the following symptoms:

straining to have a bowel movement at least 25 percent of the time

having lumpy or hard stools at least 25 percent of the time

feeling as though stool is still in the rectum after a bowel movement at least 25 percent of the time

feeling as though something is blocking stool from passing at least 25 percent of the time

using their fingers to help with stool passage at least 25 percent of the time

having fewer than three bowel movements per week

  • Rarely passing loose stools without the use of laxatives

  • Not having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a functional GI disorder with symptoms that include abdominal pain or discomfort, often reported as cramping, along with diarrhea, constipation, or both. Read more in Irritable Bowel Syndrome at www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov.

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Diagnosing Constipation

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

To diagnose the cause of constipation, the health care provider will take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and order specific tests. The tests ordered depend on how long the person has been constipated; how severe the constipation is; the person’s age; and whether the person has had blood in stools, recent changes in bowel habits, or weight loss. Most people with constipation do not need extensive testing and can be treated with changes in diet and exercise.

Medical History. The health care provider may ask questions about the person’s constipation, including how long symptoms have been present, frequency of bowel movements, consistency of stools, and presence of blood in the stool. The health care provider may ask questions about the person’s eating habits, medication, and level of physical activity. A record of this information can be prepared before the visit to help the health care provider make a diagnosis.

Physical Exam. A physical exam should include a rectal exam with a gloved, lubricated finger to evaluate the tone of the muscle that closes off the anus—called the anal sphincter—and to detect tenderness, obstruction, or blood. The health care provider may perform a test for blood in the stool by placing a small sample of the person’s stool on a paper card and adding a drop or two of testing solution. A color change is a sign of blood in the stool.

Diagnostic Tests. Additional testing is usually reserved for older adults and people with severe symptoms, sudden changes in the number and consistency of bowel movements, or blood in the stool. Additional tests that may be used to evaluate constipation include.

  • blood test

  • lower GI series

  • flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy

  • colorectal transit studies

  • anorectal function tests

  • defecography

Blood test. A blood test involves drawing blood at a health care provider’s office or a commercial facility and sending it to a lab for analysis. The blood test can show if there may be an underlying disease or condition causing constipation. For example, low levels of thyroid hormone may indicate hypothyroidism.

Lower GI series. A lower GI series is an x-ray exam that is used to look at the large intestine. The health care provider may give the person written bowel prep instructions to follow at home… For the test, the person will lie on a table while the radiologist inserts a flexible tube into the person’s anus. The large intestine is filled with barium, a chalky liquid, making signs of problems that may be causing constipation show up more clearly on x rays.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. The tests are similar, but a colonoscopy is used to view the rectum and entire colon, while a flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to view just the rectum and lower colon In most cases, light anesthesia, and possibly pain medication, is used during a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. For either test, the person will lie on a table while the gastroenterologist inserts a flexible tube into the anus. A small camera on the tube sends a video image of the intestinal lining to a computer screen. The test can show signs of problems in the lower GI tract.

The gastroenterologist may also perform a biopsy, a procedure that involves taking a small piece of intestinal lining tissue for examination with a microscope. The person will not feel the biopsy. A pathologist—a doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases—examines the tissue in a lab.

Colorectal transit studies. These tests show how well food moves through the colon.

  • Radiopaque markers. With this technique, the person swallows capsules containing small markers that are visible on an x ray. The markers move through the GI tract just as food and waste do and are passed naturally with stool. During the course of this test, the person eats a high-fiber diet to help stool move through the GI tract. Three to 7 days after the person swallows the capsules, abdominal x rays, taken several times, monitor the movement of the markers through the colon. An x-ray technician takes the x rays in a hospital radiology department or health care provider’s office, and a radiologist interprets the x rays.

  • Scintigraphy. This type of nuclear medicine study relies on the detection of small amounts of radiation after a person eats a meal containing radioactive chemicals. The dose of the radioactive chemicals is small; therefore, scintigraphy is not likely to cause damage to cells. Special external cameras and computers are used to create images of the radioactive chemicals as they move through the intestine. To prepare for the test, the person may need to stop taking some medications and should not eat any food after midnight the night before the test. Scintigraphy is done as an outpatient procedure by a specially trained technician, and a radiologist interprets the results.

Anorectal function tests. These tests diagnose constipation caused by anorectal dysfunction, which refers to problems with the anus and rectum. To prepare for these tests, the person should use an enema and not eat anything 2 hours prior to the test. Anesthesia is not needed for these tests.

  • Anal manometry uses pressure sensors and a balloon that can be inflated in the rectum to check the sensitivity and function of the rectum. Anal manometry also checks the tightness of the anal sphincter muscles around the anus. For this test, a thin tube with a balloon on its tip and pressure sensors below the balloon is inserted into the anus until the balloon is in the rectum and pressure sensors are inside the anus. The tube is slowly pulled back through the sphincter muscle to measure muscle tone and contractions. The test takes about 30 minutes.

  • Balloon expulsion tests consist of filling a balloon with varying amounts of water after it has been inserted into the rectum. The person is given a stopwatch and instructed to go to the restroom and measure the amount of time it takes to expel the balloon. If the person cannot expel a balloon filled with less than 150 milliliters of water or it takes longer than 1 minute to expel the balloon, the person may have a decrease in function for evacuation of stool.

Defecography. 
This x ray of the anorectal area shows how well the person can hold and evacuate stool. The test also identifies structural changes in the rectum and anus, such as rectocele and rectal prolapse. Rectocele is a condition in which the rectum protrudes through the vagina, and rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum drops down through the anus…

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What Are the Complications of Constipation?

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Sometimes constipation can lead to complications, such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.

Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum that can be caused by straining to have a bowel movement. People with hemorrhoids may have rectal bleeding that appears bright red on the surface of stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet after a bowel movement. Treatment for hemorrhoids may include making dietary changes to prevent constipation, taking warm tub baths, and applying special cream to the affected area or using suppositories before bedtime. Hemorrhoids that do not respond to at-home treatments can be treated by a health care provider. Read more in Hemorrhoids at www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov.

Anal fissures are small tears in the anus that may cause itching, pain, or bleeding. Treatment for anal fissures may include making dietary changes to prevent constipation, applying cream to numb the area or relax the muscles, using stool softeners, or taking warm tub baths. Anal fissures that do not respond to at-home treatment can be treated with minor surgery.

Rectal prolapse can be caused by straining during bowel movements. The condition may lead to mucus leaking from the anus. Eliminating the cause of the prolapse, such as straining or coughing, is usually the only treatment needed. Severe or chronic prolapse requires surgery to strengthen and tighten the anal sphincter muscle or to repair the prolapsed lining.

Fecal impaction occurs when hard stool packs the intestine and rectum so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon is not enough to expel the stool. This condition occurs most often in children and older adults. An impaction can be softened with mineral oil taken by mouth or through an enema. After softening the impaction, the health care provider may break up and remove part of the hardened stool by inserting one or two fingers into the anus.

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Treatment Approaches for Constipation 

digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Treatment for constipation depends on the cause, severity, and duration of the constipation and may include one or more of the following:

  • changes in eating, diet, and nutrition

  • exercise and lifestyle changes

  • medication

  • surgery

  • biofeedback

First-line treatments for constipation include changes in eating, diet, and nutrition; exercise and lifestyle changes; and laxatives. People who do not respond to these first-line treatments should talk with their health care provider about other treatments.

Eating, Diet, and Nutrition

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day for adults. Americans consume only 15 grams a day on average.4 People often eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed. A health care provider can help plan a diet with the appropriate amount of fiber. A list of high-fiber foods is shown below. People prone to constipation should limit foods that have little or no fiber, such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods.

Exercise and Lifestyle Changes

Engaging in daily exercise can help people with constipation. Another strategy is to try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day. The best time is 15 to 45 minutes after breakfast because eating helps stimulate the colon. People with constipation should reserve enough time to have a bowel movement and be sure not to ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

www.worldgastroenterology.org World Gastroenterology Organisation

Laxatives

Treatment of constipation is symptomatic. Available studies have concentrated on therapies with fiber and different laxatives. Whilst therapy with fiber and with laxatives has some benefit in improving the quantity and quality of BMs, there is no clear evidence regarding which laxative is superior.

Treatment should be graded and should start with lifestyle and diet changes (Fig. 1). Any medication that can cause constipation should be stopped if possible. Further steps include the use of bulk-forming agents, osmotic laxatives, and possibly pelvic floor physiotherapy. If these fail, a next step can be the use of contact laxatives, enemas, and prokinetics (a type of drug which enhances gastrointestinal motility by increasing the frequency of contractions in the small intestine or making them stronger, but without disrupting their rhythm). 

Evidence for the efficacy of current treatment options is limited. Bulking agents are not always effective and can even cause fecal impaction. Stool softeners are often effective. The safety of one group of stimulant laxatives—anthraquinones such as senna, aloes, and dantron—is still controversial.

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How Do Laxatives Work 

familydoctor.org - Copyright American Academy of Family Physicians

Bulk-forming laxatives add bulk and water to your stools. The larger stools help trigger the bowel to contract and move the stools out. You must use bulk-forming laxatives daily for them to work. Start slowly and drink plenty of fluids. Gradually increase how much you use to reduce the chance of having any side effects.

Lubricant laxatives work by coating the surface of the stools. This helps the stools hold in water so they move out of the body more easily. Glycerin suppositories lubricate the inside of the anus (the outside opening to the intestine) to make it easier to pass hard stools.

Stool softeners help mix fluid into stools to soften them. This makes stools easier to pass out of the body.

Saline laxatives draw fluid into the bowel from nearby tissue. This softens stools and helps the bowel move them out.

Stimulant laxatives are the harshest laxatives. They cause the bowel to squeeze or contract to move the stools out. Stimulant laxatives should generally be used only when your doctor recommends them, such as if you’re preparing for a bowel exam or if you’ve just had surgery and shouldn’t strain to have a bowel movement.

Types of Laxatives by Classification & Generic Name Brand Name(s)

Bulk-forming and Fiber Laxatives

  • Methylcellulose Citrucel
  • Polycarbophil FiberCon
  • Psyllium Metamucil

Stimulant laxatives

  • Bisacodyl ExLax Ultra, Dulcolax Bowel

  • Prep Kit, Gentlax

  • Sodium bicarbonate and potassium

  • Bitartrate

  • Ceo-Two Evacuant

  • Sennosides ExLax Laxative Pills

  • Senna Senokot

  • Castor oil Purge  

Osmotic laxatives - Saline

  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • (Milk of magnesia)
  • ExLax Milk of Magnesia
  • Stimulant Free Liquid
  • Laxative/Antacid, Phillips’
  • Chewable Tablets, Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia

Stool Softeners

  • Docusate sodium Colace, Dulcolax Stool Softener,
  • Phillips’ Liqui-Gels

Lubricating

  • Glycerin Glycerin suppository (generic)
  • Mineral oil  (generic)
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • (milk of magnesia) and
  • Phillips’ MO

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Laxatives – Types 

www.worldgastroenterology.org - pdf   World Gastroenterology Organisation

World Gastroenterology Organisation Practice Guidelines: Contrary to commonly held opinion; long-term laxative use does not pose any risks and does not lead to a “lazier bowel.”

Fiber and laxatives:  Fiber and bulk laxatives decrease abdominal pain and improve stool consistency. Data on non-bulk laxatives are less conclusive, although cisapride, lactulose, and lactitol improved consistency. There is too little evidence to determine whether fiber is superior to laxatives, or which class of laxative is superior…

Bulk-forming laxatives:  Only to be used if an increase in dietary fiber does not work. They act by causing retention of fluid and an increase in fecal mass. Flatulence and distension may occur, but long-term use is safe. Adequate fluid intake is essential.

Stimulant laxatives:  These act by directly stimulating the colonic nerves. The effect is usually within 8–12 hours; suppositories are faster, at 20–60 minutes. Routine use of danthron is discouraged due to its potential carcinogenicity.

Osmotic laxatives: These act by retaining fluid in the bowel by osmosis, changing the water distribution in the feces. This means that a good fluid intake is important.  

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Laxatives – Warnings & Cautions 

www.peacehealth.org - Healthwise, Incorporated

Are there precautions for taking laxatives? Take any laxative or bulking agent with plenty of water or other liquids.

Do not take stimulant laxatives regularly. Overuse of stimulant laxatives decreases tone and sensation in the large intestine and may cause laxative dependence. If you need help staying regular, use a bulking agent, such as bran or psyllium (for example, Metamucil).

Do not use osmotic laxatives if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease or are on a sodium-restricted diet.

Regular use of stimulant laxatives—such as Correctol, Dulcolax, Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint, or Senokot—may interfere with your body's absorption of vitamin D and calcium. This can cause weakening of your bones (osteopenia).  

familydoctor.org - Copyright American Academy of Family Physicians

If mineral oil is accidentally aspirated (breathed into the lungs), it can cause a type of pneumonia. Older adults or anyone who might have trouble swallowing generally shouldn’t use this type of laxative.

Choking Warning:  Bulk-forming laxative pills must be taken with enough water to prevent choking. These pills can get caught in your throat or esophagus and swell. If you have problems swallowing, opt for a liquid version of bulk-forming laxative (powder or granules dissolved in water or another drink) instead. Follow the label directions carefully. If you have any chest pain, vomiting, or problems breathing or swallowing after taking the product, get medical help right away.

Who shouldn’t take laxatives?

Don’t take laxatives if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients. Some people may be allergic to psyllium, a key ingredient in one type of bulk-forming laxative.

Phenylalanine is another example of an ingredient that can cause a problem for certain people. If you have a condition called phenylketonuria, you shouldn’t take a laxative that contains phenylalanine.

Other ingredient-related warnings concern your diet while you’re taking a laxative. Unless your doctor tells you it’s OK,
don’t use products that contain sodium bicarbonate and potassium bitartrate if you’re on a low-salt diet. Don’t take magnesium hydroxide if you’re following a magnesium-restricted diet.

Look on the label in the “Active Ingredient” and “Inactive Ingredient” sections to find out what ingredients each product contains. If you have any questions, talk to your family doctor or pharmacist.

Could laxatives cause problems with any medicines or supplements I take?

Yes. Laxatives can get in the way of how your body absorbs certain medicines and some nutrients.

In general, don’t take any other medicines within 2 hours of taking a laxative. If you’re taking a prescription medicine of any kind, talk to your doctor before taking a laxative. You also shouldn’t mix different types of laxatives.

Don’t take bisacodyl within 1 hour of taking antacids or drinking milk.

While mineral oil and castor oil may have their place as laxatives, they shouldn’t be used often. If mineral oil is used often, it can cause deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E and K. Castor oil can also lead to serious problems if it’s used regularly.

Should I call my doctor for any other reasons?

If you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor before using a laxative:

  • Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Kidney disease
  • A sudden change in your bowel habits that has gone on for 2 weeks

Stop taking laxatives and call your doctor if you have any bleeding from your rectum (the last part of the large intestine) or if you don’t have a bowel movement after using a laxative. These could be signs of a more serious problem.

What are some common side effects of laxatives?

Most laxatives don’t have side effects if you use them correctly. Sometimes they can cause cramping, gas, bloating, nausea or diarrhea.

Stimulant laxatives are most likely to cause side effects. These can include abdominal discomfort, faintness and cramps.

With bulk-forming laxatives, you may notice some bloating, gas or cramping at first. This is more likely if you take too much or increase the amount you’re using too quickly. These symptoms should go away in a few weeks or less.

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus

Stool softeners (such as those containing docusate sodium) may help. Additionally, bulk laxatives such as psyllium may help add fluid and bulk to the stool. Suppositories or gentle laxatives, such as milk of magnesia liquid, may establish regular bowel movements.

Enemas or laxatives should be reserved for severe cases only. These methods should be used only if fiber, fluids, and stool softeners do not provide enough relief.  

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Risks of Laxative Use

www.mayoclinic.com   Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. - Reports,

Complicating conditions: Just because laxatives are available without a prescription doesn't mean that they're without risk. Laxative use can be dangerous if constipation is caused by a serious condition, such as appendicitis or a bowel obstruction. If you frequently use certain laxatives over a period of weeks or months, they can decrease your colon's natural ability to contract and actually worsen constipation. In severe cases, overuse of laxatives can damage nerves, muscles and tissues of the large intestine.

familydoctor.org - Copyright American Academy of Family Physicians

Laxatives aren’t meant for long-term use. Don’t use laxatives for longer than 1 week unless you’re following your doctor’s advice. Long-term use or overuse of laxatives can cause health problems. Also, using laxatives too much may hide symptoms that would be important for your doctor to know about. This could delay finding out about problems you have and delay the treatment you need.

One exception is bulk-forming laxatives. They can be used on a daily basis to help ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids and other bowel problems.

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When to Contact a Medical Professional   

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Sudden constipation with abdominal cramps and an inability to pass gas or stool (DO NOT take any laxatives -- call immediately!)

  • Sharp or severe abdominal pain, especially if you're also bloated

  • Blood in your stool

  • Constipation alternating with diarrhea

  • Thin, pencil-like stools

  • Rectal pain

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Been using laxatives for several weeks or self care is not working

Call if:

  • An infant younger than 2 months is constipated

  • An infant (except those exclusively breastfed) goes 3 days without a stool -- call immediately if the child is vomiting or irritable

  • A child is holding back bowel movements in order to resist toilet training

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How to Heal the Colon

www.jonbarron.org - detoxing-health-program

"Written by Jon Barron at The Baseline of Health Foundation" Any program designed to clean and detoxify the colon needs to address several key areas. The program must:

  • Help bring the colon back to life by stimulating the muscle movement of the colon.
  • Encourage matter to move forward through the system.
  • Halt putrefaction.
  • Draw old fecal matter off the walls of the colon and out of any bowel pockets.
  • Disinfect.
  • Draw out poisons and toxins (including chemicals and drug residues).
  • Help leach out heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
  • Even remove radioactive material such as Strontium 90.
  • Soothe and promote the healing of the mucous membrane lining of the entire digestive tract.
  • Help stimulate the body to begin the healing and repair of herniated areas.
  • Increase the flow of bile to help clean the gall bladder, bile ducts, and liver.
  • Promote healthy intestinal flora.
  • Destroy and expel parasites.
  • Destroy Candida albicans overgrowth.
  • Maintain regularity.
  • Decrease straining.
  • Speed up the transit time of feces through the large intestine.

How to Heal the Colon?

Colon Correction and Detoxification: Once you look at the requirements of a good Intestinal Program, it's easy to see that no one formula or magic pill can accomplish it all. What I recommend is a two-pronged approach.

  • A colon correction formula

  • A colon detoxifier

Colon Corrective: A good corrective formula provides both cleansing and healing to the entire gastro-intestinal system. It stimulates peristalsis (the muscular movement of the colon). It halts putrefaction and disinfects, soothes, and heals the mucous membrane lining of your entire digestive tract.

Entirely herbal, with no harsh, habit-forming chemicals, an effective activating formula will also help improve digestion, relieve gas and cramps, increase the flow of bile (which in turn cleans the gall bladder, bile ducts, and liver), destroy Candida albicans overgrowth and promote a healthy intestinal flora, destroy and expel intestinal parasites, and increase gastro-intestinal circulation. The herbs used in this formula are also antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.

Look for a formula that contains all organic herbs such as: Cape Aloe, Senna, Cascara Sagrada, Barberry Rootbark, Ginger Root, African Bird Pepper, Fennel, and the great Tibetan intestinal health herb, Termianlia Cherbula.

These herbs work as an intestinal detoxifier to loosen and draw out old fecal matter, waste, and toxins. And they stimulate peristalsis (the muscular movement of the colon). They also help halt putrefaction and disinfect and soothe and heal the mucous membrane lining of your entire digestive tract. In addition, they help improve digestion, relieve gas and cramps, increase the flow of bile (which in turn cleans the gall bladder, bile ducts, and liver), destroy Candida albicans overgrowth, and promote a healthy intestinal flora, destroy and expel intestinal parasites, and increase gastro-intestinal circulation.

Colon Detoxifier: In contrast with an activator, a good detoxifier is cleansing and soothing. It is to be used periodically in conjunction with the activator. The detoxifier is a strong purifier and intestinal vacuum. It draws old fecal matter off the walls of your colon and out of any bowel pockets. It also works to draw out poisons, toxins, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and even remove radioactive material such as strontium 90. A good detoxifier will also remove over 2,000 known drug residues.

Its natural mucilaginous properties will soften old hardened fecal matter for easy removal and also make it an excellent remedy for any inflammation or irritation in the stomach and intestines. This formula is helpful in irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids.

And on top of everything else, this formula will eliminate the effects of food poisoning or stomach flu in 20-40 minutes.

Look for a formula that contains all organic herbs such as: Apple Pectin, Montmorillonite Clay, Slippery Elm Inner Bark, Marshmallow Root, Fennel Seed, Activated Willow Charcoal, and Psyllium seeds and husks. Pau d'arco also works well in the formula for its ability to help control candida.

www.drweil.com - Copyright Weil Lifestyle, LLC

Intestinal cleanse:  I suggest a daylong or weekend "juice fast" plus some powdered psyllium seed husks to give your intestines bulk. Stir a tablespoon of the powder into a big glass of water, drink it and then drink another glass of plain water. Do this once a day, preferably in the morning. While you fast, take 100 mg of vitamin C twice a day, but skip your other supplements.

Drink at least four 8- to 12-ounce glasses of juice daily plus at least four 8-ounce glasses of water and, if you like, some unsweetened herbal tea. If possible, prepare the juice yourself from organically grown fruits and vegetables. One combination I like is apple, carrot, and lemon juice, diluted with plain or sparkling water.

If you can't make your own juices, buy natural ones without added sugar and dilute them to taste with water. While fasting, a daily sauna or steam bath can help the body eliminate unwanted materials through sweating (be sure to drink extra water during and after). Be sure to eat lightly and carefully when you end your fast and transition back to your normal diet. Going straight to pizza or enchiladas will almost certainly cause discomfort.

By the way, I don't recommend colonic irrigation for "purification." The entire lining of the colon sloughs off and is regenerated every day. If you are eating well, drinking enough water, and getting enough physical activity, your regular eliminations will be sufficient to keep the colon clean and in good working order.

altmedicine.about.com About.com. All rights reserved.

Fiber: A diet low in fiber may play a role in constipation. Insoluble fiber, which passes through the body almost unchanged, gives stools bulk and a soft texture, making them easier to pass. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try wheat bran, brown rice, or whole grain bread.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. Prunes and figs can be added to breakfast or eaten as a snack. Another option is to sprinkle one teaspoon of ground flaxseeds over any meal. They can be found in packages at the health food store or some grocery stores. They have a mild, nutty taste.

Fiber supplements are also available, the most popular being psyllium husk supplements such as Metamucil. Add fiber to your diet gradually to avoid bloating and gas. Also, be sure to drink enough water otherwise fiber can have the opposite effect and be constipating.

Fluids: Making sure you drink enough fluids such as water may help some people with constipation. Fluids make bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Watch your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages such as coffee and cola drinks, which can be dehydrating.

Stimulant Laxatives: Many herbal laxatives and "dieter's teas" are called stimulant laxatives, or anthranoid laxatives. They include herbs such as: Cascara sagrada - Rhubarb – Aloe – Senna and Buckthorn.

They should not be used for longer than a week unless under medical supervision. Prolonged use may cause the bowels to lose the ability to move on their own, and has been linked to chronic diarrhea, potassium depletion leading to muscle weakness and potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythms, and kidney or liver impairment.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback therapy may help people with constipation resulting from pelvic floor dysfunction, a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles do not function properly. It occurs as a result of conditions such as obesity, an enlarged prostate, or after childbirth.

Biofeedback therapists teach how to better coordinate muscles used to defecate. Approximately 70% of people have improved symptoms after biofeedback training. Although biofeedback has only been explored as a treatment for this type of constipation relatively recently, results are promising.

Probiotics: Probiotics, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, are live microbial organisms that are naturally present in the digestive tract. Some of the ways they are thought to promote health include suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, improving immune function, enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract, and helping to produce vitamin K.

There is some preliminary evidence that probiotic supplements may improve constipation...

Acupressure: Acupressure is a traditional healing practice that involves the application of finger pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body.

A point that is often recommended by acupuncturists for constipation is Large Intestine 4. Although it hasn't been studied for constipation, it is a simple home remedy that may work for some people. The point is at the highest spot of the muscle between the thumb and index finger when they are brought close together. Caution: do not use this point if you are pregnant.

With your thumb or middle finger at a 90 degree angle to the skin, apply gradually increasing pressure. Hold for three minutes. The pressure should not be painful or uncomfortable.

Magnesium: A deficiency of the mineral magnesium may contribute to constipation. Magnesium is found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in supplements.

Magnesium is needed for normal muscle function, including intestinal muscles. One recent study examined the intake of magnesium with constipation in 3835 women. Low magnesium intake was associated with constipation.

Link to Colon Treatments


Natural Home Remedies To Treat Constipation

Retrieved From - www.healthy.net

  • Don’t forget about prunes! Soak 5 sun-dried prunes in water for 48 hours, then eat the prunes in the morning and drink the juice at lunchtime.
  • Another option is to use supplemental magnesium. Start with a calcium-and-magnesium supplement in the ratio of 1:1 (as opposed to the more popular 2:1). If constipation persists, keep adding one tablet containing 250mg of magnesium (as citrate or another easily-digestible form) every three days until it works. Don’t increase the amount of magnesium too quickly, because it accumulates, and so does its laxative effect!

Websites that offer home remedies and recommendations for the treatment of constipation:

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Holistic Remedies for Colon & Digestive Disorders  






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