There was an ad in the first section of today’s Free Press (Sat. March 5/05) for herbal and fiber “cleansing” products. It talked about getting rid of toxins by 7 cleansing channels – didn’t say which channels. The two channels that get the most attention in the marketplace are colon (aka bowel or large intestine) and kidney/bladder. Google “cleansing” or “cleansing toxins” and see what the engine drags from the dregs of the Web.
Cleansing is usually a euphemism for emptying the colon by using laxatives, fiber scrubs, special herbs and colonic irrigation. The main reason offered for this kind of cleansing is to remove toxins that are accumulating in the colon and sticking to the sides of the colon instead of sliding out with all the other stinky poop. Some companies also talk about getting rid of parasites. Cleansing also refers to drinking lots of water, while taking special herbs, to extract toxins, stimulate the kidneys so as to piss out toxins along with gallons of pale piss. (Memo to self – another reason to drink beer). Cleansing also seems to refer to taking herbal supplements can draw toxins out of body tissues to be excreted in hair, fingernails, exhaled breath, perspiration, menstrual blood, saliva, and mucus. I’m not sure why male ejaculate and female vaginal secretions aren’t in the channel list – they must be special.
Bullshit. There is a good article about cleansing at Quackwatch and another article at the American Council on Science and Health. There is an article on detoxification at Quackwatch. These products and practices are unnecessary, and a waste of money. There are no health benefits. Some of them are risky in themselves. For some people reliance on “alternative” methods may mean distrust of real doctors, and avoiding medical care. Nevertheless the people who take these products have their reasons. It would be easy to say that these people are stupid or badly informed, but they are just average people, not morons. Some people aren’t investigating the products carefully, and some of them are rejecting advice about the products.
People start to take these products because they feel good about the people selling them or their friends who recommend them, and to feel good about themselves. They keep taking the product for the same reasons – they are reinforced by feedback from the sellers and from their friends. Sometimes their friends are part of a marketing system or some kind of alternative or holistic healing system, or connected with some kind of alternative spirituality movement. People have strong feelings about their bowels and elimination, and some people don’t need any special reasons to fool around with laxatives.
Some people who take these products believe that these are new alternative products which wouldn’t be made and sold without a good reason (ever hear of snake oil? Duh!). Some people say the products make them feel better and some like to listen to their bodies. My body usually says something like get on the bike, scratch, ouch, hot, mm donuts, fart, thirsty – need beer, and feed me. Some people have wiser and more articulate bodies than mine.
Some believe that they are on to something that the rest of the world is ignoring. Some believe the medical profession is holding back or suppressing because doctors like to keep people sick for fun and profit. I’m going have to look at Harold Bloom’s claim that the new American Religion is gnosis (see also here) – the belief in esoteric secret wisdom.
Anyway, enough blogging for now. Time to take a cleanse.