Monday, October 10, 2011

Laxatives and Other Bowel Disrupters

Let's begin this blog with an uplifting, inspirational theme, that of the chronic disorder that haunts so many in so-called civilized countries — constipation. Yes, in some circles it's still an unmentionable; fortunately, you won't be censured, upbraided, or scolded just for reading this.

Most people don't think of laxatives as medication, but they are, and all the more insidious because they're sold over the counter and advertised on TV. And in a recession, it seems consumption rises.

According to the Seattle Times:
"During a recession, laxatives go up, because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back," said Shapiro, chief executive of SAGE, a Chicago-based consulting firm. "During a boom, deodorant sales go up, because people are out dancing around.

"When people have less money, they buy more of the things that have less water in them, things that are not so perishable. Instead of lettuce and steak and fruit, it's rice and beans and grain and pasta. Except this time the price of pasta's so high that it's beans and rice."

Not only are sales on the rise, but most laxatives are actually harmful. In 1997, FDA took steps to "ban the over the counter sale of medicines containing phenolphthalein, an ingredient in some popular laxatives.

"About a fifth of Americans use laxatives, over half of which contain the ingredient phenolphthalein.

"People with eating disorders and elderly people are those most likely to be chronic laxative users. Dr. Robert Temple, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, acknowledged that data do not exist to support the contention that phenolphthalein is a carcinogen in humans. He concluded, however, that its use is risky and said: “It's very hard to draw the line at which a laxative user could be at risk. The concern is for long term use, and it's greater the longer the use and the higher the dose people use. What we're saying is, find another laxative.”

Curious that the FDA were only able to advise people to 'find another laxative,' not to investigate the harm done by artificially stimulating bowel movements or offer alternative solutions.

Why Are Digestion and Elimination So Important
Most degenerative diseases (cancer, diabetes, etc.) start in the gut; it's the source of our greatest ills. And that's why we need a clean, unfettered colon, especially as we age and our supply of natural enzymes become depleted by the things we ate when we were young, before we learned to eat right. Kundalini can help treat neural disorders, ailments arising from lack of vital life force energy. But Kundalini cannot restore organs that have been damaged by unhealthy diet. Eat heavy, cooked, greasy foods long enough and you provide a tempting incubation environment for degenerative disease.

We've all seen X-Ray pictures of lungs destroyed from smoking cigarettes. This holds true for the colon as well. After years of eating heavy cooked foods, the colon becomes blocked. Thus begins the vicious cycle. Difficult bowel movements. Over-the-counter laxatives with dangerous side effects. More heavy food. A continual build up of undigested fecal matter along the colon walls. More laxatives. And so on...until the colon is thoroughly blocked.

Just to get an idea of laxative use, here are the 2001 sales by brand. Senoket, for one, used to include phenolphthalein in their ingredient. Nevertheless, even without this noxious ingredient, brand names like Correctol, Dulcolax, Purge, and Senokot fall into the Stimulant category, which cause rhythmic muscle contractions in the intestines. Not a very healthy way of moving the bowel. Here are the  top selling brands in M$ for 2001, and a list of the various classifications for the leading types of laxatives:

TOP BRANDS
Dollar Sales (M$)
Unit Volume
 1. Metamucil
108.8
11.7
 2. Citrucel
54.8
5.0
 3. Fleet
23.1
13.4
 4. Perdiem
14.7
1.2
 5. Fleet Phaspho Soda
9.9
3.0
 6. Senokot
5.7
0.6
 7. Konsyl
5.4
0.4
 8. Perdiem Fiber
3.7
0.3
 9. Fletchers Castoria
3.3
0.7

According to MEDIC8, "The common belief that people must have a daily bowel movement has led to self-medicating with OTC laxative products. Although people may feel relief when they use laxatives, typically they must increase the dose over time because the body grows reliant on laxatives in order to have a bowel movement. As a result, laxatives may become habit-forming.

"People who are dependent on laxatives need to slowly stop using them. A doctor can assist in this process. For most people, stopping laxatives restores the colon's natural ability to contract."

Laxative Buying Habits - Where and How Much

That's the macro economics and the psychology behind it, now what can be done about it? There are a number of ways:

  • Yogic exercises
  • Self-massage
  • Natural extracts
But first you may need a colonic to remove all the matter stuck to the walls of the colon. I don't advise frequent, repeated colonics, but as a first time cleanse they get the work done. After my first colonic in the 1980s, I felt like I was walking three feet above the pavement. That's how much my body appreciated the removal of a lifetime's worth of decayed fecal matter from my colon. Since then, I've used a number of techniques to keep my colon clean and my inner organs toned: 

Yogic Exercises
Two exercises I've practiced for many years are the Nauli and Anal Contractions:

The Nauli is a Yoga posture which entails isolating the muscles of the abdomen and then rolling them from side to side in order to massage the interior organs. Learning it isn't easy. For three weeks I tried squeezing and tightening every muscle along the stomach walls ...unsuccessfully. But finally I got it. HOW? By visualizing the muscles I knew were there, but over which I had no command. I visualized "clamping down" on the muscles along the stomach wall and they responded.

Nauli Stage 1 – Isolating the muscles
Nauli Stage 2 – Rolling the muscles
You can see how the Nauli (rolling the abdominal muscles) massages the colon and other inner organs. I've been doing it for fifty years. It's a great toning exercise; I do it every morning after my shower. Don't try it after eating, however.

Anal Contractions are just what they say they are, and unlike the Nauli, they're easy to do. Tighten the sphincter muscles and hold. I do it while I'm driving, sometimes for five miles at a time. Not only is it good for the digestion, it's good for the Prostate Gland as well.

Self-Massage
There are all kinds of pressure points in your body. One day I was giving myself a hand massage. I noticed that by pushing and rubbing upward on the knuckle of my ring finger with my palm turned upward, it induced a Peristaltic bowel reaction. I ran to the toilet then and I've been using this technique ever since. Try it. See if it works for you.

When you do Yoga, explore the soles of your feet, rubbing the knuckles of the toes. Do you feel anything in other parts of your body? The channels and nerve centers of the body are connected: finding these points that work for you can go way beyond the bowel issues. You may discover pressure points capable of mitigating headaches or other conditions.

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Natural Extracts & Raw Foods
Again, the key to digestion is enzymes. But because we are born with only finite amount, they get depleted eventually, working overtime on the Monster Thickburgers we've eaten as kids.

Enzymes break down the food we ingest, prepare it for elimination. Enzymes have a hard time with grease, doughy breadstuffs, the mucus in dairy products. If you must use a laxative, try Swiss Kriss. It's worked for many over the years.

More beneficial, however, are large quantities of Raw Foods. They contain their own enzymes; they don't deplete yours. I know it's hard to be completely raw in today's world. Nevertheless, by ingesting substantial quantities of Raw Foods, especially when you're young, you can set yourself up for better health in later years.