It seems I cannot visit any of my social media sites lately without seeing advertisements for liver detox and colon cleanse supplements, or even procedures.
Is any of this necessary for the average person?
If so, how do you even know?
Your liver is your body’s primary filtration system. It converts toxins into waste, cleanses your blood and metabolizes nutrients to provide your body with important proteins. Obviously, it is important to keep this vital organ healthy. You do not want to ever experience life with liver failure, I guarantee. Having cared for a family member with a terminal liver condition, I can tell you first hand that liver failure is a nightmare.
If you think that you can go out on the weekend, overindulge in food and drink, and then take supplements to cleanse your liver – you are not correct in your thinking. There is no proof that liver cleanses can overcome your binges. These bogus products are not regulated by the FDA, and thus are not uniform and have not been adequately tested in clinical trials. Yet, they still sell like hotcakes. Instead of simply taking care of their livers in the first place, foolish people believe they can abuse their livers and then self medicate with these liver detox products. Liver cleanses are not going to repair your overindulgence.
Many liver detoxification products are also sold as weight loss cleanses. However, you will find no clinical data to support the efficacy of these claims. Why in the world do people even believe they need to do this, I do not know. Some of these dietary supplements can actually cause harm to the liver by leading to drug-induced injury and should thus be used with caution.
Obesity is a known factor that causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Your overindulgence can create fat in the liver which can cause inflammation, and may also lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis. With the rising epidemic of obesity in the United States, the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is rapidly increasing and is expected to overtake hepatitis C as the leading indication for liver transplant in the next 30 years. The bottom line is that these over the counter products are not going to keep you healthy. What will keep you healthy is to simply change your lifestyle and not overindulge in food and alcohol. Liver detox products are robbing you of hard earned cash.
If you have ever experienced a colonoscopy, you know exactly what a colon cleanse is already. A colon cleanse can mean a day on the toilet until your bowels have completely emptied. It is not a great way to spend the day. But gullible people believe they need to do these colon cleanses on occasion to rid their body of toxins and waste.
Pay attention here, colon cleansing — also called a colonic or a colonic irrigation — for such purposes isn’t necessary. That’s because your digestive system and bowel already eliminate waste material and bacteria from your body. It’s what they do. Yet, the misguided idea that toxins build up in feces and can leak into the body has been around for centuries. Before modern medicine, enemas and purges were often the only remedies that physicians could offer a sick person. Their use stemmed from the idea of autointoxication, the notion that feces in the intestinal tract were the cause of disease.
Proponents of colon cleansing believe that toxins from your gastrointestinal tract can cause a variety of health problems, such as arthritis and high blood pressure. They believe that colon cleansing improves health by removing toxins, boosting your energy and enhancing your immune system. However, there’s no evidence that colon cleansing produces these effects or is beneficial at all
During a colon cleanse, large amounts of water — sometimes up to 16 gallons (about 60 liters) — and possibly other substances, such as herbs or coffee, are flushed through the colon. This is done using a tube that’s inserted into the rectum. In some cases, smaller amounts of water are used and are left to sit in the colon for a short time before being removed.
- Colon irrigation is not wise—particularly if you have a history of gastrointestinal disease (including diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis) or a history of colon surgery, severe hemorrhoids, kidney disease, or heart disease. These conditions increase the risk of adverse effects.
- Side effects of colon cleansing include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, acute kidney insufficiency, pancreatitis, bowel perforation, heart failure, and infection.
- The devices that practitioners use for the procedure are not approved for colon cleansing by the US Food and Drug Administration. Inadequately disinfected or sterilized irrigation machines have been linked to bacterial contamination.
- Colon cleansing practitioners are not licensed by a scientifically based organization. Rather, practitioners have undergone a training process structured by an organization that is attempting to institute its own certification and licensing requirements.
The Bottom Line
Liver detox supplements and colon cleanses can cause you more harm than you are trying to fix. If you believe that a liver detox, or colon cleanse is necessary for you, you are best off to visit your doctor. If there is a valid reason why you would need either of these, only a physician can help you. By believing that you can simply take a supplement, or get a questionable procedure to give you better health, you might actually mask something that is actually a serious medical issue. If you are not a doctor, do not self medicate or treat yourself. You are not qualified to make these health decisions.
If there is one thing you can do for yourself, it is to eat a healthy diet and exercise with your doctors approval. Just about everything that falls under the umbrella term of “cleansing” or “detoxing” is pseudo science or a scam. The health and fat reduction claims made for cleansing diets, supplements, and procedures are almost 100% anecdote and testimonial, fueled in large part, by aggressive multi-level marketers and alternative health practitioners.
If you place your health in the hands of an alternative health guru, you are either desperate or a fool. Detox is a case of a legitimate medical term being turned into a marketing strategy – all designed to treat a nonexistent condition. In the setting of real medicine, detoxification means treatments for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons, like heavy metals. Detoxification treatments are medical procedures that are not casually selected from a menu of alternative health treatments, or pulled off the shelf in the pharmacy. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening circumstances.