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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Colon Anatomy, Healthy Colon Function, and Constipation

Hey y'all!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post introducing detox herbs. I began a series on detoxification using herbs by first explaining the role of the colon in detoxification. Today I want to describe a common health issue, constipation, that can occur in the colon if we do not eat a healthy diet and regularly cleanse our colons. This may seem like Too Much Information for some readers, but we need to be educated about how our bodies function if we want to pursue great health and longevity. 

Please allow me to once again state that I am not a doctor or a health professional and do not pretend to be. Nothing I write on Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy has been approved by the FDA or any other "authority." I do my best to provide accurate, scientifically-proven information, and provide links to all of my sources in the body of my posts. My purpose for blogging is to provide a free education for my readers so each of you may make informed choices concerning your personal health and the health of your family.

Let's quickly review where the colon is located in the human body:

You can easily see the colon (large intestine) with each part labeled- image by

Here is where the colon is located in relation to the rest of the organs in the digestive system:

A lot of times we think of each body part as individual units, but actually, everything is squished together and acts as a whole. This image does not add the kidneys, bladder, spinal column, or reproductive organs, nor the heart and lungs above the abdomen- image by

Here is a short video describing the digestive process. Let's imagine the model is eating nutritious food rather than pizza:


If we live a healthy lifestyle, we will experience healthy colon function. We will have nearly the same number of bowel movements every day as we have meals. For most Americans, this concept is unheard of. In fact, the Mayo Clinic defines constipation as having less than three bowel movements a week! However, according to board certified physician and surgeon, Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D.,  and many other natural health advocates and practitioners, if we are not having at least one bowel movement every day, our colons are clogged and sluggish. We are constipated.

By the way, the two links in the above paragraph share excellent information on constipation and regularity.

Some people have overactive colons, which is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Colon cleansing can help with this, too. I will discuss IBS in a later post.

As mentioned in the video, the large intestine absorbs nutrients and sends fecal waste down to the rectum for elimination. The longer this process takes, the longer the toxic waste material sits in the large intestine. This waste literally begins to rot away the lining of the intestinal wall.

Fortunately, our bodies are designed with a lining of mucous called the intestinal mucosa, which protects the inside of the intestines. However, if the transit time for colon waste is too long, the mucous lining builds up in an effort to protect the body and can even harden into plaque. If this happens, it is very difficult for the large intestine to absorb nutrients. The body believes it is starving, and begins storing fat in fat cells located all over the body.

I cannot say for sure if every person has mucoid plaque. I can say that I had a huge build up of mucoid plaque, and removed it by cleansing my colon. Each time I have done a thorough colon cleanse, I have effortlessly lost at least ten pounds in a one month period. While some medical doctors believe that mucoid plaque is a myth, my own personal experience and these images from Dr. Bernard Jensen's Bowel Management Handbook suggest otherwise:

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Next week I will describe some serious medical issues that can occur if we continue to neglect our colons and bodies as a whole.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Detoxing 101: The Role of the Colon in Detoxification

Hey y'all! Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day!

As promised in this post from a couple of weeks ago, Introducing Detox Herbs, I want to begin teaching y'all how to use herbs to detox. Many people are familiar with the word "detox," but some people may not really know everything that goes into the process of detoxification. Detoxification simply means "get the unwanted gunk out of your body which is making you sick (or has the potential to make you sick)."

Our bodies are created (designed, evolved) to take in nutrients (food) and eliminate what we do not need. We have three main elimination channels: 1) the skin (perspiration), 2) the gastro-urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, and bladder (urination), and 3) the gastro- intestinal tract, including the small and large intestines (defecation).

Today I want to begin a discussion of the role of the large intestines, or colon, in detoxification. This may seem like Too Much Information for some readers, but I ask you to bear with me. This is simple anatomy, and may help save your life or the life of a loved one. If you really desire to heal yourself naturally, you need to know how the human body works.

Here is an image of the entire gastro-intestinal tract, from the stomach to the rectum. You can easily see the small intestines in the middle of the lower abdomen and the large intestines forming a "frame" around them on three sides- image courtesy of A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia (awesome reference, by the way)

Here is an image of the colon, isolated from the rest of the body- image courtesy of A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia

This chart labels the parts of the large intestines as well as the major blood vessels which are associated with the colon- image by Integrative Medical Center

I want y'all to become familiar with the parts of the colon, because as we get into various ways to do a bowel detox or colon cleanse (same thing), you'll find out that different methods work for different parts of the colon.

Looking at the very beginning of the large intestines, which is to the reader's bottom left, what is at the "end?"

The appendix. That's right! So if someone has appendicitis and has to have an appendectomy, what do you think is going on inside the body? That's right! There's not a good "flow" down there. Things have gotten stopped up and it has led to inflammation ("-itis") in the appendix. The surgeon's answer is to cut the appendix out. The "natural healing therapy" way is to prevent (or correct) the blockage in the first place.

Directly above the appendix is the cecum and the ascending colon, which runs up the right side of the abdomen. The liver sits on top of the upper section of the ascending colon. The right kidney sits in back of it.

The large intestines turn, and run across the top of the abdominal cavity, right below the stomach. This is the transverse colon. The transverse colon ends at the spleen on the left side of the body. There is another turn, then the colon continues downward. This section is called the descending colon.

The large intestines then travel from the left side to the center of the body. This portion of the colon is called the sigmoid colon. From there, the end of the colon, the rectum, sends fecal waste out of the body's exit, the anus.

If you remember from high school Biology class, the intestines move waste out of the body through a process known as peristalsis. Peristalsis is simply a muscular action which looks like waves or ripples. This is all done involuntarily.

I've provided a short video clip of peristalsis in action. This is actually a camera shot (endoscopy) of the end of the stomach, but the action of the intestines is similar.


And here is a short video of a very healthy colon. You can actually see the muscles and blood vessels running all through the colon tissue. I want you to get a good mental picture of what a healthy colon is supposed to look like, so when we start discussing colon issues and diseases next week, y'all can see the difference.


I hope you enjoyed this little anatomy lesson!

P.S.: I'm going to do my best to get the Superfood ebook finished by the end of May. I am interning to be a public school teacher, and have enjoyed substituting for some wonderful students lately. This has put me behind in my writing schedule. Bear with me. I have not forgotten my promise to you!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Eating Clean and Still Not Losing Weight? Eight Questions to Ask Yourself

Hey y'all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful time viewing the Supermoon last night!- image courtesy of David Yankowski and Texas Hill

One of my readers asked a "super" question in a comment on my post entitled "Which Diet is Right for Me? A Look at Some of the Best and Healthiest Diets." Here's what this person asked:

"Great info! How do you feel about all natural organic peanut butter? Greek, non fat, plain yogurt? Artificial sweeteners? Just wondering, because I eat clean and I'm still not dropping the weight, I even cut out fruit. Help!"

First, thank you very much for your kind words and for your wonderful comment. Very briefly, I've noticed that some people can handle peanut butter and dairy very well, and others simply cannot. I personally do not tolerate peanut butter, even if it is all natural and organic. I have eaten peanut butter all my life, but in the past couple of years, I feel awful after eating even a teaspoon of it. I am not sure why. I just avoid it. You may try eliminating peanut butter from your diet and see if you notice any changes. 

The same can be said for Greek yogurt. I love Chobani (I am not an affiliate, just a happy customer). Siggi's yogurt is another brand that a lot of "clean eaters" rave about. However, a lot of people cannot handle dairy. This may be the case for you.

Artificial sweeteners? Run. Run as far away from them as you possibly can. I'll write a long info bomb about how bad aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet) poisoning is. Thank you for the question.

Your real implied question when you wrote "I eat clean and I'm still not dropping the weight. Help!" is "what do I do now?" I've prepared a check list for you with some suggestions to consider.

Eating clean and still not losing weight? Eight questions to ask yourself:

I can give you some fairly solid suggestions because the same thing happened to my daughter-in-law, Sarah, who blogs at She has graciously allowed me to share her story with others. 

Sarah struggled with weight all her life. An emergency gall bladder surgery at age 23 was a wake up call to get on the road to health. She started with the Bob Greene Best Life Diet and the Couch25K program, losing about 25 or so pounds in a year. She hit a plateau, did a ton of research about proper nutrition, and switched to the Eat Clean Diet her second year. She kept up the cardio, and added a strength training DVD program using mostly dumbells. She lost another 30 or so pounds that year.

Sarah found out that the closer a person gets to his or her weight goal, the harder it is to get the excess weight off. She wanted to stay "natural" and not take "diet pills" or "fat burners." She looked at what she was really doing, and found she was making some common mistakes. Here is a checklist for anyone who is eating clean and still not losing weight:

  1. Are you drinking enough water? At a minimum, we are supposed to drink half our body weight in ounces of pure water every day. I have visited enough bodybuilding and fitness websites to know that most fit people drink at least a gallon of water every day. Water helps us flush out the unwanted toxins. This may be too much information for some people, but I must say that water softens the waste in our colons and moves it on out. This is how we lose weight. 
  2. Are you measuring your portions for every meal? We actually have to either weigh our food on a food scale or scoop it out of a serving dish with a measuring cup. This is especially true if we are eating any kind of grain or potatoes. If we do not use portion control, we may be consuming more calories than we think we are.
  3. Are you eating enough healthy fat? This sounds crazy, but our calories are supposed to be roughly divided into thirds: one third lean protein, one third complex carbohydrates, and one third healthy fats. Healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, butter (if you are not vegan), and even small amounts of animal fat such as bacon (if you eat meat).
  4. Are you counting calories? Some people believe we do not have to count calories if we are eating "right." If you are counting calories and still not losing weight, you want to make sure each calorie is "nutrient dense." This means "make every calorie count." Try eating more green vegetables and less starchy grains. 
  5. Are you dairy or gluten intolerant? Through a lot of experimentation, my daughter-in-law found out she was both dairy and gluten intolerant. She started losing weight again when she gave dairy and wheat up.
  6. Are you eating five or six times a day? Our bodies actually hold on to fat when it thinks there is no more food coming. When we keep our bodies fueled, our metabolism kicks in to high gear and we burn fat like crazy. It makes no sense, but we really do lose weight by eating more food and more often.
  7. Are you exercising hard enough? If we burn 500 calories in one hour and work out seven days a week, we will burn off one pound of weight. What kind of activities burn 500 calories in an hour? A vigorous game of racquetball, jogging for an hour at 5mph, high impact aerobics, doing cardio on a stair treadmill, and working out on an elliptical burn roughly 500 calories per hour. If we cannot exercise that hard or for that long, then most of our calorie reduction has to come from our diet.
  8. Could you try a different diet? When my daughter discovered she was dairy and gluten intolerant, she and my son switched to the Paleo Diet. They joined a Crossfit "box" (the Crossfit word for gym). I know a lot of people may think, "Oh, no! Not another crazy Crossfitter!" Well... the Paleo lifestyle is working for them. It will work for me if  I become consistent with it. I suggest that anyone who is eating clean and still not losing weight try switching to the Paleo Diet and switching his or her workout around on a daily basis. If you are a vegetarian, switch to a high raw vegan diet, or even an all raw vegan diet. I have done a 30 day all raw food vegan challenge a couple of times (lots of cool videos at that link). I felt amazing and dropped a minimum of ten pounds each time. It is definitely worth looking into.
Thanks again for the great questions! Try some of these suggestions and get back to us with your results!

Does anyone have other suggestions to add to mine? Please post them in the comments!

P.S.: I want to give a big shout out to my Russian readers! Hey y'all! Thanks for being a part of my life!