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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!


1 comment:

  1. Great blog post.A detox diet is a dietary regimen involving a change in consumption habits in an attempt to detoxify the body by removal of toxins or other contaminants.
    Diet detox