Body cleansing

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Body cleansing or detoxification is a treatment in alternative medicine which proponents claim rid the body of accumulated harmful substances that exert a negative effect on individual health. Critics argue that such cleansings are often unnecessary, and are based on questionable or disproved scientific claims.

Various modalities of body cleansing are used, employing physical treatments (e.g. colon cleansing), dietary restrictions (e.g. avoiding foods) or dietary supplements. Some variants involve the use of herbs and supplements that purportedly speed or increase the effectiveness of the process of cleansing. Naturopathic and homeopathic remedies are also promoted for cleansing. Cleansing agents and processes may be promoted as targeting specific organs, such as fiber for the colon or juices for the kidneys. Others are represented as useful for 'whole body' cleansing, sometimes with the goal of eliminating unidentified 'parasites.'

Quackwatch describes body cleansing and detoxification as an elaborate hoax used by con artists to cure nonexistent illnesses. The 'toxins' that are removed have been described as invented to give promoters something pretend they can fix.[1] Medical experts state that the body cleansing is unnecessary since the body is actually very good at maintaining itself, with several organs dedicated to cleansing the blood and gut.[2] The premise of body cleansing is based on the Ancient Egyptian and Greek idea of autointoxication, in which foods consumed or in the humoural theory of health that the four humours themselves can putrefy and produce toxins that harm the body. Biochemistry and microbiology appeared to support the theory in the 19th century, but beginning with the publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1919[3] the idea began to lose supporters until it was discredited.[4] Despite advancing scientific knowledge and abandonment by mainstream medicine, the idea has persisted in the popular imagination and amongst alternative medicine practitioners.[5][6][7] The idea is undergoing a resurgence, supported by the unscientific beliefs about autointoxication and the industries and manufacturers who produce the products. The experts in contemporary colonics promote the efficacy of their ideas based only on the belief in the discredited science of the previous century and anecdotal evidence.[6]

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[edit] References

  1. ^ Berg, Francis. ""Detoxification" with Pills and Fasting". Quackwatch. Retrieved on 2007-02-12.
  2. ^ Stamos, Jenny (2007-02-08). "Colon Cleansers: Are They Safe? Experts discuss the safety and effectiveness of colon cleansers.". WebMd. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  3. ^ Alvarez, WC (1919). "Origin of the so-called auto-intoxication symptom". JAMA. 
  4. ^ Wanjek, C (2006-08-08). "Colon Cleansing: Money Down the Toilet". LiveScience. Retrieved on 2008-11-10.
  5. ^ Chen TS, Chen PS (1989). "Intestinal autointoxication: a medical leitmotif". J. Clin. Gastroenterol. 11 (4): 434–41. PMID 2668399. 
  6. ^ a b Ernst E (June 1997). "Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science". Journal of clinical gastroenterology 24 (4): 196–8. PMID 9252839. 
  7. ^ Adams, C. "Does colonic irrigation do you any good?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved on 2008-09-02.
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