Detox: flushing out poison or absorbing dangerous claptrap?
The alternative-medicine version of detox has real-world side-effects that outweigh its imaginary benefits
Colonic irrigation has been the subject of many newspaper articles in recent weeks. So one might think the debate about this subject has come and gone. But, as so often when it comes to alternative medicine, much of what was written did not make a lot of sense. Time, perhaps, to look at this treatment and any new evidence in some detail.
Colonic irrigation is, of course, a “detox” therapy. In medicine, the term detox is used in two different ways. In conventional medicine, it describes a programme of weaning drug-dependent patients off their addiction. In alternative medicine, the term is used for treatments allegedly ridding the body of toxins.
Alternative detox is all the rage and comes in many guises – anything from diet or supplements to steam-baths or ear-candles. The common denominator is that, allegedly, the body is stimulated to eliminate poisonous substances. The claim is that, if we are not treated in this way, such toxins would cause ill health in all of us. Yet, these assumptions are both wrong and dangerous.
Unless someone is very severely ill, the elimination of toxins is most efficiently being taken care of by various organs – for instance, the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs and the gut. In a healthy person, the function of these systems is already optimal. No improvements are needed or can be achieved by detox therapies. (Guardian)