COLONICS: Pros & Cons, with Dr Teitelbaum – your SV Ayurveda Newsletter Nov 2, 2023 – #42, Vol 12

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What You Need To Know!

~ Dr Marianne Teitelbaum

Colonics are a way of flushing large amounts of water and possibly other substances, such as herbs or coffee, through the colon. Fifteen to 20 gallons of water are flushed through the five feet of the colon during a colonic and the process can evacuate the equivalent of 15-16 bowel movements. Proponents of this type of bowel cleansing say that toxins from the GI tract can cause a wide variety of health problems and that removing these toxins will boost your energy and enhance your overall health. While it may be true that toxins are at the root of most disease processes, in Ayurveda we have very specific and time-tested ways of removing these toxins without the side effects that a colonic may bring.

The problem is that the Western world does not have a long-standing tradition of holistic medicine, so many times mistakes could be made as we develop this system from scratch without the advice of our wise ancestors. So we haphazardly think up diets which may come and go, various types of fads regarding the supplements we might take for all of our ailments, and at times we develop incorrect ideas of how to remove toxins from the body. This is why it’s good to study Ayurveda, a tradition over 5,000 years old, one of the most ancient and time tested health care systems in the world. All the important issues, such as proper diet, daily routine and detoxification procedures were meticulously handed down through the ages, with extreme detail paid to every aspect of our health care. 

Many of the dietary recommendations, supplements and detox procedures that we think up here in the West have not been developed according to the deep perspective that the ancients made available to us. Let’s take a look at how this might apply to administering colonics in our efforts to detoxify the body. First, you need to know a deeper theory of what exactly it is we’re doing when we cleanse. As Vaidya Mishra taught us, there are four types of toxins, each of which need to be removed in a different way. And as we cleanse, we don’t want to throw another area out of balance. 

Which brings us to the use of colonics. While it might sound enticing to want to yank those nasty toxins out of the colon as quickly as you can, you should first understand and then honor the body’s various processes so that you can intelligently scrub these toxins out carefully and systematically. First of all, the colon is where Apana Vata resides. Vata, controls the movement of things throughout the body, like the movement of blood through the vascular system or the movement of thoughts in the mind. This subdosha or subsection of Vata, known as Apana Vata, controls the downward flow of food through the body, and is also responsible for pulling the menstrual fluid down and out, as well as babies during labor and delivery. I just wonder if the people who developed colonics are aware of this downward movement and understand what happens if we flush the colon with such harsh purgation — what will that do to Apana Vata’s normal movements? What side effects might result when we go in and disturb the Apana in such a strong way? 

The other problem we don’t understand is what happens to the delicate layer of Ojas which lines the intestinal wall. We don’t even know what the word Ojas means here in the west so of course we would not understand what might happen if we flush the colon to this extent. Ojas is the slightly unctuous or oily compound which is what keeps us alive — it is the connecting factor between the inner body and the outer environment. Ojas provides us with a peaceful yet powerful energy to give us immunity to diseases and great strength our whole lives. It is our hormones and neurotransmitters so it is responsible for dictating how happy or sad, how hyper or calm we might be. When we eat our food — once it is digested it is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream where it then begins nourishing all 7 tissues: the blood plasma, the blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and the reproductive fluids. Once all 7 tissues are nourished Ojas is then made, which is the finest product of our digestive fluids.

One of the main goals in Ayurveda is to promote the production of Ojas by having optimum digestion combined with eating nourishing easy-to-digest foods. Huge emphasis is placed on keeping Ojas production high so we can live a long healthy life free of disease. 

Various factors can deplete Ojas over our lifetime, such as overwork or over-exercise, anger, grief, emotional trauma, working beyond our body’s ability, staying up late, a depleted diet, overuse of the mind, too much blood loss, dehydration, too much sexual activity, physical trauma, skipping meals, and improper fasting. And here is one other thing that can seriously deplete our Ojas: colonics. This is because Ojas is slightly unctuous and creates a nice coating inside the intestinal wall where it can both receive the nutrients and release toxic substances from the food we eat. This is a very important job for the colon. Colonics are so harsh and forceful that they can deplete this delicate layer of Ojas, which can set the stage for more serious diseases to take hold once we remove this intelligent layer in the colon.

A large part of Ayurvedic medicine is involved with proper cleansing — on a daily basis, weekly, monthly, seasonal and every year we put most of our patients on their spring and fall cleanses, watching them closely so that their channels are well lubricated and can handle the toxins as they come out into the bowel movement, urine and sweat. But in order to effectively take your patients through the cleanses you have to study the four types of toxins, the physical channels which take them out, the areas you are removing the toxins from, such as the blood, the bone marrow, brain, liver, kidneys and all the 7 tissues. This is important to understand because each area, organ or tissue is cleansed in a slightly different way from the others, requiring different herbs and treatments. And then once you pull the toxins out, you must know how to direct them into the urine and bind the toxins and escort them out through the intestines, otherwise they could begin to roam throughout the body.

Yes, the study of detoxification takes many years to learn, but it is such an integral part of our health that we need to take it very seriously and make sure that our cleansing processes are done in an intelligent and systematic way, tailored to each patient specifically, since everyone is holding on to different types of toxins and each of us has different capabilities of removing them. Which means we have to be attuned to that particular patient’s unique physiology. Some people can handle detox very well, and others have to do very slow detox over a longer period of time.

And not only that, the toxins that we are all harboring nowadays, the chemicals that we have surrounded ourselves with from industry, air pollution, skin care products, pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals have to be very carefully pulled from the body since they are very acidic and could rupture our physical channels on the way out if we pull them out too quickly or without knowing exactly what we’re doing.

So yes, while I absolutely understand our need and strong desire to cleanse, we can’t haphazardly start yanking out the toxins with strong detox affecting the entire colon without understanding the consequences that could result.

I hope this information helps you as you develop your detox protocols with your health care practitioner.

Thank you,

Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum

Cinnaminson, New Jersey


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