Caution! Cleanses your energy fields of toxins. Caution!

When we hear a sentence like that above, especially when someone is trying to sell us something we should stop and try to figure out exactly what the supplement/treatment is claiming. What energy field? What evidence is there for such a field? What toxins? Where did they come from and exactly how does the treatment cleanse me of them? What evidence is there that this cleansing is both necessary and risk free?

We should be especially wary of claims that this supplement/treatment will heal us of all of our ailments. Such as those made for colon cleansing.

“Cleansing the body to remove toxins has been known to help with ADD/ADHD, allergies, arthritis, chronic pain, fatigue, inflammation, boosting the immune system, strength training, weight loss, and even cancer and other terminal illness. “(1)

These are remarkable claims and remarkable claims require remarkable evidence, but through further investigation we find that the author lists no resources, no studies reporting the evidence for said claims. She in fact has no evidence.

In fact there is evidence for the reverse. Colon cleansing for example can have many negative side effects such as anemia, malnutrition and heart failure. Our bodies, especially our colons are quite effective at cleansing themselves and so these artificial cleansings are unnecessary. With no benefit and high risk the risk/benefit shows zero reason to proceed with such cleansings. (2)

Another form of woo (term used to refer to new age pseudo scientific practices, see an example below) is therapeutic touch. Therapeutic touch is the idea that each living thing has a “life energy field” which extends beyond the surface of the body and generates an aura. This energy field can become unbalanced, misaligned, obstructed, or out of tune. Energy healers [claim] they can feel and manipulate this energy field by making movements that resemble massaging the air a few inches above the surface of the patient’s body. Energy healers also [claim] that they can transfer some of their own life energy to the patient. (3)

Here we must ask right off the bat, What life energy field? What evidence do you have for such a field? What evidence is there that it can become unbalanced? What does it mean for the field to be obstructed or out of tune? How exactly do your hands manipulate the field? We should be wary when claimants introduce quantum theory in places where it doesn’t belong (more on this in the near future). It all comes down to evidence and like cleansing, therapeutic touch has none. And again like cleansing, therapeutic touch has evidence against its claims. (4)

Be wary of treatments that are labeled with anecdotal evidence on the box. Claims that Science based medicine, or that is medicine with evidence, make are not followed by anecdotal evidence because it is splotchy at best and provably inaccurate.(5) Science based medicine is backed by hard reproducible facts and the studies to show those facts are always available.

My main point in this article is that pseudoscience practitioners use a lot of words that are specifically meant to be vague and confusing. They will talk about energy and fields and toxins. They’ll talk about quantum mechanics because it is new and confusing. The goal is to confuse you. They’re trying to sell you something that they have no evidence for. We should all demand more when it comes to the evidence for putting something in our bodies or when deciding which treatment has the best chance to cure our ailment with the lowest risk.

When in doubt about any given treatment it is a great idea to ask your doctor.

We should be careful because it may come down to life or death. The pseudo scientific community has created believers, and these people are passing up honest, evidenced based, helpful treatments and its destroying them.(5)(6) Whats the harm? Human lives. Whats the risk? Everything.

Woo:

“Mainly I use woo to refer to things that use ‘energy’ to improve ‘wellness’ and remove ‘toxins’. Especially if the ‘energy’ can be ‘proven’ with the use of quantum mechanics. Or say when you’ve got a bad ‘vibration’ in your ‘life force’ and you ‘focus’ your ‘chi’ to ‘cleanse’ yourself of ‘blockages’ of your innate ‘intelligence’.” ~Me.

For other instances of woo see magnet therapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, etc.

References

(1) Who needs to cleanse?. (2007, May 1). http://naturalmedicine.suite101.com/article.cfm/who_needs_to_cleanse

(2) Colon cleansing: Is it helpful or harmful? (March 21, 2007) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colon-cleansing/AN00065

(3) Therapeutic Touch. 2007. http://www.skepdic.com/tt.html

(4) Why Therapeutic Touch Should Be Considered Quackery (2008, Feb. 3) http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/tt.html

(5) Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame? (2008, July 7) David Gorski. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=15

(6) Sandra Nette et al. v. Gregory John Stiles et al. (June 2008) http://albertachiroclassaction.ca/docs/Chiro_Class_Action_Backgrounder.pdf

6 Responses to Caution! Cleanses your energy fields of toxins. Caution!

  1. Mark Ament says:

    I do agree that there can be a lot of hype and “woo” in the colon cleansing world. But there is indeed a lot of hard medical research about the practice.

    This is an excerpt from my recent book on colon cleansing.

    The History of Colon Cleansing Research

    LATE 1800s

    1892 – Dr. C.A. Herter links intestinal putrefaction to epilepsy in 31 patients.

    1892 – Dr. G.R. Satterlle and W.W. Eldrigde report success with 518 cases of “mental symptoms” including loss of concentration, lack of confidence, excessive worry and irritability by eliminating intestinal toxemia in patients.

    1900 – 1950

    1902 – 1945 Edgar Cayce performs 14,256 psychic readings. 9000 are on the topic of health and of those 6235 are specifically about colon health. At one point Cayce says: “Keeping the colon clean is necessary for EVERY well-balanced body.”

    1906 – After 23 years of observation Dr. D. Rochester of the University Of Buffalo School Of Medicine declares that “toxemia of gastrointestinal tract origin is the underlying cause of asthma.”

    1909 – Dr. J.A. Stucky, MD reports “marked amelioration or entire relief” in “several hundreds” of sinus and ear disorders by eliminating intestinal toxins.

    1913 – 57 leading researches and doctors meet in London before the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss alimentary toxemia. The 382 page report results is called “Death Begins in the Colon.”
    It states that almost every known chronic disease is directly or indirectly due to the influence of more than 30 bacterial poisons that are absorbed from the intestines. These poisons accumulate because of poor eliminations from the colon.

    1914 – Dr. C.W. Hawley, MD successfully treats many cases of eye disorders by relieving intestinal toxins.

    1918 – Dr. T.M. Howell writes: “toxemia due to intestinal sepsis is a common cause of high blood pressure.”

    1920s – Dr. John Harvey Kellog (of Kellog cereal fame) realizes that many diseases can be avoided by cleansing the bowel through the consumption of more fiber. He also finds that in the majority of cases, chronic constipation is curable without resorting to surgery.

    1927 – After studying 109 cases of eczema Dr. J.F. Burgess from Montreal General Hospital reports: “On the basis of clinical observations and sensitivity tests against various amino acids and ptomaine bases, eczema is probably caused by intestinal toxemia.”

    1929 – Dr P.I. Clark, MD writes: “Where there is perfect drainage, there is no death. Sanatology has pointed out and proven that a clean, wholesome human body, clean inside to the marrow of the bones as well as outside, has unlimited powers of resistance. It is utterly incapable of ‘catching’ any ‘disease.’”

    1929 – Dr Arbuthnot Lane, one time personal surgeon to the King of England, writes that “constipation is the cause of all ills of civilization.” And “all maladies are due to the lack of certain food principles, such as mineral salts or vitamins, or to the absence of the normal flora. When this occurs, toxic bacteria invade the lower alimentary canal; the poisons generated pollute the blood stream and gradually deteriorate and destroy every tissue, gland and organ of the body.”

    1930 – Dr. George C. Crile, one of the world’s leading surgeons says, “If people would take care of their body and cleanse their colon and intestines, their problems would be pretty much eliminated.”

    1930 – Dr. William E Fitch reports success in treating headache, lassitude, anorexia, coated tongue, fatigue, weakness, insomnia and more with intestinal cleansing.

    1939 – Dr. William Lintz reports successful treatment of 472 patients who suffered with allergies by cleansing the colon.

    1942 – Dr. Anthony Bassler reports 100% success in eliminating cardiac arrhythmia by reducing intestinal toxemia.

    1942 – Gastroenterologist Dr. Anthony Bassler writes: “Every physician should realize that the intestinal toxemias are the most important primary and contributing causes of many disorders and diseases of the human body.”

    With such compelling reports of success, why hasn’t medical research into colon cleansing continued beyond 1950?

    After World War II, the profit motive entered the medical profession more than it had ever before. Capitalistic pharmaceutical companies took advantage of the “germ theory myth” to begin training doctors. Simply put, these new doctors and medical researchers were not taught colon cleansing as a way to treat disease, in spite of all the previous success. Instead, they focused on developing new medicines to sell to the public and in specialized forms surgery to treat conditions that might have been treated through diet or lifestyle changes.

    Even the very common hospital practice of giving an enema to most patients on arrival was abandoned after 1950.

    Fortunately, the knowledge of colon cleansing did not disappear after the 1950s. Instead it was and is practiced, and perfected by several pioneering figures in the field of natural or holistic health.

    1950s – 1970s Paul C. Bragg, the originator of health food stores throughout the U.S. teaches thousands about the miracles of fasting and cleansing. Bragg dies in a surfing accident in his 80s!

    1970s – Bernard Jensen, ND, PhD has a 40% success rate in the treatment of leukemia through bowel management. Conventional medicine has 0% success. Later Jensen writes: “In the 50 years I’ve spent helping people to overcome illness, disability and disease, it has become crystal clear that poor bowel management lies at the root of most people’s health problems.” He practices into his 90s, curing himself of cancer at 88.

    1979 – Norman Walker, PhD, the inventor of juicing, who treated and inspired countless patients and readers with fasting and cleansing writes: “There is no ailment, sickness or disease that will not respond to treatment quicker and more effectively than it will after the administration of a series of colon irrigations.” Walker writes and lectures into his 90s.

    1982 – Present, Richard Anderson, ND pioneers herbal cleanses that release mucoid plaque and inspires over 150,000 people through his books on cleansing.
    1985 – Linda Berry, D.C. and popular cleansing author, writes: “I believe that a toxic elimination system is the most common cause of ill health today, and the most dangerous. Fortunately it is also treatable.”

    1987 – Dr. Jeffrey Bland publishes results of a rigorous 3 month clinical study of people on an internal cleanse regime at the prestigious Linus Pauling Institute. In all cases he finds a reduction of pathogenic bacteria, an increase in water soluble vitamin absorption and a decrease of undigested (rotting) protein in the bowel.

    1993 – Hulda Regher Clark, N.D. publishes the ambitiously titled book, “The Cure for All Cancers” in which she explains the connection between cancer and the human intestinal fluke parasite (Fasciolopsis Buskii). Dr. Clark says that in every case of cancer she studied the patient had this same parasite. Her research shows that when you kill the flukes, cancer stops immediately and tissues become normal. Subsequently she publishes the “Cure for All Diseases” and “The Cure for HIV and AIDS.”

    1995 – Sandra Duggan, R.N. and developer of the Edgar Cayce Colon Therapy Program writes: “You cannot expect to be healthy by fasting and following other health regimes without also having a properly functioning colon.”

    2006 – David Jubb, PhD, leading microbiologist, writes:
    “Gastrointestinal balance is important in remaining vital. Perhaps some 90% of all known systemic disease is due to or exacerbated by gastrointestinal dysbiosis. It can be said that auto-intoxication is a thousand-headed monster masquerading as a large group of symptomatic health challenges.” And “Disease comes from one root, and that is other than maintaining vital electrics and keeping cells clean and oxygenated. Disease is an acidic, toxic, hypoxic terrain.”

    2007 – Edward F Group III, ND, a worldwide leader in colon cleansing with oxygen based cleansers states: “The colon is the gateway to health or disease.”

    Mark

  2. Paul Marden says:

    This morning I happened to notice a news special on so-called detoxifying foot-pads (https://www.buykinoki.com/). You wear them on your feet while you sleep, and they supposedly draw toxins out of your body through your soles. The pads are covered with black crud when you wake up — a sure sign of their efficacy.

    The funny thing is that apparently the same black crud can be made to appear on the pads simply by holding them over a pot of boiling water (http://doesitwork.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/06/19/1156772.aspx).

    What will they think of next? Wrapping inductive coils around limbs in order to cleanse neural pathways? Come to think of it…

  3. sweetkevin says:

    Mark, in his long comment about the history of so-called ‘colon research’, fails to mention anything of actual value. All he does is give a long list of what individuals have ‘said’ or ‘reported’ about colons. I’m not saying they don’t exist, they might, but where are the studies to support what these people claimed?

    Furthermore, nowhere does he mention specific ailments or specific treatments for such ailments. His time-line only consists of people saying how important the colon is. Guess what? There are a lot of important organs in the body that can totally fuck you over if something goes wrong. Just because a part of the body needs to be properly maintained, does not mean that there is any substantial evidence that supports a ‘cure-all’ treatment such as colon cleansing.

    It appears that Mark is trying to use the same ‘woo’ that he believes is often used too much. Medical claims not supported by a scientific consensus, much less reproducible evidence, do not mean anything.

  4. Josh Wittner says:

    Kevin is a little harsh here, but I do agree with him on most of his points. I would also point out that there is little evidence seen that the colon even needs to be properly maintained beyond a normal and healthy diet. It is quite effective and maintaining itself. That said, I’ll be reviewing Mark’s time-line this week and seeing about the validity of the references that are more on the scientific side. Look for to that. :)

  5. Jesse says:

    I personally believe that “colon cleansing” is an alternative-health form of snake oil.

    In fact, if you look at one specific product called Colonix, you will see pictures on their website that shows people holding what looks to be “ropes of poop”. All of these people in these pictures have a giant smile on their face because they think that has been inside of them for years! When, the truth is that Colonix is full of psyllium, and those “poop ropes” are nothing more than the psyllium with pieces of fecal matter attached to them. It’s just a big scam.

    As to what somebody said above about there being a lack of clinical studies about colon cleansing… I did find this study. It’s FDA approved Phase I & Phase II study.

    http://www.oxypowder.com/ibs-clinical-studies.html

    Apparently, this “colon cleanser” somehow liquify’s your poop and makes it easier to pass. According to this study, because it’s easier to pass during a bowel movement, it helps people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

    Who knows the validity of this study… I’d be willing to bet that if you were to eat more fruits and veggies, the extra fiber would help too… but i’m not a “colon health expert”

  6. Josh Wittner says:

    People with IBS have a medical condition, the symptoms of which may well be alleviated with an increase in the ease of bowel movements. Its when products and procedures like colon cleansing are passed off as the kind of ‘cures what ails you’ solution that it enters the realm of snake oil.

    I hope that oxy powder isn’t advertised in this way, and being as its actually attempting FDA trials my guess is that its more legitimate and targeted to sufferers of IBS.

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