The human body performs countless amazing functions every day, so it should come as no surprise that it is perfectly capable of cleaning and filtering out impurities. However, because of the overwhelming amount of toxins that we are exposed to daily, many in the medical community agree that an internal cleanse is now essential for optimal health.
“It is very necessary because our world is so toxic. We are ingesting, breathing, and coming into contact externally with toxins all day long, and there are more environmental toxins than there have ever been,” says Dr. Tom Ziegler, a pharmacist at the Medicap Pharmacy in Ashburn, VA. “We need to do a cleanse to rid the body of those toxins.”
For instance, extract from the chaste tree berry, the fruit of a small tree native to Central Asia which has been used for thousands of years to ease menstrual-related issues in women, has now been added to some female cleanses.
“Many women feel at the mercy of unpleasant changes in their monthly cycles,” says Peter Finkle, director of quality control at Yerba Prima, an Ashland, Oregan-based company credited with developing the first internal cleanse. “[The] chaste tree berry supports the cleansing process by balancing female hormones and supporting positive female energy. The combination of cleansing and balance helps women feel healthier and more energetic all through the month.”
To promote and balance male energy during the cleansing process without the ups and downs of stimulants such as caffeine, many cleanses are now including the root of Asian ginseng plants, which have been used for more than 2,000 years to improve stamina and endurance.
Although an internal cleanse can remove many unwanted wastes and toxins from the body, and—let’s face it—can be a popular way to justify holiday overindulgences, the cleansing process itself does put strenuous demands on the body.
The dietary fiber supplement psyllium has long been used as the primary ingredient of many laxative and colon cleanse products, but surprisingly, it does not do a complete job of internal cleansing by itself.
In the fight to protect your body against environmental toxins, using psyllium in conjunction with a natural volcanic clay called bentonite provides a more complete internal cleansing. Together, psyllium and bentonite, which attracts toxins through adsorption and is taken in either a solution or capsule form, can deliver a one-two punch to waste and toxins accumulated along the digestive tract and colon.
“A lot of people suffer from leaky gut syndrome where toxins are absorbed from the gut back into the blood stream, and it becomes a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Ziegler. “People really need at least one or two bowel movements every day.”
On contact with water, psyllium seed husk thickens into a gel-like substance. This acts like a broom to sweep waste from the colon, so it does not get re-absorbed through the colon wall back into the bloodstream to recirculate in the body. Psyllium also keeps the lining of the colon cleaner because it cleans out pockets in the colon that may accumulate toxic waste material.
Working synergistically with psyllium, bentonite attracts toxins like a magnet through a chemical adsorption process in which the surfaces of toxins and bentonite bind together when they touch along the body’s digestive tract. Thus, bentonite’s large, porous, ion-charged surface draws environmental pollutants out of the body as it passes from the colon. In numerous studies, bentonite has demonstrated it can bind with and remove pesticides, herbicides, pathogenic viruses, heavy metals, and other toxins from the body.
“Because psyllium and bentonite work by different means, the combination provides a more thorough internal cleanse than using either alone,” says Finkle.
Some health supplement companies are going one step beyond this psyllium-bentonite combination and offering supplements that not only support the body during cleansing, but also help to renew it afterward.
For example, Triphala extract has been added to some supplement products to enhance the cleansing activity of psyllium and bentonite. Triphala extract, which combines three potent herbal superfruits, has been used in Indian ayurvedic medicine for several thousand years. In addition to reducing gas and abdominal discomfort, Triphala improves digestion and the absorption of nutrients. As bentonite and psyllium cleanse the colon, Triphala rebuilds colon health to improve overall system function by the end of the cleansing process.
Despite gender-specific differences in colon health, Finkle believes everyone can benefit from this proven combination. “Combining psyllium and bentonite with energizing and balancing herbs,” he says, “can help women and men have a better, more effective internal cleansing experience.”