The colon – step one to good health

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Is the colon really that important? It doesn’t really do much, does it?

Well, here’s what Dr John Christopher – beloved of thousands of his patients and students – says:

“Death begins in the Colon.”

Straight to the point, eh?

And listen to Karen Kingston – popular author and lecturer on Feng Shui, and advocate of ‘Clutter Clearing your Body’ – who says:

“Sometimes… parts of the Colon expand from 2 1/2in diameter, to an obscene 10in or even 20in diameter… leaving a channel of only about a pencil’s width in the centre… The Colon becomes permanently toxic and all manner of health problems result as these poisons seep into your bloodstream…”
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Yes,  the colon needs attention.

Yes, the ‘preventive’ attention needed is virtually ignored by conventional medicine.

What is the colon?

The colon is also called the ‘large intestine’ or ‘large bowel’. It receives the food from the small intestine after, hopefully, most of the goodness has been extracted from it.

The join between the large and the small intestines is in the lower right area of the abdomen – just above the right hip. Guarding the entrance to the colon from the small intestine is a valve, called the ‘ileo-caecal’ valve, short name ‘ICV’. The name makes it seem complex – but it is just the valve between the ‘ileum’ (small intestine) and the ‘caecum’ (the first part of the colon).

The importance of the ‘ICV’

This valve – the ‘ICV’ – is important because it is designed to let the food from the small intestine into the colon; but to stop the food waste from ‘refluxing’ – returning – from the colon back into the small intestine.

Some practitioners believe that this valve can cause various problems if it becomes stuck open – which would allow the type of reflux described above. Practitioners in ‘Kinesiology’, or ‘Muscle Testing’, or ‘Touch for Health’ methods appear to be able to improve functioning of this valve, if it is a problem. General
colon cleaning – such as that described below – will also probably help improve ICV function.

The route of the colon

As I’ve said, the start of the colon is in the low right abdomen (where the ICV is). If you now imagine a square placed over the abdomen, under the ribs at the top, above the hips at the bottom, the route of the Colon is along three sides of that square. It passes up from the ICV (right hip), across under the ribs, and down to near the left hip. It then turns into a small reservoir – the rectum, where food waste travels just before passing out of the body.

What is the colon’s main problem?

The main problem that occurs with the colon is that it gets clogged up. Colon cleansing is aimed at reversing this tendency and it is why naturopaths focus on colon cleansing so strongly.
In fact, many naturopaths begin all – or nearly all – treatments with colon cleansing.

What are the usual causes of colon problems?

From observing many people over the years, and listening to the views of many other experienced practitioners, it is clear that colon problems have two main causes.

These are:

  1. Bad habits
  2. Stress

1. Bad habits – the first common cause of colon problems. When we lived in the wild, if we wanted a bowel movement, we stooped down – or found a nearby bush if we were coy – and did it! No worrying about being in public, or ‘I haven’t got time’, or ‘must finish watching this programme on TV’!

I’m not suggesting we go back to the old days completely… but making the point that its a bad habit to put off a bowel movement. If you do then, in time, the impulse telling you it’s time to go will start to be ignored automatically. This can so easily be the start of a sluggish bowel – which leads to constipation and
associated problems.

The natural ‘rubbish-ejecting’ mechanism of the body should not be over-ridden. ‘Get it out as soon as possible’ should be your guide. If it is retained in the body, waste matter at body temperature will, of course, rot! (Need I say more….? Use your imagination 🙂 )

As soon as the ‘rubbish-ejecting’ message comes to your brain – get rid of waste matter as soon as you possibly can.

Doctors don’t help – people often tell us they say ‘A bowel movement once a day, or even once every two or three days is quite normal’.

It may be ‘common’ – but normal? No. In fact, it’s a form of constipation.

If you think about it, you should really have one bowel movement for each time you eat during the day. In other words, two or three a day. If not, you are retaining food waste for too long; the remains from one meal are waiting for the remains from another, before being passed out of the body.

Keep healthy! When you get the message – get it out! And expect the message about as often as you eat.

If you don’t – the last part of the Colon – the section called the sigmoid colon – becomes a reservoir, collecting waste matter. The sigmoid will grow bigger and bigger to cope with the storage.
X-rays show huge, huge swellings of the sigmoid colon. You would be shocked! This is not what nature intended – and will cause problems!

Your motto in the matter of colon health should be; if in doubt – get it out!

2. Stress – the second common cause of colon problems. The colon is one of the organs of the body which is particularly affected by stress.walking-5-w250-h250

We all know that when we are nervous it makes the colon active. Remember the last time you were *really* nervous – and the affect it had on you?

In a similar way, when we are stressed for other reasons, the colon is affected. This may not necessarily cause looseness – itcan, for example, cause tightness or constriction in the colon, making it harder for waste matter to pass through.

Most people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (mainly affecting the colon), or colitis (an inflamed colon) have a high-stress constitution. The more laid back type of person doesn’t tend to get these inflammatory bowel conditions as much.

If you are a high-stress type, you need to:

  • Cleanse the colon
  • Build up your nervous system, to help you to cope with stress more healthily

There is nothing wrong with being a high-stress type – we all need to learn to cope with our constitution. If you are this type, you need to keep helping your nerves to keep you healthy.

For example, take a herbal formula for the nerves regularly, or a complete nerve programme which some herb companies offer, for 3 months or so; and take regular rest periods and/or holidays. Drink chamomile – or another nervine – tea through the day, and cut out tea and coffee which will tend to make you ‘hyper’.

How do you know if stress is affecting the colon? If you have discomfort or an ache in the abdomen when you are stressed, this could be the colon complaining. Similarly, if stress situations cause you to become too loose, or to bind you up – these are indications of stress affecting the colon. Some people are ‘bunged
up’ for the first few days when going away. This is an example of the effect of stress.

Take the time needed to look after your colon

An *acute* inflammation (sudden, painful), if ignored, can change to *chronic* (long term, hidden, little or no pain) inflammation. It hasn’t gone away – it has simply become silent because you’ve ignored it for so long. Something worse may now happen; naturopaths believe that this is one way cancer of the colon can
start. I’m not saying it will – but it can.

If you are over-working, then slow down. It isn’t worth risking your health for. It isn’t worth losing a chunk of your colon, or risking colon cancer. Slow down. I know it can be hard, but don’t make excuses; make a plan to look after yourself and follow it.

Listen to your body – deal with an inflammation early – at the ‘acute’ phase. One good way of helping this is through colon cleansing. Or visit a specialist in colon treatments – for example a good colonic therapist.

What is colon cleansing?

There are various ‘programmes’ of colon cleansing. Many of them involve herbs, natural fibre, and bowel flora such as ‘acidophilus’ (natural bacteria for the Colon – such as you get in live yoghurt). Some combine these approaches in a ‘colon cleansing programme’ or ‘colon programme’ or similar product. Hopefully, they will include dietary and exercise advice in such a programme too:

Herbal TeasHerbs

Herbs are included because there are certain herbs which offer a gentle and proven way of improving bowel function. These are not the pure herbal laxatives – such as senna; but the best is probably cascara sagrada – or ‘sacred bark’, Latin name Rhamnus purshiana. This has been used to ‘purge’ the bowel in the past; but, used in lower doses, it ‘retrains’ the bowel muscles to work again – very nicely.

Cascara does have a laxative effect but, more importantly, it gets the vital ‘peristalsis’ of the bowel wall working in the way it needs to. These muscles of the bowel wall are often sluggish and coated with an inch or two of impacted waste matter. Time and again, cascara has shown it can help in this type of situation.

Cascara is usually combined with other herbs. One reason for this is that by itself, it tends to cause griping – spasms. This is the reason why cayenne or ginger commonly appear in formulations with cascara. Other herbs are often added for other reasons – eg to soothe the colon or cleanse the liver.

The best cascara formula – tens of thousands of people would agree – is Dr John Christopher’s cascara combination, which has been widely used (by ‘those in the know’) for over 30 years. Using this daily, the bowel will often get back into good habits (2-3 easy bowel movements a day) after between 6-9 months. (For some
people this will take longer – if they have been really constipated, for example.) After the formula has been taken daily for long enough, the bowel will function without help. To test for this, after the initial 6 months, you just cut down the dose every month or so – or leave it off – and see what happens. If your body
starts slowing down again, resume the formula for another month or two, and try cutting down again.

To find this formula – or similar formulas which may have had to be modified for legal reasons, search for ‘cascara compound’ or similar names, and add in ‘Dr Christopher, as vendors will usually mention his name.

Natural fibre

This is recommended because the colon likes to grip onto something to help move food waste along. There is already loads of fibre in fruit and vegetables – especially vegetables – and especially uncooked ones. If 70-80% of your diet consists of vegetables and fruit – with a high proportion of that
being raw, you are getting loads of the most natural form of fibre.

Few people are, though; so it is advisable to use a fibre supplement – one which has inbuilt lubrication. This leaves out bran – which is scratchy.
There is a story – maybe apocryphal – that one day, a bunch of food manufacturers were sitting around saying –

‘We’ve got this wheat which is perfect for wholemeal bread. Fortunately, most people think white bread is cooler – so let’s remove the ‘wheat germ’ and sell it in health food shops – double the profits! That means we only waste the bran – we’ll have to throw that away.’

Just then, a call came through from a well known breakfast cereal company… and a few days later, a bran breakfast cereal was born!

Well – it could have happened! Industry boosts profits by finding things to do with today’s waste products. After all, BSE came from finding a use – in animal feed – for sheep’s bones.

But back to the plot…

Psyllium husks, or linseeds are usually the recommended sources of healthy fibre. This is because they assist the passage of waste matter by bulking it up and lubricating its passage. Whereas bran works by irritating the bowel, and causing expulsion. It is thus less helpful. Go for psyllium (silent ‘p’) or linseeds.

Bowel flora – Acidophilus

The third element usually found in a colon cleansing programme is acidophilus bacteria (good bacteria!). It is generally agreed that supplementing the natural ‘bowel flora’ already in the colon is great for colon health.

This may sound like margarine, but is actually the natural bacteria which inhabit the colon. These are often out of balance, resulting in more of the ‘bad’ type (unhelpful – and often wind-producing – bacteria) and fewer of the ‘good’ type – such as acidophilus, rhamnosus, and faecium.

Bowel flora supplements either contain acidophilus bacteria on its own, or acidophilus combined with some of the other beneficial bacteria. Buying a reputable brand is important, because it is important to be as sure as possible that the potency is what is claimed on the label. As with many other things, with supplements
you tend to get what you pay for.


Many people get too little exercise. Exercise is vital to good health. This should be part of any health programme – including a programme for the colon.


Many people have a poor diet. ‘Poor’ by our definition means:

  • Too much carbohydrate – bread, potato, pasta, rice, sugar
  • Too much protein – meat, fish, eggs, milk (the average need is 3 ounces (100g) a day)
  • Too few non-starchy vegetables (potatoes belong with ‘carbohydrate – they are nearly all starch)
  • Too little fruit

We recommend: reducing carbs and protein; ‘maxing out’ on fruit and vegetables especially vegetables (not potatoes), especially raw (unless these really don’t suit you). Fruit and vegetable juices are great.

Diet is vital! This is just a summary of diet; it is fodder for another topic.

[Also consider overweight/obesity – this is becoming epidemic in the West. It is extremely helpful for your overall health to address this. Exercise, yes; but a much quicker way to cut down weight is to reduce intake. Hard, I know; but this is a fact. Most overweight people simple eat *too much of the *wrong foods. This
is the best place to start addressing the issue.]

Follow a programme consistently

To give the colon a good cleanse, follow a clearly laid out colon cleansing programme. This might be for 3-4 months initially with a more gentle follow-up treatment for another 6 months or so. You can then take a top-up treatment for just a couple of months. This is just a guide – of course everyone is different, and you must try this out to see what suits you.

There are various colon cleansing programmes available. Just make sure you get a good quality one.

Vital to good health

In one study, it was found that the average person carried around **10-12 pounds** of waste matter – stuck to the insides of the colon!!

No need to get paranoid – but at least get sensible – you need to try and remove this waste matter! Otherwise, it will putrefy and make its way into the blood stream. No wonder Dr Christopher used to say “Death begins in the Colon”!

Please don’t mind me being direct. Sorry if you’re squeamish! This is your health we’re talking about, and I want to make sure you are fully informed.

Please, please, please – look carefully into cleansing the colon. For most people, it is the most important single step you can take to getting yourself – and *keeping* yourself – healthy.


For most people, cleansing the colon is probably the single most important step to good health.
Do it well the first time – taking, perhaps, 9-12 months of a good colon cleansing programme, and then you will probably only need 2-3 months ‘top-up’ every year or two. Of course, if you’ve long term problems with constipation, you will need to take a longer course, and a longer ‘top-up’.
Bad habits – ie not passing a bowel movement at the first urge; and stress are the two big causes of problems in the colon. As for going when the urge strikes – just do it! As for stress – if you are a high stress type of person – take regular supplements for the nervous system. You need tonics – not tonics such as guarana or ginseng, which are ’empty’ tonics – but herbs, if you want herbs, which nourish the nerves at a deeper level. You want products containing herbs such as vervain,
motherwort, scullcap, or oats. Go to a reputable herbal company who will have several formulations.
First, take a course of a general nerve support – (perhaps 3 months use); next have a break; then take a course of a different type. You will find out what suits you. The more ‘high stress’ type of person you are, the more of the time it will be beneficial to take a nerve supplement. But note it is generally good to have a change every few months, rather than take the same one all the time.

N.B Don’t play around with your health

If you have a recognised illness, and especially if taking pharmaceuticals, you definitely need assistance and advice from someone used to dealing with these situations. Seek the advice of a sympathetic doctor, and find an experienced naturopath to assist you to get well. Listen to the guidance and help offered, then make up your own mind what to do.Don’t be pushed into any decision you don’t really want to take. It’s the only way to learn about your health!
A few people experience ‘cleansing reactions’ as the body ‘throws off toxins’, when carrying out natural healthcare methods. Examples of these reactions include loose bowels, headaches and temporary tiredness. The general advice for such reactions is to ease off on the treatment until they calm down, then resume at a
more gentle pace. If you are in good general health, you should cope easily with such reactions. Some people even feel good at this time – a sign that the body is happy to be getting rid of a burden.
However, it is always most helpful to have professionals on hand who you can turn to for support and advice when using natural healthcare methods. And, as mentioned above, if you have a recognised illness, it is essential for your safety and good health to have professionals – both in the alternative and regular
medical fields – to whom you can turn for help.

So you want to be healthy series

  1. So – you want to be healthy?
  2. The colon – step one to good health
  3. Learn to love your liver!
  4. Your life – your food!
  5. Boost the power of your digestion
  6. Time for action!