Detoxes: they are everywhere. These days, we’re drinking pressed kale, doin’ yoga in a sauna and cutting out gluten, all in the name of detoxifying our bodies. And while sometimes I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone tells me an ionic foot bath will extract the toxins from my body, I am totally sampling the Kool-Aid (not full-on drinking… do you know how many toxins are in Kool-Aid?!). Here are three kinda gross detoxes I recently tried, and maybe you should or shouldn’t try them, too.
Let’s start with the least disgusting: dry brushing. I always used to think those big ol’ bathroom brushes were for scrubbing your back while in the shower. I don’t have difficulty reaching my back, but maybe my mobility is off the charts. Turns out, those brushes are intended for brushing your skin pre-shower or bath (thanks, Huffington Post!). From what I’d read, brushing your dry skin helps slough off dryness, improves the look of cellulite, boosts circulation and does some great things for your lymphatic system, too.
How it works:
Starting at the feet, slowly brush your skin in a circular fashion, moving up toward your heart. Go feet, legs, arms, back, stomach and chest. You can brush more a little more firmly on your feet, legs, butt, arms and back, but take it easy on your belly and chest… yeow! The HuffPo article states you should go counter clockwise on your stomach. Not sure why, but since you only have two directional options, might as well do it counter-clockwise.
I started dry brushing in about February in order to combat the effects of the polar vortex on my skin (ashy legs city!). I still needed lotion post-shower, but there was a notable difference. Jury’s still out on the cellulite thing (I wasn’t really paying attention), but my skin does look nicer in general. My brush only cost about $7 at Whole Foods (go with a natural bristle brush) and I just keep it on a hook outside of my shower.
Little monetary investment, takes about a minute, noticeable results, feels kind of nice (in a scratchy kind of way)
You can’t help but feel like you’re littering a dry skin confetti bomb all over your bathroom (even if you can’t see it).
Verdict: DO IT.
Unless you’ve been camping for months in the Kalahari Desert, you’ve probably noticed that coconut oil cures everything– dry skin, frizzy hair, obesity, polio, water polio, athlete’s foot… you get the picture. I mean, it’s on Facebook, so it must be real! The most touted use for coconut oil these days is oil pulling, which is said to whiten teeth, cure bad breath, relieve headaches and jaw pain, shoo acne, ease sinus and congestion issues… the list goes on and on. Why would I not try this?!
How to do it:
Allegedly, you can use a variety of oils (sesame, sunflower, not motor), but coconut is probably the most on-trend. Take a tablespoon of the stuff, which will be solid, and let it melt in your mouth. This feels kind of weird and takes about 20-30 seconds. Did you make it? Great. Now gently swish the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes. Yes, I know it seems like a long time, but you can do it. I like to do my oil pulling in the shower. I’ll basically be in there for at least 10 minutes, and if I’m dry brushing before and combing my hair afterward, I’m close to that 20 minute mark. Once you’ve completed your 20 minutes, spit the oil into your trash. The oil is full of bacteria (which it “pulls” out of your mouth) and you don’t want that in your belly. Additionally, you don’t want oil clogging your drains.
After ten days of pulling, I noticed a few things. First, the 20 minutes was more doable than I’d thought. I normally brush my teeth immediately upon waking, then again after I eat breakfast. Instead of that first brushing, I did the oil thing and my mouth felt squeaky clean (not to be Captain Obvious, but this is not a sufficient replacement for all brushing). Oil pulling made my nose run (in a good way) and cleared any throat congestion. I also might have had whiter teeth, but it’s hard to say.
Some of my friends swear pulling has helped them deal with migraines, TMJ, acne and insomnia. I am still on the fence as to how well oil pulling works, but I can say that it’s been proven to clean the mouth. As the great Sarah Silverman recently said in a Glamour article, “death creeps in through the gums.” It’s true. Keep your damn mouth clean!
Inexpensive, easy, potentially can cure all that ails you (according to the Internet).
Jury still out of how well it works, time consuming, some folks find the idea and act of swishing oil to be positively gross.
Verdict: Try it for a week. My results weren’t amazing, so I’d say my incentive to keep it up is low. However, I know people who swear by this technique.
Warning: This story is a lot more gross than the first two.
I’d heard from a few friends about how amazing they felt after a colonic (one friend opted for a colon cleanse instead of a massage before her wedding. I know! ). I was definitely intrigued, but I had so many questions. Is it going to hurt? Will it be awkward? Will it be disgusting? I made an appointment, then started to sweat immediately. One week passed between making and going to the appointment, and I spent a lot of time freaking about the whole thing. Definitely in the top ten Hey Eleanor scariest challenges to date.
Anyhow, the idea behind colon hydrotherapy is that your overall health is greatly affected by the health of your gut. During the course of your life, stool allegedly becomes impacted on your colon wall, which leads to sluggishness and sickness. Once impacted material is released via flushing your colon with water, your body should return to more healthful patterns, and you’ll be feeling as light and free as a doe frolicking in a meadow on a sunny spring day!
How it works:
I arrived at the clinic– a very clean space in a Minneapolis office building. It felt like a fancy dermatology-med-spa or something. I was asked to remove my shoes, fill out a release form and read over a Colon Hydrotherapy Information Sheet. It was then I noticed that a “minimum of ten colonics, close together, is recommended as starting point for optimal colon health.” TEN! They suggested doing three in weeks one and two, then two in weeks three and four. Pardon the pun, but holy $#!& that is a lot of colonics… and at $80 a pop, well, this ain’t no joke!
My hydrotherapist, a very soft-spoken woman in her 50s, lead me to my room (pictured above). She gave me a few minutes to undress from the waist down and lie facing up on the provided table. When she returned, she sat in the rolling chair next to me and explained how she was going to “insert a small tube into the rectum.” My palms started perspiring. EEEEEK! My general uncomfortableness with retelling this story gets me an extra Hey Eleanor point (#211).
This sterile, single use rubber tubing carries clean water in and waste out of through the system, which looked like this:
Once the tube was s-l-o-w-l-y placed (full disclosure: it wasn’t my favorite), she told me it would release a very fine trickle of water into my colon. I think the word she used was “angel hair pasta-sized,” which made me happy that I haven’t had pasta in, like, four months. I would feel some pressure as the water meandered through my colon. I was to “think of it like a hose. When the water comes to a kink, the pressure needs to build up a bit before finally pushing through.” She asked if I felt comfortable. I said, “I think so?” Then, she turned on the water.
Initially, there was some cramping and pressure. But once the pressure started to cause panic, she reversed the water flow and poof! Out it went. Once all the water had been released, she flipped a switch and fresh, clean water started flowing you-know-where again. The first few passes were pretty unremarkable, but after about the third or forth time, I noticed (through the clear glass tube in the “waste control” section of the colonic system) that things were starting to exit my body. It wasn’t really that gross, just kind of weird– this is probably TMI (but you are reading a post about colonics… what did you expect?!), but particles of something began floating by. At one point, the water turned a pinkish color. My lady said, “I think the water has hit your liver and is flushing it out. The pinkish tone tells me your liver really needed this.” I told her I’d eaten beets the day before. We agreed that could’ve been the culprit.
Anyhow, so the actual colon flushing was a little uncomfortable, but not too painful or embarrassing. And of course, because I can’t ever stop asking questions, I started asking my therapist all sorts of questions. First of all, I had to ask (in kinder words than this) why anyone would want to administer water into people’s butts all day long. I have a hard enough time going to work every day and I love my job. She told me that almost a decade prior, she’d been extremely ill- lethargic, bloated, sickly looking, generally miserable. After trying everything, she stumbled upon colon hydrotherapy and after a few sessions, she felt so much better. So much so, that she devotes her days to helping other people. I can get behind that.
But then things took a strange turn. She started telling me a pseudo history of colonics. Hydrotherapy had been used in the time of the Egyptians, and the Bible even talks about the importance of cleansing the colon, and then I think she said something about Jesus. Colonics were “hugely important until the 1940s, when Nazis came to America and started the pharmaceutical companies.” Now, I understand that there is some truth to the Nazis-pharmaceutical company situation, but the way she brought this up made it sound like the Nazis were behind a massive colon hydrotherapy cover up.
My therapist said most people feel light and refreshed after a colonic. Like they “took a bath on the inside.” Yuck? Before leaving the room, she pointed to a toilet (did I mention there was a toilet in the room?) and said I should take as long as I need.
I “needed” 20 minutes.
As I handed over my credit card, my therapist recommended that I not go crazytown on pizza and fried food. Instead, I ought to drink lots of water and maybe try a cold pressed juice to help replenish nutrients. Done.
I really wanted to feel like I’d taken an interior shower or whatever. That isn’t how I felt.
I kind of felt bloated and gross. They say your colon might be a little sluggish for a few days post-procedure. TMI again, but I did not poop for almost one week after! It was awful.
Aside from the fact that it made me feel worse (which their website claims is probably because I really needed their assistance and should go back $800 worth of times), I just felt like my therapist was modern jackassing me or something. I am sure she knows a lot about the topic… but why did she have to bring Jesus and the Nazis into it? I was half-expecting her to tie in terrorists just to give the story some extra oomph. It felt like someone was reading me the colon hydrotherapy Wikipedia page. I wanted scientific facts! This sort of half-baked explanation for why I had a tube running water into my colon made the experience feel hokey.
Might help you clean your insides, Nazis didn’t like it, Jesus did it….maybe.
Very expensive, time consuming, makes you constipated, kind of uncomfortable.
Verdict: Some people swear by colon hydrotherapy. I don’t. I’d personally try acupuncture (which does make me feel like a doe frolicking through a meadow) instead.
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Have you experienced good/bad/ugly results with any of these techniques? What other detoxes have you tried? That’s what the comments section is for, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.