Colon Cleanse and Regularity

There are a number of effective and gentle all-natural, herbal and dietary products available on the market to support healthy digestion and regularity when the rigors of our hectic lifestyles make it difficult to eat right.  Fortunately, these products are increasingly available in convenient capsule form, thereby eliminating the need to measure and mix drinks.  But what are the most effective ingredients for maintaining proper and regular elimination and a healthy GI tract?  While there are many different products on the market, they don’t always offer safe and gentle support of your digestion.  This article will discuss several natural and gentle supplementary products that can be helpful when faced with occasional constipation or irregularity, and will explore how these products can be useful for you.

Firstly, you may be surprised to learn that the aloe vera plant, often used for its soothing and moisturizing properties for your skin, can also be very beneficial for your digestion!  The aloe vera plant is thought to have originated in the hot, dry climate of Northern Africa and it has long been used for providing a rejuvenating and soothing effect.  In fact, it turns out that the clear, green gel found in the plant’s thick, spiny-edged stems has been recommended for internal health as far back as the first century.  More recently, research studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of taking whole leaf aloe vera, especially its role to promote regularity. 

One such study published in 2001 determined that it was possible that the consumption of whole leaf aloe could offer support to the colon and that it may even allow for the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract for many years.[1]  Additionally, Chinese researchers in 2004 indicated that taking aloe vera was beneficial for digestion since it appeared to have a cleansing effect feeling as well as supporting regularity.[2]  It appeared that aloe vera worked naturally to soothe the GI tract, to restore balance, and to promote efficiency.  Furthermore, a 2008 report from South Africa echoed these findings.  It suggested that consuming whole leaf aloe vera was very beneficial for the normal functioning of the lower gastrointestinal tract.[3] 

A final word on aloe vera deals with its processing and preparation methods for consumption.  While it may be tempting to try to develop your own homemade aloe vera recipe, it is not recommended since the valuable active ingredients are easily damaged, and as it is, are often destroyed by over-processing.  For this reason, it is beneficial to find a product that uses cold-pressed whole leaf aloe vera, since this processing method enhances purity and efficacy of the active ingredients in aloe vera[4] and in turn, will provide the greatest benefit to you.

Another product with impressive results for your digestive health and a history of use in ancient Ayurvedic medicine is psyllium, a fairly well-known soluble dietary fiber.  Psyllium, psyllium husks, or more commonly, psyllium husk powder is a highly effective supplement, working to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, and thereby support bowel function, and promote regularity and healthy digestion.[5]  This herb is largely imported from India and it is the husk of the seed which is of greatest use in digestive health.  This seed husk is usually ground down to a powder and consumed either with food or in a capsule-form.

Scientific evidence for the efficacy of psyllium on digestion is quite robust.  A French study published in 2004 examined the range of benefits to participants when taking varying amounts of psyllium in two-week intervals.  The outcomes suggested that, whether taken in combination or on its own, in a high-, mid-, or low-dose, psyllium husk powder provided noticeable benefits to the digestive health of the participants.[6]  A boost to digestive function and improvement in regularity was also reported by the Chinese authors of a 2004 study that included more than 120 participants.  These participants were divided into two groups in order to compare the effects of psyllium with an alternative when taken twice daily for two weeks.  At the end of the study period, a majority of subjects taking psyllium reported that it was beneficial for their digestion and that it promoted regularity.[7]  

Similar findings were published in an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in the year 2000 when it recommended psyllium husk for the maintenance of healthy and regular digestion.[8]  In addition, a 2006 report released in Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology agreed, noting that taking psyllium can regulate digestion and support normal and comfortable colon function.[9]  Most recently, an Italian study published in 2011 revealed that psyllium husk was more beneficial for the healthy and regular function of the lower intestines than a more typical high-fiber diet.[10] Two groups of approximately 20 subjects were placed on either a traditional high-fiber diet or else, received a psyllium supplement in order to increase regularity.  Results of the study indicated that psyllium showed a greater effect on the healthy function of the digestive system.

Finally, one last natural product worth considering for its reported benefit to healthy digestion is the herb celandine, also called chelidonium majus.  It belongs to the poppy family of flowers and was traditionally recommended for its support of the normal function of the liver, gallbladder, and intestines.  Research on the effects of chelidonium extract indicate that it may also provide support to the kidneys in their work to filter waste out of our bodies.[11]  In fact, A British report published in Health and Homeopathy in 2001 recommended the use of Chelidonium, or celandine herb in the support of healthy digestion.[12]  Futhermore, American research suggests combining celandine herb and psyllium husk in order to support regular and healthy digestion.[13] 

Finding the right balance of supplements that will help you feel your best is important, so be sure to talk to your doctor about the different products available to help support your digestion and regularity.  Take the time to find a product which contains the soothing effects of whole leaf aloe vera, or the regulating effect of psyllium husk to maintain healthy digestion, or the supportive action of the herb, celandine.  Combining these ingredients can support digestive regularity.

[1] Kan Shimpo et al., “Inhibition of azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt focu formation in rat colorectum by whole leaf aloe arborescens miller var. natalensis berger,” Phytotherapy Research 15, No. 8 (2001): 705-711.

[2] Kojo Eshun & Qian He, “Aloe vera: A valuable ingredient for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries – a review,” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 44 (2004): 91-96. 

[3] Josias. H. Hamman, “Composition and applications of aloe v.era leaf gel,” Molecules 13, No. 8 (2008): 1599-1616.

[4] C. T. Ramachandra & P Srinivasa Rao, “Processing of aloe vera leaf gel: a review,” American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences 3, No. 2 (2008): 502-510.

[5] B. Singh, “Psyllium as therapeutic and drug delivery agent,” International Journal of Pharmaceutics 334 (2007): 1-14.

[6] Michel Bouchoucha et al., “Effect of an oral bulking agent and a rectal laxative administered alone or in combination for the treatment of constipation,” Gastroentérologie Clinique et Biologique 28, No. 5 (2004): 438-443.

[7] Hui-Ji Wang et al., “A randomized, controlled comparison of low-dose polyethylene glycol 3350 plus electrolytes with ispaghula husk in the treatment of adults with chronic functional constipation,” Clinical Drug Investigation 24, No. 10 (2004): 569-576.

[8] Judith A. Marlett, Theresa M. Kajs, & Milton H. Fischer, “An unfermented gel component of psyllium seed husk promotes laxation as a lubricant in humans,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72, No. 3 (2000): 784-789.

[9] Fernando Fernández-Bañares, “Nutritional care of the patient with constipation,” Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology 20, No. 3 (2006): 575-587.

[10] F. Pucciani, M Raggioli & M. N. Ringressi, “Usefulness of psyllium in rehabilitation of obstructed defecation,” Techniques in Coloproctology 15, No. 4 (2011): 377-383.

[11] Khaled M. M. Koriem, Mahmoud S. Arbid & Gihan F. Asaad, “Chelidonium majus leaves methanol extract and its chelidonine alkaloid ingredient reduce cadmium-induced nephrotoxicity in rats,” Journal of Natural Medicines 66, No. 2 (2012), doi: 10.1007/s11418-012-0667-6

[12] Carmel Casserley, “Liver problems,” Health and Homeopathy (2001): 12-14.

[13] Kathy Abascal & Eric Yarnell, “Combining herbs in a formula for irritable bowel syndrome,” Alternative and Complementary Therapies 11, No. 1 (2005): 17-23.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.