Constipation is not the most pleasant topic to discuss, but if you have it, you’re probably willing to try anything to find relief. Not only can intestinal disorders and illnesses cause pain and discomfort, it can also drastically interfere with the proper utilization of nutrients. As gastrointestinal disorders continue to rise thanks to the combination of a Standard American Diet (SAD) and a stressful lifestyle, many people are turning to intestinal cleansing as a last resort. Surprisingly, cleansing may be an effective method for improving digestion and regularity.  Intermittent colon cleansing may be helpful for reducing intestinal irritation, decreasing or eliminating toxins accumulated in the digestive tract from diet and/or the environment, and increasing nutrient absorption and elimination capabilities. Here are four of the most popular colon cleansing products available today.
1. Fiber Powders and Bulking Agents
The use of fiber powders can be a great addition to smoothies or juice and may increase waste elimination and intestinal cleansing. Be advised that the following fiber powders and bulking agents will increase your fluid needs. Too little water and too much fiber can increase constipation issues and intestinal discomfort. Some of the most widely-used fiber powders and bulking agents are:
The use of psyllium husks is fairly popular among many people with constipation and weight issues. Psyllium is a soluble fiber, capable of expanding in the stomach and improving elimination. The powder can also reduce feelings of hunger and promote natural weight loss.  It is highly advised for individuals to increase their water intake while taking psyllium powder to avoid aggravating constipation issues.
Chia seeds have been gaining an immense amount of attention these last couple of years, and many studies are beginning to report its beneficial effects on blood sugar, weight loss, and constipation. These mighty omega-3 fatty acid-rich seeds also expand upon contact with water and may aid in providing a feeling of fullness. Chia seeds also promote stable blood sugar levels, and research consistently demonstrates its beneficial effects for improving intestinal health. 
2. Herbal Laxatives
Herbs have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years before the advent of modern medicine. Many medicinal plants have the power to increase bowel motility, thus increasing the cleansing effect they have on the intestines. Always use herbal laxatives with caution. Also, avoid regular use of herbal laxatives to decrease the likelihood of dependency. The most popular herbal laxatives include:
The senna leaf has been used for centuries as a natural laxative, helping to increase bowel motility and elimination. Senna can have a powerful effect as an herbal colon cleanser and should be used occasionally with appropriate supervision.  The chronic use of senna can promote dependence, possibly worsening constipation issues in the long run.
This Ayurvedic herbal mixture has been traditionally used for gastrointestinal cleansing and constipation relief. Very little research is currently available on the herb’s health benefits in relation to colon cleansing. Only a few studies have validated its traditional use as a potent laxative. 
Like senna, Cascara sagrada is a stimulant laxative that promotes peristalsis in the intestinal tract, an action that increases the movement of wastes out of the body. While Cascara will make you have a bowel movement, some research suggests that the herb may increase the risk for developing hepatitis and liver problems. 
A colonic is an internally-infused hydrotherapy method (water therapy) used for cleansing out the entire digestive system. It differs from a typical enema in that it not only eliminates wastes from the colon, but it also clears away debris from the large intestine and small bowel. The only drawbacks are that colonics can be invasive and uncomfortable, and most therapy sessions tend to cost more than enemas, natural laxatives, and fibers. Still, they remain a popular method for cleansing the gastrointestinal system.
4. Oxygen-Based Cleansers
Oxygen-based cleansers contain magnesium oxide, an element of magnesium bound to oxygen. Upon consuming, the stomach’s hydrochloric acid reacts with this oxygenated magnesium. This promotes the slow release of oxygen throughout the body and results in the softening of fecal matter. Probiotics in the gut are bolstered by this supply of oxygen, further enhancing the intestinal and digestive benefits. The magnesium found in oxygen-based cleansers also produces an osmotic effect in the intestinal tract, attracting water that flushes the entire system from waste.
Finding a cleanse that works for you is the first important step toward improving your digestive health. If you are experiencing an uncommon intestinal issue, cleansing the intestinal system may be crucial for maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal system over time. It may also aid in the facilitation and absorption of certain nutrients responsible for improving energy, mental health, and metabolism. If you’re suffering from a gastrointestinal disease, proceed with a safe cleanse regimen under careful professional guidance.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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