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Perspectives on Cleansing
The Process of Deposition
Horizontal and Vertical
Some digestive maladies
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Metabolism is the sum of all processes by which a particular substance is handled in a living body. These processes fall into one of two categories, catabolism and anabolism.
In order to digest and absorb the nutrients from food, we must first break the food down into smaller molecules. This process is called catabolism. It involves breaking larger pieces into smaller molecular components. It also involves eliminating and excreting waste. An example of catabolism is the hydrochloric acid of the stomach breaking up food in the stomach. Chewing is catabolic and physically breaks up the food while enzyme action in the saliva begins to break down the food. The opposite process is called anabolism and describes the merger of several smaller molecules to form a larger, more complex structure. An example of an anabolic process is the synthesis of a cellular protein from amino acids.
Good health is maximized when there is an appropriate amount of anabolic and catabolic processes. We can also think of these two actions as construction and destruction.
Foods are comprised of three parts–protein, fats (lipids) and carbohydrates (sugars). Each of these nutrients is necessary for any cell to survive. Proteins are found in the nuclei of cells and also comprise many specialized cellular structures like muscle fibers. Carbohydrates are converted to ATP which readily becomes energy and supplies fuel for cells. Lipids repel water and are very effective cellular membranes. Lipids are a major component of nerves and brain cells. Good health stems from having enough of, and not too much of, all three.
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There are many ways one can approach cleansing. The purpose of this article is to help you orient yourself in the vast world of cleansing. Understanding several aspects to cleansing helps you make clear choices and improve your health.
There are so many misconceptions involving foods and diet it is a daunting task to try and make wise decisions. It seems that new diets are springing up claiming to solve these dilemmas. In my view, many of these approaches offer a perspective that can be useful, but when they are rigidly followed they can lead to imbalance. Regardless of what you eat, know that the food you eat affects your health.
This is all the more reason to listen to your body.
I find that it is more accurate to view cleansing as a process rather than as an event. A process unfolds over time, it may have several phases, and it is a series of events.
This will tend to involve eating less and actively supporting the body’s ability to get rid of waste.
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If the body is unable to excrete something and remove it, it will stay in the body. Where it goes and what the body does depends on many factors including genetics, nutrients available, hydration, stress, etc. Depending on the situation, in an effort to remove the substance from the general circulation, the body will often store it. Deposition involves the retention and/or storage of substances. The accumulation of body fat is a good example of intentional deposition. If the body receives more calories that it needs, it will often store the calories as fat and then deposit it on the body. This fat can be burned at a later time if necessary. Another type of deposition is a bone spur, which is a calcium deposit. Inflammation along the arterial wall causes cholesterol and other fats often accumulate in the blood vessels. Over time these sticky deposits can form a plaque along the vessels. If one were to consider cleansing the vessels, it is paramount that we understand the process of deposition so that we can reverse it.
Let’s take a sojourn into geology……………
When you look at the Grand Canyon or the red rocks of Sedona, you may notice the layers of the rocks. Each of these striations were formed over millennia and are the result of the climate and environmental factors of their times. A geologist can tell you about the precipitation, temperature, and other forces at the time the rocks were formed.
If we consider the time it took to lay down all of the material of these rocks, we can imagine that reversing this process will also take time. Also, these sedimentary rocks don’t just disappear, they erode slowly, and after every rain the rivers carry away some of the sediment further along downstream. If too much sediment were to be mobilized at once, the material may clog up the run-off and create a dam. This would tend to cause retention of these sediments.
Cleansing is like erosion. In essence we are reversing the process of deposition.
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Simply put, the concept of cleansing vertically involves penetrating deeper in the tissues and mobilizing waste. I use the word mobilize to emphasize the breaking up and activation of stored waste. Cleansing horizontally involves the removal and elimination of waste out of the body. Cleansing the surface fluids by hydrating is considered horizontal cleansing.
In the cleansing or detox field, we use the term drainage. Drainage remedies help the body excrete waste and are the cornerstone of horizontal cleansing. Typically drainage remedies support the organs of elimination and the process of excretion so that the body and actually remove the waste.
The most direct organs of elimination include the large intestine, the urinary bladder, the glands of the skin, and the trachea and nasal sinus. These organs store and directly excrete substances out of the body. I include the trachea because it excretes the exhalation. The nasal sinus also excretes breath and mucus. Mucus is actually a protective mechanism the sinus secretes to hydrate and insulate the nasal membranes. The mucus also serves to contain any invading bacteria. With mucus present, the nasal sinus then becomes excretory to remove the mucus from the body. Other organs act as intermediaries and excrete mixed substances. The gall bladder stores and excretes bile, an example of a mixed substance (it contains waste and it has a metabolic function).
There are other organs that are involved with excretion, namely the organs that produce the waste. The kidneys filter blood and generate urine, a waste product. They don’t store or remove the urine from the body. The lungs also produce waste. The liver uses bile to transport its waste.
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This is a list of body tissues that are directly involved with cleansing. I chose this order to illustrate the relative depth of the tissue. That is, as you read down the list you are moving through deeper layers of deposition. If you pick a condition, say tendonitis, you would target cleansing to the fascia and tendons. Because tendons are denser and have a less rich blood supply than muscle, the muscle will be cleansed first. As the muscle becomes thoroughly cleansed, the tendon is supplied fresh, oxygen-rich blood and nutrients needed to repair any tendon strain or inflammation. Also, the cleaner muscle is more elastic than an acidic muscle. This elasticity allows the muscle to lengthen, reducing the strain on the tendon and allowing it to heal.
Lymph and interstitial fluids
Blood (fluid part)
Fascia, tendons, and connective tissue
—– —– —– —–
Small intestines and Stomach
Gall bladder (superficial liver)
Skin and superficial nerves
—– —– —– —–
Lung and Sinus
Blood (metabolic factors)
Heart and cardiovascular vessels
Liver (and hepatic portal system)
Kidney (and bladder)
Brain and spinal cord (central nervous system)
This list is not absolute and is like a sketch of the terrain of the body. I left spaces to separate the layers into three groups. The first group, from Lymph and interstitial fluids to Joints includes the orthopedic structures and the locomotor system. The next grouping involves the digestive organs and the skin. The third grouping I call the visceral system and includes the primary life-sustaining organs. As I said before this list is meant more as a basic guide. Every person is unique and each organ or tissue cleanses in stages.
The trick with cleansing the layer is to know when to penetrate vertically and when to continue to clear and drain the layer that you are currently cleansing. Penetrating too quickly mobilizes too many toxins at once and can lead to unnecessary exposure to free radicals.
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Viruses are tiny organisms that live within cells. Bacteria, on the other hand, can live and reproduce outside of cells. Viruses are actually parasites because they need a host to survive. Many viral infections seem to linger and can lie dormant. Diseases like mononucleosis, herpes, EBV, and hepatitis can root themselves deeply and they are hard for the immune system to recognize, disable, and excrete.
For these reasons, viral cleansing can be difficult. I find the results using a combination of approaches to systematically uproot and disable the virus. This process takes time and requires compliance from patients.
It is probable that our own evolution has been strongly modified by pervasive viral infections over the course of generations. Viruses can directly influence the DNA of cells and modify their reproduction. Cancers are mutations that proliferate and could be a result of viral behavior. One way to get a handle on viral problems (and most chronic degenerative diseases) is to “regain the terrain”.
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Many of us are vaguely familiar with germ theory. Back in the early 1800′s, scientists started to realize that bacteria caused many diseases. We also learned that killing these bacteria can reduce infection and help manage many diseases. Antibiotics are substances that kill bacteria. Our medical system developed many antibiotics to kill the various bacteria that we could identify. While this is certainly helpful in saving many people, it is not the entire story. The other piece involves the “terrain”. The word terrain here describes the environment where the bacteria live–the human body. Just like in petri dishes, each part of the body can be home to little critters that can live in that specific environment. For example, the stomach is very acidic so only very acid-resistant bacteria can live there. Other bacteria won’t survive in the harshness. Other bacteria cannot thrive in high temperatures. Boiling milk (to kill unwanted bacteria) is called pasteurization, named after Louis Pasteur. The body will increase its temperature in efforts to cook the bacteria and kill them. Unfortunately, fevers also dehydrate the body and can injure the brain.
A scientist named Antione Bechamp meticulously studied the life cycles of microorganisms before Pasteur made his discoveries. His work was further developed by Gunter Enderlein. These scientists honed in on which environmental factors that allow various pathogens to proliferate and cause disease. By environmental factors I mean the milieu around cells that contains all sorts of molecules including nutrients, metabolic wastes, cellular remnants, etc. Perhaps the most important factor for most pathogenic microorganisms (bad bugs) is pH. This symbol “pH” means “per hydrogen” and describes the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Water is right in the center of the 14-point scale with a pH of 7.
The following will give some scientific background that is very useful when cleansing.
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Here is a very brief and simplified overview of digestion. As food enters the stomach, hydrochloric acid (HCl) works to break the food down into smaller, more digestible molecules. From there food (now called chime) enters the duodenum (part of the small intestine) where pancreatic enzymes, sodium bicarbonate, and bile from the gall bladder (liver) mix with the food. These juices help your body further break the food down, neutralize the strong stomach acid, and emulsify ingested fat. Your body absorbs most of the nutrients further down the small intestine. The food then enters the large intestine. The first part of the colon is a little pouch called the cecum. The appendix attaches to the cecum and helps maintain colonies of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria include acidophilus, lactobacillus and bifidus and help regulate pH and process the waste. The colon mainly absorbs water and forms the stool. The colon has four main parts: the ascending colon (on the right side of the abdomen), the transverse colon, the descending colon (on the left side) and the sigmoid colon.
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Learning about some of the disorders of the digestive tract is a good way to get a deeper understanding of the physiology.
Starting at the beginning of the digestive tract we have the mouth. The mouth is often home to pernicious bacteria that cause gum disease or gingivitis. Chronic overgrowth of bacteria in this area can weaken the entire body, especially the heart. Often these bacteria eat sugars and secrete acids that rot teeth and cause tooth decay. From an internal perspective, this can be a sign of dysfunction in the stomach, since the mouth is an extension of the stomach and esophagus. Many people are being diagnosed with acid reflux. This condition happens when stomach acid escapes through the cardiac sphincter (top stomach valve) and rises up to burn the esophagus. Hiatal hernia is where the esophagus shortens and pulls some of the stomach through the diaphragm up toward the ribcage. Both of these conditions respond very well to positive breathing habits, a balanced diet and to stress reduction. The cardiac sphincter is the valve between the stomach and the esophagus. Like all sphincters, it is neuro-reflexogenic, meaning it responds directly to nervous system stress. Acupuncture, visceral manipulation, and herbal medicines help regulate these tissues and often significantly reduce symptoms of both acid reflux and hiatal hernia.
If there is not enough hydrochloric acid, the food is not broken down into small enough pieces and so the small intestine can’t absorb nutrients. These larger molecules can rot and become toxins in the digestive tract. This putrifaction disrupts a healthy pH and allows other organisms and parasites to thrive. Candida albicans is a very common fungus (yeast) that overgrows in the digestive system, especially in the colon. Low stomach acid can also allow bacteria to live and pass into the body. One of the most common bacterial infections of the stomach is called heliobacter pylori or h. pylori for short. H. pylori can be very stubborn and can lead to ulcers and other stomach woes.
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The pancreas secretes 5 substances that are essential for good digestion and metabolism. They are: protease, lipase, amylase, sodium bicarbonate, and insulin. Protease, lipase and amylase (all ending in -ase) are digestive enzymes.
If the pancreas is unhappy, the enzymes may be deficient. This also leads to incomplete digestion where the food particles are too large to be absorbed. Also if the sodium bicarbonate from the pancreas is low, the acidic food that leaves the stomach will not be buffered and will remain very acidic. This can burn the duodenum and cause ulcers. Another result is that the enzymes will not work well to break the food down in an acidic environment. This weakens enzyme activity and leads to bloating, gas and poor absorption.
Enzymes are proteins that help your body break down larger molecules into smaller more manageable sizes. This means that enzymes are catabolic; they break things down. Foods are comprised of three parts–protein, fats (lipids) and carbohydrates (sugars). Each of these nutrients is necessary and has specific functions in the body. If the pancreas does not secrete enough protease, for example, it will be difficult for the body to utilize the ingested protein. The large proteins then become ‘toxins’ since they cannot be absorbed. When there is enough protease, the proteins that are ingested are broken down into their constituent amino acids, which are small enough for your body to absorb and utilize. Lipase helps your body digest fats (lipids) and amylase aids the body’s absorbion of carbohydrates/sugars.
There are two common problems with enzymes: inactivity and deficiency. If there are not enough enzymes or if the enzymes are inactivated, they will not help the metabolism. Many digestive enzymes only function in a slightly alkaline environment. That is, if the food that leaves the stomach is too acidic, the enzymes will “burn” and they won’t work. The pancreas also secretes sodium bicarbonate (which is the active ingredient in Tums and other antacids). Sodium bicarbonate is very alkaline and it buffers the acid and neutralizes it. So if the pancreas secretes enough enzymes but not enough sodium bicarbonate, the enzymes are ineffective. When this happens, the large molecules of food move down into the small intestine in the acidic chyme (the name for the soupy food as it leaves the stomach). The acid is noxious and the lining of the intestines secretes mucous to protect itself. The intestinal lining is comprised of epithelial cells that are very similar to the lining of your respiratory sinus. The body creates mucus in your sinus to protest you from perceived threats. Anyone with allergies can tell you that when dust, dander, pollen or whatever the allergen is, their body’s immune system creates mucus as a defense. This mucous is necessary but it causes problems as well. If the acid is severe and consistent, it burns the lining of the duodenum and causes duodenal ulcers. More commonly, there is low grade acidity that causes and moderate amount of mucous to form. Over time this mucous can thicken and form a plaque on the intestinal lining. This plaque is similar to arterial plaque in that it binds to the tubular walls. This mucoid plaque does serve to protect the lining from the harsh acids but it also disrupts in absorbion by blocking the absorbent intestinal lining. Even worse is the dysbiosis caused by putrifaction.
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Dysbiosis refers to the imbalance of the living flora of the body. The intestines house many bacteria and yeast, some are good for us and help us digest our food. However, the plaque tends to create the perfect conditions for harmful bacteria and yeasts and also enables parasites to thrive. As these yeasts and bacteria thrive, they create wastes that can be highly toxic to many cells and this can lead to more severe health problems.
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This is a common syndrome that is characterized by small perforations in the intestinal lining. These small holes allow larger molecules to enter the bloodstream. Imagine a protein (proteins are composed of amino acids) that is a good and healthy nutrient. If properly broken down into its amino acids, the cells could then utilize the protein. However, if the protein enters the bloodstream whole, the cells are unable to utilize the amino acids and the protein may rot and become ‘toxic’.
This syndrome is often the result of prolonged use of many drugs including ibuprofen.
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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
We often think of the organs as just being there occupying space. Actually they are constantly active and performing functions on a cellular level. IBS is an interesting disorder in that the intestine oscillates between two extremes in muscle tone. For a time, the intestines are tight and the person is constipated. Then the intestines are too lax and the person has loose stools or diarrhea. It’s as if the intestine tries to compensate when it is tight buy relaxing. The result is that it become too relaxed and doesn’t hold enough. Likewise, when the bowels are loose the body then tries to regulate this by tightening up. The problem is that the body swings from one extreme to the other without having a stable modus operands.
The intestines utilize peristalsis to move material through the tube. Peristaltic movement requires rhythmically triggered nerve impulses to activate and narrow certain portions of the intestine. If the nerve signals to the intestines are erratic or disorganized (not following a nice steady rhythm), the food will not move through well and the result will be either retention (constipation) or diarrhea. Part of the reason stress plays a key role in IBS is because stress directly effects the nervous system and IBS has a strong neurological component. Problems like acid reflux also have significant neurological factors.
So how can you navigate through the many food choices and get what you need?
Easy–Learn everything you can and listen to your body!
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