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The Eliminatory System

When the idea of a mid-life tune up program first occurred to me, I wanted to tie it to the chakras. The obvious place to start would be with the first chakra, the one that coordinates life in the form. I associate this with the kidney-adrenal system, the first to develop in utero, and the only part of the endocrine system that would spell certain death—within three days—if not working correctly.

Image source: NIH


The detoxification aspect of the first phase of the mid-life tune up program involves the lower intestines, a much neglected and hugely important part of our body, a place where many diseases have their origin or where what is needed for rejuvenation is frequently lacking.

People can read lots of opinions about the colon, but in the 1970s, I learned that the average person has at least 20-40 pounds of impacted material in the lower intestines. I said this in a seminar once and a nurse raised her hand. She introduced herself as someone who had often been present during autopsies so I figured someone was about to contradict my statement. Rather, she said she had seen as much as 90 pounds of impacted fecal material in the corpses examined in the hospital where she worked. I have seen people lose 35-40 pounds after a series of colonics.

This is alarming because it implies a host of problems that have relatively simple solutions. First, there is the issue of peristalsis. Basically, starchy, sticky flour and sugar makes good plaster of Paris. It adheres to the inside walls of the intestines so that the tiny villi that should be exposed and mobile in order to aid movement through the intestines are plastered over with hardened food. This leads to constipation which, in turn, leads to the accumulation of toxic gases that are absorbed into the body and circulated as bubbles that cause spasms, twitching, nervous irritation, and sometimes even more embarrassing problems such as bad breath, flatulence, and involuntary noises.

I think we could make a fairly strong argument for how constipation might also contribute to foul language and rude allusions to the eliminatory system. The problem hardly stops here.

Intestinal Flora

The next problem is that with constipation, there is a serious probability of imbalance of intestinal flora. The gut should have friendly bacteria. This is necessary for the healthy breakdown of food. There is also some putrefactive bacteria in the colon, but for many people, the ratios are the opposite of what is healthy. Where people should have 85% friendly flora and only 15% putrefactive bacteria, most people have 85% putrefactive bacteria. The surest way to know whether or not this is the case is by the odor in the bathroom. If other people are afraid to enter after you leave, you might need probiotics!

When there is too much putrefactive bacteria, there is a tendency for diseases to breed in the colon. This may in turn spread to other parts of the body causing systemic illness.

Even this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Assimilation and Regeneration

The colon is not merely an eliminatory organ. It is an organ of assimilation. According to Ayurveda, micronutrients that are needed to regenerate the skin, hair, teeth, bones, reproductive fluids, nerve sheaths, and brain are assimilated through the walls of the colon. If those walls are coated with old food, the body goes into a state of degeneration and premature aging. In short, conditions associated with aging such as creaky joints, unsteady gait, demineralization and fragility of the bones, and even memory loss are all aggravated by an unhealthy colon.

Knowing all this, what can you do to make your colon healthy?


First, you want a healthy population of intestinal flora. Once established, you want to maintain the flora so you need to avoid the following:

  • chlorinated water
  • animals products laced with antibiotics, and
  • personal hygiene practices that cost the body flora, such as excessive reliance on enemas, colemas, colonics, and intentional efforts to cause diarrhea, a practice used by some misguided people who are trying to lose weight.

The absolute worst case of colon abuse I ever encountered involved a young woman who had had more than 40 operations for broken bones, none of which were ever associated by either her doctors or herself with her bowel habits. She aspired to be beautiful which in her mind meant thin, very, very thin, but there was a terrible cost associated with this thinness.

I suspect that between eating habits, horrible choices of foods, awful drinking water, and antibiotics that at least 90% of Americans have serious bowel problems that are usually not considered to be a medical condition, certainly not one that could have such serious ramifications for well-being.


The first goal of detoxification is stabilization of bowel function. People must take food seriously enough to know what contributes to constipation and what causes diarrhea. Many might have a temporary need for probiotics to raise the level of friendly bacteria before restoring regularity. In teaching situations, many people have told me privately that they have been dependent upon laxatives since childhood. Some have told me they are unable to have to a bowel movement even with laxatives. They have to have enemas. I suggested to one such person, an elderly lady who had been crippled by such problems since her teens, that she buy a monthly meal ticket at a local Indian restaurant. She said her life-long constipation was cured in a few hours.

Very few people understand that the spices in foods stimulate both digestion and peristalsis. The aromatic components are also detoxifying and carminative, meaning that the nice smells neutralize the nasty odors.

Another wonderful anecdotal story involved a practitioner who wished to become pregnant but was unwilling to devote a lot of attention to diet and herbs. She said, "If you had to limit your recommendations to one thing, what would it be?" I felt she was tying my hands more than is comfortable for me, but I told her "cayenne," not because cayenne promotes fertility but because it blasts through blockages. Dr. John Christopher used to talk about persons who started off taking 1-2 capsules of his intestinal formulas and then claimed that the formulas didn't work. He simply told them to increase the dosage. One person required 72 capsules before she had an "event." However, it proved that cayenne is effective herbal dynamite.

The doctor chewed me out for ruining her weekend but she became pregnant four days later. Again, I want to emphasize that cayenne is not an herb that promotes fertility. It might not even be advisable to take cayenne when attempting to become pregnant because the ideal condition for a baby would be a uterus that is snugly and elastic, not turbulent, but if impaction is preventing movement, a blast might relieve this, but there are safer and more nurturing ways to achieve similar ends.


There are many brands of probiotics but very few laboratories behind the multitude of labels. My rule is to try a small quantity of one brand and then switch to another. Take some acidophilus and bifidus and keep altering what one takes until a healthy population is established. Using turmeric — and some people say black walnut — in food or as a supplement tends to help the intestinal flora to repopulate better.

The goal is to have easy and effortless bowel movements, preferably several times a day. The first one should be upon rising or immediately after breakfast. Everything should come out in one or two pieces and float in the water in the toilet bowl. Why? Digestion is a process of breakdown involving acids, enzymes, and various kinds of bacteria. If the gases that are generated in this process are bound into the waste material, they are not merely removed, but they make the material lighter so it floats! Eventually, elimination should also be almost odorless, certainly not obnoxious.

How long it takes to achieve this goal depends a lot on the starting point, diet, and other factors. It is possible to correct a lifetime of torment in half a day, but it sometimes takes months. Basically, however, one can have a healthy population of intestinal flora in ten days, providing one is not sabotaging the process with chlorinated water or antibiotics (which can be inadvertently consumed by ingesting animal products or using certain types of antibacterial soaps.)

Peristaltic Stimulation

The assistance needed to guarantee transit through the large intestines is the next issue. There are foods and spices that aid peristalsis. Basically, the hotter the spice, the more the stimulus. This isn't 100% true, but it's close to the truth. The heat of something like cayenne is measured by Scoville units, named after a pharmacist who measured the capsaicinoid content of chili. African bird peppers are right near the top with a rating of 175,000, but anything over 40,000 is still fairly hot. Occasionally, heat doesn't work because it is also drying. Very thin people who are also nervous should probably limit their intake of spices to spices like dill, fennel, cumin, and milder varieties of the three "G's": galangal, garlic, and ginger. In this case the carminative power of the aromatic compounds in the spices—the volatile oils—neutralizes gas and actually alleviates some dryness because the gas is also drying.

There are, of course, laxative type herbal remedies, ranging from very mild to very strong. The stronger ones usually have an extra amount of African bird peppers and perhaps also Cascara sagrada, Turkey rhubarb, senna, or psyllium husks. These are "crude", but they may be necessary for some people; however, once one understands the secret of peristalsis, it should be possible to use less radical formulas.

My own carminative powder — the recipe is in my Cancer Salves book — has some heat, but it also has a lot of spices that are added for their carminative effect: orange peels, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and so forth. Ultimately, one will start to see changes, not only in elimination but in the fingernails and hair. Ayurveda teaches that one will begin seeing these changes in 72 days. In other words, it takes a while for the improved assimilation of nutrients to become visible. We might also suggest that, in its infinite wisdom, the body repairs the more vital parts before the ones that are less critical. In other words, fragility of the bones would correct before seeing longer eyelashes!

Finally, there is an extremely valuable Ayurvedic formula called "Triphala," meaning three fruits. It consists of amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. It is the best selling Ayurveda formula in history, as popular as Chyawanprash. It is not considered to be a laxative but rather a unique formula for detoxifying and rejuvenating. The three fruits contain five of the six tastes, all but the salty. The idea here is that more tastes mean more balance, and it is believed that Triphala achieves this first by removing excess vata, pitta, and kapha, i.e., of all three doshas. Over a period of time, as assimilation is improved, the organs start to regenerate and rejuvenate, correcting not only for malabsorption but also for constipation, certain kinds of overweight, as well as specific vata conditions such as skin discoloration and irritations, allergies, and asthma. Because it works so effectively on the vata dosha, Triphala also helps the respiratory, circulatory, and genitourinary systems. Some people take therapeutic dosages of Triphala until reaching the level of efficiency and normalcy they seek. After that, they reduce the dosage to a maintenance level or they only take Triphala when under stress or when schedules have been disrupted by travel, holidays, or other factors that often affect regularity.

Part Two

The next focus of the detoxification part of the first part of the mid-life tune up program is parasites. Some people are obsessed with parasites, some are in denial over them, some are confused, and some are eager to learn more. I spoke recently with a prominent herbalist who travels a lot in South America. She said that everyone should do a parasite cleanse once a year. We can discuss the pros and cons of this later, but to conclude this introduction, I would like to say that the other parts of the tune up related to the this program include releasing negativity. Then we go to the tonification half of the first chakra. This includes:

the sense of smell

instinctual awareness

the fight or flight mechanism

allergies, sensitivities, and phobias

stamina and endurance

support and finding one's first chakra guardian



Adrenal Exhaustion

Adrenal Exhaustion

Two 90-minute audio cassettes
, $


Mid-Life Tune Up Program Index || Introduction || Intestinal Flora

Introduction, Ingrid's first exposure to Ayurveda || Vata Dosha

Adrenal Exhaustion || Parasites


Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Poulsbo, Washington

Copyright by Sacred Medicine Sanctuary 2004, 2007, 2009

*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.