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Spring cleaning

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/6/2013, 3:29 p.m.
I don't know about your family, but I had a member of my family (mainly...
Halloween will make your child scream

I don't know about your family, but I had a member of my family (mainly my father) who thought that spring was not only a time to clean out the house and garage, but also to clean out the body. Without any warning, when the weather was just warming up and small blossoms were appearing on the trees, I would be challenged to take a tablespoon of castor oil mixed with a small amount of cherry syrup. This potion was for the spring cleanout.

Your family may have used other lubricants, but there couldn't be any worse of a laxative than that thick, slimy gulp that I had to endure. When this ritual was over, I was happy and my poor body was even happier. I had survived.

With time, this ritual has disappeared--I hope. But I think it is most needed today with all of the junk foods that people consume. Many of these foods lead to constipation. Although we enjoy these foods, our bodies are now crying for a cleanout to get rid of all of these toxic substances.

Constipation is a frequent complaint of many of my patients and their offspring. However, there are easier ways to welcome the spring, other than with a tablespoon of castor oil. I do admit that castor oil is a good skin softener (put a few drops in bathwater) as well as an excellent callous remover. To keep the colon clean and healthy, I would suggest the following:

  • Drink at least six glasses of water daily (not soda). The average American drinks 457 cans of soda a year.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Moving the abdominal muscles will stimulate the colon. A simple movement of relaxing and contracting the abdominal muscles can do wonders.
  • Eat a high-fiber meal at least once a day. (A soup containing brown rice, carrots, celery and onions is excellent.)
  • Instead of just pruning your trees and bushes, eat some prunes and drink some of their juice.
  • The use of bulk-forming laxatives such as Metamucil and Citrucil can help you spring to the commode.
  • Flaxseed powder, psyllium, senna and casara will also help the bowels to move.
  • A blend of rhubarb (two stalks without leaves), a cup of apple juice, a quarter of peeled lemon and a tablespoon of honey is wonderful.

Also remember that colon cancer is very common among African-Americans, and checking the stool for blood is important. If blood is found, or bowel movements have changed, a barium enema or colonoscopy is recommended.