Ear Candles and Colemics

Cecil may or may not be right that ear candles are a hoax and a fad. However, Cecil has no basis for describing colemics in the same breath. Keeping the colon clean has been a precept of ancient Taoist practice (see The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity by Reid). As one who has seen the expelled accumulations from the gut, I can attest that when properly used, colemics provide a first-rate detox.

Some of us prefer to entrust our health to science rather than to magic.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Stuart, we’re glad to have you with us.

When you start a thread, it’s helpful to others if you provide a link to the column under discussion. Saves search time and helps keep us all on the same page. In this case, I presume, the column is : How do “ear candles” work?

No biggie, you’ll know for next time, and, as I say, welcome.

BTW, there is a difference between fad and hoax. In the column on ear candles, Cecil says that colonic irrigation was also a fad. He doesn’t say or imply that colonic irrigation is a hoax. To the contrary, a search of the Archives would reveal his comments on colonic irrigation: Does colonic irrigation do you any good? in which he concludes that the chances of serious harm are minimal.

So? Any number of silly practices have a long history. As long as you can con someone into believing a practice works, it’ll continue. Doesn’t mean there is any real evidence the practice does work.

You don’t know that exactly the same stuff wouldn’t have been expelled in the usual way anyway. Which is precisely what those who earn money from the practice rely upon.

Human beings have long been fascinated by their bowels and waste. The idea that feces must be bad for you (well, they smell awful) is common to a number of cultures.

Currently, there is a resurgence in the idea that our colons (and other organs, like the liver and gallbladder) must be “flushed” regularly to remove toxins. This fad is based on superstition rather than science.

I agree that in most cases, these “flushes” aren’t actively harmful, except for wasted money and promoting stress over illusory toxins. In some instances as Cecil noted, colonic irrigation can cause serious infections or death.

More on colonic irrigation.

Well, I hate to mention it, but Cecil has also covered (recently) “Is coprophagia dangerous?”

I had a bunch of colon biopsies to sign out this morning as part of my surgical pathology duties. One included a cecal biopsy (from the pouch-like area where the colon begins) and I momentarily read it as “Cecil biopsy”. :smiley:

Incidentally, I think the “proper” term is colonics, not colemics (the latter term suggests a particularly outspoken form of borborygmi).
As to respecting other cultures’ health nuttiness, here’s more on “culturally sensitive cleansing”.

*"Some people, she says, come under demonic possession.

“They act crazy. They’ll lunge at you and spit on you. They’re the victims of black magic. Their bodies can’t take the weight of evil forces. They need someone with a lot of force and will power to counteract those forces. I can take it. I’m not afraid. I put them to sleep, and they wake up fine.”* :dubious:

Trust me on this one but a liver flush (I can do it by having a salad or fried chicken at lunch) is a whole lot more fun (or less un-fun) when you don’t have an iffy gallbladder.

Hey, you can have my Triumph of the Straight Dope when you pry it from my cold dead hand.

I respect their right to believe in goofy shit. That doesn’t mean I have to respect the goofy shit itself. A subtle, but significant, distinction.

I will defend to the death anyone’s right to believe in goofy shit.

As long as I am free to debunk it and don’t have to pay for it.

Precisely. And the OP’s colon cleansing is, in a literal sense, supremely goofy shit. :slight_smile:

I’m surprised you didn’t mention the definitive work on the topic.