Organic Pharmacy’s Dubious Detox Pills

[BPSDB] It is January and the detox industry is in full swing. Today’s (17 January 2011) METRO carried a full page spread on detoxing your mind and at the bottom is a sub-article on a particular brand of ‘detox capsules’. I have not given a link as it does not appear in the online version.

The article is effectively an ad for Margo Marrone’s Organic Pharmacy. She informs us that:

When the body is overloaded with toxins the cells become congested and you don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients to the brain

I have no idea what Marrone means by “cells become congested” and I suspect she doesn’t either. But it sounds sort of sciency. In any event, nutrients are dissolved in the bloodstream, not carried by individual cells so the state of your cells will not prevent nutrients reaching the brain. Oxygen is carried by red blood cells and one toxin – carbon monoxide – does combine with haemoglobin and prevent oxygen uptake. Carbon monoxide poisoning is usually fatal and a pill won’t cure it.

She goes on:

One of the common symptoms of this is brain fog, which includes forgetfulness and general haziness

There can be all kinds of causes for this, though one of them is sub-lethal carbon monoxide poisoning. If you are suffering from this, your best bet would be to find the source of the gas and shut it off. Treating the cause and not the symptoms.

Marrone informs us that the best way to detox is via a ten-day program. By an astounding co-incidence she has designed some casules for such a program (or ‘programme’ as the METRO calls it but in British English a programme is a television or radio broadcast). The ingredients include “clay, liquorice and psyllium husks”.

Clay does not strike me as particularly organic. According to this clay consists of “very small particles, chiefly hydrous silicates of aluminium, sometimes with magnesium and/or iron substituting for all or part of the aluminium”. Also “the particles have the property of being able to hold water”. Which means that if clay actually got into your bloodstream, your blood vessels would get clogged up pretty sharpish. Fortunately for anyone taking these capsules, the clay won’t pass the gut wall and will just make your turds a bit more solid than usual.

Wikipedia has this to say about psyllium seed husks:

Possible adverse reactions include allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, especially among those having had regular exposure to psyllium dust. Gastrointestinal tract obstruction may occur, especially for those with prior bowel surgeries or anatomic abnormalities, or if taken with inadequate amounts of water. Psyllium seed husk intake should be initiated only with medical consultation. The human body will require additional water intake due to the psyllium husk’s effect of absorbing water and creating a mass.

The pills won’t be this bad because the dosage will be far smaller than if you ate the actual seed husks. Even so, after reading the above, I personally would not take anything containing psyllium without talking to a doctor first.

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