Ah, the colon: the magical place where chyme becomes feces. It's a supremely important part of the body's correct functioning, but most Americans would rather discuss politics and religion than any aspect of the final stages of digestion. Some theorize this fecal taboo is the human equivalent of burying our excrement like any other animal, while others say it's simply a manifestation of our fear of mortality. Heavy shit.
Well, if you're truly afraid of death, you better dump your cultural coprophobia and pay attention to your pooper. According to Scott Webb's Inside Poop: Down & Dirty Secrets from America's Colonic Expert, the health of your colon directly affects the health, both physical and mental, of your entire body, from the digestive tract out to the skin.
When I first discovered Inside Poop, the title excreted a sense of comedy that pinched my love of toilet humor, and I knew it would be the perfect book for my favorite reading room. When I began, though, I realized I had bitten off more than I wanted to chew. Turns out Scott Webb is a former "strict fundamentalist Christian" who wanted to be a preacher but is now a colon hygienist. I had committed to reviewing a new-age manifesto of the Colontologists. "Strange creatures reside in the colon and it's worth writing a book about it," he pens in a tone that sounds full of it despite his claim to have received more than 1,000 colonics.
But as I read on, I agreed: strange creatures indeed. Our bowels are loaded with bacteriaor floraboth helpful and detrimental. According to Webb, the big problem is that we have too much of the bad bacteria as a result of the typical American fare of over-processed, chemically tainted food. The end product is a colon filled with compacted fecal cement that may allow passage but is not functioning as well as a healthy body needs. Webb speculates that an unhealthy colon is the first step toward diverticular disease and colon cancer, as well as many other modern diseases resulting from the body's attempts to combat internal stress. His suggestion: cleanse the colon.
Colon hydrotherapy, the use of colonics, has been around at least since the ancient Egyptians and has been a growing movement in America since the turn of the 20th century. As with many alternative health treatments, the medical establishment has questioned the benefits of colonics. Webb rebukes many of the criticisms with his own experiences, but also warns the reader to do his or her own research before passing judgment.
Number two may be the number one focus of Poop, but the book trots around other hot-button issues of alternative health, including the power of positive thinking, the dangers of microwave ovens and fluoridated water, the benefits of organic food and the problems of a health care system focused on profits and not people. Webb's information comes mostly from media you've probably never heard of unless you frequent health food stores, and he admittedly makes claims based solely on his personal experience. This, and the lack of scientific citation, makes Poop unlikely to appeal to an audience outside the world of alternative health: Webb is preaching to the choir.
Inspired by Webb's call to do my own research, I've discovered the more scientifically sound Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, by Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Terry Grossman. The authors' research leads them to state that "assessing and fixing your digestive process is critical to both your short- and long-term health," a conclusion that echoes Webb's claims and may convince even the most skeptical readers of Inside Poop that the thesis is not so full of it in the end.
Webb will be signing his book from Jan. 21 from 12-2 p.m. at Wild Oats in Green Hills, Jan. 28 from 2-5 p.m. at the Raw Foodist Potluck at The Genesis Healing Center in Lascassas and Feb. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at New Horizons Health Food Store in Franklin. For more information, visit Webb's website at colonicexpert.com.