Detox your body: Two cleanses
We test the Bowtrol colon cleanse and Nicole Richie's juice diet.
Wed Dec 29 2010
RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC
Colon-cleansing pills: Bowtrol
People put an inordinate amount of garbage into their bodies every day. And if everything is running smoothly, much of it comes out at some point. But, many believe quite a bit of that crap gets lodged in places where we don't necessarily want it...like our colon. Some claim that a clean colon is the key to a long and happy life. (Several nay-saying scientists declare otherwise.) Personally, I love the idea of a sparkling colon, although I'm not necessarily down with the invasive aqua probe normally required to reach that state of purity. But Bowtrol (bowtrolcleanse.com), a natural colon and parasite cleanser, can be taken in pill form. Now that's my kind of colon party. A two-week treatment promises to flush toxins out of the digestive system, help you lose weight by clearing your body of toxic waste, put an end to constipation and break up fecal matter that's clogging your internal organs (that last one is my personal favorite). The capsules contain a number of natural poop-conducive ingredients, including turkey rhubarb, slippery elm, wormseed, peppermint, olive-leaf extract and organic cloves. I had only about four days to flush out my insides, instead of the recommended one-month time frame. I got to work immediately.
The precleanse questioning: A few days after I placed my order, I received a supply of colon-cleansing goodness. But my problems started almost immediately, beginning with the instructions. "As an herbal supplement, adults should take 3--5 capsules before bed." Did that mean the capsules should be taken spaced out during the day, or all at once immediately before bed? A wrong move could cause irreparable harm to my innards, and possibly some unregulated and stinky fallout. I was too ashamed to call and ask what the proper procedure was, even though the stakes—not to mention my expectations—were high. Read ahead for the results.
Day One: For my first dose, I took three pills with a coffee chaser, figuring I might as well go all the way, and fell asleep. When I awoke, my sheets were thankfully in the condition I had left them.
Day Two: I woke up in the morning feeling slightly rumbly in my stomach. It was tough to determine exactly how much of it was in my head and how much was in my bowels. I visited the facilities at my usual time. Nothing out of the ordinary there. I thought, Maybe this Bowtrol is just a pipe dream! Twenty minutes later, though, the second wave kicked in, and I felt better about the value of my online purchase. I'm not sure if I felt "cleansed," exactly. More wrung out than anything.
Day Three: When will this nightmare end?!? My coworkers were starting to get annoyed that I was never at my desk. I couldn't bring myself to tell them that I was in the bathroom doing what people really do in the bathroom, not answering Gmails on my smartphone or slacking off. I cursed the gods that had forsaken me and took to drink. The evening ended with me beginning to pass out at a bar. I thought that mixing Bowtrol and alcohol might have some kind of multiplier effect on my inebriation level, but I came to the conclusion that the problem was more likely the fact that I drank for five straight hours.
Day Four: Through my alcohol-induced fog, I realized that I had forgotten to take the pills! I woke up in the morning and quickly gobbled up a dose, hoping it was not too late. Crisis averted? Maybe. But oh dear, now I was afraid to go to the gym. What if the strain of lifting weights would cause me to ruin the incline bench? The reign of Bowtrol had shuttered me into a cage of fear. Other indignities followed, but Bowtrol did have some positive effects. I felt less hungry while on it, which is nice when you're paying $15 per lunch in Soho. And I did notice I was more alert, lighter and therefore more fleet of foot when I finally overcame my terror of going back to the gym and hopped on the treadmill.
Results: While it's safe to admit that I was pretty regular under the aegis of Bowtrol, I can also say conclusively that I spent more time on the toilet——still, that doesn't mean my colon is significantly cleaner. Maybe I just needed more time on the program, although I'm fairly certain it's not a miracle worker. But at least it's not invasive, and everything occurred in the privacy of a bathroom. With any luck, pretty soon I can stop answering to my new nickname, Poopy.
In the footsteps of Nicole Richie: Pressed Juicery juice diet
I remember seeing some online pictures of Nicole Richie a few years ago (decades in Internet time) that made Jack Skellington look beefy. But the reality TV star, fashion designer and brand-new wifey to Good Charlotte's Joel Madden has recently embraced moderation and morphed back into a human form. So before her wedding, she ordered a juice cleanse from L.A.'s Pressed Juicery. After my middling experiences with Bowtrol, I was determined to appropriate Richie's diet for my own purposes—I wasn't trying to slim down, but I did wonder if her celebrity methods would prove to be less painful and more productive.
The precleanse questioning: Pressed Juicery offers several different programs, and each involves six juices which last three to five days ($70 per day). The first and simplest option, Cleanse 1, is gentle and recommended for people who have little experience with cleanses. (Even after Bowtrol, I still considered myself a newbie.) Cleanse 1 requires that you drink two doses of greens (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber and celery), two of roots (beets, carrots, kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber and celery), a detox (lemon, cayenne pepper filtered water) and a final beverage of almond milk (almonds, dates, vanilla bean, sea salt and filtered water) at different times each day, for three to five days. Unfortunately, most people don't have $210--$350 in their weekly budget earmarked for juice, and I was confident I could re-create this cleanse to the stars for less. I headed to Lite Delights (51 E Houston St between Mott and Mulberry Sts, 212-966-4471), which stocks all the necessary green and root juices (except kale and romaine), at very reasonable prices. By my reckoning, doing the cleanse from here would cost about a third of getting it from Pressed Juicery—I spent only $63 for enough ingredients to last me three days.
Day One: I should note that the holidays are a positively awful time to go on any kind of diet or cleanse. Everyone is eating delicious treats, and everyone is drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Everyone. The minute you forswear food and booze in favor of vegetable juice, you will immediately be offered all manner of libations and sugar-laced delicacies. After sipping my first green juice at work in the morning, a box of doughnuts was shoved into my face, and someone else had brought in bagels. My stomach hadn't even started devouring itself from lack of food, and I was already feeling hungry and desperate. Both juices, however, were delicious. But I ran into a slight issue with the Makeshift Richie Juice Starvation Diet (as I had taken to calling it) when it came to the detox part of the day: I had no cayenne pepper handy, so I bought a bottle of water, a lemon and some Yucatan Habanero Pepper Sauce instead. Now there's a little mixture that will put hair on your—and even maybe Nicole Richie's—chest.
Day Two: Having long passed the stage of hunger pangs, I had settled comfortably into the numbed, slow self-deprivation that comes with living on juice alone. Weirdly, though, I was feeling somewhat more spry and energized. Later in the day, though, it all started to unravel: An office holiday party was taking place that evening. Ever try to drink Espoln Tequila, Wild Turkey 101 and 9 percent Dogfish Head beer after 36 hours on no food? Maybe not the best career move. I consoled myself with the thought that there is no way Nicole Richie goes three to five days without partying. Eating, yes. Partying, no.
Day Three: It's a slippery slope once you start ingesting non-juice-based things. Fresh off my night of drinking on a nearly empty stomach, the synapses in my starvation-addled brain finally started firing. I decided that cleanses were foolish, stupid, insane. The appetizer for my morning juice was a burrito. I guess I don't have what it takes.
Results: I can't willingly recommend abstaining from eating solid food for three to five days. But besides the obvious pitfalls of not eating for a while, I feel pretty good. I can't say categorically that this has made me any healthier, but I do feel better than if I had been sitting around eating empanadas and deli sandwiches for those three days. This experiment has also kindled a new, uncharted love of vegetable juice, and I did feel somewhat energized, although I now understand why Richie's eyes look so vacant. Will someone give that girl a hot dog?