Archived Forum: Parenting & Caregiving > a detox and cleanse.. not good, right?

One of my guy friends that is going through AN recovery has weight restored and told me he is going to start a detox and cleanse in the form of pills while eating for 2 weeks to get the bad out of his system. I wanted to tell him I thought this was a HORRIBLE idea for his body, but I held back because I wasn't sure. My question is, wouldn't this be bad for someone who has recovered from anorexia, or is it perfectly fine for him to do that? I want to stop him if it is before he starts it. What will happen if he does do it? I've only heard bad things about these types of things..

February 8, 2012 | Registered Commenterkatiechristmas

Ook. I have very little medical knowledge, but I'm pretty sure that detoxes/cleanses that involve severely limiting one's food intake are bad idea in general. And for someone with AN, that sort of thing would probably trigger a relapse... It's great that you're so concerned about your friend! He's lucky to know someone as caring as you.

February 8, 2012 | Registered Commenterkayebunny

Yes you have that right -- it's a very bad idea. Most on the restrictive eating disorder spectrum remain very sensitive to energy deficits. That is why a stomach flu can touch off a full-blown relapse for many former anorexics. In fact, some former anorexics simply cannot fast for 12 hours for a medical screening test and should never be made to do so except with compelling reasons.

One study was able to show that a dip in energy intake of as little as about 200-250 calories was sufficient to reignite many restrictive behaviors for former anorexics.

Detoxing and cleansing are bad ideas for everyone. Given that the entire gastrointestinal system (which I might add is so complex it has its own brain that runs independently of the central and peripheral nervous systems in our bodies) is built to detox, cleanse and protect us, it's a bit insulting to your gut to interfere in its ability to do its job with some ham-fisted combination of herbs and enemas or what have you. And in addition to its exquisite capabilities at protecting us from all manner of marauders and invaders, it also siphons off all the choice nutrients so the big brain (which gets all the glory and has none of the guts -- pun intended) can contemplate the complexities of the universe.

Respect the gut and it will take care of you. Of course, you can only offer your suggestions to your friend and hope they stick. As an anorexic, he cannot ever restrict calorie intake for the rest of his life without risking full-blown relapse.

He is indeed lucky to have you. G.

February 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterGwyneth