Sign In
Holistic Colon Care: The Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse - Blog Image

Holistic Colon Care: The Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2017-11-08

Have you written a love letter to your colon lately?


Your colon (or large intestine) deserves some genuine love—whether you never think about it because it does just what it’s supposed to do for you, without muttering a peep, a groan or a gurgle. Or if it demands some attention with aches, pains, noises or erratic eliminations.

Some health practitioners have said that all health is rooted in the colon; that this is where disease originates. Whether you believe this to be true or not, I’m here to remind you that the health of your colon is worth considering as you continue your quest to feel your best.

A love letter to my colon

Several years ago I wrote an actual love letter to my own colon to send my thanks. And every so often I like to give it the gift of some extra care and attention to extend more affection, gratitude and appreciation. (I’d love to help you do the same for yours!)

And while I don’t normally share the love letters I pen with the public, I will reveal what I wrote to my colon (with the hopes that you’ll commit to supporting your colon health right along with me!)

My dearest colon,

I have a confession to make… I adore you, though some people may say that’s gross. What you do matters to me more than you know!

You rid my body of the leftovers it no longer needs. You help create the poop that leaves my body and is filled with the kinds of bacteria that truly do me no good. When you’re doing your best, as I know you try to do every single day, you keep me from feeling any bloat, gas or pain. You are one of my biggest and most productive forms of detoxification, and for that I am grateful.

Truly, I want you to know that I vow to care for you as you have for me.

With love and gratitude,


Supporting our colon’s natural detoxification prowess is one way we can provide a little extra love to accompany that letter.

Detox vs cleanse… what’s the difference?

I know many people use the terms detox and cleanse interchangeably, and the two words have been developing some negative connotations in mainstream media of late. But at the Functional Nutrition Alliance (FxNA), we’ve created a distinction between these two concepts that’s important to understand. It’s that distinction that will help you to make the appropriate investment of your time and resources to reach your optimal health goals and support your body to perform its natural functions.

Decoding detoxification

When we use the word “detox”, we are referring to the body’s natural processes of elimination and excavation. Depending on your health needs at that moment, our goal may be to help your body when it’s overburdened or just fortify what it’s already doing for you. You can think of it like bathing your body, flossing your teeth, or using a neti pot for nasal irrigation. “Detox” is a verb, not a noun.

When it comes to your insides, we may consider your digestion and inflammatory load as ways to support your body’s abilities to handle waste removal. Simultaneously we may be focused on your sleep, your poop, or your blood sugar balance – what we call your Non-Negotiable Trifecta. These are all functions that help your body with its job to transform what it doesn’t need into waste… and support its removal!

Holistic methods of supporting waste removal

Clinically, our goal may or may not be to eliminate some dietary items that are “muddying the waters” and confusing our understanding of how you feel or the symptoms you’re experiencing. We might temporarily remove substances that slow you down, make you sick, clog your sinuses, cause gas and discomfort, make you feel bloated or heavy, or leave you feeling tired and foggy. Who wants any of that?

Sometimes the things we’re addressing are foods or other things that we consume, and sometimes they’re behaviors or beliefs, patterns and habits that are holding us back.

And at FxNA, we never remove without replacing. We aim to ensure that you don’t feel deprived through this fortification so that you’re learning about yourself through the process and making sustainable changes that inform your everyday self-care. 

Bottom line: The goal is to help your body to do what it naturally does for you!

OK, so if that’s a detox, then what’s a cleanse?

Whereas “detox” is a verb (and something that your body does for you, that can be enhanced with some support and practices), a “cleanse” tends to be thought of as a noun; something that you go on

At FxNA there are times when we would consider a cleanse for a client or patient, but certainly not for all, and not without careful Assessment and evaluation. During a cleanse, we’re likely (and temporarily) removing those substances that can leave you feeling high and dry in the ways I mentioned above. Yet we’re also diving into your insides a bit deeper. We’re delving into a certain organ of detoxification and actually working to give it a little extra “scrub” so it can function better—loving your body so you can, indeed, love it. 

Your colon’s dedicated care

Let’s look at your colon as an example of this distinction…

Your colon (or large intestine) is working constantly to gather what the body needs and expel what it doesn’t. A healthy colon is clearing any toxins, debris or non-beneficial bacteria from your body and removing them so that the body can stay vibrant, strong and without undue pressure from unnecessary waste build-up.

As I mentioned, many experts say that the health of the colon is reflected in your overall health. What this means is that if you suffer diarrhea or constipation, you can likely link some of your other ailments to those signs of imbalance. And an imbalance is not an imperfection or something that needs a “fix”. It’s something that is calling your attention to that area of your body. It’s asking for support.

How to naturally support your colon with a cleanse

Colon support can come in many different forms, depending on the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing. Three of my top favorite ways to love my colon are:

  • drink more water (hydration is the key to both elimination and detoxification!)

  • increase your fiber intake (remember to ‘start low and go slow’ if you are newer to eating fiber)

  • feed your microbiome (and remember there are plenty of ways to do this!)

Remember, your colon’s well-being is a reflection of your overall health. Listen to its cues and offer the love and support it deserves. Whether that support comes in the form of detoxification or a cleanse, nurturing your body’s innate ability to remove waste is important. If you’re curious about the body’s natural detoxification processes, check out this video!

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


Get Program Information

Plus, exclusive access to tuition discounts, bonuses and FREE live events.

Want to talk to someone?

Give Us a Call Now At 1-844-246-6335