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Body cleansing

By Flavia Nassaka

The latest scam Kampala beauty shops areoffering

In almost every big shopping centre in Kampala city and along most streets, there is a body detoxification business. Most are run as `body/skin clinics’ although the operators are obviously far from professional medical practitioners. Some are found in massage parlours. The process can even be done by mobile service providers.

Depending on the targeted clientele, the setting could be a small windowless cubical in a dinghy corner for the low end and shiny lounges with tiled floors and fancy sofas for the upmarket.

In all of them, one scene is common. The client is made to soak their feet in a container with water. Then a piece of metal is added and the `patient’ is told to wait as the body is detoxified of impurities.

And sure enough, the water was slowly changes colour – from light to coffee brown. This process, the customer is told,  can perform miracles like increasing the immunity in HIV positive patients, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, get rid of pimples, clean the liver and kidneys, detoxify cancer treatment chemotherapy, even slow aging.

But for scientists like Dr. Sylvia Chelangat, the process is far from medical. She says when low-voltage electrical currents are applied to water with the metal, such as the one people soak their feet in during these sessions, it creates positive and negative ions. But, she says, the water changes colour – not because of impurities pulled out of the body, but because of ion oxidation – as a result of interacting with the metals of the device. With or without feet in it, the water would turn brown.

Dr. Chelangat, who is a nutritionist, warns that short term risks include dehydration and erosion of useful bacteria.

She says foods like lemon, broccoli, garlic, ginger, beetroot, green tea, cabbage, carrot, cucumber and avocado and foods rich in fiber such as beans, rice, wheat and peas clean the digestive tract and speed up elimination of wastes.

She also recommends aerobic exercises that make the heart go pumping leading to easier blood circulation.

“As blood moves, the toxins are also swept away. Also, while running or jumping perspiration takes place making one want to take in more and more fluids that eventually rid the body of toxins,” she says.

Items such alcohol and red meat burden the liver, while coffee red meat elevates blood pressure and also causes dehydration.

The National Drug Authority’s spokesperson, Fredrick Ssekyana, also is aware of the scam.  He says operators of such services are charlatans who market beauty care as medical care. He says they use pseudo-medical concepts to sell their items. And more significantly, they could be dangerous to users as they are not authorised by the authority, have no guidelines, and the operators are not medical experts.

“The danger a person may get exposed to when they use such machines is not clear,” he says, “But if they say these procedures clean toxins, it means kidneys, skin and the liver are rendered useless. Naturally these are involved in whisking toxins out of the body.”

Ssekyana says as long as the body organs work well and are normal, there is no cleansing treatment that can make them work better than they should.

Dr. Fred Okuku, an oncologist is concerned that even cancer patients sometimes risk such exposure yet artificial body detoxification is not recommended for them worldwide. He says during cancer treatment the body is loaded with waste products that may need to be flushed out immediately since they can cause headaches, dizziness and poor memory among others. Doctors, however, insist that it has to be done naturally.

He says this means patients need to take a lot of water and other fluids to flush out toxins in addition to meals with plenty of vegetables and fruits.

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