This may sound like an unpleasant topic, but our bowel movements are an important indication of our health or disease. Also, since corporations (the B’org) are legally persons, they must have bowel movements too. The B’org take in resources, use what they want and discard the rest, and this refuse is at least as toxic as the waste coming out of the people who use their products, although often much more toxic. Everywhere I turn nowadays, I’m coming up with millions of tonnes of more chemicals being produced. One such chemical is macrogol (aka polyethylene glycol). This chemical is used in association with bowel dysfunction and used by the B’org to promote this health problem in order to add value and grow.
One very popular product that contains macrogol is called Movicol. It’s a laxative for the treatment of chronic constipation and faecal impaction. It’s manufactured by Norgine, a corporation that specialises in chemical manipulation of the bowels. I don’t particularly want to pick on Norgine, but because I’ve come across their product Movicol lately, they’ve been selected to use as an example. They happen to specialise in mostly crap and I’ve listed their products from their website below because I think they are quite impressive. You’ll see that there are lots of partners involved with them as well.
Norgine’s two production units “produce and pack more than 45 million units of pharmaceutical products each year for sale in Europe and around the world.” One company, 45 MILLION UNITS. The photo is of the plant in Hengoed, Wales, UK. The other one is in France.
In 2011, Norgine’s net product sales were €247 million. The most prominent contributor to Norgine's growth is Movicol. However, sales of Norgine’s bowel cleansing preparation, Moviprep, is also growing rapidly. It contains over 17 times the amount of macrogol as Movicol. So first let’s take a quick look at Norgine’s products and then I’ll discuss the chemical macrogol in a little more detail, and tie it altogether to show how products that contain macrogol are harmful.
For the treatment of chronic constipation and faecal impaction
(Contains Macrogol 3350 13.125 g
Sodium chloride 350.7 mg
Sodium bicarbonate 178.5 mg
Potassium chloride 46.6 mg
Plain / Chocolate / Lemon and Lime / Paediatric / Liquid Orange
mmm, I wonder what Paediatric flavour tastes like ...
One of the people I know taking Movicol told me he’s supposed to take it every day, but doesn’t like taking it. He uses the chocolate flavoured one. He’s been in the hospital for specialist treatment before because of a blockage and may have to go again because it’s been about a week since he last had a bowel movement.
MOVIPREP® see link for lots of information including My Moviment Prep Kit with videos and Colonoscopy for Dummies book (they said it) and you can download it for free!
For bowel cleansing prior to any clinical procedure requiring a clean bowel.
(Contains: 233 mg Macrogol). I can’t believe the photo!
KLEAN-PREP is under licence from Helsinn Healthcare
Bowel preparation prior to colonoscopy, contains:
Macrogol 3350 59.0g (over 4 x the amount that’s in Movicol)
Sodium Sulphate 5.685g
Sodium Bicarbonate 1.685g
Sodium Chloride 1.465g
Potassium Chloride 0.743g
The other ingredients are aspartame and vanilla flavour.
Klean-Prep (possibly more accurately called Klean-Krap) which is used in colon cancer screening is becoming ever more popular along with Moviprep (or Movicrap) because the medical industry is pushing colonoscopies. Screening for breast cancer isn’t the only one that’s a risk to your health that is offered in this guise.
ORAMORPH is under licence from Molteni Farmaceutici
For the treatment of moderate to severe pain, it’s available from Boehringer Ingelheim in the UK. Ingredients include morphine and it’s taken orally, hence the handy name. After all, having compacted pooh can be very painful.
NORMACOL is a registered trademark of the Norgine group of companies
For the treatment of long-term constipation, particularly simple or idiopathic constipation and constipation during pregnancy, Normacol granules contain the active ingredient sterculia which is a vegetable gum from the karaya tree, native of dry deciduous forests of dry rocky hills lands having tropical climate. It contains a natural active ingredient but it still contains chemicals.
FIVASA® generic name mesalamine
FIVASA was acquired from Eli Lilly & Co. for defined European markets
For the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
Not licensed in the UK. Brand names in the US include Apriso®, Asacol®, Canasa® Suppository, Lialda® Pentasa®, Rowasa® Enema
NORTUSSINE is a registered trademark of the Norgine group of companies
Antitussive medication (for coughs)
Not licensed in the UK
TARGAXAN are registered trademarks of the Alfa Wassermann group of companies, licensed to the Norgine group of companies
For the treatment of traveller's diarrhoea and hepatic encephalopathy
Product under licence from Alfa Wassermann S.p.A. XIFAXAN and
SAVENE is licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
An antidote for anthracycline extravasation. I had to look this up and came across this gem on Wiki: “The anthracyclines are among the most effective anticancer treatments ever developed and are effective against more types of cancer than any other class of chemotherapeutic agents. Their main adverse effect is cardiotoxicity, which considerably limits their usefulness.” This really sums up drug use generally – drugs are really effective, but have adverse effects that are as bad as the original complaint. Extravastion, by the way, is when the drug leaks into the body from the vein.
DANTRIUM® IV / DANTROLEN® IV
DANTRIUM IV and DANTROLEN IV are licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
For treatment of malignant hyperthermia (MH)
DANTRIUM is licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
A peripherally acting muscle relaxant for chronic spasticity.
XEROTIN is licensed from Difa-Cooper SpA to the SpePharm AG group of companies
An artificial saliva for xerostomia (dry mouth) (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
PROTHER is licensed from DMF Dietetic Metabolic Food srl to the SpePharm AG group of companies
A food supplement for special medical purposes (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
And as an extra bonus to ensure that Norgine continues to increase profits and grow, they’re working with their Japanese partners Takeda on treatment for obesity called Cametor (Cetilistat). It’s similar to Orlistat. Cametor makes fat come out in the pooh. It messes up the digestive system so that not only will the obese people not lose weight in the long run, they will no longer have a functioning gut or bowel. Other Cametor side effects include oily, loose stools, fecal incontinence, and other such things. In addition, the absorption of fat soluble vitamins are likely to be inhibited thus opening the risk of becoming deficient in them. They will become drug dependent for their bowel function and need nutritional supplements.
Now for a little more in-depth information about Norgine’s star chemical, macrogol. Macrogol is the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for polyethylene glycol. It is used in laxative medications as shown above and in a lot of other drugs as an excipient (bulking agents, fillers, or diluents) with variants sold in ointment bases, tablet bindings, film coatings and lubricants. The molecular weight of the polyethylene glycol is manipulated depending on the application, e.g., macrogol 3350, macrogol 4000, and macrogol 6000.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG, not to be confused with a PEG tube) is produced by the interaction of ethylene oxide with water. PEG is also known as polyethylene oxide (PEO) or polyoxyethylene (POE), depending on its molecular weight.
As an aside, the world's largest producers of ethylene oxide are mega chemical corporations including Dow Chemical Company (3–3.5 million tonnes in 2006), Saudi Basic Industries (2000–2500 tonnes in 2006), Royal Dutch Shell (1.328 million tonnes in 2008–2009), BASF (1.175 million tonnes in 2008–2009), China Petrochemical Corporation (~1 million tonnes in 2006), Formosa Plastics (~1 million tonnes in 2006) and Ineos (0.92 million tonnes in 2008–2009). (references from Wiki). Told you it was millions of tonnes of chemicals being produced, and this is just one chemical out of many thousands.
Macrogol works “by osmotically drawing water into the GI tract.” This means that it changes the osmotic pressure to one of being high. It may sound like magic, but the point is that the water is drawn from someplace it would otherwise not be drawn from because it is pressurized into doing so.
Osmotically means the diffusion of fluid through a semi-permeable membrane (such as cell membranes) until there is an equal concentration of fluid on both sides of the membrane. In fact, all biological cells have a semi-permeable membrane which allows water to pass by this method. Macrogol disrupts the normal equilibrium of water in the gut environment, taking it from the nearby cells in order to flush out the contents of the bowel.
To understand this better, see the photo of red blood cells just above (click on the link below to see it enlarged). The hypertonic ones (first group) are where they are under high osmotic pressure (in other words, water is able to be sucked out of the blood cells because the pressure on the outside of the cell walls is greater than inside, and they end up with a spiky look (dehydrated). This reminded me of a quote in my article about Sugar and Digestion which I reproduce here because it is quite relevant.
“We believe that the role of sucrose in causing diseases of the digestive tract derives from the fact that, in the large amounts we now consume it, it is the only dietary component that contributes to the creation of a high osmotic pressure, and hence to chronic irritation of the gastric and duodenal mucosa.”
Yeah, the only dietary component except for laxatives and colonoscopy preps.
Chronic irritation of the gastric and duodenal mucosa can amount to mucosal erosions and mucosal haemorrhages, infections, and contribute to a leaky gut. Leaky gut, by the way, does not mean one that water comes out of, but rather, it is one where things that should not get into the bloodstream manage to do so because of damage to the microvilli that line the intestine. Malabsorption occurs as well. For instance, the microvilli have enzymes for the final digestion of sugar molecules. If they are unable to perform this function because of damage, the sugar molecules do not get absorbed but stay in the gut as food for the so-called bad bacteria and fungi (e.g., Candida) that then excrete toxins which can pass into the bloodstream through the leaky gut.
Microvilli are microscopic cellular membrane protrusions that increase the surface area of cells as extensions of the plasma membrane. Remember cell membranes above? Removing water from the microvilli can lead to digestive problems. We’re going to go deep into microscopic land now. The destruction of microvilli occurs when the cytoskeleton of each is disturbed. The cytoskeleton is like the cell’s skeleton which is contained within a cell's cytoplasm. The cytoplasm comprises a gel-like substance called cytosol which is ... aha ... enclosed within the cell membrane. I’m not a scientist or a chemist, but I’m good at connecting dots. Here’s the final one. Cytosol is also known as intracellular fluid (ICF) or cytoplasmic matrix and contains the liquid found inside cells. This is the liquid that can diffuse out of the cell if the osmotic pressure becomes higher on the outside. This is what sugar and macrogol cause.
Now, I talk a lot about healing the gut and avoiding destruction of it because I follow a protocol that is designed to do these two things called the Gut and Psychology (or Physiology) Syndrome (GAPS for short) protocol. It is clear that disruption in osmotic pressure can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, persistent osmotic diarrhea and a whole host of diseases due to toxic substances “leaking” into the blood stream. So the side-effects listed for products such as Movicol do not tell the whole story by any means and they’re bad enough.
- allergic reactions
- anal discomfort
- anaphylactic reactions
- breathing difficulties
- distension of the stomach
- heart problems
- metabolic problems - seek immediate medical advice if you develop: oedema, shortness of breath, dehydration or tiredness
- oedema of the extremities
- redness of the skin
- skin rash or rashes
- stomach pain
The NHS page with the above side effects says that “a medicine is only made available to the public if the clinical trials have shown that the benefits of taking the medicine outweigh the risks.” After having written this article, I find this especially very unbelievable. Eat prunes and do an enema are alternative suggestions that pop into my mind. But of course, it's a complex world. All I would say is that if you can avoid laxatives and colonoscopies, you'll be doing your health a good turn.
Photo credit 1: manufacturing plant in Hengoed, Wales, UK.
Photo credit 2: Moviprep website.
Photo credit 3: blood in various osmotic states.