A mucoid plaque is a term used by some practitioners of alternative medicine. It refers to a buildup of intestinal mucus inside the colon due to unhealthy eating habits. There is currently no evidence to suggest that mucoid plaques exist.
The colon is part the large intestine, which is a hollow organ that forms part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Certain alternative medicine practitioners believe mucoid plaques can form inside a person’s colon. However, there is no medical evidence to confirm the existence of mucoid plaques.
This article discusses mucoid plaques and whether they exist. It also considers the facts and myths, whether detoxification and colon cleansing are safe, and provides tips to keep the colon healthy.
Alternative medicine practitioners who believe mucoid plaques exist state that they occur due to a buildup of intestinal mucus.
The following information is purely anecdotal and has no medical or scientific basis.
The buildup of mucus that people suggest creates mucoid plaque may form due to poor eating habits. Some people believe that when people eat processed or unhealthy food, the bowels secrete an extra layer of mucus to protect them from fermenting bacteria.
People say the mucoid plaque becomes thicker with each additional poor-quality meal, and the thick layer of mucus prevents the proper absorption of nutrients, interfering with digestion.
Some people believe the thick mucoid plaque houses harmful bacteria that release toxins. They say these toxins cause conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colorectal cancer.
There is currently no evidence to prove the existence of mucoid plaques.
The intestines do produce mucus to protect the bowels from:
- harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria
- digestive enzymes and acid
- food-associated toxins
- digested food particles
- microbial byproducts
Intestinal mucus also helps to lubricate the bowels and provides a rich environment for helpful gut bacteria to thrive.
A person’s colon contains two layers of mucus. The first inner layer is fixed to the colon wall to protect it. The second layer is not attached to the colon wall and allows helpful bacteria to live and grow.
Certain health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, may lead to a person developing thicker mucus in their colon.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that intestinal mucus hardens to form plaques.
Although there is no evidence to support the existence of mucoid plaques, certain alternative and holistic medicine providers offer treatments to remove them.
A person should always have holistic or alternative procedures performed by licensed professionals. Receiving treatment from an unlicensed practitioner may be dangerous or harmful.
Practitioners report that detoxification is a process of removing toxins from a person’s body. Certain alternative medicine practitioners suggest detoxification can help remove a person’s mucoid plaque.
- drinking only juice or other fluids
- specific diets
- dietary supplements
- using a sauna
- reducing certain environmental exposures
- colon cleanses, also known as colonic irrigation
Colon cleanses may involve a healthcare professional flushing a person’s colon using fluids. Healthcare professionals may use this treatment for people who have conditions such as constipation. A healthcare professional may also recommend a colon cleanse before procedures such as a colonoscopy.
However, no scientific evidence currently proves that detoxification removes mucoid plaques. Additionally, the NCCIH notes that a review from 2015 found no compelling research to indicate that detox diets remove toxins from the body.
Information from 2018 notes that a person’s intestinal lining renews itself every 3–5 days. This means flushing the colon with water to remove buildup residue may be unnecessary.
There is no evidence to suggest that healthcare professionals recommend nonprescribed colon cleanses. Colon cleanses can have serious side effects, so people should only have them if necessary.
Side effects of colon cleanses may include:
- abdominal pain
- perianal pain, which is pain around the anus
- an imbalance of electrolytes, which are salts and minerals that carry an electrical charge
- perforation of the bowel
- water intoxication, which occurs when a person takes in too much water, resulting in a dilution of electrolytes
- GI disease
- severe hemorrhoids
- kidney disease
- heart disease
- had colon surgery
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken legal action against several companies selling detox and cleansing products. These companies sold products that:
- contained illegal and possibly harmful ingredients
- claimed to treat serious diseases
- were marketed for unapproved uses
If a person decides to have a colon cleanse, they should make sure it is from a licensed practitioner. A person may also want to speak with a doctor before having a colon cleanse.
- getting screening for colorectal cancer from 45 years old for people at average risk of the disease
- eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- eating less red meat and processed meats
- getting regular exercise
- maintaining moderate body weight
- refraining from smoking cigarettes
- avoiding drinking alcohol
Mucoid plaques are hypothetical buildups of mucus inside a person’s colon. Some alternative medicine practitioners believe unhealthy diets cause mucoid plaques. However, there is no evidence to confirm their existence.
Certain alternative healthcare practitioners offer treatments to remove mucoid plaques. Only licensed medical professionals should perform these treatments.
Colon cleansing can have serious side effects, so people should only have them where necessary and performed by a medical professional.
There are various ways a person can help to improve their colon health. This includes exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.