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Mucoid plaque[edit]

Mucoid plaque or mucoid rope is a term used in alternative medicine to describe an allegedly harmful mucus-like lining that coats the gastrointestinal tract of most people. Colonic cleansing treatments are marketed to persons with the condition, which is claimed to be caused by poor diet and environmental toxins.

The concept of mucoid plaque as a condition requiring treatment has been dismissed by the medical community as having no anatomical or physiological basis. Critics claim nothing matching descriptions of the plaque has been found during surgical or autopsy procedures. Some marketers accept that mucoid plaque does not have any empirical evidence, but instead relies mostly on anectdotal evidence, but others claim that medical practioners lack the training required to recognise the condition.

The presence of thickening agents in some mucoid plaque cleansing agents have led skeptics to suggest that the medication itself is responsible for the excreted product regarded as the plaque.[1]


Naturopath Richard Anderson claims to have coined the term 'mucoid plaque'.[2] Prior to Anderson, similar concepts have been described by practicioners of alternative medicine. Victor Earl Irons and Bernard Jensen use the term 'toxic mucous lining' or 'toxic mucous layer'.[3][4] Robert Gray referred to it as 'mucoid matter' in his 1990 handbook on colon health.[5] John R. Christopher simply used the terms 'catarrh' and 'mucus' in 1995.

Early references to excreted mucus-like mass from colonic therapy include a 1932 Journal of the American Medical Association article on colonic irrigation describing "dirty gray, brown or blackish sheets, strings and rolled up wormlike masses of tough mucus with a rotten or dead-fish odor" that are generated from the bowels of patients undergoing such therapy.[6]

Characteristics and manifestions[edit]

The mucoid plaque is described by Anderson as a "gel-like, viscous and slimy mucus that forms as a layer or layers covering epithelium cells in various hollow organs, especially all the organs of the alimentary canal."[2] It is generally described as rubbery, ropey and often green in colour.

Anderson further claims that the plaque is a health threat. It is alleged to impair digestion and nutrient absorption, cause sugar intolerance, provide a haven for pathogens and parasites and cause diarrhea. In addition the condition is alleged promote the development of, bowel cancer, allergies and skin conditions. Anderson advocates the removal of mucoid plaque as a health benefit, and promotes a range of products he has developed that are said to accomplish this task.[2]

Practicising physicians have dismissed the concept of mucoid plaque as a hoax and "non-credible". Mucous is a naturally produced product of the digestive system, and is not known to be directly harmful.[7][8][9] Some marketers of colon cleansing products have recognised that mucoid plaque holds no standing amongst the medical profession and is backed up primarily by anectdotal evidence rather than empirical data.[10]

Edward Uthman, an experienced pathologist, has called the mucoid plaque phenomenon "a complete fabrication with no anatomic basis" on the Quackwatch website.[8] Another pathologist, Edward Friedander, has noted during his experience that he has never observed anything resembling a "toxic bowel settlement" and that some online photographs he has been shown actually depict what he recognises as a blood clot.[9]

Anderson insists his claims are backed up by papers and textbooks on digestive physiology. He provides as evidence, among other studies, a scanning electron microscope study that revealed thick mucous layers are present in the small intestines of children with chronic diarrhea and food intolerances.[2]

Anderson also alleges that a number of conditions recognised as distinct disorders or physiological entities by the medical community are actually varying manifestations of mucoid plaque – such as amyloidosis, gastric metaplasia, hypertrophia, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal lymphangiectasia, malacoplakia, mucin, mucoviscoidosis, polypus, villous adenoma.[11]


The alternative medical community says that mucoid plaque is generated by the human body in response to harmful toxins. Dietary sources of these toxins listed by Anderson include processed food, alcohol and salt. Drugs are also said to exacerbate the condition, as are the presence of intestinal parasites. Imbalance of internal microbioata caused by antibiotics is also said to promote plaque formation.[12]

Skeptics have noted that the products marketed to cleanse mucoid plaque can themselves produce thick, rubbery stools, which fit the expected description of mucoid plaque.[1][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Skeptoid: "The Detoxification Myth". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  2. ^ a b c d Anderson, Richard (2000). Cleanse & Purify Thyself, Books One and Two. Christobe Publishing.
  3. ^ Jensen, Bernard. Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management. 1981.
  4. ^ V. Earl Irons, Sr. The Destruction of Your Own Natural Protective Mechanism
  5. ^ Gray, Robert. The Colon Health Handbook. 1990
  6. ^ Bastedo, WA. “Colonic irrigations: their administration, therapeutic application and dangers”. JAMA (1932) v98 p736.
  7. ^ "Helping Healthcare Consumers Understand: An "Interpretive Layer" for Finding and Making Sense of Medical Information" (PDF). MedInfo2004. IOS Press, Amsterdam. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  8. ^ a b Uthman, Edward. "Mucoid Plaque". Quackwatch. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  9. ^ a b Friedlander, Ed. "Ed's Guide to Alternative Therapies: Colonics". Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  10. ^ "Some Skeptical Perspectives on Colon Cleansing". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  11. ^ Richard Anderson (2007). "Mucoid Plaque". Retrieved 2008-11-08.
  12. ^ Richard Anderson (2007). "FAQ's". Retrieved 2008-11-08.
  13. ^ Skeptoid: "Things I'm Wrong About". Retrieved 2008-11-05.