Don’t Buy Dual Action Cleanse

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
May 20, 2010

Dual Action Cleanse is described on its marketer’s Web site is described as a pair of proprietary formulas (“Colon Clear” and “Total Body Purifier”) containing a total of about 50 ingredients, most of which are “cleansing herbs.” The product’s marketers are doing business as Dual Action Cleanse of Euclid, California. The labels state:

Dual Action Cleanse was formulated by Klee Irwin, who has marketed dietary supplements under several different company names and now operates primarily as Irwin Naturals. In 2001, when he was doing business as Omni Nutraceuticals, the FDA warned Irwin to stop marketing joint-pain products that combined an over-the-counter drug (acetaminophen and glucosamine[1].

Dubious Claims

The rationale for Dual Action Cleanse appears to be based the outdated theory of “autointoxication,” which states that stagnation of the large intestine (colon) causes toxins to form that are absorbed and poison the body. Some quackery promoters depict the large intestine as a “sewage system” that becomes a “cesspool” if neglected. Other proponents state that constipation causes hardened feces to accumulate for months (or even years) on the walls of the large intestine and block it from absorbing or eliminating properly. This, they say, causes food to remain undigested and wastes from the blood to be reabsorbed by the body. However, direct observation of the colon during surgical procedures or autopsies found no evidence that hardened feces accumulate on the intestinal walls.
Here are some of the Web site claims followed by my comments in brackets:

  • Dual Action Cleanse “is formulated to maximize one’s elimination without causing loose stools or uncomfortable cramping via frequent healthy bowel movements while assisting in cleansing the vital organs and lymphatic system.” [The fiber and laxative ingredients probably soften and increase the bulk of the stool, which might be helpful to some people and annoying to others. However, such ingredients do not “cleanse” vital organs or the lymphatic system.]
  • Total Body Purifier will “support all your body’s organs, including filtering organs that keep you toxin free, like the liver and kidneys.” [No herb or herbal combination “supports all body organs.” Nor does either product improve liver or kidney function.]
  • Colon Clear Formula will “Unclog your colon and to stay light, clean and toxin free inside.” [Real clogging of the colon (intestinal obstruction) would be a reason to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.]
  • “Cleansing is the first step in a good weight-management program.” [Increasing stool bulk, softness, or frequency will not produce significant weight loss.]
  • “Cleansing often results in weight loss due to elimination of built up fecal matter.” [As noted above, “built up fecal matter” is a quack notion.]
  • “Cleansing can help improve the assimilation of essential nutrients through a well-balanced healthy eating plan.” [Increasing stool bulk, softness, or frequency will not increase nutrient absorption.]
  • “The key objective of an internal cleanse is to support your body’s natural ability to have 2-3 bowel movements a day, and to release accumulated toxins in the colon while assisting with overall vital organ health. You can expect less bloat, less water retention, improved energy and vitality.” [The fiber and laxative ingredients probably increase stool frequency. However, as noted above, the idea that toxins accumulate is a quack notion.]
  • Once you have started the detoxifying process you may notice enhanced digestion, better elimination, healthier hair, skin, and nails along with increased energy and less bloat. [Increasing the fiber content of the diet might decrease bloating in some people and increase it in others. However, there is no reason to believe that the product will enhance digestion; improve the health of the hair, skin, and nails; or increase the user’s energy.]
  • Dual Action Cleanse “has changed hundreds of thousands of people’s lives through gentle and effective whole body safe and effective internal cleansing.” [I find it difficult to believe that the company has sufficient follow-up data to support this claim.]

Possible Risk

Two reports of serious harm related to Klee Irwin’s cleansing products have surfaced. In February 2009, WHNT-TV (Hunstville, Alabama) reported that a man in Tennessee was hospitalized after taking Dual Action Cleanse. The man stated that after about five days of taking this product, he awoke in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with blockage of the colon that required four days of hospital treatment. The man said that his doctor told him he was the third person he had seen with same product and problem [2].

In March 2009, An Arizona man who had used Irwin’s Ultimate Cleanse charged that the product had caused perforation of his intestine that required hospitalization and two operations [3]. The ingredients in Ultimate Cleanse are similar to those in Dual Action cleans. Both contain cascara segrada, a harsh laxative that in 2002 was banned as an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs [4]. It can still be legally sold as a dietary supplement, but there is no logical reason to use it. The surgeon who treated the man believes that the perforation was caused by the cascara segrada content of the product.

Unauthorized Charges

In 2007, the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau reported that it had received more than 350 complaints that Dual Action Cleanse overcharged, failed to issue refunds, and made unauthorized charges. In most cases, the company resolved the individual complaints. However, an e-mail message to Quackwatch suggests that without outside help, consumers may still encounter similar problems:

I called to order the Dual Action Cleanse product on January 20, 2006. I went online to look up more about the product and found it cheaper (no shipping charge) and other products from other companies looked better. I called the original number from the infomercial to cancel the order only 20 minutes after placing it! I was told the order was not even entered into “the system,” and to call back “in 24-48 hours.” I called the next day. I got the same message only slightly altered “call back in 24-72 hours.” I called back the 3rd day, same message and they said they could not take my information down to manually cancel the order. On the 4th day, I got the message that the “system was down,” and I begged them to take my info down so they could manually find the order and cancel it, but they refused. I emailed the order cancel email address of their website and was given a generic notice that I had to cancel by calling the 1-800 #. I did that twice: 5th day the “system” was “down,” 6th day the system was still down. On the 7th day, I finally said, “Look, I want to cancel before it ships out.” The girl said, “Let me talk to the manager and see what I can do.” She came back and told me the order was cancelled. A week later, I get the shipment at my door. I called my credit card company and placed it into “dispute” after I saw they placed the charges on my account well after I had made several unsuccessful calls to cancel. I called the Dual Action Cleanse infomercial company and told them the story. In their system they only had documentation that I called once to cancel. Also, they had not cancelled the continuous shipments either, so I did that. I called back 5 minutes later to double check all had been done correctly (by a different person) and I found that the auto shipping had not been cancelled on all my order (had I not done this double check I would have to have done this all over again a month hence) and this representative gave me his name, id# and cancellation numbers for all orders, as well as return shipment (postal refusals) id #s. This is the worst company I have ever dealt with. I asked for 100% of all charges reversed (even postage). Who knows how this will turn out? —Liz Lanier, Covington, Kentucky, February 1, 2006.

In June 2009, after receiving a another complaint about unauthorized charges, I checked the BBB site again and found that during the previous three years, the BBB had processed 737 complaints, over 500 of which had inspired the company to issue refunds. This reinforced my belief that people who want unauthorized shipments stopped and/or money refunded should complain to the BBB as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

Dual Action Cleanse is marketed with preposterous claims and may be unsafe. There is no logical reason to use it. Its marketers have a significant record of financial wrongdoing.

  1. Horowitz DJ. Warning letter to Klee Irwin. Oct 6, 2001.
  2. Holloran W. Fayetteville man says colon cleansing product nearly killed him. WHNT News, Feb 10, 2009.
  3. Complaint. Feaster vs. Irwin Naturals (dba Nature’s Secret), and Vitamin World. Arizona Superior Court, County of Maricopa, filed March 2009.
  4. Status of certain additional over-the counterdrug Category II and III active ingredients. Final rule. Federal Register 67:31125-31127, 2002.

This article was revised on May 20, 2010.