Beware the ‘calming’ effects

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natural-calm-anti-stress-drinkWe’ve all seen the end-cap impulse items. They sit by the register, quietly beckoning for a look, while Mr. Grumpy in front of you to decides if he wants to add a giant candy bar and energy drink to his fuel purchase for three dollars. Colorful packaging promises everything from waking you (and certain unmentionable parts of your body) up to making your belly fat disappear overnight. Right beside the register lies a valley in which you can buy a sharp knife, super-size lighter, and pills with enough caffeine in them to make your heart explode. Let’s not forget the lip balm – cherry flavor, please.

I don’t often buy things from the end-cap because, let’s face it, you can only have so many awesome five-dollar knives that are completely useless for anything other than cleaning your fingernails and cutting the crap out of yourself when trying to close them. (Honestly, I’m not sure how they get tinfoil blades so sharp, but those Chinese counter knives have done some damage to my fingers.)

So it was unusual for me to pick up the “calming tea,” but I’ve needed a little calming these days. We’re having the truck painted and getting our own authority at the same time and I’m a teensy-weensy-bit stressed. When you start dreaming every night you’re being chased by rattling spray paint cans (that are the wrong color, by the way) and people trying to write truck numbers on your forehead with permanent marker, you may be a little stressed.

The box promised to contain everything I desired — “natural calming stress relief and more restful sleep.” I scanned for ingredients and felt comfortable with the magnesium supplement, so I bought it and had a glass of “calming tea” before hitting the hay.

I laid there for a few minutes, trying to convince myself the tea was working, when suddenly I was acutely aware I was going to be in immediate need of a bathroom, like real quick. Thankfully, we were at home and I made it, just in the nick of time.

I’m going to be delicate here, and describe my experience as a complete colonic exorcism, in the span of about four seconds. I believe at one point I actually saw Satan appear in the far corner of the bathroom, but it all happened so fast, I couldn’t be sure. After losing approximately eleven pounds and becoming completely dehydrated, I finally made it out of the bathroom and back to bed, where I fell into an exhausted sleep.

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The next morning, after I drank enough Gatorade to become cognizant again, I read the “calming tea” box a little closer. I was trying to figure out what in the world could have made me so, um, explosive the night before. After getting my magnifying glass out to see the teeniest print possible, listing the “secondary” ingredients, I had my ah-ha moment.

The magnesium supplement was flavored with citrate.

Now, I know most of you are sitting there wondering why in the hell citrate matters, but remember, I’m a nurse at heart – I know things. Worse than that, I’ve seen things. Unspeakable things. And any nurse knows what unspeakable things happen when a bottle of mag citrate is ordered.

Docs give mag citrate, which is a mixture of exactly what the name suggests – magnesium and citrate – to unleash hell when the bowels won’t cooperate. I’ve seen 90-year-old people poo things they ate in 1963 after a mag-citrate order, and it definitely does calm you to violently evacuate your bowels. It’s called “exhaustion.”

I’m not sure it’s what you’re looking for when you think relaxation. I myself did not consider the fact that possibly crapping my pants may be an unfortunate side effect to the perceived “calmness” that might ensue.

At least you have the information now. Beware the calming tea.