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In season 2 episode 7 of Archer, Rona Thorne suggests using a kelp tape cleansing technique. I was able to find some reference to kelp as a cleanser on the Google, but nothing mentioning 'tape' explicitly. Is this a real thing?

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I have located a couple references to it, but am not sure it isn't a joke. Many references are very recent, and lead back to Archer, but one leads to a free-form Q&A forum where the specific topic is 'detox'. Kelp Tape is part of the answer. The answer is disgusting, and again, I am not sure it is for real. Further down the thread we come right back to Archer. My most fun answer was the one that went 'Ew. Ew. Ew.'

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  • Update - continued searching leads to more circuits back to Archer. I'm demoting this to 'improbable', but funny, depending on your sense of humor. – wbogacz Mar 25 '12 at 2:32
  • You got farther than I did. I can't decide if I want it to be a real thing or not...it wouldn't surprise me if it is. – user977 Mar 25 '12 at 3:27
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Here is a podcast of an interview with Maxon Crumb which references the documentary during which Maxon claims to swallow purification cloth which cleanses the intestines. Shatkarma: Yoga Cleansing Techniques include swallowing a 3" by 20' piece of water-soaked muslin, allowing it to stay in the stomach for 5 minutes, and then pulling it out very slowly (so, no, it is not pulled out the other end, and no, it is not made of kelp). This technique is combined with a second enema-like technique (see link) which cleanses the rest of the digestive tract.

A kelp tape is improbable on many counts. First, kelp would digest, particularly if left for three days. Second, the chance that the tape would continue on its own through the intestines without jamming up, well, this just gets too gross. Finally, even if it were possible, you would be keeping the pyloric valve between stomach and intestine open for 3 days. Issues of bacteria growing and bile seeping into the stomach come to mind - neither very purifying!

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No. Kelp tape is not real.

The problem with the concept described in Archer is that kelp is actually food that people eat and digest all the time. It would not pass through your body as described, it would be digested normally. While kelp is healthy and nutritious, there is also some quackery out there that talks about kelp "removing toxins" from your body, which likely served as partial inspiration for Rhona Thorne's kelp tape. Note that your liver and kidneys remove non-lethal toxins from your body very effectively. Saying that a food or tonic or mystic crystals remove toxins from your body is like saying such things "put oxygen into your blood." They do not. You have organs for that.

Now, there is actually (apparently) an ancient yoga practice of clenaing out your digestive system by swallowing a 22 foot long cloth tape, doing some strange abdominal muscle movements, and then almost immediately pulling it all back out your mouth. There's even a video on line showing a man doing this. As with the "detoxifying" quackery surrounding kelp, this likely served as inspiration for Rhona Thorne's fictional kelp tape.

As a final note, your digestive system would not be strong enough to pull kelp tape through your body, even if the tape stayed intact and was not digested. You would have to continuously swallow it down your throat (with a LOT of water) for three whole days, fighting the gag reflex the entire time. The danger of trying to do this would offset any possible health benefits.

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