If you experience digestive health problems like constipation, diarrhea, gas, or heartburn, you might be considering colon cleansing. But be sure to get the facts before you sign up for the procedure so you can decide whether the benefits really outweigh the risks of a colon cleanse.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to undergo colon cleansing to improve your health.
Colon Cleansing: What’s Involved?
The theory behind colon cleansing goes something like this: Poisonous “toxins” get into the body from the foods that you eat, the water you drink, and the environment you live and work in. Some people believe that removing those toxins, as well as normal bacteria and stool via the colon, can help you feel better and your body function better.
Colon cleansing is also called colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy, and is sometimes referred to as a “high colonic.” As many as 20 gallons of fluids are pumped into the colon through a tube that’s inserted into the rectum. Probiotics, herbs, enzymes, and other additives can be used in the solution, and the whole procedure takes about an hour.
Colon cleansing is nothing new: The ancient civilizations are rumored to have used it, and 19th-century European spas made it a popular health remedy thousands of years later.
Colon Cleansing: A Question of Benefits
Many people may consider colon cleansing because they think that it reduces the risk of colon cancer. However, no studies have shown that colon cleansing has any benefit at all.
Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, says there are no large, randomized trials that show any benefits of colon cleansing and few studies on the effects of colon cleansing overall.
Dr. Marrero notes that colon cleansing isn’t the true, complete cleansing that many people may think it is because the procedure only flushes out the colon, not the small bowel. “The only way to clean out the small bowel is eating a healthy diet of fruits and veggies,” says Marrero.