What Is Colon Cleansing? Does It Really Help?

What Is Colon Cleansing? Does It Really Help?

Last Reviewed : 01/08/2021
What Is Colon Cleansing? Does It Really Help?


Colon cleansing describes the process of flushing the colon with water or other fluids. It helps remove waste that accumulates in the colon. The process is also known as colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy.

As early as ancient Greek and Egyptian times, alternative medicine practitioners have believed colon cleansing works in detoxifying the body. However, it only became popular in the early 1990s.

Despite its popularity, there is no scientific evidence that proves colon cleansing is an effective way of detoxifying the body. It is, in fact, more formally used as a preparation for colonoscopy and other medical procedures.

How does colon cleansing work?

Practitioners of alternative medicine believe that colon cleansing removes toxins that accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, which they claim can cause health problems like high blood pressure and arthritis.

Proponents of colon cleansing also claim the technique boosts energy, improves the immune system, boosts mental health, helps reduce weight, and lowers the risk of colon cancer.

During the process of colon flushing, as much as 16 liters of water is flushed into the colon using a small tube inserted into the rectum. The water is sometimes mixed with coffee and different herbs.

The water is then flushed out through another tube. This process is repeated until all the bowel wall contents are washed off.

Is colon cleansing safe?

Colon cleansing comes with potentially harmful effects. Most seriously, coffee enemas used for the procedure have been linked to several deaths. There are also other less serious side-effects, like cramps, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Here are other effects of colon cleansing you need to be aware of:

  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can be fatal in patients with pre-existing heart, kidney, and other health problems,
  • Infections caused by the disruption of normal gut flora and the use of contaminated equipment,
  • Rectal tear and bowel perforation,
  • Frequent use can lead to dependence and can produce withdrawal symptoms,
  • Interaction with prescribed medications, causing other adverse health effects.

Is colon cleansing really necessary?

Save for instances where a physician is preparing you for a medical procedure; colonic irrigation is not necessary. There is no evidence to support claims of its effectiveness.

The human digestive system cleanses itself by eliminating waste products and bacteria from the body. It does not need any additional cleansing.

With so many side effects associated with the colon cleansing, it is best to avoid it. If you are still considering the procedure, follow these precautionary measures to reduce side-effects:

  • Consult with your doctor before undergoing the procedure if you suffer from heart or kidney diseases,
  • Make sure the therapist is well-skilled and experienced,
  • Insist that the therapist uses disposable and unused equipment.

Colonic cleansing has no benefits and should be avoided. If you must do it, take precautions to minimize side-effects.


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