A colon cleanse is similar to an enema, but uses more water. By inserting a tube into the rectum, nearly 20 gallons of fluid is used to cleanse the colon. The fluid solution may contain probiotics or herbs to help with the cleansing. The fluid, along with the waste, is then released by a regular bowel movement.
The theory behind colon cleansing is that because we take in toxins from food and the environment, we should cleanse ourselves to flush them all out.
It’s important to note that there is no scientific research to support claims that colon cleansing is effective at reducing one’s risk of colon cancer and likewise offering any additional health benefits.
Is colon cleansing safe?
Of course, if you’re going to start a colon cleanse you should consult with a trained professional, but things may still go wrong. Since you are going to be pumped with fluid, it might result in nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, salt imbalances, and a disruption in bacteria. (We’re talking about the bacteria living in the intestines that help with digestion.)
Notably, the colon cleanse is a procedure with more noted side effects than proven benefits, meaning, you might want to ask if colon cleansing is right for you.
Colon cleansing may come with side effects
Cleansing the colon has been seen as a natural way to promote well-being, but harmful side effects may deter some from proceeding with the procedure. Lead author of the study Ranit Mishori said, “There can be serious consequences for those who engage in colon cleansing whether they have the procedure done at a spa or perform it at home. Colon cleansing products in the form of laxatives, teas, powders, and capsules with names such as Nature’s Bounty Colon Cleaner tout benefits that don’t exist.”
The researchers examined 20 studies, which revealed very little benefits of colon cleansing and rather high rates of bloating, cramping, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, and renal failure. “Some herbal preparations have also been associated with aplastic anemia and liver toxicity,” Mishori added.
Rather than opting for a procedure that promises improved health, Mishori suggests to “eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get six to eight hours of sleep, and see a doctor regularly.”
Known side effects of colon cleansing
- Slight dehydration – dizziness could be a symptom
- Gastrointestinal perforation
- Mineral deficiency
- Nausea or vomiting followed by cramps
- Intrusion into medication absorption during the procedure
- Exhaustion of beneficial bowel flora
How to maintain a healthy colon
If colon cleansing isn’t the answer to a healthy colon, then what is? Well, it really goes back to the fundamentals: Eating well and staying hydrated.
Although colon cleansing can flush out the colon, it doesn’t clear out the small bowel. This is where most of the digestion and nutrient absorption occurs. So really, toxins can linger here rather than in the colon. The only way to improve your small intestine and improve your colon health is by eating well.
On one hand, there are many food options one can enjoy when promoting a healthy colon. For best colon health, one should stick to fiber, fish, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products such as yogurt, which contains probiotics.
On the other hand, one should avoid consuming high amounts of red meat, processed foods, and foods that contain saturated fats. These have been shown to be bad for your colon.
If you still think you want to start a colon cleanse, speak with your doctor. But, if you have certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, the procedure is not recommended. Keep in mind, simply eating well and staying hydrated is enough to promote proper colon health.