What is colon cleansing?
Colon cleansing is also called colon/colonic irrigation. It is the act of irrigating or flushing out the colon or large intestine. It is usually performed by a healthcare professional as preparation of the bowels for medical procedures such as a colonoscopy or before major surgeries. It may also be done before childbirth. However, colon cleansing has become a fairly popular trend for other purposes such as weight loss and detoxification. Several alternative medicine practitioners also advise colon cleansing for detoxification.
Is colon cleansing helpful?
Although there is no scientific evidence that proves the benefits, colon cleansing has been practiced for many decades. The main goal has been to clear the colon of any stagnant, supposedly toxic waste stuck to the walls of the large intestine. Advocates of colon cleansing believe that toxins from your gastrointestinal tract can cause various health problems and affect mental health. Colon cleansing is believed to aid:
- Eliminating toxins and improving health
- Boosting energy
- Improving the immune system
- Weight loss: Colon cleaning has been practiced for weight loss, but colon cleansing alone may not help weight loss because most of the calories get absorbed in the small intestine. Weight loss associated with colon cleansing is mostly because of the elimination of fluids.
Colon cleansing for the above purposes isn't always necessary because the bowels are capable of eliminating waste products and bacteria from the body, as that is their physiological function.
Is colon cleansing safe?
The risks of colon cleansing overweigh the benefits. Frequent colon cleansing without medical indications and the guidance of a healthcare professional is associated with several minor and serious side effects. Evidence has shown that coffee enemas sometimes used in colon cleansing has led to several deaths.
Potential side effects of colon cleansing include:
- Alteration in the natural bacteria of the colon: Good bacteria may reduce, and unhealthy bacteria may increase.
- Dehydration: It occurs mostly because of the elimination of fluids. Chronic dehydration can lead to kidney failure.
- Electrolyte imbalance: Imbalance of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium in the body occurs due to frequent colon cleansing. Potassium is important for heart, muscle, and nerve functions.
- Tearing of the colon: Walls of the colon can erode and perforate. This can cause internal bleeding and fever chills and can be fatal.
- Abdominal pain
- Colon cleansing can be dangerous in the presence of other underlying medical conditions, especially of the heart and kidneys.
How is colon cleansing performed?
In a hospital or clinic, during colon cleansing, large amounts of water, around 60 liters, and sometimes other substances, such as herbs or coffee, are flushed through the colon using a tube that's inserted into the rectum. The tube may be placed in the colon for some time before being removed. The procedure is well tolerated, and no anesthesia is required. It is advised to drink plenty of fluids before and after the procedure to prevent dehydration.
How to colon cleanse safely?
It is advised to avoid using over-the-counter colon cleaning products without consulting a doctor because many of them are not FDA-approved.
Natural ways to safely cleanse the colon and improve digestive health are as follows:
- Drinking plenty of fluids (water flush): Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated are the simplest ways to regulate digestion. Drinking six to eight glasses of lukewarm water per day is recommended for maintaining a healthy digestive system and overall health. Additionally, eating fresh fruits and vegetables rich in water such as watermelon and tomatoes would be helpful.
- High-fiber diets: Fiber is an essential nutrient present in whole, healthy plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and more. Fibers help in bulking up excess matter in the colon. They can regulate constipation and overactive bowels. They also boost helpful bacteria.
- Lemon water and honey: Fresh lemon juice, one teaspoon of honey, and a pinch of salt with warm water can be consumed on an empty stomach in the morning.
- Juices and smoothies: These include fruits and vegetables. Juices made of apples, lemons, and aloe vera help in colon cleansing. They also contain nutrients that are beneficial to the body.
- Probiotics: Probiotics help to cleanse the colon and boost good bacteria in the gut. Foods such as yogurt, pickles, and other fermented foods are considered good probiotics.
- Herbal teas: Herbal teas may assist digestive health through the colon.
- Ginger: Ginger stimulates digestion. It can be added to other juices, teared or eaten directly.
- Fish oil: Fish oils may be taken as supplements. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are effective for digestion and colon cleansing.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Colon Cleansing: All You Need to Know Related Articles
10 Natural Remedies for Colon CleansingA colon cleanse is the act of flushing out or cleaning the large intestine. They may be performed by professionals called colonic hygienists. In spite of insufficient research to support its benefits, the goal of colon cleansing is to clear the colon of any stagnant, supposedly toxic waste encrusted on the walls of the large intestine.
What Is Balloon Endoscopy?Balloon endoscopy is a procedure used to view the small intestine and the digestive track. There are two types of balloon endoscopy, single balloon and double balloon. Balloon endoscopy is used to diagnose and treat diseases of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and colon (large intestine).
Colon Cancer SlideshowColorectal cancer (colon cancer) is the cause of many cancer deaths. Learn about the warning signs, symptoms, screening process, stages, and treatment related to colorectal cancer.
Colyte (peg-3350 and electrolytes)Colyte (peg-3350 and electrolytes) is a prescription medicine used to clean the colon before a colonoscopy or barium enema X-ray examination. Colyte cleans your colon by causing you to have diarrhea. Serious side effects of Colyte include changes in certain blood tests, ulcers of the bowel, or bowel problems (ischemic colitis).
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
What Is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to examine the lower colon and rectum. Flexible sigmoidoscopy can investigate the possible cause of rectal bleeding, bowel changes, and symptoms such as rectal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. During the procedure, a biopsy of tissue can be taken for further examination, or polyps may be removed.
hydrocortisone rectalHydrocortisone rectal is a prescription cream or suppository used to treat and reduce inflammation of the colon and rectum caused by ulcerative colitis (UC). Common side effects of hydrocortisone rectal include burning, dryness, follicle inflammation (folliculitis), reduced pigmentation (hypopigmentation), itching, pain, rectal bleeding, and secondary infection. Do not take if you have systemic fungal infections because symptoms can be exacerbated. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
MoviPrep (PEG-3350, Sodium Sulfate, SodiumChloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Ascorbate)MoviPrep is a prescription bowel prep medication used by adults to clean the colon before a colonoscopy. Serious side effects of MoviPrep include changes in certain blood tests, ulcers of the bowel, bowel problems (ischemic colitis), and serious allergic reactions.
sodium acid phosphateSodium acid phosphate is a medication used to clear the bowels before a colonoscopy procedure. Common side effects of sodium acid phosphate include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, mucosal bleeding, mucosal ulceration in the colon, canker sores (aphthous stomatitis), headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting (syncope), electrolyte disturbances in the blood, and others. Use with caution in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Sutab (sodium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and potassium chloride)Sutab is a prescription medicine used by adults to clean the colon before a colonoscopy. Sutab works as a laxative by cleaning your colon after causing you to have diarrhea. Cleaning your colon helps your healthcare provider see the inside of your colon more clearly during your colonoscopy. Sutab can cause serious side effects, including changes in certain blood tests, heart problems, seizures, and ulcers of the bowel or bowel problems (ischemic colitis).
Vectibix (panitumumab)Vectibix (panitumumab) injection is a cancer medication used to treat the symptoms of metastatic colorectal cancer, or cancer that has spread. Serious side effects of Vectibix include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face/lips/tongue/throat, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, chills, fever, chest tightness, severe or ongoing diarrhea, sudden chest pain or discomfort, and others.
wheat germ extractWheat germ has high nutritional value and wheat germ extract is used as a dietary supplement to improve quality of life in certain cancers. Wheat germ extracts are available over the counter (OTC) as tablets, capsules and drink powders. Common side effects of wheat germ extract include nausea, vomiting, soft stools, and diarrhea. Avoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.