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.
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