Colon Cleansing: Is It Helpful or Harmful?

What is colon cleansing?

There is no scientific evidence that proves the benefits of colon cleansing.
There is no scientific evidence that proves the benefits of 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 before medical procedures such as a colonoscopy or major surgeries. 
  • It may also be done before childbirth.
  • 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.

What are the benefits of colon cleansing?

There is no scientific evidence that proves the benefits of colon cleansing. You must talk to your doctor before you go ahead with the procedure. Advocates of colon cleansing believe that colon cleansing can have the following benefits:

  • Eliminating toxins and improving health
  • Boosting energy
  • Improving 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 has been practiced for many decades. The main goal of practicing colon cleansing in the past has been to clear the colon of any stagnant toxic waste stuck to the walls of the large intestine.. 

Colon cleansing for the above purposes isn't always necessary because the bowels are already capable of eliminating waste products and bacteria from the body, as that is their physiological function.

What are the risks of colon cleansing?

The risks of colon cleansing overweigh the benefits. Frequent colon cleansing without medical indications and 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:

  • Dehydration: Weight loss associated with colon cleansing is 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.
  • Alteration in the natural bacteria of the colon: Good bacteria may reduce, and unhealthy bacteria may increase.
  • Bloating 
  • Diarrhea
  • Infection 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Giddiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Colon cleansing can be dangerous in the presence of other underlying medical conditions, especially of the heart and kidneys.


What percentage of the human body is water? See Answer

How to colon cleanse safely?

Consult a doctor before undergoing colon cleansing. Avoid using over-the-counter colon cleaning products without consulting a healthcare professional because many of them are not FDA-approved. 

Natural ways to safely cleanse the colon and improve digestive health:

  • 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. Juice and smoothie can help weight loss and improve digestive health.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics help to cleanse the colon and boost good bacteria in the gut. Foods such as yogurt, pickles, apple cider vinegar, and other fermented foods are considered good probiotics.
  • Herbal teas: Trying some herbal teas may assist digestive health through the colon. 
  • Ginger: Ginger stimulates digestion. It can be added to other juices, teared or eaten directly. One teaspoon of ginger juice and honey can be mixed with one cup of warm water. This can be consumed once or twice a day. 
  • Fish oils: Fish oils may be taken as supplements. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are effective for digestion and colon cleansing.