Are there Benefits of Colon Irrigation?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Are there any physical benefits of colon irrigation?

Signed: Benefits of Colon Irrigation or Detox Diets?

Dear Benefits of Colon Irrigation or Detox Diets?,

Doctors generally don’t recommend colon irrigation (also known as colon cleansing) for detoxification purposes. The body’s digestive system has its own natural process to clean out the body. If you want to help this process along, exercise, drink plenty of water, and make healthy food choices when it comes to your diet. If you are eating well and taking care of your body, colon irrigation shouldn’t be necessary. And if you are eating poorly and not taking care of yourself, having a colon irrigation performed now and then isn’t going to have a tremendous impact anyways.

Think of the following analogy: If you do little to no physical activity on a daily basis, going to the gym once or twice a year for an intense workout isn’t going to do much to boost your overall physical health, strength and endurance. You need to make a commitment to exercising regularly. The same basically holds true with taking care of your digestive system.

For more information, consider the following Mayo Clinic article Is colon cleansing a good way to eliminate toxins from your body?

Although doctors prescribe colon cleansing as preparation for medical procedures such as colonoscopy, most don't recommend colon cleansing for detoxification. Their reasoning is simple: Your digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria — your body doesn't need colon cleansing to do this.

In fact, colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful. The main concerns with colon cleansing are that it can:

• Increase your risk of dehydration
• Lead to bowel perforations
• Increase the risk of infection
• Cause a rise in your electrolytes, which can be dangerous if you have kidney disease or heart disease

Proponents of colon cleansing, on the other hand, believe that toxins from your gastrointestinal tract can cause a variety of health problems, such as arthritis, allergies and asthma. They believe that colon cleansing — also called a colonic or a colonic irrigation — improves health by removing toxins, promoting healthy intestinal bacteria, boosting your energy and enhancing your immune system. Colon cleansing is also promoted as treatment for cancer and numerous other conditions.

If you choose to do colon cleansing, be sure to take these precautions:

• Check with your conventional medical providers first, especially if you take any medications or have any health problems.
• Make sure your colon-cleansing practitioner uses disposable equipment that hasn't been previously used.
• Get a list of specific herbal ingredients and amounts in any colon-cleansing products you use — some herbal supplements can cause health problems.
• Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids while undergoing colon cleansing to prevent dehydration.

If you're considering colon cleansing because of constipation, consider trying these steps first to relieve constipation:

• Drink plenty of fluids, including water.
• Eat a diet rich in fiber.
• Get regular exercise.

Signed: TeenHealthFX