There are many buzzwords in the health world today, such as “detox” and “cleanse.” Often times, these terms can be misleading. Quite simply, your body is meant to do these things naturally, and if it’s having trouble, the best thing you can do is to consult your physician. Who doesn’t want a healthy colon or a healthy liver? Products like colon cleanses and detox systems would certainly lead you to believe that cleansing and detoxing can make – and keep – you healthy. But is this based in fact or just internet hype? Read on to learn more about colon hydrotherapy or colon cleanses, and if they can help reduce your risk of colon cancer or contribute to your overall colon health.

What Is Natural Colon Cleansing?

While most colon cleansing products are sold over the counter, some are performed in physician’s offices. There is still a school of thought that believes buildup along the wall of the colon can lead to ill health. However, the colon itself should be irrigating this problem, so in real terms, it is a non-issue. However, colon cleansing is typically administered in the form of an enema, often comprised of water, laxatives, vegetable juice, and other products.

For those that aren’t fond of the enema route, there are more “natural” ways to cleanse the colon. Patients can drink plenty of water or fruit and vegetable juice, eat plenty of fiber in their diet, or drink lemon juice or herbal tea. All of these products are known to cleanse the colon naturally, and optimally should all be part of your diet. However, if you’re ingesting only these products in order to perform a cleanse, you run the risk of dehydration or other problems.

Should I Do a Colon Cleanse?

Most doctors and researchers do not recommend a colon cleanse because there are myriad side effects and risks. The bottom line when it comes to a colonic or colon hydrotherapy is that it’s not needed. You wouldn’t elect for surgery that you don’t need, so why would you elect for a colon cleanse when it’s not warranted? Some claims do suggest a colon cleanse can lower colon cancer risk. However, these claims are unfounded and unproven by medical research.

There are other claims made by those in favor of colon cleanses, such as improvement in mood, improvement in energy level, promoting weight loss, boosting the immune system, and many more. None of the claims are backed by evidence. If you want to lower the risks of colon cancer, improve your mood and energy level, promote weight loss, and boost your immune system, the best things to do include the advice we so often hear from our doctors: eat a healthy diet full of leafy greens and vegetables, avoid red meat, fats, and sugars, and exercise regularly.

What Are the Risks of a Colon Cleanse?

The risks of a natural colon cleanse or an enema colon cleanse certainly outweigh the benefits. There are many proven adverse side effects from taking part in a colon cleanse, some of which include:

  • Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration
  • Bowel ulcers and infections
  • Dizziness, fainting, and overall fatigue and malaise
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Kidney damage and ultimate failure

For those who have existing gastrointestinal problems and conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, prior colon surgery, or kidney or liver problems, performing a colon cleanse can exacerbate existing symptoms and cause a flare-up. In fact, both the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has either taken action against colon cleanse manufacturers or issued warnings to patients. The best course of action if you have questions about your colon health or colon cancer risk is to speak with your physician. If you need more information about colon cleansing or would like to see a physician for a checkup or consultation, request an appointment at GI Associates & Endoscopy Center. We offer three convenient locations as well as pediatric services.

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