Study Warns of Colon Cleansing

Many people turn to colon cleansing as a way to improve their health but they may be putting themselves at risk for side effects that range from nausea and cramping to renal failure and death.

A new study published in the August issue of The Journal of Family Practice found no evidence to back purported benefits to colon cleansing.

Colon cleansing – also called colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy, usually involves flushing the colon with chemicals and water through a tube that’s inserted into the rectum.

“There can be serious consequences for those who engage in colon cleansing whether they have the procedure done at a spa or perform it at home,” said Dr. Ranit Mishori, lead author in a news release. Mishori is a family practice physician at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Colon cleansing products that come in the form of laxatives, teas, powers and capsules tout benefits that do not exist, Mishori said. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor these products.

Mishori and her colleagues looked at 20 published studies from the last 10 years. The reports showed little evidence of benefit but numerous side effects such as: cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance and renal failure.

“Some herbal preparations have also been associated with aplastic anemia and liver toxicity,” she said.

A better way to take care of your colon is to exercise, maintain a healthy weight and eat healthy foods.

To reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, cut back on eating red meat, quit smoking and add fiber to your diet. Begin getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 50. Screening tests allow doctors to find and remove abnormal growths in the colon and rectum before they turn into cancer.

Sources: The Journal of Family Practice, Georgetown University Medical Center

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