Colon cleanses, or colonics, function by pumping gallons of warm water into the colon via the rectum to eliminate "waste build-up," and claim to produce glowing skin, a sensation of wellness, and generally make your insides as shiny as a newborn's skin. The problem? They're based on completely debunked medical myths — and have the potential to be harmful, even dangerous.
The colon is the final part of the digestive system before waste is eliminated through the bowel and bladder; it's the last bit of the large intestine. Colonic irrigation has, according to historians, been around as a concept since the ancient Egyptians and Romans, but its recent rise in popularity over the past…
The belief that the colon needs to be cleansed recurs throughout history, but there's no reliable evidence that colonics have any health benefits, and they do come with risks.
Not only do medical studies not support the supposed benefits of colon cleansing, but the procedure comes with some risks. Researchers have even suggested that several deaths could be linked to coffee enemas.
A few months ago, I noticed I felt more sluggish than usual when it came to using the bathroom. Let me be frank: Things were not smooth sailing with my bowels. After getting firsthand feedback and doing research, all roads led me to getting my first colonic. It literally turned my poopless situation into a better, plentiful one that I’m so happy I had the chance to experience.
Practitioners and supporters of colonic therapy variously claim the procedure can detoxify the body, boost the immune system and prevent or alleviate a range of health problems.
But the human body rarely needs such assistance.
There is no scientific support for a colonic, a popular “cleansing” procedure that holistic healers claim detoxifies the colon, rectum — except when an enema is used to prepare for a medical procedure.
A colonic “has never been shown to have any clinical benefit,” said David Greenwald, director of clinical gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “The colon doesn’t need to be cleaned.”
What if you could lose weight, have more energy, get glowing skin, and possibly cure chronic disease... you just had to sit with a tube pumping water up your butt for 30 minutes? Oh, and those miracle results aren't guaranteed or even backed up by science.
Seems like a resounding "no thanks," but there are swarms of health and wellness "gurus" who claim colon cleansing, or colonics, can do all that and more. Yep, that's right: They say you should get your colon power-washed on a regular basis.
Proponents argue that it’s crucial for moving things along, particularly because our systems are over-taxed by clearing the toxins of modern day life, while critics posit that the colon is perfectly capable of cleansing itself on the regular. No pun intended.
Cleaning out the colon is sometimes necessary— for example, before a medical procedure, such as a colonoscopy. But some people do it in the belief that the process will rid their colons of excess toxins that have accumulated over time from the foods they eat, the air they breathe, the water they drink and the lifestyles they lead.
You’ll also hear it called “colon hydrotherapy” or “colon irrigation,” which might sound like the nether regions are about to become a construction site. Fear not!
1. A Colonic...The gist is that it's not actually going to clean out waste, help you lose weight, or give you a "glow." It's an unnecessary procedure that may clean out useful bacterial flora in the colon, and exposes you to risks like perforated bowels and infections from improperly cleaned colonic tubes. Sounds like the least glamorous thing you could do with your Friday.
Guys, this one isn’t for the faint of heart or those who can’t handle a little (a lot) of personal information. Also, if you’re currently munching on anything, now might be the time to put it down until you’ve read through the story (and given yourself a good half hour breather).
For example, enemas involve a one-time infusion of water into the colon. Also known as colonic hydrotherapy or colon irrigation, colonics involve multiple infusions of water into the colon. What's more, the main objective of enemas is to evacuate the lower colon, while colonics are meant to cleanse a larger part of the colon.
Not only was an enema one of the first forms of treatment against a wide array of health issues, but until about 50 or 60 years ago, it was that way in our hospitals as well. Talk to some old-timers.
DIOXINS. PCBs. Phthalates. Those are the reasons Randall Hansen and his wife, Katharine, embark on an annual detoxification program.
Add excreting waste to the list of things you've been doing wrong all these years. That's what people offering colon therapy—in which water is fed into your butthole through a hose to sluice out crap—would like you to do. If these Roto-Rooters of the rectum are to be believed, a mess of your old poop is hiding out in your guts and it's what's making you feel bloated, pimply, tired, and in the wake of absorbing this information, understandably revolted.
Was it a wonderful experience? No. Would I do it again? Yes. I mean no. I mean yes. I mean, it’s kind of like waxing or getting your teeth cleaned. Horrible, but followed by refreshing and better. So, yes I would. Only next time I’m bringing an iPod with some Enya...
One of the earliest proponents of colonics and the autointoxication theory was John Harvey Kellogg, MD, founder of the Kellogg cereal company. Many credit Kellogg for the popularity of colonics among conventional physicians from the early 1900s to the 1940s. Kellogg frequently lectured on colon therapy and recommended colonics for many conditions, such as depression and arthritis.
“People spend a lot of money on cleanses, looking for some magic bullet that would help them feel better,” she says. “The only ones set to benefit from cleanses are the manufacturers and sellers [of these products].”
If the Master Cleansers are right, my colon should be in tip-top condition at this point, free of the “toxins” and excess waste bogging it down these twenty-eight years of negligence. Somehow, though, I feel much worse. Maybe it’s the toxins escaping for the first time, wearing me out. Maybe it’s exhaustion from pumping out the (invisible) lining of my large intestine. Or maybe I need to go eat a salad.
The problem? They're based on completely debunked medical myths — and have the potential to be harmful, even dangerous.