Posted on 31 October, 2016

What is Colon Cleansing?

By Jacob Andreae in Health, Nutrition What is Colon Cleansing?

[Image Source: Practical Cures]

The ancient art of colon cleansing, cleaning the large intestine, dates back to ancient Greece. The two main methods for cleansing the colon include taking supplements through the mouth or rectum, and colon irrigation, whereby you insert a small tube into your rectum and flush water into your colon.

When I was in Thailand, I went on an overnight hike with a small group through the mountains of Chiang Mai. In that group was a couple from England who had just come from a 10-day detox that included colon cleansing. Their detox retreat ended only the day before we left on our hike and I remember the lady falling very ill with diarrhea and vomiting. She’d forgotten the advice given to her regarding the slow reintegration of food into her diet. This was the first I’d heard of colon cleansing.

The theory behind colon cleansing is that the colon builds up with toxins, which enter the bloodstream and poison the body. It makes sense that toxins could be absorbed into the bloodstream from the rectum. Suppositories work in this way. They’re used to administer drugs rapidly from there. The belief is that waste gets stuck on the colon walls and contributes to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, bloating and weight gain.

It’s important to acknowledge that the body comes with a very effective waste disposal system: the liver and the kidneys. Some of the amazing things the body does to remove waste include:

  • Regular shedding of old cells in the colon about every 3 days
  • Use of natural bacteria to detoxify food waste in the colon
  • Neutralisation of toxins by the liver
  • Use of mucous membranes in the colon to keep substances from reentering the blood and tissues

The body has an amazing ability to look after itself and repair itself. It’s been doing so since the beginning of human existence. This has to make you to wonder if taking supplements or inserting water up your rectum actually does anything the body couldn’t do itself. If the body can look after itself, are these practices more than just pointless; are they in fact, dangerous?

Cleaning your colon through the use of supplements or colon irrigation comes with risk. Case reports of side effects include:

  • Dehydration
  • Mineral imbalance
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Leg cramps
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Perforated bowel
  • Infection
  • Kidney problems

There are few research studies on the benefits of colon cleansing and whether it actually removes toxins from the body or improves general health. Most doctors don’t recommend colon cleansing but do in specific circumstances - in preparation for a colonoscopy and severe constipation, and only when other means have failed.

If the purpose for doing a colon cleanse is to clean your colon of excess toxins and built up waste, consider this. The food and liquid you consume probably has the biggest impact on your colon health. Limiting your intake of alcohol and sugar, while increasing your intake of water, is the best way to achieve a clean, healthy colon. Aim to maintain clear urine at all times as a simple guide to ensuring you’re hydrated and keeping your colon clean. Water acts like a broom throughout the digestive system, sweeping toxins and waste products along for their excretion through the liver and kidneys. Fuel your body with healthy food and participate in regular physical activity to ensure your colon remains clean and capable of regular maintenance.

There is little scientific evidence that colon cleansing is beneficial for general health. In addition, there are many case studies documenting the negative side effects of colon cleansing. Colon irrigation may be prescribed by a medical doctor in certain circumstances but this is not for the purpose of cleaning the colon. To achieve a clean colon, limit your intake of alcohol and sugar and fuel your body with organic vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, meat and nuts. Let your body do the rest.

Have you tried a colon cleanse? What was your experience like?

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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What is Colon Cleansing?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.