Colon Cleansing: Not So Cleansing After All

How clean is your colon? If you’re tempted to find out by getting a colon cleanse, don’t bother. You’re quite likely to develop complications from the procedure and there’s no evidence that flushing out your colon has any health benefits. That’s the conclusion researchers reached after reviewing 20 studies on colonic cleansing. Dr. Ranit Mishori and her team at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Providence Hospital report in the Journal of Family Practice that colonic cleanses — whether with water or via supplements or herbal remedies, don’t actually do much — other than potentially cause some uncomfortable, and in some cases dangerous side effects. Spas and wellness facilities like to tout the “detoxifying” benefits of colonic cleanses, and these claims include improvements in well-being and energy and even weight loss. Some remedies go so far as to list boosts in immune function. The concept is certainly alluring — stress, not to mention our unhealthy diets and the various chemicals and pollutants we’re exposed to everyday — can build up in our gut, slowly poisoning us from the inside out. Why not periodically clean out the system and start anew? The problem with that argument, says Mishori, is that there is no medical evidence to support it. Colonic cleanses were popular more than a century ago, until the American Medical Association quashed any notion that the practice was worthwhile by condemning cleanses as not medically necessary in 1919. But in recent years, celebrities, with the help of heavy marketing by spa facilities, have brought the cleanses back. Nothing, however, has changed on the medical front. “I totally understand where people are coming from in wanting to detoxify,” says Mishori, “You want to get all the gunk out. But there is no evidence that [the cleanses] are doing anything, and physiologically it doesn’t make sense. The body has a system for detoxifying itself — it’s called pee and poop. And for healthy people, that’s all it takes.” And while the idea of cleaning out the intestines sounds like a good idea, … Continue reading Colon Cleansing: Not So Cleansing After All