The Health Dangers of Colon Cleansing

May 31, 2019 | Colon Cancer

Nearly every patient with access to the internet has heard of fads such as detoxes and colon cleanses. The information surrounding them can be compelling. Who wouldn’t want to be in optimal health and keep their colon healthy with something as reputable-sounding as colon hydrotherapy? However, there are associated risks involved with colon cleanses, laxative use, and detoxes. Read on to learn more about what a colon cleanse is, if you need one, and reasons to avoid them.

Is a Colon Cleanse Good for Your Health?

It is true that “detoxing” and “cleansing” is something your body needs – however, most bodies are perfectly capable of taking care of these functions on their own. Any patients who are struggling or in ill health should consult with their doctor to discuss what the best next course of action is.

One of the biggest promises that colon cleanses make is lowering the risk of colon cancer, which is one of the deadliest and most prevalent forms of cancer in the US today. However, there is no reputable proof that colon cleanses are good for your health, even a natural colon cleanse. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. If you feel that your colon health is in jeopardy, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. For those worried about the risks of colon cancer, there are some changes patients can make in order to lower their risk:

  • Avoid red and processed meat
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  • Get regular screenings beginning at age 45
  • Know your family history and report any GI or colon-related issues
  • Avoid fats and sugars
  • Keep a BMI in the normal range
  • Eat leafy greens and fiber
  • Exercise at least three times a week for 45 minutes

Following this advice can help you avoid certain risk factors for the development of colon cancer. Red meat, alcohol consumption, obesity, and smoking are all heavily correlated with colon cancer.

Should I Do a Colon Cleanse?

Evidence strongly suggests that colon cleanses are not necessary, and most doctors warn against the dangers of trying them. Still, some perform the enema-type colon cleanses in the office. There is a school of thought that “clearing the walls of the colon” does lead to good health – but this is a rather small school of thought.

There are, however, more natural ways to “clear” your colon if you strongly feel this is something you should do. The enema-type colonics can be very harmful to your health; instead, you could try drinking large amounts of water or vegetable juice, or eating copious amounts of resistant starches, fiber, or fermented foods.

Still, none of this can promote colon health as well as eating a healthy diet with a reasonable amount of fiber and greens, avoiding drinking, quitting smoking, staying in close touch with your doctor and staying up-to-date with screenings, and avoiding red meat. Just as there is no evidence that colon cleansing leads to good colon health, there also is no evidence a colonic will give you better energy or help you lose weight. Even these more “natural” colon cleansers can lead to severe dehydration.

The Health Dangers of Colon Cleansing

There is much research that points to the dangers of colon cleansing. In fact, the US National Institutes of Health warns against colonics. Some risks associated with colon cleanse use include:

  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Bowel infection
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Bowel ulcerations

Essentially, a colon cleanse can simply throw your body “out of whack,” so that the balances are completely off. Electrolyte balance problems and dizziness are common side effects.

If you need more information on the dangers of colon cleanses, want to schedule a colon cancer screening or need to speak to a doctor, schedule an appointment with Gastroenterology Consultants of Savannah. We are committed to providing you with convenience and the best of care.