Colon cleansing irrigates your rectum and bowel and removes food and toxins that stick to the walls of your large intestine and cause constipation. Colonics and enemas are methods used to cleanse your colon. Colonics involve a machine that pumps water into your colon and sucks the waste out, whereas enemas may be self-administered using equipment that enables water to enter by gravity and exit by peristalsis. Consult your doctor about colon cleanses.
Pro: Remove Constipation
Constipation is a condition in which you experience stools that reside in the large intestine and become hard and dry. Washing out your colon may alleviate your constipation and help you maintain a healthy colon. A colon cleanse with warm water may soften and loosen your stool and other waste that is concentrated on the walls of your intestines that may prevent you from having regular bowel movements. Eating foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, may help you to prevent constipation and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal diseases and hemorrhoids, according to research by J.W. Anderson, M.D., published in "Nutrition Reviews" in 2009.
Colon cleanses may help to detoxify your body from harmful chemicals, pathological organisms, mucus and other substances that are attracted to the waste in your colon. The water from your colon cleanse can help to draw these organisms and substances out of your body. Adding yogurt, coffee, wheatgrass juice or mineral oil to your colon cleanse may enhance the effectiveness of your detoxification, yet there are no clinical studies to support the efficacy and these substances could actually irritate your colon. Consult your doctor before undergoing any detoxification program using colon cleanses.
Con: Risk of Infection
Colon cleansing may increase your risk of infections from pathological microorganisms caused by using unclean equipment. It is important to use sterile equipment that has not been previously used by someone else to minimize your risks from spread of infections of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and parasites. Cleaning your equipment with antiseptics and disinfectants, such as bleach, may reduce the risk of contracting infections from human-to-human transmission through surfaces.
Con: Risk of Carcinogenic Chemicals
Colon cleanses using unfiltered tap water may be dangerous to your health. Use of unfiltered tap water may increase your risk of chromium-6, a cancer-causing chemical in tap water in 89 percent of cities sampled in research by the Environmental Working Group. The chemical detected, hexavalent chromium, is the same carcinogenic chemical made popular by Erin Brockovich that could increase your risk of gastrointestinal tumors. The report states that 74 million Americans in 42 states drink water containing this harmful chemical.
- Ask a Naturopath: Bowel Cleansing Using Enemas
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: What I Need to Know About Constipation
- "Colon Health"; Norman Walker D.Sc., P.D.; 1979
- PubMed.gov: Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Environmental Working Group: Chromium-6 Is Widespread in U.S. Tap Water