Colon cleansing has been touted as a natural way to rid the body of toxins, lose weight, and improve health. But US doctors warn the procedure is not only unnecessary but just plain risky.
Colon cleansing has been used for centuries as a means to purify the body, and the procedure has seen a resurgence in spas around the globe in recent years. Technically known as colonic hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, the treatment involves flushing the colon with water or chemicals through a tube inserted into the rectum.
In new research published August 1 in The Journal of Family Practice, researchers from Georgetown University in Washington DC say there is no evidence any of these colon cleansing treatments work and, in fact, when used improperly can cause cramping, kidney failure, and in some extreme cases, death.
"There can be serious consequences for those who engage in colon cleansing whether they have the procedure done at a spa or perform it at home," says the lead author, Ranit Mishori, a family medicine physician at Georgetown University School of Medicine, in a release. "Colon cleansing products in the form of laxatives, teas, powders and capsules...tout benefits that don't exist."
Mishori and her colleagues examined 20 studies published in the medical literature published in the last decade. She says that while these reports show little evidence of benefit, there is an abundance of studies noting side effects following the use of cleansing products including cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, and renal failure.
Always be wary that practitioners at spas or clinics may call themselves "colon hygienists" but they have no significant medical training, reported Mishori.
What about other kinds of cleanses? US research cardiologists recently found that a 24-hour water fast can lower your risks of developing coronary artery disease and diabetes and also can improve your blood cholesterol levels. The study also reveals that fasting for 24 hours can bolster a metabolic protein called human growth hormone that protects lean muscles.
While some experts agreed that a one-day water fast won't do too much harm, they urge caution when trying a more extended detox plan, such as the Master Cleanse or Lemon Detox Diet, Fat Flush, 21 Pounds in 21 Days, or the Liver Detox Diet.
Mishori's advice for enhancing well-being: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get six to eight hours of sleep each night, and see a doctor regularly.
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