Posted 18 August 2011
"Colon cleansing can supposedly help you lose weight, eliminate toxins and enhance well-being. But a review of scientific research shows that claims of health benefits from such procedures may be a steaming pile of nonsense." From the New Scientist
Colon cleansing health benefits debunked
03 August 2011 by Amy Kraft
New Scientist Magazine issue 2824.
Colon cleansing can supposedly help you lose weight, eliminate toxins and enhance well-being. But a review of scientific research shows that claims of health benefits from such procedures may be a steaming pile of nonsense.
Ranit Mishori at Georgetown University in Washington DC and colleagues reviewed 20 studies on colon cleansing published in medical literature over the past decade. The reports showed little evidence of benefit but plenty of negative side effects, including vomiting, electrolyte imbalance and kidney failure.
Mishori, a family medicine physician, has seen people who were jaundiced or dehydrated as a result of colon cleansing. As more and more of her patients inquired about the procedures for their health, she decided to look to the literature to see whether her anecdotal evidence was symptomatic of wider problems.
Sometimes called colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy, colon cleansing often involves flushing the colon with a mixture of herbs and water through a tube inserted in the rectum. Over-the-counter, self-administered alternatives come in the form of laxatives, teas and capsules that can be taken by mouth or inserted in the rectum.
"The premise that you need to do something external to detoxify is wrong," Mishori says. "The body has its own mechanism to detoxify."
David Greenwald, a gastroenterologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, agrees with the findings. Although colonic cleansing may sound appealing, "there is no scientific evidence that really validates that", he says.
Proponents of colon cleansing, however, believe that toxins in your gastrointestinal tract can cause a variety of health problems, such as arthritis, allergies and asthma. They say colon cleansing can help restore balance in the body.
Colon cleansing has been around since ancient times, when the procedure was thought to help the body dispose of waste and toxins. Auto-intoxication, as it was formerly called, was popular until the early 20th century, when it was discredited by professional societies, including the American Medical Association.
"Focus on the proven things," says Greenwald. "Increasing fibre in the diet has been shown to be of benefit."
Mishori, too, has words of advice for those concerned about their health. "The road to wellness does not necessarily go through your rectum," she says.
Journal reference: The Journal of Family Practice