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Should you cleanse your colon?


What is a colon cleanse?

Colon cleansing is an alternative medicine method that involves flushing the colon with large volumes of liquid. Also, it's called colon hydrotherapy, hydrotherapy, or colonic irrigation.

This is not the same as what people do when preparing for tests or surgeries. Rather, it is such a super-aggressive enema, which should rinse the entire colon.

Colon. Image: SciePro/Shutterstock

Can colon cleansing help your health?

No. Evidence of any benefit of colon cleansing is not described. Fans of this method improve their well-being and even euphoria due to the feeling of purity, lack of stagnation, and “bad energy”. In fact, this is just a physiological reaction to irritation of the vagus nerve.

Gastroenterologist Anish Sheth in his book  calls a state of poo‑phobia: a large volume of contents moves through the intestines, and a person experiences:

  • goosebumps;
  • chills;
  • decreased blood pressure and heart rate;
  • feeling of “sublime relaxation”;
  • and even fainting.

How colon cleansing is harmful to health

But there is evidence of a negative effect on the body enough.

Interferes with normal bowel function

The colon must not only accommodate feces but also absorb water from it. If you interfere with this process with the help of a mega cluster, the balance of fluid in the body will be disrupted. Dehydration will develop and the balance of ions in the blood will change. The kidneys and heart will definitely not thank you for this.

There is a risk of damage to the intestines or other organs

With due diligence, even a healthy intestine can be ruptured. And if there are any structural anomalies or diseases, then this is even easier to do. And even if the injury is not felt, any damage becomes an entry point for infections.

However, some herbal preparations added to enema water can cause acute liver damage and anemia due to impaired hematopoiesis.

Exacerbates existing diseases

And not only intestinal ones. Complications may occur for those who:

  • there is a diverticulum in the intestine, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis;
  • had operations on the colon;
  • have kidney disease;
  • have chronic heart disease.

These people are at increased risk not only for dehydration, injury, and infection but also for heart and kidney failure. In chronic diseases, there are even several cases of death due to coffee enemas.

Who needs to cleanse their intestines?

It's simple: no one needs a colon to cleanse. The digestive system already removes waste and microorganisms using the intestines and does a good job. If you have constipation or other problems with bowel movements, you need to adjust your diet and lifestyle.

How to safely help your gut

Do not pour 60 liters of water into the colon. Try simpler methods.

Add fiber to your food

It increases the volume of feces, so it is easier for them to pass through the intestines. Soluble fiber provides food for beneficial bacteria and supports the microbiota. Insoluble fiber makes the consistency of the masses softer, so it will be easier to stool. Look for fiber in bran, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Don't forget about physical activity

Aerobic exercise accelerates blood flow and accelerates all metabolic processes in the body. This makes walking, running and other activities significantly facilitate constipation.

Stick to a routine

Long working hours and lack of sleep lead to stress and constipation. Try to live at a more predictable and relaxed pace, and try to poop at the same time every day.

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