The dangers of colon cleansing

The idea that harsh laxative and enema colon cleansing is necessary to prevent cancer and rid the body of toxins is total waste, and needs to be flushed down the toilet.

There are sites all across the internet that purport toxins from the gastrointestinal tract cause health problems from arthritis and cancer to allergies and asthma. Their solution to these health problems is to promote or sell you a colon cleansing or colon irrigation treatment to remove those supposed toxins.  The products are marketed as something that will not only detoxify, but also give you energy and immune system boosts.

Some of these colon cleansing treatments use powders, laxatives, teas, or pills. Other treatments involve colonic irrigation, which involves inserting a rubber tube up the rectum and releasing gallons of water.

The scientific evidence does not support any of the detoxifying claims associated with colon cleansing. Colon cleansing was a widely popular idea in the U.S. during the 1920s and 1930s.  After science failed to support the claims that these colon cleansing clinics were touting, colon cleansing all but disappeared. In the late 90’s the idea slowly started to resurface. With celebrity usage, colon cleansing has gained popularity once again. However, you should keep in mind that the celebrity endorsements and manufacturer claims do not require FDA verification or supporting evidence.

The fact is that colon irrigation is not only unnecessary, it can actually be harmful. Aside from medical procedures, like a colonoscopy, where the colon needs to be cleaned so that the colon itself can be viewed by medical staff, experts do not prescribe or recommend colon irrigation.

There are many dangers associated with colon cleansing systems:

In order to understand the first danger, you must understand the role of the colon in health and digestion. The colon maintains a delicate balance of friendly and unfriendly flora (bacteria.)  The good intestinal flora is necessary for your large intestines and colon to absorb and utilize the nutrients you eat.  It is also necessary to combat the bad microbes that your body is hosting. Friendly flora is like a natural antibiotic against the unfriendly microbes in the body. The friendly flora helps to promote the acidic pH level in the large intestines and colon, which provides a hostile environment for the unfriendly flora.  The good flora has also actually been scientifically proven to prevent rectal polyps, tumors and cancer. All that supposed cleansing enema does is wash away all the good flora that is protecting you and change the pH level in your large intestines from a normal acidic state to an alkaline state.

Some colon cleaning techniques draw fluid from surrounding tissues into the colon. This process disrupts the balance of sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. That shift in fluids and electrolytes can cause dehydration and low blood pressure.

Another danger comes anytime you stick a foreign object into your anus…the risk of perforation. And, that is a problem that you really don’t want “spilling out!”

There is always the risk that the equipment used is not sterile. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) only regulates the production of colon cleansing equipment. The agency does not regulate the use of the equipment nor any of the supplements used in oral colon cleansing systems.

Bottom line is that colon cleansing enemas and supplements are not needed, and the claims made by manufacturers are not supported with any scientific evidence.  What is proven to reduce the risk of colon cancer and maintain colon health is a high fiber diet of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; limited red meat consumption; 30 minutes of regular daily exercise; tobacco free and limited alcohol lifestyle;  drinking plenty of water; maintaining a healthy weight; and regular colon cancer screenings.

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