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Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says
August 1st, 2011
12:15 AM ET

Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says

It has been touted as a natural way to improve your heath and cleanse the soul. But doctors are now finding the procedure known as colon cleansing can cause dangerous side effects.

Colon cleansing, technically known as colonic hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, is a popular treatment, usually performed at spas. It often involves the use of chemicals in the body and in hydrotherapy, the colon is flushed with water through a tube inserted in the rectum.

But oral home remedies are also available and have become popular, especially over the Internet. Now researchers from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. say there's 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, Dr. Ranit Mishori, a family medicine physician at Georgetown University School of Medicine. "Colon cleansing products in the form of laxatives, teas, powders and capsules... tout benefits that don't exist."

Mayo doctor is no fan of cleanses

Although colon cleansing has been around for centuries as a way to rid the body of unwanted toxins, the American Medical Association determined in the early 1900s that the procedure was invalid; there was no evidence to show the methods worked. And even though there still remains no solid evidence these products do what they claim, colon cleansing has been making a comeback, mainly because manufacturers claim it also helps people lose weight.

"If this method were the key to weight loss, it would be amazing. But there is no evidence that this helps people lose weight,” says Mishori. "Manufacturers don't describe how it works. The statements are a little empty. They say it will enhance your immune system, up your metabolism, give you energy. It’s all pretty vague. Some people swear by it, but it could be a placebo effect. And companies can make these claims, because the federal government doesn't regulate their products."

Not expecting miracles, but I love my cleanses

According to the report released this week in the Journal of Family Practice, Mishori and her colleagues examined 20 studies published in medical literature over the last 10 years.

Investigators noted while these reports showed little evidence of colon cleansing benefits, there were a number of side effects reported following the use of these cleansing methods. Those effects included cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance and renal failure. And in some cases, ingredients in these remedies were toxic.

"Some herbal preparations have also been associated with aplastic anemia and liver toxicity," Mishori said.

Researchers also noted that many of the "spas" that offer colon cleansing have no trained clinicians and even organizations such as the National Board for Colon Hydrotherapy and others who promote colon cleansing require technicians who perform professional colon cleansing to have little more than a high school diploma.

"When you flush your colon out with a hose, it's like giving yourself an enema on steroids. You shouldn't put things up there that really don't belong there," stressed Mishori. "Imagine 60 liters of water going through your colon. The stress it puts on the system, and the hose, if not used correctly, could puncture the organ."

As for the home remedies, Mishori says there's no need for them. "We poop and pee for a reason. If you are a healthy person, the body does it for you."

When asked what was the best way to cleanse the body, Mishori was quick to respond.

"Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly," she stressed, "Get six to eight hours of sleep and see a doctor regularly. But no one wants to do that," she said with exasperation. "But they'll use a hose to flush themselves out! The use of these methods are unhealthy. And what's scary is we only examined the cases that were reported to hospitals and doctors. Imagine all the people who are using these products and methods and have side effects and never go to the hospital. We don't know about them. The numbers could be staggering."

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soundoff (1,143 Responses)
  1. dan

    This article is so far separated from reality.
    Anyone with cancer know that enemas are one of he few things that offer pain relief.
    As far as I am concerned, the real life experience of seeing family members relieved of pain because of this practice is all the evidence I need.

    August 1, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • someoneelse

      And that's why only a few elite become real scientists.

      August 1, 2011 at 08:22 | Report abuse |
  2. Sally

    There are wonderful homeopathic solutions available. I have been helped with cancer treatment, muscle spasm and allergies when the medical community was either stumped or ready to almost kill me with extreme drug treatment. But there is a real danger in self treatment. Electro dermal screening and regular follow-up screenings to determine which remedies and what dose to take are wonderful ways to help yourself and your cells. The remedies must be taken faithfully for months. Remember you did not damage your body by eating the wrong diet for one day..... you did this over time. Remember, the world is full of toxins which you eat, drink and breath every day. Toxins build up in cells all over the body and stay there until the body has what it needs to release them. The colon is just one part of the body that needs to be working properly. Flushing is not helping the body work things out properly. Herbal support is a better answer.

    August 1, 2011 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry, but I can't accept that distilled water is a cure for anything, no matter how hard you shake it.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
    • this_is_my_colon_talking

      ... You've been brainwashed, colon cleansing is a hoax. and if you dont believe me, just look at how long winded your lil sales pitch was. If you believed it, you wouldn't need to write a novel to sell your point.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Don

      re Anonymous Coward: I think you're confusing "homeopathic" with "holistic".

      August 1, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse |
    • Dill Weed

      I cleansed my colon this morning, I pinched a biggun.

      Colon Therapists, are required to have high school dumplomas not diplomas.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
    • dizizcamron

      an herbal remedy can contain literally anything someone wants to put in it. we're not really staying on the topic of the article any more, but there have been just as many articles about how under regulated and potentially dangerous herbal remedies are. you may get the stuff from someone you know and trust, but not all people have access to someone like that. at least with "real" medicine there is a relatively objective, transparent, and peer reviewed methodology to determine if someone is ok for you to treat yourself with.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
    • StarHunter7

      Sally: I dated a woman (50yo) who practiced colonic therapy on a regular basis. She was anorexic (about 87-90 lbs), on a 5' 3" frame. She was so on edge all the time, her voice cracked when talking. Her nerves were raw all the time. She was bi-polar in temperament, had a short fuse, and shrieked when things didn't go her way. Her children disliked her, her husband left her, and so did I after a short time dating her because she could not act normally on a regular basis. This was not post-menopausal syndrome. She was addicted to colonics. The became the end all solution to staying thin. She ate almost nothing, mostly vegies. Her physical, mental, moral, spiritual health was greatly impaired. like the article stated: "We poop and pee for a reason." Our body and bacteria takes care of itself if one eats a balanced diet, exercises regularly, and gets proper amount of sleep. This practice is a hoax. Any tramp stamp with a pretty face and a high school degree can stick a hose up your rectum and flip a switch. No need for training.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      You really shouldn't be sticking things into places they don't belong. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy and exercise. That's how you stay healthy. Flushing out your colon with water, etc. is a bunch nonsense. Sorry to hear you fell for it.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Dan,

      Anonymous Coward is actually right. Homeopathy is based on the idea that the introduction of incredibly diluted levels of a substance will produce an effect within the body. When you see some homeopathic medicine that lists it's ingredients follow by something like 8C or 3M thats the amount of dilution that ingredient has undergone – 8 C would mean that it's been reduced by a factor of 100 8 times. That doesn't mean it's diluted 800 times but 100 times 100 times 100 etc... (diluted to 10 to the 9th times). Many homeopathic solutions are statistically unlikely to contain any trace of the initial ingredient. Homeopaths say this is alright because the water 'remembers' what has been in it. Many homeopathic medicines are nothing more than water and/or alcohol with some minor 'inactive' ingredients in them.

      Holistic medicine, on the other hand, may be as much a load of bunkum but the idea behind it is that it treats disease in context of the body as a whole instead of distinct systems. Unfortunately, that often means people are doing idiocy like reiki and crystal light therapy. Stuff with no evidence of success except in removing money from gullible people.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
  3. brad

    This has to be the first time I heard doctors say "don't clean" something, it's doesn't make sence.

    August 1, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • You Dumb

      Your colon has very important bacteria in it; so, it does make senSe.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • SAM

      Our bodies clean themselves. There is no evidence that our systems build up 'toxins' that we need to wash away. This is nothing short of an enema and abuse of laxatives and is very dangerous.
      Just another fad.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • nexguy

      Your colon is not supposed to be "clean". In fact, it is supposed to be full of bacteria. If you remove those bacteria, you are making it more difficult for your colon to do what it is supposed to do(and fight off unwelcome bacteria).

      August 1, 2011 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      Actually, any doctor will also tell you that you shouldn't be cleaning out your ears either. Earwax serves a purpose. It isn't dirt. If it gets so built up that it interferes with your hearing or hurts, a doctor should remove it safely. Cue tips can damage sensitive parts in your ear.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • JickJive

      How many pounds of fecal matter did Elvis Presley have in his colon when he died? I think it was like 60 lbs? I dont see how putting water in your colon can harm you unless you are trying to kill yourself, kinda like drinking until you drown.

      What the article doesnt say anything about is how poor quality our food is and how if you go to the grocery store, there are isles and isles of food that is filled with excessive carbohydrates, sugars, and additives that are just not healthy. The reality is that eating a healthy diet is not as easy as a sentence or a command. The food system in US is broken, and its very very expensive to go to Whole Foods and buy grain fed, hormone free.

      On top of that this article is poorly written, there is no evidence that its harmful to you, their argument is that there is no evidence of benefits and all the scenarios presented of harm are hypothetical. If the study had relevance or the article was written well, then it would reference very specific actual cases where peoples Colons ruptured and clear cases of renal failures. The side effects are even more speculative then the benefits.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Elvis did not have 60 pounds of feces in his colon. That's insane – do you know how much that would distend his colon? It would be larger than beachball. He did not die from an impacted colon.

      August 1, 2011 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • JickJive

      Seems that might be the case, and he weighed 350 lbs at death. He personal doctor is reported to claim that he had major issues with his colon and that it had stretched to be 2 times normal size and length. So you are right, it seems he did have a beach ball in his belly.

      August 1, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
  4. Philosopher

    There is evidence that colon hydrotherapy was performed by Egyptians thousands of years ago. More Americans will die each year of GI bleeds from NSAID overdose/toxicity than they will from HIV or AIDS–and that comes from JAMA–the journal of the American Medical Association. Your MD, Big Pharam, and the hospital are "for profit." You are sick? They make money. The colon hydrotherapit, accupuncturist, and chiropractor don't make a living unless they help you and you tell all your friends.

    August 1, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Intellectual

      Because the ancient egyptions performed colon hydrotherapy this leads you to believe that that practice must be beneficial? The average life expectancy of an ancient egyption was about 35 years for a male and 30 years for a female, there are a number of published studies for reference that are easily found through a web search. I don't see the connection between colon hydrotherapy and increased health.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      IIf your support is that someone did it a thousand years ago, that's crazy talk. They used to bleed people too, are you suggesting we bring back that practice?

      August 1, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      Yes, but the natural and homeopathic industries are making a ton of money, as well.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • Astronomer

      Leave the chiro out of this. That stuff works, you've obviously never had a back issue.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • pccoder

      I can't help but think of the billions of people who believe in "God" because it's been practiced for thousands of years. 🙂

      August 1, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
    • jimva

      "The colon hydrotherapit, accupuncturist, and chiropractor don't make a living unless they help you and you tell all your friends."

      Same with the Astrologer, Palm Reader, Home Shopping Network salesman, and other charlatins and con men.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • DocsAreForProfit

      i completely agree with Philosopher. all doctors and pharmecutical companies are FOR PROFIT. if they found the cure for cancer, then they pharmecutical companies would be OUT OF MONEY. they MAKE MONEY BY KEEPING YOU SICK.think about it, if they "found the cure" for all these illnesses, then they would no longer have anything to sell you. and if they do "cure" you, then they will find some other "disease" and give you more drugs to keep you buying their product. if you cant figure that out, then you are hopeless. there are natural remedies on earth to help aid in our sickness.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
    • heyitsme

      Do you know how many things they did even 100 years ago that is not healthy for you??? Simply because it was done doesn't mean it should be............

      August 1, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse |
    • Richard J.

      Of course they are for profit, EVERYBODY including yourself is for profit. The pay you get for your labor is your profit. Sheesh, what kind of idiots on are this board.

      : Pharma will NOT go out of business if they find a cure for anything. In fact, it will be a boost to their business. To cure something, you have to be infected first. Think about it, if they were to find a cure for lung cancer from smoking, tobacco companies profit would soar because people could now smoke knowing that if they were to get cancer there is a cure. Just like getting VD or the clap, there is a cure.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      If some phrama company found a cure for cancer, they would have the happiest stockholders ever. Cancer is not something you just wipe out from the population, new cases come up all the time... if some company had a cure, and a patent on it, they would have 17 years of exclusive access to a massive population of customers. Cures are VERY profitable.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      You're ommitting the fact that the majority of those GI bleeds are caused by people using NSAIDs improperly, despite the instructions on the label being very clear. People are idiots.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Manolosculo

      Pointing fingers at the legitmate medical community and saying they are only doing it for money is a bit naive. What do you think these 'holistic' natural companies are making? They're not in the game to rack up the good karma points.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • A. Noble Feller

      Thank you. I wondered why all the chemicle imbalance we put into our bodies was not mentioned. I have been beating the odds since 1997 when i was told i would die from HIV. Maybe i am out of the norm, but my drs. dislike my meathood of holistic approach vs pharma's daily dose. If Sanjay wants to check that fact out w/ medicle records, CNN can email me.
      Colon cleansing once in a while in my opinion is a good thing. Haters ... every time you take antibiotics you kill good flora in the system .... eat and drink a lot of milk and meat ?

      August 1, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse |
    • You Are an Idiot

      What's the difference between being "for profit" and working to make a living? There's no difference! The snake oil salesman pitching the fancy enemas to you is out to make a profit.

      August 1, 2011 at 19:24 | Report abuse |
  5. thoreau

    No need for this. Unless you have a unique medical condition, which should be treated by a doctor, just eat right and exercise.

    August 1, 2011 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • richk

      The problem is that there is a vast range of opinion regarding "eating right"

      August 1, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  6. SHAUNA

    Brad... that just made me gag a little. you used the wrong form of sense! scents, sense, cents! :o)

    August 1, 2011 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sam

      you must agree that colon cleansing makes a lot of scents, though.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Moli

      Don't forget since

      August 1, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
  7. Geoff Wardle

    "The numbers could be staggering"
    "can cause dangerous side effects"
    "can cause cramping, kidney failure and in some extreme cases, death"
    "There can be serious consequences for those who engage"
    "there was no evidence to show the methods worked"

    All "can be", "could be", "can cause", nothing definite like "will cause".

    The (doctors)statements are a little empty. No definite statements you can take to the bank. What is a person supposed to believe? That because it is a doctor, we are supposed to believe these statements?

    Sorry, this article is a little empty. Stinks of an attack rather than objective reporting. I for one do not believe it

    August 1, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • You Dumb

      So, instead you're putting your trust in the colon cleansing industry? Okay, idiot, you deserve to rip yours open.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • Simon farley

      What more do want the doctor to say? If u are silly enough buy into this colon cleansing crap,, then go ahead. like he said, the we poop and pee for a reason.. if you are sick and cannot perform this function, then you might need some help. Otherwise, no need for addeded cleansing..

      I think most of us are just plain lazy...we eat and drink what we want and then look for a magic bullet to solve our weight issue...No pain no gain,

      August 1, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      That's because nothing in medicine (or life for that matter) is definite. Doctors work with data that are scientifically collected and statistically analyzed. Only hucksters tell you "this will absolutely work for you."

      August 1, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Big medicine also tells us these things can, could, happen when they do procedures on us, but hey, those risks outweigh the benefits because the doctors and hospitals, who are major media advertisers, get rich putting us at risk.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • FirstResponder

      Yes, I'd say the article is a piece of crap, which is best left alone to follow its natural course.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Ross

      Medicine is a science, and doctors are scientists. Scientists are trained from grade school to never speak in absolute terms about anything unless there is very near universal consensus on the subject (and sometimes not even then). A doctor saying the word "can cause" is nothing like the normal populations usage of the word.

      The people you need to worry about are the people who DO speak in absolutes. If you have a problem with what I am saying, ram a tube up your colon. Oh, wait....

      August 1, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • nagrom

      I believe what they are doing is pointing out the potential side effects based on a person's metabolism. Each person is different and may suffer any or all of the mentioned effects if they are abused. It is like medication. This medication may cause drowsiness, may cause liver disease, may cause acute... And the list goes on. Do you decide not to take medications because they may do something. Aspirin may cause bleeding of the stomach wall. Do you not take aspirin because your stomach wall may bleed? If the herbal et al distributors put some of these side effects on their products do you think they would be as popular? I think not.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • hankers

      The words "can" and "may" are often used to indication probability, something that those who make claims don't use and those that listen don't understand. Large studies (ideally random controlled) are used to measure benefit and risk, something the homeopathic industry does not (want to) adhere to before making claims. It is all about credible evidence, not faith!

      August 1, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
    • callingyououtnow

      Uhh, I think I will believe the guy who had the dedication to spend a few hundred grand and 7 yrs in college as apposed to the guy with the GED telling me to stick a garden hose up my butt. But hey, the Egyptians did it apparently. Maybe Texas should sacrifice someone's oldest child to end the drought. The Aztecs did it.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bhagat

      even going to doctors/hospitals can cause that too...just check the side effects of common over-the-counter medicines, their descriptions are more scarier then this reading....

      August 1, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
  8. Chris R

    Okay, I want everyone to look at their computer screen. Now I want you to look down at your computer keyboard. These things are the products of science. Science obviously works. Science also works in very specific ways. You have to have a theory, then you test that theory using very particular rules, then other people have to be able to verify the results of your tests and come up with the same results. That is science. Colon therapy is *not* based on science. If you are going to reject science then turn your computer off and walk away because you don't deserve to make use of the fruits of science.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • enjoy the fruits

      you are just plain dumb

      August 1, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
    • Hey Dumbfvck

      My keyboard??? I am using my cell phone dummy.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
    • A. Noble Feller

      enginering science and big pharma science are not comparable

      August 1, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      You people are just sad.
      A) The scientific method is essentially the same from one field to the next.
      B) Engineering is the result of science. Your computer and keyboard and cellphone are the end results of decades of scientific research – both theoretical and applied.
      C) Big pharma is *NOT* the issue here. The issue is unscientific quackery wrapped in a veil of pseudo science, paranoia (big pharma is evil. we are not big pharma so we are good!), and hucksterism.

      The idea of colon therapy is based on the belief that food enters the body and 'rots' in the intestines. They believe that this 'rot' causes ill health through auto-intoxication. Basically what they are saying is the end result of millions of years of evolution is fundamentally flawed and without artificial extraction of the feces you won't enjoy good health. The roots of this idea go back to the Greeks who then gave it to the Egyptians probably during the Ptolemaic era. These ideas have been completely discredited. The colon works the way it should work without interference – food does not rot in the body – it is digested and then it is eliminated.

      August 1, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
  9. Ray

    Sorry, there is a one way, out going traffic only sign posted by my anus.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • enjoy the fruits

      what about small mammals?

      August 1, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • Dill Weed

      Hopefully, there are signs warning of the gas around Uranus, too. I'm just saying,

      August 1, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • dre

      haha! Knew the small mammals comment wasn't far behind, pardon the pun. Too funny.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
  10. MG

    This article is weak. "Well, it's not good because we said so."...same argument for the proponents "it works because we said it does." Look who the source is. Eat right and exercise is always the best way to go and yes our bodies are designed to detox themselves. However, people 100 years ago + never had to deal with all the toxicity, and processed foods that we do. Seeing your doctor regularly is all nice in theory but all they seem to do is put people on medication and medication is only sometimes necessary. Treatments that synergise with the body are best. Colon Hydrotherapy is just flushing with water and is harmless for 99% of people. Detoxing in various forms does help. There is no way we can overburden our bodies and not expect consequences. I've even seen where it is good to fast occasionally to allow the body to "catch up". All we do know is this: There are no miracle cures or products.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Randy

      That's the problem, flushing your colon out with "just water" CAN be harmful and cause problems for people. The large intestine is chock full of bacteria that help us digest certain foods, but their most important function is to suppress "bad" bacteria, like Clostridium difficile, or "C diff." When we wash out all these good bacteria, it can upset the balance and give bugs like C diff a survival advantage. Many people WON'T get sick from C diff despite carrying it for this reason, but if they cleanse, or (because medical science can cause this too) eliminate the good bugs with antibiotics, C diff now becomes a problem.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
    • You Are an Idiot

      People like you talk about "detoxing" and "toxins" but you have no idea what toxins you are talking about. Pure hokum.

      August 1, 2011 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
  11. Hiawa23

    I agree with the doc, eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water & the body does it for you. These lose weight quickly schemes seems to do more damage. I agree, people would rather insert a tube & blow a bunch of water in there instead of doing what they should do. This tells me that many would rather take the dangerous lazy route instead of doing what they should be doing. Like she said we poo pee for a reason. If you are overweight, lesson what you eat or eat more healthy food & exercise, there is no quick schemes that work that isn't dangerous.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. M Barr

    Really. The experts are now saying there is no evidence that some of the colon cleansing products/processes work. As a person who has tried a couple to great satisfaction, let me share this fact with you. You can find the proof, of a successful colon cleansing, in the toilet.

    Have a great day.....

    August 1, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JBMW

      I don't need to shove a hose up me to use the bathroom...in fact, most don't.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • to great satisfaction

      you mean gratification right?

      there was no medical benefit... come on, fess up, you did it to get yourself off

      August 1, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • M Barr

      You guys are hysterical. 🙂 Actually, I use an herbal type of colonic.

      I agree for the most part. With a balanced diet and plenty of water each day, this type of cleansing isn't necessary. However, there have been times in which I didn't follow the best diet – especially during vacations. The process has its benefits, but I wouldn't advise anyone to make a monthly routine out of any colonic process.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
  13. Bee

    I have had colonic therapy a number of times over the years when extremely constipated. It has helped more than anything else to bring back regularity to my system. I have never experienced negative side effects from it.

    It is way better for the body to fix the problem this way, than becoming dependent on laxatives like so many people are.

    This purpose of this report seems more of an attack than a researched informative one.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard J.

      Really. Then you did not read the whole article. It states that doctors examined this in the 1900's and found no benefits then. They examined studies and those "HOSPITALIZED" in the last ten years and found two things. Their is STILL no benefit and from those hospitalized, found that it can be harmful.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
  14. Senator Cletus Scoffpossum

    Who cares. If you want to squirt some liquid up your rear because it makes you feel good then just do it. The extreme cases are only from people who over do it or do it wrong. The placebo effect is real and if it makes you happy then go ahead. I prefer just good ole fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Makes for magnificently perfect poos.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SmoothMove

      Yep! A little psyllium powder in your morning smoothie and you are good to go. So to speak. :). Many of us don't eat enough fresh veggies and fruit, so we probably could use some additional fiber in our diets.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
  15. Carl

    So big medicine says these things are dangerous, all the while touting colonoscopies, which require you to purge the colon with harsh chemicals and have air blown in your colon like a balloon and a four-foot long tube snaked through it. That is safe, of course, because it comes with a $1,500 bill from the GI doctor and $2K for the hospital, and some pocket change for the pharmacy.

    If big medicine could find a way to cash in on colon cleansing with prescription drugs and hospital-based procedures that cost $800 a cleansing, plus $1000 for the doctor, you better believe they would they would be certifying the benefits in the prestigious journals.

    Incidentally, I speak from experience. I just passed out three times this morning from my colonoscopy prep torture. I'd much rather be at a clinic for a colon cleansing done by a high-school grade than dealing with the big cut over my eye from hitting my head on the way down and a gut that will ache for weeks. Oh, and then there's the bill...

    August 1, 2011 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matthew

      Carl, I hadn't considered that when reading this article but thanks for bringing up this point. I've never had this procedure but you're absolutely right about the harsh chemicals used to clean the large intestine for a colonoscopy. Interesting.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • nagrom

      Carl Your argument about colonoscopies being irrelevant is a bit off base. 1) They are only administered every 5 years or so. Their purpose is to place a camera through the intestine without the impediment of poopies in search of polyps or cancerous growths. Certainly not used to fleece the hospitals' or doctors' pockets. There is a difference here.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • numbnut

      You're exactly right.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • Heh

      By all means, skip your colonoscopy. Then when your cancer gets bad, go give those herbal and homeopathic remedies a try, but stay away from real medicine. That way you can save us all some money when you die.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • SmoothMove

      I had a colonoscopy when I turned 55 and there were no harsh chemicals involved, only over the counter laxatives. There is nothing to fear from the procedure. You get some wonderful sedatives and you won't remember a thing. :). An enema to prep you for a medical procedure isn't the same as an enema that *is* the procedure.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      Do a sigmoidoscopy instead. Less invasive, no sedation, very little discomfort. The results are essentially just as good without the risks and pain.

      August 1, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  16. Joe China

    Drinking hot tea is also good for your digestive system

    August 1, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard J.

      Except for soothing a sore throat, hot tea does nothing more then ice tea or room temp tea. When it hits your stomach, it is cooled to 98 degrees, or warmed to 98 degrees, depending on the temp when it entered your body.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
  17. Bella

    In the past few months I have seen attacks on raw milk, raw juice, farmer's markets, backyard vegetable gardens.... the list goes on. Now colon cleanses. I would bet any amount of money that all these things combined do not kill as many people a year as aspirin. The people doing these studies do not care about our well being; they want us to take our money to the doctor so we can be put on lifetime prescriptions. BTW, when is the last time you heard a prescription commercial on TV that did not have 10 times the “possible” side effects listed here? The people who write these articles should be ashamed for their one sided and biased reporting.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doctorincredible

      well said...

      August 1, 2011 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
    • Heh

      The reason you hear all the warnings on medicine commercials is because they're regulated by the government. You won't hear the same thing about crackpot foods and remedies because they are not regulated.

      By the way, drink all the raw milk you want. Your listeria-induced miscarriages will help clean out the gene pool.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      Okay, so lets say that colonics don't have any risks. I'm willing to give you that – do they have any benefit whatsoever? The answer seems to be no. So if it doesn't help then why bother?

      August 1, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
  18. Bob

    Sally, if you have kidneys and sweat glands and a liver with a working digestive system, there is NO reason to "cleanse." Toxins build up in cells? NO, they don't. Learn some physiology for crying out loud.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Logic

      Exactly, unless you are eating PCBs for breakfast or live by a super fund cleanup site, any normal 'toxins' are removed by your own bodily functions.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse |
  19. sam

    anybody who believes colon cleansing will help them lose weight is full of crap.

    just saying.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Naturally

    So why is it that when you have a colonoscopy you have to take massive laxative type stimulants?...To clean all of the compacted debris that remains in your system. Unless you are eating all natural, 100% organic, low intakes of meats and no processed (with preservatives) and drinking only water you may need help

    August 1, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RN

      The reason you must take laxatives is so the scope can clearly see if there are any abnormalities along the colon. From my experience, people are unwilling to go without food for a small period of time, even if it means getting good test results. You have no idea the struggle it is sometimes to ask people not to eat after midnight to refrain from eating for 12 hours-you would think I'm asking them to starve. By giving the colon cleanser, it is a quick and efficient way to cleanse the colon in a short period of time.

      Thank you, and remember, be nice to your nurse. 🙂

      August 1, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • numbnut

      RN, why can't people get a colonic before a colonoscopy, that way they don't have to drink that awful ___ (fill in the blank).

      August 1, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Because, having a colonic irritates the colon. It also could expand a fistula and rupture it, causing peritonitis and possible death.
      To put it bluntly, the laxative is given to clean the poopies out, so doctor can see the colon and in some cases, part of the intestine.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse |
    • RN

      Hmm. I'm not totally sure, but I've never heard of hospitals offering colonics. We do enemas for impactions, but that can potentially due damage to the colon as well, depending on the person. I would suggest asking your Doc that question if you need this test in the future. And my patients have told me that the bowel prep does taste pretty nasty. (yuck)

      August 1, 2011 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
    • RN

      Oops- do damage. 🙂

      August 1, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  21. middlepath

    After a year of horrible medical treatment at a teaching hospital in Chicago, my daughter was told she needed a piece of her large colon removed due to colon failure. We were scheduled to go to MAYO. In a last ditch attempt, I went to a hydrotherapist. Specifically a no chemical, or herb or anything by mouth, gravitation fed hydrotherapist. I had read the warnings and this sounded less dangerous. So we tried it. At first we went 2xs a week and graduated to once a month until she was completely on her own. No problems since. If I had stuck with the drs, she would have a bag attached today and she is still a teenager. Sorry, don't judge so fast, as I could judge doctors treatment just as harshly.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doctorincredible

      It has always been said, "A chance to cut is a chance to cure" good thing you listened to your self rather than a 'hack'///

      August 1, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
  22. palintwit

    This article reminds me of that movie " Secret Enema Queens from Uranus" starring Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heh

      That's funny. You remind me of the result of my morning bowel movement.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
  23. doctorincredible

    Having used and prescribed colon cleanses both in the form of laxative herbal preparations, Epsom salt washes, and colon hydrotherapy I find them useful and safe. Any idiot that takes too much of anything can cause harm.... Too much water can cause kidney failure and death... get a brain. It does help one lose weight, but is not a weight loss technique, shouldn't be anyway... It is amazing that when a 'Mayo' doc says something all the sudden it is true... but wait a few months, you will see the same preparation/technique all of the suddenly magically approved by the same folks. Mayo docs and the government at one time said the same thing about vitamins, probiotics, exercise, and even (yes) washing hands...
    Get a clue people. Herbs and cleanses have been a part of human health for THOUSANDS of years, if they were that bad we would have stopped it like we stopped throwing sticks at the moon... And for those touting physiology and the like, look more you will be surprised.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heh

      Herbs and cleanses have been a part of human health for thousands of years, but only good genes and modern medicine have an actual measurable effect on the length and quality of human life. You are a snake oil salesman and a filthy liar. The only cleansing my colon needs is a high-fiber diet.

      August 1, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
  24. chris

    I'm sorry to hear your not feeling well. Come outside and stick the garden hose up your rectum and Ill turn the water on ever so slowly. You will feel better fast, I promie!!

    August 1, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. mm

    I totally agree with this article. The body was designed to heal itself. If we would only eat right and treat it right. The colon was designed to push things out not take things in. Pushing water up is unhealthy and is washing away more than the unwanted stuff up there. Eat right and let the body regulate/flush itself. Would anyone opt for a bladder cleansing?

    August 1, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Paul

    In a perverse way I have to admire Dr Bernard Jensen, that new-age colon cleansing guy. He has you drink a benonite clay sludgey beverage for days, and then you poop it out and it looks really weird and he claims "See! That's decades of TOXINS that were stuck in your colon." Like it couldn't be, oh I don't know, a few days' worth of benonite clay that your colon (doing its job) condenses into bowel movements that look strange because clay is not food. P.T. Barnum was right.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Shapesandpounds

    I lost 60 Pounds in 90 Days using a combination of HCG Injections and Colon Cleanse every day. I don't care what the doctors say, my overall health is better. And I feel Great.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Paul

    The MAYO clinic? Are you serious???? These are the same corporate boot-lickers that disallowed the Gerson Therapy in the United States that have found the cure for cancer though the use of organic fruits and vegetables. The Mayo clinic also is a big funder of the Susan G. Komen Race for the "Cure" which takes in millions of dollars annually and have no desire to race for any cure because it cuts into their bottom line and would put their corporate lackeys out of work. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. OPEN YOUR EYES AND YOU WILL SEE LIES ALL AROUND YOU. 🙂

    August 1, 2011 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Go easy on Mayo

      The Mayo Clinic saved my mom's life where every single other hospital and new age guru would have failed.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • nofed

      Depends on treatment condition. You guys need to check out Dr. gerson, Also There is no such thing as New Age treatments. Do you guys realize what your saying?

      August 1, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
  29. INDY

    so basically the side effects are no different than anything else that the FDA approves. Just in this case, big pharma is making $$ off of it so they've obviously set up a campaign against it. No, I don't do these cleanses and probably never will. But find me a 'homeopathic' product that won't eventually be 'debunked' by big pharma and I will be shocked.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • INDY

      ...big pharma isn't making $$...is what i meant to say above.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
  30. skarrlette

    The problem is not with the health care industry of the FDA its that Americans are LAZY big time. Any quick fix, diet pills, enema's anything to keep form getting up off your A** and actually exercising. Why do you want to sit on the couch and eat processed foods anyway? I just don't get it. All you have to do to keep your body healthy is eat tons of fiber, drinks tons of water, and exercise. Stop trying to find quick fixes to lose weight because you are so lazy.

    August 1, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Steve

    Human beings have been on this planet for somewhere between 50 and 80 thousand years. But it took a couple of million years to get to this point. But nature figured out a VERY long time ago how to eliminate waste, and in a healthy person, even a moderately healthy person, it doesn't need help. As for weight loss??? It does nothing. When we eat food, it's broken down in our stomach by the acid there and sent to the small intestines where the majority of nutrients are removed. It then moves to the large intestines when nearly all the remaining nutrients are removed. By the time the stuff gets to the end, and actually into the colon, there nothing left but waste, which we eliminate when we go to the toilet.

    I agree with the writer. If people want to be healthy, they should eat right, exercise, don't smoke, and drink in moderation or not at all. But they don't want to do that. They'd rather shove what amounts to a garden hose up their ass, and fill themselves up with some quacks promise of "weight loss"

    The GI tract is a marvel of evolution folks. Leave it alone and let it do it's job. Or in other words. "If it aint broke, don't try to fix it."

    August 1, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LOL

    So a bunch of new age quacks managed to convince millions of rich people to shove water hoses up their a55 with absolutely no proof of it's effectiveness? I'm like totally shocked! *sarcasm*

    August 1, 2011 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nofed

      I guess a generalized article is enough for an idiot like you.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • No, I've known for years

      You don't have to be a PHD and have examined dozens of pier reviewed studies to see that colon cleansing is rubbish. I think the exagerated claims, the lack of proof, and the inability to even explain HOW colon cleansing is supposed to help at all is a good indication that this doesn't work. The fact that every other celebrity with more money than sense hopped on the bandwagon is good gauge as well.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
  33. Reemo

    Why does it take so long for scientists to determine that something people have been doing for years is bad for them? Aren't they supposed to test the long-term effects of medical procedures before opening them up to the public?

    We've got cures for HIV that won't be given out to the public for another 20 years because they're still testing the long-term effects, but people have been cleansing colons for at least the past 50 years and now they're saying, "Oh wait, this is actually bad for you."

    I got a feeling that at some point in our lives, scientists are going to conclude that drinking water and breathing air is actually bad for us.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • You answered your own question

      The legitimate medical profession is busy finding cures for real diseases, not testing every quack remedy dreamed up by a bunch of fringe maniacs. The whole point of "alterantive" medicine is for it to remain untested and unproved. The second scientists confrim or deny it, the gurus have already dreamed up their next batch of snake oil to sell to the public.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
  34. finalturismo

    Google cayenne pepper!!!!!!!!!!
    Probably one of the healthiest substances out there.
    It is one of the only known things that can instantly regulate your blood pressure.
    It increases blood flow to any part of the body you put it on.
    Speeds up metabolism
    It is also anti microbial anti fungal and anti bacteria.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • numbnut

      And what does that have to do with taking a dump?

      August 1, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
  35. Sam

    Really? Sticking a tube up your butt and shooting in water isn't an all natural treatment?

    August 1, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. nofed

    Another stupid health article with generalizations. It Needs to be more specific. No Evidence depends on what kind of testing is done. This article needs to be a report 100 pages with testimonials from researchers both side to make and sense to an intelligent person.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Whoa

    Tried that one time and the stuff that came out of my body frightened me so bad I had nightmares for two days. There are images out on the web.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. diaz

    In healthy people, colon cleansing should only be advised for anal intercourse. And that`s it.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Joe

    Again, this seems like perfect proof that if the body needs it, it comes with it. A healthy diet with some fiber, some protein, some carbs, some vitamins, some ______ etc etc... Nowhere in nature does any creature ever stick a hose up their butt and pump in Niagara Falls in search of the fountain of youth. Maybe if you could pump in the fountain of youth it would work, but until Ponce De Leon finally finds it, stick to a healthy diet.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. PJ

    Problem, as I see it, is that stupid people are killing themselves fast ENOUGH. They still have time enough to pop out another generation of brain damage that the rest of us have to deal with AND pay for in some form or fashion. Let's use our vast knowledge of genetics to breed a predator that feeds on stupid people- THEN we'll see some effective cleasing....Ahhhhhhhhh....feels GOOD!!!!

    August 1, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Paul

    I do it the old fashioned way: A lot of cheap beer the night before and a good video game on the cell phone.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Allie K

    Touting the American Medical Association as your source isn't exactly convincing. The AMA has given us an infinite number of toxic medications...along with the food pyramid that created most of the problems to begin with. I have no idea whether or not cleanses work–but this seems more like the beginning of a campaign to regulate alternative treatments than anything scientifically proven or disproven.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. palintwit

    So the " Human Centipede " movie is not so far fetched after all. Maybe a " Human Centipede 2 " starring the entire Palin family with special guest star Michele Bachmann ' bringing up the rear '.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. linda

    Hydrotherapy is just another way for people to feel they have control and to feel special. If you spend the $50 and up to have one of these you think you are taking care of a problem and it's a placebo effect. People also overeat because they are afraid they are not getting enough vitamins, nutrition, etc. Americans are eating 1/3 more calories on average than in 1980 and overweight is now normal. Eat smaller, eat less, you will survive.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. StarHunter7

    I dated a woman (50yo) who practiced colonic therapy on a regular basis. She was anorexic (about 87-90 lbs), on a 5' 3" frame. She was so on edge all the time, her voice cracked when talking. Her nerves were raw all the time. She was bi-polar in temperament, had a short fuse, and shrieked when things didn't go her way. Her children disliked her, her husband left her, and so did I after a short time dating her because she could not act normally on a regular basis. This was not post-menopausal syndrome. She was addicted to colonics. The became the end all solution to staying thin. She ate almost nothing, mostly vegies. Her physical, mental, moral, spiritual health was greatly impaired. like the article stated: "We poop and pee for a reason." Our body and bacteria takes care of itself if one eats a balanced diet, exercises regularly, and gets proper amount of sleep. This practice is a hoax. Any tramp stamp with a pretty face and a high school degree can stick a hose up your rectum and flip a switch. No need for training.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Lionel

    People! Use your brain, eat organic, stay away from all the fast foods that are available at every corners in the USA, get off your couch, go join a gym, go jog in a park, play tennis, football, soccer, track and field or golf! For god sake, get up and workout, eat right and get some rest appropriately! It is not rocket science and it does not require a lot of money. It requires you to use your brain and think... I am a normal person, I am not rich but I eat organic, I workout and live a normal life... Most important I feel good about myself as I am fit! 18 years of track and field involvement paid off... I feel great at age 34 and look like I was in my mid 20's. Now use those words of wisdom and get it done!

    August 1, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Mariana Kamburov

    The colon is not designed to absorb nutrients, that is why we have the mouth to small intestines tract. It is designed for final absorption of water and some electrolyte balancing. Therefore, one benefit of colon irrigation is that this way the body can absorb water if it is dehydrated and needs it.

    The problems described in the article come from colon therapists with no or minimal training who are trying to please the client and make profit by selling packs of 5-10 colon irrigation sessions, adding herbs and chemicals in the irrigation water and not complying with the procedure regulations. Colon therapist must be properly trained and certified in infection control, anatomy, physiology, pathology and medical errors, before performing colon irrigation on patients.

    Colon therapy has its benefits, but it is not suitable for everybody and should be used only when medically needed.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Dood

    At 37 years old, I felt run down, and with flu-like symptoms almost weekly. One of my accounts (I'm an account rep) told me that he had the same problems and his doctor put him on Metamucil. I said "I'm too young for fiber therapy."

    Boy was I wrong! I not only felt 10 years younger but lost about 5 lbs and had energy level through the roof. I didn't even get so much as a cold that winter.

    If any of you have a poor diet and even if you think you're getting enough fiber, you probably aren't. Today's foods are so overly processed all the good fiber is removed. Fiber therapy is an extremely cheap way to help insure a healthy digestive system and you'll feel great!

    August 1, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Eric Smith

    Colon hydrotherapy worked for me, period. The important thing is to use very high does of probiotics during the process. Just because an organization like the AMA (which is in bed with Big Pharma) says it is dangerous means nothing. Take heed that a mid 1970's Senate Committee revealed that Nobel Prize Winner Linus Pauling was followed by the FBI for decades due to the fact he proved and promoted the effectiveness of Vitamin C. I highly recommend Kevin Trudeau's book, Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About. His MLM organization is a scam but the recommendations in his book worked for me.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Wzrd1

    This idiocy goes back to 1850, when the seventh day adventists had the fixation against things natural, ranging from procreation being evil to cleansing the intestines. Indeed, look up the Battle Creek Sanatorium and Doctor Kellogg's quackery.
    Disproved then, disproved now, still practiced.
    A sterile colon is a dying colon and one that won't process remaining nutrients or water balance properly.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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