Doctors have found colon cleansing does not reap any benefits, but rather can lead to harmful or deadly side effects ranging from cramps to renal failure.
Colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy, as it is often called, uses water mixed with chemicals to "flush" the colon by inserting a tube in the rectum. Though it has become a popular means of cleansing or detoxing, doctors at Georgetown University say the practice and products do not enhance well-being, but rather can be destructive.
"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," said, Ranit Mishori, M.D., Georgetown University School of Medicine and lead author of the study in a release.
Side effects of colon cleansing can include cramping, renal failure, vomiting, aplastic anemia, electrolyte imbalance, nausea, serious infections and even death. The study, published in the August issue of The Journal of Family Practice, provides no evidence to the benefits of these products, which range from "laxatives, teas, powders and capsules with names such as Nature's Bounty Colon Cleanser," according to Dr. Mishori.
The team of doctors at Georgetown assessed 20 studies published in medical journals over the past decade and found no correlations to positive outcomes by using colon cleansing products, but rather found countless reports of negative side effects tied to the procedure.
While colon cleansing products have become a popular marketed product dubbed as "natural," Dr. Mishori noted in a press release that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor these products, nor do they have the authority to do so.
"During the past decade the FDA has issued numerous warning letters to manufacturers for unapproved use of the devices for colon cleansing," the authors noted in the study.
Also, many of the so-called "colon hygienists" offering colon cleansing services at popular day spas or clinics, have insufficient medical training.
Made popular by claims it can treat fatigue, weight gain and serve as a detox replacement, Dr. Mishori does not recommend colon cleansing as an option for well-being. Rather she suggests avoiding the use of colon cleansing products and instead "eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get six to eight hours of sleep and see a doctor regularly."