Is colon cleansing recommended?

John S. Maul, MD
Hematology & Oncology

Colon cleansing is sometimes prescribed by doctors prior to medical procedures such as a colonoscopy, but the use of colon cleansing for detoxification or other health issues is not recommended by experts. In fact, the human colon/digestive system is already designed to eliminate anything your body does not need. A 2009 systematic review in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at the existing evidence on colon cleansing in both the mainstream and complementary medicine literature (including trials and case reports). The authors did not find anything to support popular health benefits claims. They did find numerous reports of adverse effects (bad reactions) related to colon cleansing and the techniques and substances used and therefore did not recommend colon cleansing.       

Rudolph M. Kluiber, MD
Colorectal Surgery

There are a variety of products marketed for colon cleaning. Most of these are a laxative-based and taken orally and some are administered rectally. A coffee or yogurt enema anyone?

There is no evidence to suggest that these have any positive effects. In fact, regular use can cause the colon to become lazy and dependent on laxatives or enema in order to work. Colon cleaning is not recommended.

Randolph P. Martin, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
I recently interviewed Dr. Galambos regarding colon cleansing. Here are a few important points we discussed, that might help you decide if it's right for you.
If you are considering undergoing a colon cleanse, keep Dr. Galambos’ advice in mind: Our bodies already have the natural abilities to flush out waste and toxins from our systems. “The bacterial floor in the intestines, specifically the colon, is an important part of our system. It helps our immunology and ability to break down waste products.”
"There can be severe complications from undergoing these procedures," says Dr. Galambos. Colonic perforations can occur if the devices are inappropriately placed in the rectum or if the patient has certain colonic diseases. The pressure from flushing this much fluid from the system can lead to a perforation.
Peter N. Mattar, MD
Family Medicine
I do not recommend colon cleansing.  There are various ways to perform this activity, all of which strip the intestines of vital bacteria that help us absorb nutrients.  The best way to keep a "clean colon" is by eating a diet high in fiber and low in fats.  This is the only natural and safe way to healthy living.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.