When asked to comment on colonics, some physicians say yay and others say nay. On the other hand, naturopathic doctors and alternative-health practitioners tend to be in favor of colonics, and often offer them in their practice. While there isn’t much scientific evidence to support colonics, many people stand by them and their benefits.
Let us know whether or not you think a colonic is good for gut health and read on to learn more about the controversy.
What Exactly Is a Colonic?
Colonics – colonic irrigation or hydrotherapy – refers to the practice of placing a tube into the rectum that then introduces large amounts of water to flush the colon (large intestine). The water may be mixed with herbs or coffee and is flushed through to remove waste matter. As the water is transported in and out of your colon, your colonic hydrotherapist or doctor will also use abdominal massage techniques to get rid of wastes that may be sticking to the walls of your colon.
Effects of Colonics on Gut Health
Colonics target bowel function and bowel flora, enabling the delicate flora of your gut and the interactions between the gut-brain connection to be synchronized. It directly affects the natural movement that helps move bowel content (called peristalsis) and bowel function.
In theory, the combination of water and massage washes out and deeply cleanses the colon. This process releases built-up stool and gas pockets, relieving abdominal bloating as well as pressure on the bladder, low back, prostate/ovaries, and diaphragm. The removal of waste encourages better elimination and colon function.
Are Colonics Necessary?
Although colonics are internationally popular, many conventional medical professionals say that our bodies are well-equipped to eliminate harmful substances: the kidneys and the liver. Because of this, they believe that the colon cleansing done to get rid of toxins is not needed and may even be dangerous. They feel that there is little research supporting the benefits of colonics.
If you are having digestive issues, you might be better off taking probiotic supplements. Take this quiz to see if you should be taking probiotics.
Why Are We So Obsessed with Colon Cleansing?
Many people are obsessed with colon cleansing, and often try juice fasts, “natural” colonics that use laxatives, or colon hydrotherapy. This may stem from the thought that the bowel is a dirty place in general and that getting rid of waste is one way to make it cleaner. If you want to find out what your stool is telling you, take this quiz.
Colonics Can Cause Side Effects
The decision to have a colonic should not be made lightly. They may cause stomach pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. More severe complications can include electrolyte imbalance, serious infections, perforating the bowel, as well as kidney problems, and heart failure.
There’s Little Evidence That They Improve Health
At this time, there is no evidence supporting colonics as a way to improve or promote general health. In addition, since the specific toxins removed are rarely named, there has been no research done to find out if even removing these substances is beneficial.
Colonics Are Not Safe for Everyone
A colon cleanse can be dangerous for people with heart problems or kidney disease, since they already have trouble keeping their fluids balanced and they are sensitive to electrolyte shifts. People with gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and recurrent diverticulitis should avoid colonics. They are also risky for people with connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome, and anyone who has had colon surgery or hemorrhoids, because of the possibility of puncturing a hole in the bowel.
The Cleansing Effect on Gut Bacteria Is Unknown
Trillions of bacteria live in your colon, and getting rid of them or changing the balance between harmful and beneficial gut bacteria can cause problems. A colon cleanse would not get rid of all the bacteria in your gut, but having a lot of bacteria in your gut is healthy. The good bacteria in your gut help to keep the bad bacteria under control. And just like antibiotics can harm your gut bacteria, so can a colon cleanse, since they can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria.
The ‘Benefits’ of Colon Cleansing
As with anything, the people who love colonics tout their benefits to anyone who will listen. They contend that you can get many benefits by removing the toxins from your digestive system. According to anecdotal evidence, colonics can lead to weight loss, increased energy, better digestion, and clearer thinking. Most of these claims have no scientific support.
However, one small study done in 2016 noted some improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after colonics were administered. Despite these results, colonics should be approached with caution, as they may lead to colon damage.
A Note from GR8NESS
Some swear by colonics, and others run away from them. Our advice is to speak with your doctor about whether or not you should have a colonic. If you choose to do so, make sure you choose your practitioner wisely. Speak to others who have used a specific therapist before you make your appointment.