Last Updated May 31st, 2019
It’s rare that anyone openly admits it, but a satisfying bowel movement feels great. However, sometimes it’s not so satisfying – and you might find that you need a bit of help. These days, colon cleanses are the answer for a lot of people.
Your colon, or large intestine, is one of the most important parts of your digestive system. Its job is to rid your body of waste by passing it out through your rectum.1 As you can probably guess, your colon’s health is imperative to removing unwanted toxins from your body.
Although the large intestine usually functions well on its own, many people enjoy colon cleansing to clear all the waste matter out at one time. There are many reasons to do this, including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, to jumpstart weight loss, and for overall health.
Read on to learn if a colon cleanse might just be what you need.
Types of Colon Cleansing
Colon cleansing can either be done in a medical setting or at home. A professional colon cleansing, also called colonic irrigation or a colonic, is often done before a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a medical procedure conducted by your doctor to examine your colon and rectum, particularly for cancer.2 Professional colon cleansing is also done in cases of constipation, abdominal discomfort, or for overall wellness. The procedure involves flushing water through a tube inserted into the rectum. The water moves through the colon, cleaning out any excess waste. More and more, there are colon-cleansing “centers” that aren’t necessarily part of a hospital or doctor’s office but offer the service simply to help clear out waste.
An enema is a colon cleansing procedure that can be performed at home or in a medical office. Enemas also involve inserting water or saline solution through the rectum. The difference between an enema and a colonic is that less water is used.4 Enema kits are available over the counter in most drug stores.
Supplements are another way to cleanse your colon at home. These can be taken orally as a pill, powder, in tea, or anally as a suppository. Common ingredients for colon cleansing supplements include psyllium husk, bentonite clay, flax seeds, cascara sagrada, and wormseed. These ingredients are powerful laxatives that will clean all waste out of your colon.
So what are the benefits of colon cleansing? Here are the top reasons:
Helps With Constipation
When food moves too slowly through the digestive tract, feces can become hard.5 This causes the discomfort of constipation. People who experience constipation typically have less than three bowel movements per week.6 Cleansing your colon can remove feces that has become too hard to pass, and help waste move through your bowels.
Colonic transit time is the time it takes for food to travel through your digestive tract.7 People with constipation have a much slower rate of colonic transit than people who are not constipated. A 2002 study from Amsterdam showed that colon cleansing improved colonic transit time for study volunteers.8
Gets Rid of Retained Fecal Residue
Chronic constipation can cause bowel impaction, a condition where your body can’t pass feces on its own.9 This can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting and serious health problems if the impaction is not resolved. Colon cleansing can help rid your body of the fecal residue that’s causing your bowel impaction. Research has shown that colon cleansing effectively removes retained fecal residue.10
There is little medical evidence that colon cleansing can help with weight loss, but many people have had positive results in using a colon cleanse to help meet weight loss goals. Initial weight loss is from water and fecal matter, but having a clean colon may help you lose weight by moving foods faster through your digestive tract. Eating foods that are high in fiber can also help you lose weight and keep your colon clean.11
Some people should not do a colon cleanse, including those with Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, kidney disease, heart disease, ulcerative colitis, or ischemic colitis. Those who have had colon surgery in the past should also avoid a colon cleanse. If you have any other medical condition, consult your doctor.
Colon cleansing can cause some side effects, including abdominal cramps, bloating, and nausea.12 Consult your doctor if side effects become severe. After any type of colon cleanse, it’s important to drink plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration.
How to Maintain a Healthy Colon
To keep your colon healthy, it’s important to eat enough foods that contain fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, the part of plant foods that aren’t digested by your body. Instead, fiber is expelled through your intestinal tract to keep waste moving as it should. On top of preventing constipation, eating foods high in fiber can make you feel full for longer and can lead to weight loss.14
All high-fiber foods come from plants. Some of the best high-fiber foods to eat include apples, pears, raisins, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, nuts, artichokes, and broccoli. The National Fiber Council recommends eating an average of 32 grams of fiber each day, although actual amounts vary based on age and gender.16 If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet, consider taking a supplement.
Drinking enough water is also important to maintaining a healthy colon. Drink water whenever you feel thirsty, so you can avoid constipation and keep your colon clean.
Your colon is a vital part of your good health. Keep your colon healthy, and you’ll enjoy greater health overall!
1. Science, Live. “Colon (Large Intestine): Facts, Function & Diseases.” Live Science. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
2. Information, Health et al. “Colonoscopy | NIDDK.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
4.”Colonic Irrigation Or Enema | Compare Colonic Irrigation To Enema.” Healthcentre.org.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
5.”Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments.” Medical News Today. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
6. Information, Health et al. “Constipation | NIDDK.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
7. time, Bowel. “Bowel Transit Time: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
8. RJ, Sloots. “Effect Of Bowel Cleansing On Colonic Transit In Constipation Due To Slow Transit Or Evacuation Disorder. – Pubmed – NCBI.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
9. impaction, Fecal. “Fecal Impaction: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
10.Fork FT, et al. “Colon Cleansing Regimens. A Clinical Study In 1200 Patients. – Pubmed – NCBI.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
11.Ferrari, Nancy. “Making One Change — Getting More Fiber — Can Help With Weight Loss – Harvard Health Blog.” Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
12. Mark Hyman, MD et al. “Colon Cleansing: Is It Safe?.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
14. foods, High-fiber. “High-Fiber Foods: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.
16. Council, National Fiber. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.