The colon cleanse is a relatively modern detox method that gained traction with the growing trend toward natural health. It can only be a good thing that we are paying more attention to taking care of our health, but there is a downside.

There is now much unverified hype floating around the internet, and some of it is dangerous. It is easy to assume that ‘waste’ should be assisted in exiting our precious bodies, but the body already has mechanisms that handle this well: the liver and kidneys. It may be prudent to question how beneficial that colon cleanse will actually be.

How do people go about colon cleansing?

People do a colon cleanse in the hope of detoxifying. They think it will help them kiss goodbye to excess weight and bloating, skin problems and fatigue, among other ailments.

They may attempt to flush out the colon through the use of laxatives or other substances with a similar mechanism, like prune juice. They may use an enema kit to pour water into the colon and then release it; but this only cleans out the lower part of the colon. If they decide to do a full colon cleanse, they’ll attend a clinic with the proper equipment. This is called colonic irrigation – or colon hydrotherapy.

Where the first two methods might be relatively harmless in most cases (as they’re less effective at fully flushing the colon), colonic irrigation comes with a set of risks that you should be aware of.

Is a colon cleanse ever necessary?

Although doing a colon cleanse is occasionally necessary, it’s usually when a medical procedure requires an unobstructed bowel, or in cases of severe constipation. Many people now believe that flushing out the colon this way will remove toxins that are slowly accumulating.

They have been told that it will clear out any waste that is stuck in the colon… and that this waste is producing more toxins that are poisoning their blood and making them ill.

What happens during a colonic irrigation?

Colonic irrigation involves the insertion of a tube into the rectum, after which gallons of water are pumped into the colon and released once it is full. This isn’t a particularly comfortable experience, and it can lead to a perforated bowel if not done properly… which is why the clinic will have you indemnify them before the procedure.

Although there isn’t much by way of official research or studies, there are case reports and plenty of anecdotal evidence that says there can be dangerous side effects, as follows:

Colon cleansing can worsen current problems

People with health issues such as kidney disease or heart conditions should steer well clear of colonic irrigation. They will already be having problems with regulating bodily fluids and electrolytes, and a colon cleanse of any kind may drastically upset the balance.

If you suffer with any disorders of the connective tissue, don’t do it. If you have ever had surgery of the colon or problems with hemorrhoids, it’s not for you. If you’re someone who struggles with gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis, it is dangerous. Any intestinal inflammation could be worsened by a colon cleanse.

A colon cleanse may dehydrate you and upset your electrolyte balance

Dehydration isn’t just a nagging feeling of thirst. If you’re experiencing that feeling, you’ve been dehydrated for a long time and your body is unable to perform its functions effectively. Many serious problems start with dehydration.

Although you can combat this issue by making sure you sufficiently increase your water intake, it won’t do anything to keep your electrolyte levels in check. If you don’t have the right balance, you can struggle with lightheadedness, cramps, abnormal heart rhythms and a chronic dry mouth. Electrolyte imbalances can take a real effort to restore.

Colon cleansing can destroy your healthy gut bacteria

It isn’t wise to mess with the bacteria in the colon – most of it is very necessary for good health. Flushing out a large percentage of the beneficial bacteria may leave you susceptible to invaders your body would normally fight off easily.

It is not uncommon for people to experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea, pains in the stomach, and vomiting. Worst-case-scenarios include kidney problems, dangerous infections and heart failure.

A colon cleanse does not guarantee toxin removal or improved health

This is what a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded, anyway. Nobody seems to know which toxins they’re trying to eradicate, and the clinics won’t be able to tell you either. This means you have no way of knowing how beneficial your colon cleanse has been.

Anyone hoping to lose weight this way will be sorely disappointed too. Any weight loss experienced will be temporary and down to removal of water and stool – no fat can be dissolved through this process. After a couple of days have passed, weight will return to normal.

The bottom line is that detoxing your body can be done in many non-dangerous ways. It is wise to try to understand what your body really needs, rather than following detox fads – especially those with big question marks over the results. After all, your health is too precious to risk.