What is a colonic? Is it beneficial?

Colonics, also known as colonic irrigation or colon hydrotherapy, are used to flush out large portions of the bowel system. Colonics are controversial when used for continuous bowel cleanses because of the risks associated with them.

Colonics are different from enemas. While enemas can be done at home and are a one-time infusion, colonics involve multiple infusions and must be done by hydrotherapists with specialized equipment. When a patient is given a colonic, a tube is inserted into the rectum and warm water—up to 16 gallons—is pumped into the body. The procedure takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and the full cleanse continues with increased bowel movements within the first few hours after the colonic.

Although health experts say there is no scientific evidence of this, proponents of colonic irrigation believe toxins build up in the gastrointestinal tract and cause a variety of health issues, including arthritis and high blood pressure. But many medical professionals advise against colonics. Not only does the body have its own detoxification system through the kidneys and liver, but there are also several harmful side effects from colonics. They can cause abdominal cramping and pain, dehydration, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bowel perforation, and infection. The cleanses also harm the microbiome that exists in the gastrointestinal tract by clearing out beneficial bacteria that are necessary for body health.

While cleanses are used as preparation for procedures such as colonoscopies, they are risky when continually used to “detoxify” the body. The excretory system exists specifically for waste and toxin removal and the gut microbiome is an important part of your body’s health and homeostasis. With risks like bowel perforation, dehydration, and infection, it is recommended to consult your doctor if you want to do a colonic irrigation.

 

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