Colonics have gathered such a tremendous following over the last few years that it is hard to find any health conscious person who hasn’t a.) tried a colonic, or b.) thought about trying one. If the widespread popularity of the unpleasant procedure seems strange to you, rest assured: it is. And it's doubly strange, considering colonics are likely useless, and potentially dangerous.
What is a Colonic?
The colonic (also know as the colon cleanse, colon hydrotherapy, and colon irrigation) first originated in ancient Egypt. The procedure was used to counteract autointoxication (a poisoning of the body from un-ejected waste thought to accumulate in the bowels).
The procedure has become more technical over the last several thousand years and simply told, involves two tubes, one that shoots water (and sometimes herbal remedies and tinctures of various kinds) into your colon and a second, which carries out the waste.
While the procedure has undergone a variety of technical changes since the days of the pharaohs, its goal has remained the same—colonics are still aimed at preventing autointoxication. Those convinced of colonics’ worth argue that accumulated waste provides a haven for parasites and fosters the growth of harmful bacteria. Flushing this waste out with a colonic is said to promote health by preventing colon cancer and improving, among other things, digestion, skin, and energy levels.
While naturopathic doctors sometimes prescribe colonics, the medical community at large almost universally rejects the procedure as impractical, useless and even dangerous. The reason: there exists no evidence that autointoxication actually occurs, and theory was debunked long ago, in the early twentieth century. The colon has two functions: to absorb water and to eliminate stool. The organ performs these functions naturally, and well, and almost never absorbs toxins.
If these facts aren’t enough to convince you of how silly colonics are, consider the procedure’s many side effects and risks.
- The potential side-effects of colonics are dehydration, cramps, colon perforation, electrolyte imbalances, bacterial imbalances, and, in rare cases, heart failure caused by an over-absorption of water.
- You should never have a colonic if you have diverticular disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, hemorrhoids, heart disease, severe anemia, an abdominal hernia, gastrointestinal cancer, intestinal tumors or are pregnant.
How to Maintain Colon Health Naturally
So if colon cleanses do not promote colon health, what does? The answer is simple: Fiber. Fiber cleans your colon naturally, without tubes or discomfort. Make sure to get your daily dose of this essential nutrient, found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The Institute of Medicine recommends the following for daily fiber intakes (varied by age and gender):
- Men under 50 require 38 grams/day.
- Women under 50 require 25 grams/day.
- Men over 50 require 30 grams/day.
- Women over 50 require 21 grams/day.