7 myths about colonics, busted

Doctors say there’s no medical need for colonics, yet many people extol the virtues of colon hydrotherapy. Read on to learn the truth about colonics

7 myths about colonics, busted

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2011

A study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in March 2010 showed that the claims some colonic clinics make about the therapeutic benefits of colon hydrotherapy are untrue and can also be misleading. Here is the medical view of seven common claims about what this procedure can do for you:

Myth #1: Colonics prevent constipation

A colonic is not a preventive measure. It can be a short-term solution for relieving chronic constipation simply by removing impacted material, but only when other routes’including dietary changes ‘don’t work, says Dr. Gabor Kandel, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

Myth #2: It can make your colon stronger

Some people mistakenly assume that weak muscle tone causes constipation, but in fact constipation occurs when there is an underlying problem with the coordination and relaxation of muscles in peristalsis (the pushing of material out the rectum), explains Kandel. “A colonic does not repair this underlying problem; it just relieves the constipation in the short term.”

Myth #3: It restores your colon’s shape

The idea that a buildup of fecal matter "reshapes" your colon does not gel with mainstream science; nothing reshapes your colon, says Kandel.

Myth #4: Colonics help you lose weight

One common theory suggests a buildup of fecal matter in our colon can add pounds to the scale. But research has shown that fecal debris does not stay in the body for long periods of time, says Dr. David Armstrong, a gastroenterologist and associate professor at McMaster University’s department of medicine. Adds Kandel: ‘“The amount of weight we carry in our colon is trivial”a few hundred grams [about half a pound] at best.” Toronto-based colon hydrotherapist Marlena Roe claims you will lose a few pounds after a colonic from waste removal; however, she says you can gain that right back once you resume eating and drinking.

Myth #5: It prevents "autointoxication"

Proponents of "autointoxication’" believe that if fecal material does not leave the body regularly, veins and arteries around the colon can pull out toxins and send them to the liver for cleansing, taxing our organs and exposing us to toxins. The popularity of this notion may be due to increasing reports of exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment. But according to Kandel and Armstrong, no evidence supports autointoxication.

Myth #6: Colonics permanently get rid of "bad" bacteria

We  all have both good and bad bacteria in our colon, and the bad bacteria, such as salmonella, are balanced by the good bacteria, such as acidophilus. Because a colonic removes both’ ‘and both repopulate not long afterwards’ it doesn’t have any lasting impact on "bad" bacteria, says Armstrong. When there is a bacteria imbalance, something else”such as diet, an immune disorder or gastric problems picked up on foreign travels’ may be at play. In these cases, dietary changes, prescription drugs or, very rarely, surgery may be required, adds Armstrong.

Myth # 7: It prevents colon cancer

There is no scientific evidence that colonic procedures prevent this disease, nor is there evidence that chronic constipation causes colon cancer, say both Kandel and Armstrong.

This article was originally titled "The truth about…Colonics" in the May 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health