Can colon cleansing improve your health?

Find out if colon cleansing is healthy or harmful

Can colon cleansing improve your health?

Source: Best Health Magazine, January/February 2009

The question: Can colon cleansing improve your health?

“Absolutely not,” says Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, a gastro-enterologist and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. There’s no proof behind claims that your colon could be harbouring “heavy sludge” that needs to be “cleansed” using special products—most of which are ingested. One website advertising a colon cleanse warns that you could have as much as 25 pounds of dried fecal matter in your colon. But that’s a myth, says Jeejeebhoy. Our bodies actually process waste quite efficiently.

Typically, colon cleanse kits include herbs and enzymes, laxative teas and enemas, and promise to rid your body of toxic waste and help you lose weight. But there are no credible studies to show that doing such a colon cleanse improves your health. And furthermore, says Jeejeebhoy: “If you do it frequently, it might be harmful.”

These products can be risky for several reasons. First, repeatedly using laxatives can have the undesired effect of rendering the colon permanently “lazy” and leading to lifelong constipation. Secondly, our colons contain special bacteria that have cholesterol-lowering effects, so cleaning out those microbes can lead to increased cholesterol. Thirdly, cleanses can lead to dehydration and metabolite imbalances. And, finally, the herbs sold in these kits aren’t monitored by the government and may be toxic.

Also, if weight loss is your goal, a colon cleanse won’t help you in the long run. “You may lose weight initially, but you will gain it back,” says Dr. Jeejeebhoy.

This article was originally titled "This Issue’s Health Question," in the January/February 2009 issue of Best Health Magazine. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!