Is a Colon Cleanse Actually Beneficial?

February 1, 2016

The colon cleanse has been used throughout history to improve the body’s natural detoxification processes, restore digestive health and improve someone’s overall quality of life. In fact, the use of water to cleanse tissue throughout the colon, called “colon lavage,” has been practiced since as early as 1500 B.C. in ancient Egypt.

What’s the purpose of cleansing your colon? To flush out built-up waste stored by rehydrating old stool that’s become impacted. Most colon cleanses use water to infiltrate hardened stool and loosen it up so it can be passed more easily.

The ultimate goal of a colon cleanse — whether it’s a type of enema or a colonic — is really to help the digestive organs do their job in the best way possible, managing things that get in the way and interfere with normal bowel functions. Colon cleanses aren’t necessarily needed by every person, but some people can really benefit from eliminating waste, bacterial matter and toxic material that’s stored in their bodies.

How do you know if you could benefit from a colon cleanse? Keep reading.

Why Do a Colon Cleanse?

The colon is home to billions of microflora (bacteria) that actually make up approximately 70 percent of the dry weight of feces. Besides forming stool, the various beneficial bacterial organisms living within the colon and digestive tract are important for proper nutrient absorption, maintaining pH balance, controlling hunger and counteracting potentially dangerous bacteria. This is why a well-functioning colon is so important for overall well-being.

Are colon cleanses really necessary? While the digestive system has its own processes for removing waste, many people struggle with having regular, complete bowel movements due to various reasons like poor gut health, allergies, consumption of pesticide chemicals and inflammation within the digestive system.

Irritable bowel syndrome is estimated to affect about 15 percent to 20 percent of the adult population worldwide, while chronic constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the world, affecting about 42 million people in the U.S. alone. (1) These problems are especially common among people with poor diets, women during pregnancy, older adults, people recovering from surgery and those taking medications.

If you’re not having at least one bowel movement every day, this makes you a good candidate for a colon cleanse. It’s well-known that a variety of health problems stem from poor digestive health — for example, stomach pains, abdominal cramps, chronic fatigue, constipation, low energy, headaches and allergic reactions can all be traced back partially to problems with waste elimination.

An impacted bowel can easily cause sluggishness, irritation, irritability, low energy, “brain fog” and changes in someone’s appetite. That’s because unreleased food and waste particles can cause mucus and bacteria to ferment and form in the colon, which might result in “toxins” being released back into the bloodstream when they’re circulated. Failing to have regular bowel movements also poses the risk for problems absorbing nutrients properly, which can lead to low energy and other complications.

How Colon Cleanses Work

The colon is the longest part of the large intestine, which is attached to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The role of the colon is to eliminate stool from the body that’s made up of a combination of bacteria, water, unused nutrients, unneeded electrolytes and digested food. (2)

There are many different methods for performing a colon cleanse, which sometimes go under the names colonic, colonic irrigation, colon therapy or colonic hydrotherapy. You can also effectively flush the colon do something like a juice fast, salt water flush or performing an enema. Colon cleanses are split into two main categories: one type requires that a professional perform the cleanse, while the other involves using a solution or supplement at home.

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