Considering Colon Hydrotherapy?
Is colon hydrotherapy safe and beneficial to health?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | October 21, 2021
Not in my opinion on either account. Also known as colonic irrigation and colon cleansing, this practice involves flushing the colon with large amounts of water and sometimes other substances. Proponents believe that doing so regularly can help remove toxins from the body and address a litany of health problems. However, there is little good evidence to support the positive claims made for colon hydrotherapy — and the approach carries a number of risks.
Your colon, or large intestine, plays an important role in digestion and elimination by absorbing water and salts and moving waste through the lower end of the digestive tract. Colon hydrotherapy is based on the theory that retained waste products can poison the body and that flushing out fecal waste protects against that risk.
During a typical session of colon hydrotherapy, the practitioner inserts a tube into the rectum and then introduces up to 16 gallons of water into the large intestine. Some practitioners add various herbs, coffee, or other substances believed to promote detoxification and healing. Over the course of about 45 minutes, the water flushes back out of the colon via the tube. Proponents state that this process can help prevent or treat arthritis, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other health problems, as well as increase energy and spur weight loss. Good clinical evidence for such claims is lacking.
What’s more, colon hydrotherapy can cause harm. Side effects and complications of the practice include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and mild cramping. In rare cases, perforation of the colon — a serious condition to can lead to sepsis or other infections — can occur. Colon hydrotherapy isn’t recommended for people with heart disease, kidney disease, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis, or those who have previously undergone colon surgery. That’s because these conditions increase the risk of experiencing dehydration, infection, and acute kidney or heart failure with colon hydrotherapy. With risks like these — and few to no established health benefits, I recommend taking a pass on colon hydrotherapy. Eating a healthy diet with adequate amounts of fiber, getting plenty exercise, staying hydrated, and eliminating waste regularly should be all you need to maintain good colon health.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
“4 things you should know about colon cleansing,” Cleveland Clinic, July 8, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/colon-cleansing-is-it-safe/