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Detox Debunked: The Colon Cleanse Reality
illustration showing good and bad bacteria in the colon | GI North

Although there are many different brands of colon cleanses on the market and most with natural ingredients, it does not necessarily mean it is a healthy thing to do.

Clean living is all the rage, and while watching what you put into your body can have positive outcomes, flushing your body out can create problems.

The Facts

Colon cleanses have been in practice for centuries, yet there are no studies that support any benefits.

There is no medical backing that toxins build up in the colon and need flushing. The body naturally rids itself of toxins through the bacteria in the colon, and the colon sheds its old cells every few days to avoid build-up. Furthermore, the liver and kidneys neutralize and filter toxins. And the mucus membranes located in the colon work to prevent toxins from entering the blood and bodily tissue.

There is no list of toxins that a cleanse eliminates; therefore, their function cannot be tested, and the benefit of flushing them out cannot be studied.

There is no regulation of the products used for a cleanse. And even though most cleanses contain all natural ingredients that does not make them safe or effective.

The Dangers

As with any medical process, there are risks involved with colon cleanses, and those risks increase greatly with frequency.

Common, Mild Side Effects

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain
  • Depletion of beneficial bacteria
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Potassium decrease


Less Common, Severe Side Effects

  • Bowel perforation
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney problems
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Liver toxicity
  • Coma
  • Death


High Risk Factors

  • Diverticulitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Rectal or colon tumors
  • Heart disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Severe hemorrhoids
  • Kidney disease
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Recent bowel surgery
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

The Proven Alternatives

If you are interested in ridding your body of toxins, there are several lifestyle changes that can effectively detoxify your colon and the rest of your digestive system.

Eat Right. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, and make sure you wash them thoroughly. Also increase your soluble and insoluble fiber to 20-35 grams daily.

Hydrate. Drinking plenty of water helps to keep your system functioning well.

Moderate. Alcohol and red meat should be consumed in moderation.

Quit Smoking. Tobacco has negative effects on the body and introduces unwanted toxins.

The Advice

While most doctors do not recommend colon cleanses, there are occasions when they are used medically. For example, patients undergoing a colonoscopy or patients suffering severe constipation, when other treatments have failed. When done, you should always consult your doctor, the equipment should be sterile, you should stay well hydrated, and any ingredients should be listed with their quantities.

If you are considering a cleanse or would like more information, the professionals at GI North are available to assist you. Dr. Cofranceso and Dr. Quijano, who speaks fluent Spanish, are both gastroenterologists, who specialize in digestive functions. Their office, GI North, is located in Cumming, GA, and they gladly serve the areas of Cumming, Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.