I have to admit, I am obsessed with my colon.
I inspect what shape my number 2's come in (they ought to be shaped like a banana). I get anxious when I am not regular and have this sneaking suspicion that my colon just isn't as clean as it ought to be (despite having no proof or real reason to worry). But I know I am not the only one with unwarranted fears.
It seems like everywhere you turn you are constantly hearing about how your immune system needs a boost, or your gut needs some extra help, or how all of the toxins in the air we breathe are killing us. The cure is just cleaning out your colon. I've read how one woman has lost 20 pounds or how one man has 100 times more energy because he sipped from a concoction for 14 days or took some pills for a week. I've been tempted to jump on this bandwagon, but haven't done so because so many health experts keep saying that colon cleanses, despite their growing popularity, may actually do more harm than good.
A recent study conducted at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Providence Hospital co-signs on this belief. Researchers reviewed 20 past studies on colonic cleansing and found that whether with water, supplements or herbal remedies, colon cleanses don't actually do much of anything. Matter of fact, they can potentially cause dangerous side effects.
But what concerned [Dr. Ranit] Mishor and her team wasn't simply the fact that patients didn't appear to be getting any benefit from the cleanses, but that the procedures were causing harm. “Every time you put something where it's not supposed to be in the body, you can poke tissue, make holes and disrupt architecture,” she says. And that's exactly what the studies found. Those who underwent colon hydrotherapy, in which technicians insert a tube in the rectum and flood the colon with liters of fluid, often water, experienced infections and complications from bacteria that were introduced into the colon or from accidental punctures made by the hose.
People who opted for less invasive methods, including supplements, teas, laxatives, or herbal remedies to empty the colon didn't necessarily fare any better — they experienced cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and, in severe cases, imbalances in their electrolytes and kidney failure.
Mishor also told Time, “I totally understand where people are coming from in wanting to detoxify.” She added, “You want to get all the gunk out. But there is no evidence that [the cleanses] are doing anything, and physiologically it doesn't make sense. The body has a system for detoxifying itself — it's called pee and poop. And for healthy people, that's all it takes.”
OK, good to know that increasing my fiber intake and drinking more water is all I need.