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Are Colon Cleansers Safe?

cup-of-tea-in-the-beach-1434877-mRecently, I have been amazed at how many of my friends, female friends in particular, are using colon cleansers, under advice from their friends or family that using a colon cleanser detoxifies the body and can help people lose weight. Something about the concept of colon cleansing just didn’t seem quite right to me, so I set out to do a little research to answer the question: Are Colon Cleansers and Detox Drinks Safe?

More than that, do colon cleanser actually DO anything or have any benefits?

I was skeptical, so after a bit of internet research to get the right questions to ask, the next thing I did was call my own doctor’s office and talked to one of the nurse’s there and asked her opinion about colon cleansers. Below is the transcript with that nurse:

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about colon cleansers, for weight loss, for health, to remove toxins, to remove waste build up, etc. Do any of these products for sale actually do any of these things?

A: Nope, not even a little bit. Most of these colon cleansers are nothing more than some herbs and high doses of fiber, and not the best fiber for that matter. Taking the recommended daily grams of fiber each day will help any person trying to lose weight drop a few pounds at the offset, but for long-term weight loss, it’s not going to help much.

As for waste build up, the colon and the human body does a pretty good job of taking care of that on its own. About the only potential good thing a colon cleanser product can do for someone is help them if they are constipated, and that really is just the fiber in most of the products.

Q: So they don’t really cleanse the colon?

A: No, they don’t.

Q: What exactly do they do then?

A: Not much more than taking fiber supplements or eating a fiber-rich diet, which is better for you anyway. Some of the colon cleansing products also have some of the weird herbs in them that kill certain bacteria, usually the good kind, and can actually cause a lot of problems. In fact, we’ve treated some teen girls for overuse of colon cleansers or detox drinks and diets and such.

Q: Certain websites and infomercials are saying that the colon can hold 5-15 pounds of toxins, waste and other ‘bad stuff’. Is this true?

A: Absolutely not. I’ve assisted with a few colonoscopies, and the inside of the colon is completely free of any of these things. The doctor recommends an enema before the colonoscopy to cleans the anal area which is the point of entry, but that’s only to ensure the patient isn’t constipated. The colon itself doesn’t hold waste or toxins of any kind. I think this is just a ‘scare tactic’ these products use to sell these items. It’s ridiculous.

Q: So it’s safe to say most doctors won’t recommend colon cleansing and detox diets?

A: Right. Unless a person is really sick, generally the body heals itself pretty well and has its own system of removing wastes and cleansing itself. If it’s not working, you’ll end up in a doctor’s office with some type of symptoms. If you’re not showing major symptoms of some type of illness, like kidney problems or something, then you don’t need to detox or take a colon cleanser. It’s silly really and for some folks can be dangerous. For others, they can actually be deadly.

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That was all I needed to hear to decide for myself that taking a colon cleanser or detox of this nature was not something I wanted to do. Still, a couple of my friends swore they lost weight quickly right after using a colon cleanser or detox drink. Sure, water weight! The same thing would happen if you just popped a water pill or actually worked up a sweat! Still other friends would swear by these colon cleaners and how ‘light’ and ‘clean’ and ’empty’ they made them feel.

Well, one colon cleanser I found on the internet had ‘crushed pecan and walnut shells’ as the main ingredient, and fiber as the secondary ingredient. The theory is that the fiber would cause the bowels to move, and the crushed pecan and walnut shells would scrape the colon and remove waste from the sides, thus ‘cleansing’ the colon.

I couldn’t help but get this image of a cartoon of someone using a toilet brush cleaner and scrubbing their colon clean.

One of the most dangerous aspects of colon cleansers and detox drinks had to do with the way these products remove bacteria-not just the bad kind that makes our bodies sick, but also the kind that keeps our bodies healthy.

Human beings are hosts to a multitude of little parasites, and without some of them, we cannot digest foods, fight off certain diseases, and be healthy. Patients with illnesses requiring harsh or long -term antibiotics or chemotherapy will learn during the course of their treatment that even these good drugs that help heal can kill good bacteria. I am on high-dose, long-term antibiotic therapy, and I have to take medication to put these good creepy crawlies back into my body to keep from becoming violently and deathly ill.

When someone seeking to detox and lose weight by using colon cleaners and detox drinks or teas uses them regularly or uses too much, they risk killing these good bacteria. When that happens, they are susceptible to a range of ailments, including yeast infections of the vaginal area, groin area, belly button, mouth, nose, throat, ears, eyes, between fingers and toes, open sores and any fold in the skin, that can be next to impossible to fight.

The absolute best way to detox and cleanse your body is to eat a healthy, natural fiber-rich diet, lots of leafy greens and fresh fruits and veggies, limit fat and processed foods, starches and processed sugar. Avoid chemicals like caffeine and preservatives, use herbs and natural ingredients to season foods. Organic is best for detoxing, and limit eating hard proteins, particularly red meat.

Healthy living and weight loss just flat out is not going to come from a pill, a drink, or a ‘diet’. It will only come from making a commitment to being healthy, eating right, and moving your body as much as you can.

Final analysis: colon cleansers and detox drinks at best do not work or do anything and at worst can kill you. No, they most definitely are not safe.

 

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