Is a colon cleanse a good idea? Learn the truth about natural colon cleansers here.
A natural colon cleanse flushes the waste out of your large intestine -- but does it work? Photo via Shutterstock
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that afflicts men and women worldwide, according to the American Cancer Society's report. In the US, it is among the leading cause of cancer deaths. Such statistics makes taking good care of your colon an important task, but just how would you do that?
Most people would think of colon cleanse as the solution and colon cleansers are now being widely advertised as an excellent approach to promoting colon health. Unfortunately, experts think otherwise.
So, what's the real deal about these colon cleansers? Are there really medical benefits from them? Let's find out.
What are Colon Cleansers?
Colon cleansers, as the name suggests, pertain to products that help cleanse the colon by expelling it contents. They come in various forms ranging from teas, tablets, and capsules to powders, enzymes, and enemas. These products are available online, or through physical stores like pharmacies, supermarkets, and health food stores.
Are Colon Cleanses Useful or Unnecessary?
The use of colon cleansers is based on something called "autointoxication," a phenomenon wherein the waste and toxins that have accumulated in the colon through the years spreads throughout the body and "poisons" it. The result of this poisoning is disease. Despite the lack of solid proof, the misconception persisted, leading to the advent of products that claim to cleanse the colon by removing the supposedly "toxic" waste buildup.
Another use of colon cleansers is in relieving constipation, as colon cleansers promote proper elimination of waste, which they do so by getting rid of accumulated stool that blocks the colon. Other reasons for use include improving mood (source), boosting immunity (source), losing weight, and reducing the risk of colon cancer.
What are the Key Ingredients to Look for in Colon Cleansers?
Most colon cleansers contain the same kind of ingredients. These include:
Fiber - Acts pretty much like a "toothbrush" passing through the colon. The most recommended ones are psyllium and flaxseed.
Psyllium Husk - A bulk-forming laxative that helps relieve constipation by increasing the amount of water in the stool, causing it to move easier and faster through the intestines. Along with proper diet, it also helps lower blood cholesterol levels (source).
Flaxseed - Also known as linseed, these tiny seeds are often used to treat constipation due its ability to speed up intestinal movements and in turn increase the frequency of bowel movements. It also has a myriad of other benefits such as lowering blood cholesterol levels (source), improve cardiovascular health (source), reduce the risk of certain cancers (source), and relieve menopause symptoms (source).
Aloe Vera: A popular medicinal plant with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. It is proven to be effective in reducing the pain and discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome (source) and other inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics: They are used to improve digestion and increase the population of good bacteria in the gut. Among their many benefits include treatment of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. Recent studies even suggest their potential role in the prevention of colon cancer (source).
The scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of colon cleansing is quite limited and experts are quick to argue that the body has its own way of taking care of itself, and its methods of removing toxins and waste products are working quite well.
But this is not to say that all colon cleansers are useless and just a total waste of money. Some are really helpful in relieving constipation and other gastrointestinal discomforts. Others find them an effective weight loss aid. It's just a matter of picking the right product for you, which is very likely if you talk to your health specialist first for valuable recommendations.
Colon cleansers, much like any other supplements, are not regulated by the FDA.
What are the Side Effects of Colon Cleansing?
The most common side effects of colon cleansers include dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and cramps. More serious side effects are mineral imbalance, bowel perforation, infection, and kidney failure. Allergic reaction is also possible.
The risk for adverse effects increases for individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases, tumors in the colon or rectum, recent bowel surgery, heart problems, and kidney disorders.
How to Choose the Best Colon Cleansers?
The best colon cleansers are those that have an all-natural formula and composed of the right ingredients. It must be free of any artificial, potentially-harmful ingredients because your goal with colon cleanse is to rid the body of harmful toxins in the first place. To find the best colon cleanse products for you, look at the list of the best brands and the customer reviews for each.
Most importantly, before starting supplements of any kind, always consult your healthcare expert to determine the right product for you.
The Bottom Line
While there are individuals who found benefit in using colon cleansers, keep in mind that the best way to cleanse the colon safely and effectively is still through consuming enough fiber and lots of water. Physical activity is also important because it improves blood flow throughout the body, making it easier for the colon to function more efficiently.
If you decide to use a colon cleanser, be sure to check with your trusted medical expert first before proceeding - we can't stress enough the importance of this. Make sure that the product you'll use is reputable. Furthermore, be sure to check the ingredients as some of them can do more harm than good to your health.
**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available informations and our estimation of efficacy.
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