Colon Hydrotherapy Under Fire For Being Ineffective, Dangerous
Colon hydrotherapy, an alternative therapy method that has experienced a resurgence of interest, is ineffective and even dangerous, according to a review from Georgetown University researchers. This ancient practice of cleaning out the colon reportedly does not deliver the benefits its advocates claim, despite its popularity.
Medical literature doesn’t support colon cleansing
In the new study, Ranit Mishori, MD, a family medicine physician at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and her colleagues, evaluated 20 studies conducted on colon hydrotherapy. They uncovered little in the way of benefits, but did note many side effects associated with the cleansing products, including bloating, cramping, electrolyte imbalances, nausea, renal failure, and vomiting.
In complementary medicine, colon hydrotherapy, also referred to as colonic irrigation, colon cleansing, colon therapy, and colonic treatment, is used for a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to alcoholism, allergies, arthritis, bloating, colitis, constipation, headache, indigestion, parasite infestation, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin problems.
Colon hydrotherapy is based on an ancient theory of autointoxication, which means the body is said to poison itself, which can lead to various illnesses and diseases. The treatment involves administering warm, filtered water into the rectum to the upper and lower intestines. Sometimes herbal remedies or other ingredients are added to the water.
Although colon hydrotherapy is a very old practice, modern equipment and methods employ multistage water purification and disposal systems which, when used by trained colon therapists, are said to be effective and safe. While advocates of this alternative therapy believe it detoxifies and cleanses the intestinal system and benefits the body overall, clearly not everyone agrees.
In an earlier review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, investigators reviewed the therapeutic claims of six colon hydrotherapy organizations that had a website presence. They found that all of the organizations made direct or indirect therapeutic claims “not based on scientific evidence.” The authors also noted that nearly a dozen other studies had found significant side effects associated with colon hydrotherapy, including nausea, diarrhea, nervous disturbances, cramps and irritation, water intoxication, bowel perforation, and infections.
Colon hydrotherapy has gained more of a following in recent years, and, according to Mishori, the practice is being offered at facilities by individuals who claim to be “colon hygienists” but they do not have significant medical training. Her advice is to “eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get six to eight hours of sleep and see a doctor regularly” rather than turn to colon hydrotherapy for better well-being.