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What Are the Pros and Cons of Colonics?

By Rebecca Harkin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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One of the pros of using colonics is that this procedure cleans the lining of the colon of impacted fecal matter. This can promote healthy bowel movements and can increase the extraction of valuable water, nutrients, and salts from the waste traveling through the colon. Colonics can also help to liberate bad bacteria from the colon. The cons of colon hydrotherapy are that the procedure can be uncomfortable and sometimes a patient can have an adverse reaction to the cleansing liquids. This procedure may also induce dehydration and is not recommended for patients with certain medical conditions.

Colon irrigation forces water, via tubes, into the colon through the rectum. The jet of water etches away the accumulated feces lining the colon wall. One of the benefits often noticed first by a patient after a colonic is a feeling of lightness in the intestinal area. This form of treatment also helps to eliminate or reduce problems with constipation.

The function of the colon is to extract salts, nutrients, and water from feces before it is eliminated by the body. When the colon walls are packed with feces, absorption of these important components is hindered. Another advantage of colon irrigation is that it frees the walls of the colon, improving the extrication of water, nutrients, and salts from the waste.

Feces packed against the walls of the colon may also harbor and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. When the solid waste is removed, the harmful bacteria will also be removed and the colon will be cleansed, making it difficult for bad bacteria to recolonize the large intestine. Beneficial bacteria primarily reside in the small intestine, so a colonic will not rid the body of the good bacteria needed for proper digestion.

There is a long list of medical conditions that are purported to be relieved by colon hydrotherapy. The most common reasons for getting a colonic are to relieve digestive problems and constipation. Other common reasons for using colonics are to treat headaches, hypertension, and arthritis. Colonics are also touted to improve psoriasis and brittle hair.

A few dangers and problems are associated with colonics. Colon hydrotherapy is not regulated, and the methods of treatment can vary widely. In rare cases, a patient may have a reaction to the cleansing herbs added to the flushing water. Other patients may become dehydrated following a colonics treatment or from the laxatives sometimes included in the treatment. If the dehydration is not properly addressed, the patient’s electrolyte balance can be impaired, possibly leading to kidney or heart problems.

Colonic irrigation is also not suggested for patients who have recently had intestinal surgery, hemorrhoids, or rectal tumors. Colon hydrotherapy could make these conditions worse or cause severe infections to develop. Finally, expelling of the liquid waste following a colonic can be painful and uncomfortable.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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