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Also known as colon therapy, colon hydrotherapy, colonic irrigation, or colonic, colon cleansing describes a variety of alternative medical procedures designed to remove toxins from the colon and intestines by removing accumulations of feces, generally using enemas.

The practice of flushing out the colon goes back at least as far as ancient Greece. Renewed interest in the practice began in the early 1900s but it fell out of favor in the mid-1900s, only to enjoy a resurgence in recent years, although I'm not sure that "enjoy" is an appropriate word to use in a description of colonic irrigation.

The theory behind colon cleansing as an alternative medical practice is lodged in an ancient belief known as the theory of autointoxication, which holds that undigested meat and other foods cause a buildup of mucus in the colon. This buildup produces toxins that enter the circulatory system, thus poisoning the body.

Ostensibly, the idea seems reasonable, although conventional medical professionals insist that there is no scientific evidence for the theory. On the contrary, they claim that there are risks, but no benefits, to colon cleansing. Regular colon cleansing is said to interfere with the proper function of the colon, and there is some danger of perforating the colon during the procedure. Some of the herbal preparations used in colon hydrotherapy are associated with cases of aplastic anemia and liver toxicity. People with diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, or who has had prior colon surgery are at particular risk from the procedure, as are those with kidney or heart disease, according to detractors.

However, proponents claim that the benefits of colon cleansing are many, including an improvement in mental outlook, and a better functioning immune system. Weight loss and a reduction in the risk of colon cancer are also cited as reasons in favor of the procedure.

While there are variations in procedure, a common practice is to flush a large amount of water through the colon, as much as sixteen gallons, along with other preparations, such as herbs, tea, or coffee. A salt water flush might be recommended for individuals experiencing constipation or irregularity.

Besides enemas, there are a few other ways to cleanse the colon, according to practitioners of colon cleansing. Various products on the market are cited as being effective for this purpose, although we are not recommending any.

Drinking plenty of water is one way to regulate digestion, and some practitioners recommend lukewarm water. Foods that are high in water content may also be recommended, including watermelons, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery.

High-fiber diets, that include whole, healthy plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds might be recommended. Plants high in cellulose and fibers assist in bulking up the excess matter in the colon, as well as regulating constipation and overactive bowels, while boosting concentrations of helpful bacteria.

Juices and smoothies are popular colon cleansers. While some research points to risks in juice fasts, a moderate intake of juices and juicing can be a healthy choice.

Juice fasts and cleanses include apple juice, lemon juice, and vegetable juices, generally with the pulp and skins removed. However, as stated above, there are risks and juices contain less fiber when the pulp and skin are removed, and fiber is good for the colon.

Similar to fiber, resistant starches are found in potatoes, rice, legumes, green bananas, and grains, and are believed to promote a healthy colon by boosting gut microflora. However, these foods are also high in carbohydrates.

Probiotics, such as yogurt, kimchi, pickles, and other fermented foods, are used to introduce good bacteria into the gut.

Apple cider vinegar is also a probiotic and is often used in colon cleanses. The theory holds that the enzymes and acids in apple cider vinegar suppress bad bacteria, although there haven't been any significant studies on this.

Herbal teas are used to assist digestive health through the colon. Frequently recommended are herbs like psyllium, aloe vera, marshmallow root, and slippery elm, the idea being that their laxative effects may help to reduce constipation. Other herbs, such as ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper, contain antimicrobial phytochemicals and are believed to suppress bad bacteria.

These are just a few of the recommendations found in various colon cleansing regimens, and we make no claims to their efficacy or inefficacy of these, or those that may be found on third-party websites listed here.



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