Colon Cleanse – Is It Really Beneficial? | How To Perform A Colon Cleanse Safely?

Colon Cleanse – Is It Really Beneficial? | How To Perform A Colon Cleanse Safely?

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Colon cleanse - Dr. Axe

The colon cleanse has been used to improve the body’s natural detoxification processes, restore digestive health and improve someone’s overall quality of life throughout history. In ancient Egypt, the practice of using water to cleanse the colon was begun as early as 1500 B.C.

What’s the purpose of cleansing your colon? To flush out built-up waste stored by rehydrating old stool that’s become impacted. Most colon cleanses use water to infiltrate hardened stool and loosen it up so it can be passed more easily.

The ultimate goal of a colon cleanse is to help the digestive organs do their job in the best way possible, by managing things that get in the way and interfere with normal bowel functions. Some people can benefit from removing waste,bacteria and toxic material from their bodies, even though colon cleanse isn’t necessarily needed by every person.

How do you know if you can benefit from a colon cleanse? You should keep reading.

Why Do a Colon Cleanse?

The colon is home to billions of microflora (bacteria) that actually make up approximately 70 percent of the dry weight of feces. Besides forming stool, the various beneficial bacterial organisms living within the colon and digestive tract are important for proper nutrient absorption, maintaining pH balance, controlling hunger and counteracting potentially dangerous bacteria. This is why a well-functioning colon is so important for overall well-being.

Poor gut health, allergies, consumption of pesticide chemicals, and inflammation within the digestive system are some of the reasons why people struggle with having a regular, complete bowel movement.

Irritable bowel syndrome is estimated to affect about 15 percent to 20 percent of the adult population worldwide, while chronic constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the world, affecting about 42 million people in the U.S. alone. (1) These problems are especially common among people with poor diets, women during pregnancy, older adults, people recovering from surgery and those taking medications.

If you’re not having at least one bowel movement every day, this makes you a good candidate for a colon cleanse. It’s well-known that a variety of health problems stem from poor digestive health — for example, stomach pains, abdominal cramps, chronic fatigue, constipation, low energy, headaches and allergic reactions can all be traced back partially to problems with waste elimination.

An impacted bowel can easily cause sluggishness, irritation, irritability, low energy, “brain fog” and changes in someone’s appetite. That’s because unreleased food and waste particles can cause mucus and bacteria to ferment and form in the colon, which might result in “toxins” being released back into the bloodstream when they’re circulated. Failing to have regular bowel movements also poses the risk for problems absorbing nutrients properly, which can lead to low energy and other complications.

How Colon Cleanses Work

The colon is the longest part of the large intestine, which is attached to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The role of the colon is to eliminate stool from the body that’s made up of a combination of bacteria, water, unused nutrients, unneeded electrolytes and digested food. (2)

There are many different methods for performing a colon cleanse, which sometimes go under the names colonic, colonic irrigation, colon therapy or colonic hydrotherapy. You can also effectively flush the colon doing something like a juice fast, salt water flush or performing an enema. Colon cleanses are split into two main categories: one type requires that a professional perform the cleanse, while the other involves using a solution or supplement at home.

One of the most common reasons someone would have a colonic done by a professional is because he or she is preparing for surgery or a medical procedure (such as colonoscopy) that requires the colon to be completely clear from accumulated waste. On the other hand, cleansing is commonly done at home using an enema, laxatives or herbal supplements (like senna) to relieve constipation, bloating and other digestive symptoms.

Many colon cleanses work by inserting a tube into the rectum followed by large amounts of water, which makes its way through the colon. The water carries out any matter that might be dry and lodged in place. The exact amount of water or other type of liquid that’s used depends on the specific type of colon-cleansing method. Colonics, for example, can use up to 16 gallons (about 60 liters) of water at one time!

What Are the Benefits of a Colon Cleanse?

While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, considering colon cleanses have been done since Ancient Greek times, according to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, there haven’t been many well-controlled studies done in humans to prove the benefits of a cleanse. (3) That being said, millions of people over the years have found relief from doing colon cleanses, and when done safely and correctly, they shouldn’t pose many risks. For people who haven’t found lasting relief from things like laxatives or prescriptions, a colon cleanse can finally help bring about regular bowel movements and decrease symptoms.

Studies show that bowel movements are important for removing bacteria, heavy metal detox or eliminating excess fatty acids from the body. A colon cleanse can also impact the nervous system positively, which is why it might help symptoms like anxiety and fatigue.

That’s right — your poop can affect your mood! That’s because nerves in the bowel communicate to the brain and affect chemical signals sent via the entire central nervous system throughout the body. (4) A well-functioning colon therefore is important for hormonal balance, appetite control, sleep and mental processing.

Certain enemas might also be able to help the body absorb nutrients better. When doing a colon cleanse using coffee, for example, antioxidants and caffeine travel via the hemorrhoidal vein to the liver. Together, they can help open up blood vessels, improve circulation, relax smooth muscles that control bowel movements, and increase production of bile that’s needed for proper digestion and excretion. (5)

Colon - Dr.Axe


How Different Colon Cleanses Compare

Depending on the type of colonics you try, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. Some people react more quickly than others, but keep in mind that colon cleanse might become more effective and easier if you do them more often. You might find colon cleansing more beneficial as you learn how to do them properly with practice, as it might seem difficult to insert much liquid and hold it in at first.

To understand the different options you have in regard to various colon cleanses, it helps to have some background of how different types work and affect your digestive system. First off, keep in mind that water isn’t the only substance used during colon cleansing. Various saline formulas, herbs or acidic solutions are also used to flush waste.

The basics of popular colon cleanse techniques are listed here.


  • Colonics have been performed for over 100 years and are done by hygienists or colon hydrotherapists. These treatments are sometimes called “colon irrigation” and are normally done at a treatment center outside the home. (6)
  • Colonics use a lot of water to flush their colon. If you performed 12 enemas, you would use about the same amount of water as they do.
  • Colon cleansing is thought to be one of the most thorough and productive because they target the entire colon. It takes about one to two hours for each session to be performed by a professional outside the home. Each session can cost $50 or more, so it can become costly.
  • The colonics that use gravity and pressurized machines are available. A gravity colonic uses water that enters the colon by force of gravity as opposed to a machine, which is the most basic. The gravity colonics are done by controlling the in and out flow of water into the rectum and massaging the abdomen to help break up stool and encourage the muscles to relax and release.
  • During a colonic you lay flat on a table and the professional inserts a lubricated, small speculum into your colon, which is attached to two tubes that control the release of water in and out. Often you will be left alone, given the option to help control the release of the liquid yourself. You might also be able to view what’s coming out if you’d like to. After the colonic is over, you can use the bathroom until you’re comfortable.
  • Pressurized colonics are different from gravity controlled ones in that the flow is controlled by a machine, which makes them a bit less gentle.

Colonics vs. Enemas

  • Enemas can be performed at home in private compared to colonics, which are done at a clinic. This makes enemas an attractive option for people who are not very fond of visiting a specialist for this matter. Kits can be purchased at any drug store.
  • Enemas help flush out accumulated waste by cleansing the colon with liquid. Compared to colonics, they are usually milder and target a specific part of the colon, the left side.
  • It’s easiest and most common to perform an enema with water, but you can also do one using a saline solution, apple cider vinegarhydrogen peroxide or even coffee, believe it or not.
  • If you want to perform an enema, you need to insert the pointed tip into your own colon, control the release of liquid, and then lay down and wait for the urge to use the bathroom, which will happen several times over the course of one to two hours.


  • Hydrotherapy is the term for “the use of water to treat a disease or to maintain health.” The idea behind hydrotherapy is that water itself has healing abilities, and when combined with other substances like coffee or salt, it also supplies essential nutrients like various antioxidants or trace minerals.
  • The use of water in hydrotherapy to cleanse the colon is basically the same as an enema or colonic. The water helps expel waste, can relieve constipation, improve energy levels, treat dehydration

Are Colon Cleanses Safe?

In the U.K., where colon irrigations are carried out over 5,600 times a month, no serious side effects have been reported.

If you’re pregnant, have active hemorrhoids, suffer from kidney disease or are dehydrated, it’s possible for colon cleansing to cause side effects like weakness or dizziness, cramping, bloated stomach, nausea, and vomiting. (7) When a cleanse is done too often, it can lead to an electrolyte imbalance or make the rectum susceptible to tears and bleeding. It’s also crucial to use sanitary equipment in order to reduce the risk for bacteria transfer and a possible infection.

To start, I recommend not performing a colon cleanse or enema more than once weekly. Check with a doctor if you plan to do one more often, especially if you’re trying to treat a specific condition or taking medications. Always get your doctor’s opinion if you have a form of IBS such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis or ulcerative colitis.

It’s also a good idea to take a probiotic supplement after a colon cleanse to help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. Additionally, make sure to drink plenty of water and consume foods that supply electrolytes, like vegetables and fruit. This helps prevent kidney, liver or heart problems, which can develop when you fall short in water, salt or electrolytes like magnesium or potassium, for example.

When it comes to using laxatives or herbs for cleansing colon, some are safer than others. I recommend trying natural laxatives such as herbal supplements like aloe vera, collagen protein, magnesium, psyllium husk and triphala. These tend to be gentler than over-the-counter laxatives, nourish the digestive tract and help produce regular bowel movements. Always monitor your reactions and check for signs of dehydration, like muscle weakness, dizziness or excessive thirst, even when using natural supplements.

How to Do a Colon Cleanse the Right Way

First and foremost, bear in mind that the single best way to detox and cleanse the colon is by removing harmful substances in your diet and eating nutrient-dense, real foods. Packaged foods, fast foods, processed snacks and artificial ingredients (high fructose syrups, hydrogenated oils, dangerous food dyes, fake seasonings, MSG or preservatives) all make it harder for the digestive system to work properly and raise inflammation in the colon. The kinds of foods you want to eat for optimal colon health include:

  • fermented foods that contain probiotics (yogurt, cultured veggies like kimchi or sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha)
  • high-fiber foods like seeds, leafy greens and other fresh veggies
  • fresh fruit (especially berries, or apples and pears, which contain pectin
  • bone broth
  • healthy fats like coconut or extra virgin olive oil, plus avocados (very high in electrolytes and fiber)
  • It is easy to digest veggie-based soups, smoothies and salads.


How to perform a colon cleanse - Dr. Axe


If you have a colonic done.

A qualified professional who is licensed and trained should always be in charge of colonics. It is important to follow instructions and follow directions in order to make sure all equipment is sanitary. People with bad hemorrhoids are not usually recommended for colonics, even if they are pregnant.

When you get a colonic, what should you expect? This type of colon cleanse should not cause pain or be too uncomfortable because the practitioners will likely use a lubricant to help insert the device into the rectum. You will probably feel a lot of pressure during the process and will need a lot of time to get back to normal.

If using an enema:

To perform an enema (whether it’s a coffee enema, one with apple cider vinegar or another formula) you need to first purchase a kit, which comes with an insert of some kind and a bag or bucket to hold the liquid. The part that you insert into your rectum is attached to a clamp that controls the release of whichever kind of liquid you use from the bag or bucket. If you’re willing to spend more money, you’ll get a better quality product that has a clasp, which is more capable of stopping and controlling the release of the liquid.

If you plan to perform enemas occasionally, you can purchase a reuse kit instead of a one-time bottle. Buying an enema kit that includes a bucket is easier to use if you hang it from a towel rack in your bathroom, since a bag requires that you hang it from somewhere elevated. Many people find that buckets are easier to clean than bags, although kits with buckets can cost a bit more, depending on the kind.

A bag is a good option if you plan to throw it away after performing the enema or if you are traveling, since it is cheap and can be reuse.

This step-by-step guide will show you how to perform a homemade enema at home.

  1. Prepare your liquid, whether it’s coffee, a premade solution or filtered water. Filtered water is highly recommended by most experts and might offer fewer risks than tap water
  2. You can lie down for about 15 minutes if you choose a location that is comfortable. The bathroom is close to the toilet, so it is a popular choice. If you need to clean up, keep extra towels and cleaning products on hand.
  3. Put the bucket or bag above you and the ground so it has the force of gravity to push out the liquid.
  4. Locate the lever on the tube and nozzle that helps you stop and start the flow of the enema. Use a lubricant such as coconut oil
  5. Slowly releasing the liquid into your rectum through the nozzle is accomplished by using the valve that helps you start the flow of the liquid. Hold it in until you are ready to use the bathroom, and you will be most comfortable for about 15 minutes.

Colon Cleanse Takeaways

  • The ultimate goal of a colon cleanse is to help the digestive organs do their job in the best way possible, by managing things that get in the way and interfere with normal bowel functions.
  • If you don’t have at least one bowel movement every day, then you are a good candidate for a colon cleanse. Problems with waste elimination can lead to a variety of health problems, such as stomach pains, abdominal pains, fatigue, constipation, low energy, headaches, and allergic reactions.
  • There are many different ways to cleanse the colon, which can be performed under the names colonic, colonic irrigation, colon therapy, or colonic hydrotherapy. You can perform an enema, do a juice fast, or flush the colon with salt water. One type requires a professional to perform the cleanse, while the other requires a solution or supplement to be used at home.
  • Since they target the entire colon, colonics are thought to be one of the most productive colon cleanse.
  • Enemas help flush out accumulated waste by cleansing the colon with liquid. Compared to colonics, they are usually milder and target a specific part of the colon, the left side.
  • Water has healing abilities and when combined with other substances like coffee or salt, it also provides essential vitamins and minerals like trace minerals.

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