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"Are colonic procedures safe?"

ZocdocAnswersAre colonic procedures safe?


My friend is trying to talk me into have a colonic done in order to clean out my system. She swears by them but I'm skeptical. Are they safe? Do they actually have any health benefits?


We do not have scientific evidence that this procedure provides great benefits, but it is a health practice that can be dated back to the ancient Egypt and Greece. It is based on the theory that the colon over time can harbor putrid matters and non-specific toxins that may lead to various illnesses. Colonic is also known as colon irrigation or colon hydrotherapy that can take many forms from a simple enema to a colonic irrigation machine designed to pump water in your colon and evacuate out feces. Alternatively, an individual can also accomplish this task by staying on a liquid diet or taking purgatory/laxative preparation, as in a colon prep for colonoscopy procedure. This theory is no longer valid because we know that after a good colon prep the entire colon can be very clean on colonoscopy. The colon cells naturally keep themselves clean by fluid secretion and by proper motility. That said, the procedure can remove a lot of fluid from your system as well as electrolytes, causing you to get dehydrated and feel dizzy. If you have a heart or kidney disorder or on dialysis, it is not a health practice that you should venture lightly because altered electrolytes can have a profound effect on your heart function. If you are on chronic medications that include antibiotics, you should also not do this procedure. Depending on the methods, this form of therapy can potentially cause bowel perforation. Frequent use of colon enemas can also lead to your dependence on it for defecation. I would recommend a consultation with a primary care physician for more information.

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