Colon Care

Colon cleansing flushes out toxins from our bodies. But, it is best performed under the supervision of a therapist.

EatingMore and more people are opting for colon cleansing, all over the world. Colon cleansing, however, isn’t for everyone. Well, if you have not heard of it before, it may seem a bit strange.

Colon cleansing is done either by using enema [injection of a liquid through the anus to stimulate evacuation; this is also sometimes used for diagnostic purposes] to flush waste and toxins out of the colon, or consuming herbs, or herbal recipes, which help the body cleanse the colon, naturally. These herbs could be either laxatives or purgatives.

Detoxification, colon irrigation, colon hydrotherapy, herbal colon cleanser, colon cleansing, colonics, colonic lavage, clysters, enema, coloema, and basti are terms applied to mean similar cleansing of the body.

Colon cleansers provide relief from toxins that fill our bodies. Some experts suggest that it is a panacea for many ailments, while others say that colon cleaners are nonsense and a complete waste of time. Critics also feel that colon cleansers are harmful to the body as the colon itself was designed to handle a variety of bacteria and that it works quite naturally.

People who promote colon cleansing suggest that colon cleaners are good for a host of conditions: constipation, irritable bowel syndrome [IBS], bloating, malabsorption syndrome, acid reflux, digestive and gastro-intestinal disorders, skin, hair problems, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, acne, bad breath, chronic fatigue syndrome [CFS], insomnia, high blood pressure, and prostate conditions. They also believe that cleansing promotes general good health of the sense organs, and much more.

Proponents of colon cleansing also claim that most of the digestive problems are caused by toxic build-up in the body. It is, therefore, essential, they say, to flush the body of all toxic chemicals.

Chyme it up

All parts of the colon, or large intestine [approximately 1.5 meter in length], are located after the small intestine in the digestive tract The large intestine is mainly responsible for storing waste, reclaiming water, maintaining water balance, and absorbing some vitamins, such as vitamin K.

By the time the chyme [digestive juice] reaches this tube, almost all nutrients and 90 per cent of the water are absorbed by the body. At this point, some electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and chloride are left; this also includes indigestible carbohydrates [dietary fibre]. As the chyme moves through the large intestine, most of the residual water is removed. The chyme gets mixed with mucous and bacteria known as gut flora, and becomes faeces.

The bacteria break down some of the fibre for their own nourishment and create waste products, which, in turn, are used by the cell lining of the colon for nourishment. This is a good example of a symbiotic relationship; it provides about 100 calories a day to the body.

The large intestine produces no digestive enzymes. Chemical digestion is usually completed in the small intestine before the chyme reaches the large intestine.

A healthy colon maintains balance between assimilation and elimination. Like all systems, the elimination system is less than 100 per cent efficient for several reasons.

Cleanse the colon

Our lifestyle today serves in maintaining a colon that is unclean; a “soil” for disease. A diet rich in fat, sugar, salt, processed food, and drinking inadequate water, all contribute to the process. Preservatives, pesticides, fertilisers, chemicals in food and water that we consume, polluted air, cosmetics, genetically-modified crops and animals, antibiotics, other drugs, artificial sweeteners, aerated drinks, junk-food, caffeine, sugar, white flour, aspartame, microwave-cooked food, hydrogenated fats and deep fried foods, lead to a great deal of unwanted matter decaying in the colon. A sedentary lifestyle, numerous environmental changes, and leaning towards non-vegetarian diet add to the problem, no less.

What is colon cleansing?

There is a general agreement among therapists that enema using purified water can be used to treat impacted bowel. Colon cleansing involves a speculum [a medical tool for investigating body cavities] being passed into the rectum thorough which water, at body-temperature, is passed. Over a gallon of water may be used in the process. The used water and waste, which are eliminated, are passed back down the tube and viewed by the therapist.

The therapist will often massage the patient’s abdomen to help dislodge waste. The treatment may be uncomfortable, but it is not painful.

Water enemas. Water is used for the procedure. Here, only the lower part of the colon gets cleaned; not the entire organ.

Clay enemas. Here bentonite clay mixed with water is used.

Coffee enema. In this type of enema, real coffee liquid is used to perform the procedure. The active ingredients in coffee help to hasten the process of waste elimination and keep the colon free from blockages.

It is claimed that the most effective method for colon cleansing is the use of oxygen-based cleansers.

These are usually taken orally, in capsule form. They have activated oxygen to naturally remove impacted faecal matter. They’re extremely helpful in relieving constipation. They can also be used long-term to maintain and rejuvenate the colon.

Herbs. Herbs have been used in colon cleansing recipes for many centuries. Their healing powers are well-known. The reason why herbs are used is for their effective liver cleansing and cathartic properties. Herbs such as aloe leaf, ginger, cayenne pepper, and senna, help produce bowel movements.

Some colon cleansing methods advocate fasting of different types. Either fruit, or vegetable juices, or just water, is advised.

Resting your digestive system helps tone up its activity. This is usually advised every month.

When done systematically and sensibly, it has many health benefits and no side-effects.

Moderation is the watchword. One needs to abstain from fast-food, potato chips, cookies, cakes, noodles, caffeinated beverages like coffee, or black tea. Smoking, alcohol, soft drinks are best avoided.

The most common home ingredients in colon cleanse recipes are curacao, aloe leaf, senna, cascara sagrada, barberry root bark, ginger rhizome, garlic bulb, turkey rhubarb, cayenne pepper, fennel and ginger. These have different, but important, properties that help effectively cleanse the colon.

Fibre is very important in all colon-cleansing recipes. Fibre helps to move out waste and produces timely bowel movements. Fibre is the indigestible part of food that helps to move everything through your digestive system. This valuable ingredient is found naturally in fruits and vegetables and synthetically in fibre powders. Fruit juice does not contain fibre unless it is juiced fresh and includes the pulp of the fruit.

Bentonite clay is used along with apple juice and fibre powder in some home recipes.

Flaxseed, acidophilus, and Green Magic, are other ingredients used in many handy recipes.

Magnesium oxide, a powder, is also recommended to be taken mixed with water and a little citrus juice.


Colon irrigation, or cleansing, has no direct side-effects. However, the use of unsterilised instruments, lack of hygiene, and knowledge can cause more harm than good.

Cleansing without supervision by a qualified therapist should not be encouraged, as it may have deleterious effects on your health. Some experts say that colonic hydrotherapy, or colonic irrigation, can be dangerous, when not administered properly.

Frequent colon treatments may cause you to absorb too much water. This may lead to electrolyte imbalance in the blood, nausea, vomiting, fluid in the lungs, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, or coma. Contaminated equipment can cause infection, or bowel perforation.

Colon cleansing at home is not advisable unless you have a qualified therapist conducting it.

It is also advisable not to use senna regularly, as it is habit-forming and can have potential harmful effects.

Pregnant women, babies, the infirm, and the aged, should avoid the use of senna.

Shantala Priyadarshini
Shantala Priyadarshini, MS [Ayurveda], is an academician-researcher. Her areas of special interest are: chronic degenerative eye conditions, compromised states of immunity, cancer and auto-immune disorders. She lives in Mysore.


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