How clean is your colon? If you're tempted to find out by getting a colon cleanse, don't bother. You're quite likely to develop complications from the procedure and there's no evidence that flushing out your colon has any health benefits.
That's the conclusion researchers reached after reviewing 20 studies on colonic cleansing. Dr. Ranit Mishori and her team at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Providence Hospital report in the Journal of Family Practice that colonic cleanses-whether with water or via supplements or herbal remedies, don't actually do much-other than potentially cause some uncomfortable, and in some cases dangerous side effects, says TIME.
The liquid preparations used for colon cleansing are classified as food supplements and are not approved as safe or effective by the FDA, the authors explained.
However, the devices, such as irrigation systems, are FDA class III. If these devices are used in ways beyond what is medically accepted, such as in preparation for gastrointestinal procedures, the manufacturer must seek FDA approval.
"During the past decade the FDA has issued numerous warning letters to manufacturers for unapproved use of the devices for colon cleansing," the authors noted.
They advised that clinicians caution patients as follows:
* Colon cleansing is not medically advisable, particularly for patients who have had any gastrointestinal disorder or other health problems.
* Many adverse events have been linked to these procedures including serious infections and heart failure.
* The devices are not FDA approved and if sanitary precautions are inadequate, infections can result.
* Organizations of these practitioners, and the training they receive, are not scientifically regulated, informs MedPage Today.
Although colon cleansing treatments have been around for centuries, the American Medical Association determined in the early 1900s that colon cleansing was invalid -- that there was no evidence to that it actually worked. Despite the AMA's claim, colon cleansing treatments have made a comeback, largely due to manufacturers' claims that the treatments aid weight loss, according to ThirdAge .