HEALTH TALK: Are colon cleansers safe?

Ever so often, one of you will ask me, “Doc, what you think about a washout?” And many of you often wonder whether your “lautat” isn’t caused by either dirty blood or a need to cleanse your intestinal tract.

According to some alternative health advocates, just as routinely as you brush your teeth or wash your clothes, you should be regularly cleaning your colon as well. In fact, some people are making a great deal of money persuading people that their colons are packed with several years’ worth of decaying waste and that a colon cleanser will solve the problem. Colon cleansers come in a variety of forms, including capsules, laxatives, enemas, and “high colonics” which flush large amounts of water through the intestines.

Some say that artificial cleansers are big business. To get an idea just how big, just type “colon cleansers” into any search engine, like Google; you might be surprised.

But it turns out that, when taken to extremes, an obsession with inner purification can be harmful.


Colon cleansing is based on the theory that waste collects in the colon over time and stagnates there, causing toxins to form and spread throughout the body – a phenomenon known as “autointoxication”. The truth is that many 19th century doctors accepted autointoxication as fact. Scientific research as far back as the 1920’s failed to confirm it, but the misconception persists. Other colon cleanser advocates insist that the accumulated stool blocks the colon, preventing the proper elimination of waste.


Experts agree that there is no such thing as autointoxication, and that the human body is actually very good at taking care of itself. Some say it’s just a strange fad. The kidneys and lungs remove toxins and by-products from the blood stream and regular bowel movements remove any waste products from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Some experts say further that high colonics are often touted as a way to cleanse the colon of adherent stool that has been there for years or even decades, but that the problem with this concept is that there is no such thing. The body does a good job of eliminating stool, and there are no ‘pockets’ in the colon that collect stool for years. Gastroenterologists will tell you that when they do colonoscopies (examine the colon with a lighted flexible tube with a camera), a preprocedure purge is sufficient to clean out the stool and leave a brand new looking colon.


Not only aren’t they unnecessary, but colon cleansers may even cause harm. You see, your intestines aren’t just a waste disposal unit, they’re also a place where nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream, to be transported throughout your entire body. Washing out the intestinal track could potentially interrupt the absorption, leaving you with vitamin or mineral deficiencies. In addition, frequent use of some types of laxatives can have a boomerang effect, so that cleaning your colon could leave it less able to do its job the way nature intended.

Another problem with colon cleansers is that they can lead to dehydration. Moreover, high colonics can potentially harm the colon, causing small tears or internal damage.

Besides, colon cleansers have no proven safety record. They are not strictly regulated and tested the way prescription drugs are, and do not have to go through rigorous scrutiny by the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration).


A healthy diet that includes enough fiber and water is nature’s way of cleansing your colon. A diet low in fiber and water, on the other hand, usually results in constipation. You can think of fiber as acting like a toothbrush passing through your colon, so everyday that you meet your recommended daily dose – between 21 and 25 grams per day for adult women and 30 to 38 grams for adult men – you’re really consuming a colon cleanser. Increase your fiber intake slowly by adding fruits, vegetables, beans and high fiber cereal. Keeping your body moving as mush as possible is also important. Physical activity increases blood flow throughout the body, and the better your blood flows, the easier it is for your colon to work efficiently.


They may provide temporary relief if you’re constipated, and yes they will cleanse your colon of its contents, but they can also be dangerous, expensive and inconvenient. The bottom line is: Your colon knows its job; leave it alone and it will take care of itself.

See you next week.

Dr. Victor Emanuel has been an educator of medical professionals in training, and the public, for over 20 years in Dominica. The contents of his articles are based on facts and research conducted, and not of his opinion.

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  1. MATILDA { mattie}
    September 17, 2010


  2. naomi
    September 17, 2010

    Thabks doctor. I always belive that one should not interere unduly with their bodies. I am one who tik that the body knows how to take care of itself,that is why sometimes we have a bad stomach,or get a cold, the body needs simply to get rid of waste. So why harrass your self and try to take Gods work.he master physician.

  3. only
    September 16, 2010

    You shouldn’t need to cleanse the colon frequently if you eat correctly.
    However, that being said, how many people do that and have access to clean, uncontaminated food without additives and preservative, pesticides, etc. If you are temporarily ill, with an internal viral or bacterial infection or even cancer, a colon cleanse using purified water only and not under pressure, can help flush out the disease organisms and get you well faster than not doing it. This is because a big problem during illness is dehydration, which slows down the emptying of the bowel. The purified water can also rehydrate. But you shouldn’t need to do it more than 3 times (except if you are on a cancer detoxification regiment) and you shouldn’t overdo it. If you have diarrhea, your body is already trying to clean out your system.

  4. sweety
    September 16, 2010

    Thats right doc. I notice the only times that i get constipatedis when i take less water and fiber. we really have to go the natural way.

  5. Anonymous
    September 16, 2010

    this was really an eye opener… thanks Doc

  6. September 15, 2010

    My ex Pastor once asked me to go with her to her doctor, because she said she needed someone to accompany her on the way back home. She was 64 years old at that time.

    I asked her why was it that she was unable to return home on her own, from her doctor. She told me that she was going for a colon cleansing or testing, and they were going to give a sedative drug that would relax her body, so she would not feel the pain (she told me that they were going to put some kind of apparatus up through her anus) as they performed that cleansing or test, and it would make her drowsy after the process was completed.

    I asked her what was wrong with her colon, she told me nothing, she was just doing a five-year routine of health check-up. The check would discover if she had anything that was posing a threat of cancer.

    Because that lady was a Pastor, I wondered where was her faith in God? Because the Prophet Isaiah told us about Jesus, 800 years before He came to this world: “By His stripes we are healed”. Isaiah 53 That is means that God is the greatest doctor in our lives, by His essence of Love, much more for if a person is working as His servant like a Pastor should be doing.

    I know that is the truth. My grandmother was 98 years old when she died, not of any illness or incurable disease, it was just time for her to leave this world. She has eight children, the oldest one in his early eighties and last one is 64 years old. They are all healthy and alive.

    I waited for my Pastor for about two hours, for her doctor, or whoever it was, to do that gruesome thing to her, for no reason at all. Two hours later she walked up to me as if she was half dead. And she told me that she was sick from that sedative drug for the rest of the day.

    I am in my late fifties and I have never done any of those things to my body. I just believe that my destiny is in God’s hand, especially now that He is teaching me how to rebuke sickness and all of those other fleshly afflictions from my Life, as He does His work to renew my mind from it state of mortal process and production to the state of immortal process and production.

    What I am saying is that it all starts in our mind, depending on the shape of that mind. And the good shape that mind must be in is the shape that is being sanctified through the essence, Love.

    So instead of going through so much pain and harmful experiments to clean our colon, why don’t we allow God to clean our mind by faith? Then we can overcome sickness, poverty, and all the afflictions that keeps us tied down to our human existence, and to live the Life of abundance that Jesus died, that we might have.

  7. naturelover
    September 15, 2010

    Thanks for the information Doc, we have all the natural, fruits and other high-fibre foods but we have become**sophisticated* annd too busy so the fast foods and processed foods etc, doing harm in all ways,,,,go back to natural foods

  8. Da2debone
    September 15, 2010

    Thanks doc. i never believed in colon cleanser i think when you get a loose bowel thats your body cleaning itself.

  9. Jayne
    September 15, 2010

    Thanks Doc. I needed to hear that cause I’ve spent way tooo much on colon clense and I do believe it does more harm than good.

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