According to Colon Health, the average person carries an extra five pounds of waste in the colon. This waste is not merely waiting to be eliminated, but instead has become “stuck” along the walls of the colon. A colon cleanse is often touted as an effective way of eliminating this matter and shedding unwanted pounds. Is it effective? The answer is both “yes” and “no” for a number of reasons.
What is a Colon Cleanse?
Sometimes referred to as colon hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, a colon cleanse involves triggering rapid bowel movements in an effort to eliminate any solid waste that has built up over time. Some colon cleanses are performed by taking either a powder or supplement to stimulate bowel movements, while others involve flushing the colon via the rectum. Flushing the colon can either be done with enemas or through the use of a special colonic machine designed especially for that purpose.
However, not everyone desires a colon cleanse for weight loss. Many people undergo colon cleanses in an effort to detoxify the body, as a buildup in the colon can produce toxins that may subsequently enter the bloodstream. Some report a surge in energy immediately following a colon cleanse, while others who regularly experience constipation claim they notice more frequent bowel movements. Although colon cleanses have been performed in the United States since the 1920s, there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.
Effects on Weight Loss
A colon cleanse is often touted as an effective method of losing weight. A study published in the September 2004 edition of Diseases of the Colon and Rectum claimed that people lose an average of 2.6 pounds after a colon cleanse; some were even able to lose as much as 6.6 pounds. Some proponents of colon cleanses claim that people can expect to eliminate as much as 40 pounds of excess fecal matter; however, those claims are largely unsubstantiated. As such, any weight loss one does experience will probably be very minimal.
Results not Permanent
Any weight loss achieved through a colon cleanse is likely to be short lived. That’s because the body is constantly taking in and digesting food, in which case the colon will continue to accumulate fecal matter. Consuming foods with artificial dyes, preservatives, and colorings only aggravates this issue. As such, the only real way to avoid gaining weight due to a congested colon is to enjoy a healthy diet that includes as many organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as possible.
A gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic named Dr. Michael Picco warns that a colon cleanse may perforate the bowels. There is also a risk of dehydration and infection, especially among those who suffer from kidney problems and heart disease. As such, patients should always consult with their primary care physician before undergoing a colon cleanse to determine whether or not doing so is safe.
A colon cleanse can provide a minimal amount of weight loss, but should not be considered a long-term solution. Instead, modifications to the diet are recommended to ensure regular elimination so that fecal matter does not build up inside the colon in the first place.