Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Select An Article

Natural Colon Cleansing: Is It Necessary?

Font Size

Are there risks associated with natural colon cleansing?

Remember that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean safe. The government doesn't regulate natural colon cleansing products, so their potency, safety, and purity can't be guaranteed. And, each state has its own rules about whether or not practitioners must be professionally licensed.

If you do decide to see a colon-cleansing therapist, choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who follows that organization's standards. It's always a good idea to talk with your primary health provider before starting a new practice such as colon cleansing.

Although the risk becomes greater the more often you have a colon cleanse, a review of similar procedures, such as enemas and sigmoidoscopies, shows the risk of severe effects is low when colon irrigations are performed by trained personnel using low pressures with the right equipment. In Britain, where practitioners carry out 5,600 colon irrigations each month, no serious side effects have been reported.

However, there are some potential side effects:

Be aware, if the therapist adds a substance to the water during colon irrigation, you run the risk of an allergic reaction. Do not use laxatives or colon irrigations long term. They can irritate or upset the balance of your colon's good bacteria and interfere with normal bowel function.

Avoid colon irrigations, if you have:

Regarding children, there may be an increase risk of mineral imbalances, therefore use caution with children. Follow the guidelines of the IACHC (International Association of Colon Hydrotherapists and your health care provider.

What else can you do to enhance colon health?

What you eat -- not what you flush through your colon -- may have the greatest impact on colon health, lowering your risk of colon cancer and enhancing your overall health.

Increasing both soluble and insoluble fiber can help with a wide range of gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancer. The typical American consumes 10 grams to 15 grams a day, but you need closer to 20 grams to 35 grams. If there are no gluten issues, add sources of both insoluble fiber, such as cereal and whole grains, and soluble fiber, such as bran, fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal.

Also, drink plenty of fluids, but drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid tobacco and limit red meat. And, of course, get screened for colon cancer beginning at age 50, or earlier if your doctor advises.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 09, 2015
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family