By Dr. Peter Kadile

I received a call at my office the other day asking if I performed colonics. I don’t perform that procedure but let’s talk about it.

What is a colonic?
Colon cleansing, colon irrigation, high colonics or colonic hydrotherapy is when water is infused into the colon through the rectum to cleanse and flush out the colon. A speculum is inserted into the anus. The speculum is attached to a long hose that is connected to a colon hydrotherapy unit. Warm water is then released into the colon which then causes the muscles of the colon to contract and push out feces through the hose. Sometimes the colon therapist may lightly massage the patient’s abdomen during the procedure. The patient may feel some discomfort during the therapy session.

What are the side effects?
Colon cleansing can cause side effects. Cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting are not uncommon. There is an increased risk for dehydration and infection along with the possibility of causing changes in your electrolytes (potassium, calcium, sodium, etc…) which could be dangerous and cause renal failure. Another very serious complication to the procedure is perforation of the colon (a surgical emergency).

What are the benefits?
Proponents of colonics believe that the hardened buildup of fecal matter in the large intestine may interfere with the absorption of water and nutrients. This causes an imbalance in the colon and allows harmful bacteria and yeast to grow which in turn causes toxins from the colon to be absorbed into the blood stream. It is believed that these toxins can cause health problems such as arthritis, allergies, fatigue, weight gain and even asthma. Advocates of colon cleansing believe that it improves health by removing these toxins, promoting healthy bacterial growth and enhancing the immune system.

Does it really work?
Medical literature has shown little evidence in supporting the benefits of colonic therapy. Studies do note the common occurrence of the side effects of cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting and electrolyte imbalances.

Colon cleansing is an invasive procedure that I believe one doesn’t really need for detoxification. Your digestive system and bowels naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria. Proper diet and nutrition along with a healthy lifestyle will produce a healthy gut.