Dr. Randy Martin: The concept of colon cleansing is very trendy right now and we hear about many celebrities endorsing this procedure for health and weight loss. But is it really safe and good for your health? I met with Piedmont Hospital gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Galambos to learn more about these procedures.
What is a colon cleanse?
Michael Galambos, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Piedmont Hospital, explains that our colon eliminates waste – indigestible food products – from our bodies.
“The concept of colonic cleansing encompasses a variety of alternative medicine practices to flush the colon and digestive tract,” he says. “The idea is that there are a lot of non-specific complaints that people have, such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Some people seek a simple form of weight loss and the theory is that if they clean their colon, it will be beneficial to their health and goals.”
“Colonic hydrotherapy involves placing a tube in the rectum and injecting water, often containing herbs and other additives, to flush feces from the colon,” says Dr. Galambos.
While many people consider colon cleanses to be medical solutions, Dr. Galambos stresses that this is not the case.
“The additives in these solutions are considered nutritional supplements,” he says. “Hence, they are not monitored or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no scientific supervision of these procedures.”
In fact, training, equipment and sanitation protocol is not standardized, he adds.
Potentially deadly consequences
There can be severe complications from undergoing these procedures, says Dr. Galambos. Colonic perforations can occur if the devices are inappropriately placed in the rectum or if the patient has certain colonic diseases. The pressure from flushing this much fluid from the system can lead to a perforation.
“These are immediate, life-threatening complications,” he stresses.
If you are considering undergoing a colon cleanse, keep Dr. Galambos’ advice in mind: Our bodies already have the natural abilities to flush out waste and toxins from our systems.
“The bacterial floor in the intestines, specifically the colon, is an important part of our system. It helps our immunology and ability to break down waste products.”
Dr. Randy Martin: While it’s common to read about celebrities undergoing these procedures, there is currently no FDA oversight of colonic cleansing. Lack of technician training and equipment sanitation protocol can have serious consequences for your health. If you are concerned about your weight or your health, see your doctor.