Colon Cleanse Importance And Benefits

Most people imagine that they have a tough colon; after all, think of what it has to deal with every day!

Over time, the colon becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients from our foods, and the entire digestive system can become disrupted by any number of little issues.

A colon cleanse can help restore your digestion and get you back on track to good health.

This article will cover colon cleanses and their benefits.

What is a Colon Cleanse?

A colon cleanse is the process of flushing out toxins from the large intestine. The goal is to remove waste products from your body so that your organs are free of harmful substances and waste. 

Most people don’t know that the colon wasn’t made to have food in it all the time. Animals in the wild go through cycles where they eat and times when they don’t.

Fasting periods allow their guts a rest from having to deal with eating, and the colon needs that rest. Not having food in your stomach for several hours allows the body to flush out toxins and other waste products. This is why fasting is so important. It helps keep the colon healthy.

How to Cleanse the Colon

There are a number of ways to cleanse the colon at home or with a doctor. Natural colon cleanses are ones that can be performed at home, while others should be performed or overseen by a physician. 

The main methods for a colon cleanse are:

  • Water Fast – Going without solid food for one or two days is an effective way to cleanse the colon because the body will expel stool, and without any food consumption, very little new waste will form.
  • Juice and Smoothie Fast – Drinking only juices for a few days also works to cleanse the colon. Fruits and vegetables will contain nutrients and fiber that assist in eliminating waste from the colon.
  • Fiber – Adding more fiber to your diet or through fiber supplements is another option for cleaning the colon. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • ProbioticsProbiotic supplements are helpful in restoring gut flora balance. They can be taken daily to support the immune system and aid in promoting bowel movements and regularity.
  • Herbal Teas – Herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, aloe vera, slippery elm bark, and marshmallow root have been used to detoxify the colon. These herbs work due to a laxative effect on the bowel.
  • LaxativesLaxatives and enemas can help clean out the colon.  There are many products available.  Check with your doctor to see which type may be right for you.
  • Colonic Irrigation – Also known as colon hydrotherapy or high colonic, this procedure is not recommended.  It is a fancy way of describing an enema.

With all the different colon cleanse options, it’s also important to know when it’s time for a colon cleanse. 

How Do You Know if You Need a Colon Cleanse?

A colon cleanse will make you feel better and give you the opportunity to look forward to eating healthier foods and taking care of yourself. But that doesn’t mean you should cleanse your colon anytime you want. 

If your bowels are moving regularly, there is no need for a colon cleanse. Your colon is already functioning well.  

You will need a colon cleanse if you experience the following symptoms:

Can a simple colon cleanse really improve this many symptoms? Yes!

Your colon is the central hub of your overall health, so anything you eat must pass through your colon before it leaves your body. If your digestive process is not working properly or happens too slowly, it affects the entire body. 

What to Expect During a Cleanse

If you’re new to colon cleansing, then you might be surprised at how good you’ll start feeling once you’ve begun cleaning out your bowels.

In mild cases of constipation, regular exercise, increasing fluid intake and a high fiber diet may help get the bowels moving again. 

If you are still struggling after these lifestyle modifications, fiber supplements and gentle laxatives like MiraLax may help get the bowels moving again. Fiber can cause more bloating and gas at first, so increasing fiber slowly can help reduce side effects. 

If you’re really backed up, taking a stimulant laxative like Dulcolax or Senna may help get things moving again, but these are not recommended for regular use.

An enema may be needed if there is a large amount of stool built up in the rectum (fecal impaction). The enema will clear the impacted stool and help with future bowel movements using oral medications alone. 

Once your bowel movements start, you’ll also begin to feel great, sleep better and have more energy. Colon cleansing really works wonders for your health.

Benefits of Colon Cleansing

The most obvious benefit of a colon cleanse is that you’ll feel much better, but what does that actually mean? 

Colon cleanse benefits that will make you feel better include:

  • Weight Loss: Could you lose weight after a colon cleanse? Yes. Many people do lose some weight during their colon cleanse. Most of the weight loss comes from stool and fluid losses, but having a clean and empty colon may also help to make you more physically active because of less abdominal discomfort.
  • Reduction in Hemorrhoid Flares: One of the key benefits of a colon cleanse is that it’s the end of constipation, straining and difficult evacuations. Colon cleansing helps to rejuvenate your bowels and increase healthy bowel movements.  Typically, a regular bowel regimen must be maintained to help avoid a recurrence.
  • Fatigue: One of the most common complaints prior to a colon cleanse is how fatigued people feel. If you’ve been feeling tired lately, then a colon cleanse may help restore the missing vital energy. Once energy levels have improved, exercising gets easier which may also facilitate easier bowel movements!
  • Gas and Bloating: You may not realize how much bloating and gas you have until you don’t have it anymore. A colon cleanse improves digestion by rebalancing gut bacteria. This powerful combination helps to reduce gas and bloating symptoms.  Regular bowel evacuations will help eliminate trapped gas and reduce bloating.

Colon Cleanse Final Thoughts

A colon cleanse is a great place to start on a number of levels: improving your overall health, battling weight gain, struggling with fatigue, hoping to ease indigestion, relieving Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, or relieving constipation, gas, and bloating, 

Colon cleansing gently encourages the body to get rid of waste that can cause a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms, while also helping to tone the colon. A colon cleanse will help the intestines to absorb essential vitamins and minerals more effectively.

Your bowel transit times will also improve, speeding up the elimination process of feces, and replenishing your energy.

Colon Cleanse FAQs

How often should you cleanse your colon?

Your colon should cleanse itself every day to stay healthy. For the majority of people, a healthy number of bowel movements ranges from 3 a week to up to 3 times a day.  If you are evacuating less frequently, stool may be building up inside, leading to abdominal discomfort, bloating, and nausea.  Lifestyle modifications, fiber, probiotics and laxatives can help to cleanse the colon and allow evacuation of waste to occur more frequently.

What happens to your body when you cleanse your colon?

When you cleanse your colon, you remove waste from your system. This includes waste products from bacteria, yeast, parasites, and viruses. Your liver breaks these down into smaller components before they leave your body. Your skin becomes clearer and healthier. Your hair grows longer and thicker. Your eyes become brighter and sharper. You will also boost your energy and improve your immune system.

How do you fully cleanse your colon?

You can take a few steps to help cleanse your colon. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating meat, dairy products, and processed foods. Take probiotics daily. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. And make sure to keep your bowels moving by consuming a lot of fiber rich foods such as prunes, applesauce, and oatmeal.  Drinking a bowel purgative medication, like what is used in preparation for a colonoscopy, can help to completely empty the colon, but within a few hours of eating, stool will begin to form again.

How long does a colon irrigation take?

 A colon irrigation takes about an hour to complete. It involves inserting a tube through the rectum and into the colon. The tube has a small balloon at its end. When the balloon fills with fluid, it expands and pushes out the contents of the colon. Afterward, the tube is removed and the patient rinses their colon using warm saltwater. 

Is a colon cleanse painful?

Some patients may experience mild discomfort during the colonic irrigation procedure. This is due to the insertion of the tube into the anal canal. Some people feel like they need to go to the bathroom during or after the procedure. Others may have minor cramping. In rare cases, patients may even pass stool during the procedure.  With insertion of any type of foreign body into the rectum, there is a risk of causing trauma which can lead to bleeding or perforation (a hole in the bowel which can require surgical repair).

What comes out during a colon cleanse?

During a colon cleanse, you’ll expel stool from the colon. Up to 60 liters (16 gallons) of water will be used to flush out the colon and cleanse your intestines.  In people with congestive heart failure or chronic kidney disease, this volume of water being flushed into the colon can lead to fluid overload or electrolyte problems which can be detrimental to one’s health.

Julie C. Guider MyGoodGut

Medically reviewed by Julie Guider, M.D.

Dr. Julie Guider earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. She completed her general gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy fellowships at University of Texas-Houston. She is a member of several national GI societies including the AGA, ACG, and ASGE as well as state and local medical societies.