What is the colon?
The colon is one of the most important factors in regard to your digestive health and wellness. This important organ is part of the large intestine or the large bowel. It is an integral part of the digestive system, also known as the digestive tract.
The colon is the final section of the digestive system. Its function is to reabsorb fluids and process waste products from the body and prepare for its removal or elimination.
What is a colon cleanse?
A colon cleanse is a popular remedy that people swear by for removing toxins from the colon. Some claim that by performing a colon cleanse, you are detoxing the body, and can potentially remove significant amounts of fecal matter and mucus that are trapped in the colon – thus serving as an aid to weight loss. Research proving the effectiveness of cleanses is rare, and often low quality.
But, there are still certain aspects of colon cleansing that may be beneficial. A cleanse may help issues such as irregular bowel movements, constipation, and some evidence even claims it can reduce the risk of colon cancer, and remove toxins, and other parasites (although these are all far from proven). Before we discuss ways to perform an enema free cleanse, we will look at some of the potential risks and side effects of colon cleansing activities you can perform at home.
What do you need to know before performing a natural colon cleanse?
There are many colon cleansing products that are available over the counter. Although these products claim they are safe and natural, this is not always the case.
Performing colon cleanses too frequently can also be a risk to your overall health, and we always recommend seeking medical advice from a medical professional before trying any of the cleansing methods or products we discuss, or that are on the market.
Some risk of frequent colon cleanses include changes in the natural bacteria of the colon, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, tearing of the colon, infections, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and more. This can be especially dangerous in the presence of other underlying medical conditions, especially of the heart and kidneys.
Some colon cleansing products can be taken orally, while others such as enemas and colonic irrigations are better left to be performed by a professional. If you have high blood pressure and must keep your sodium intake low, avoid saltwater flushes and other methods that include salt.
If any of the above-mentioned symptoms do occur, stop your cleanse and see your medical doctor. These symptoms have the risk of learning to heart failure and serious damage to your digestive health. An enema or colon cleanse used occasionally poses little risk for a healthy individual. But again, overuse can quickly lead to chronic constipation or even serious bowel injury.
Also, talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet for colon health. This includes eating significantly more fiber, resistant starches, juices, and smoothies.
Make sure to also be careful when using herbal teas for a colon cleanse. As some herbs can impede or affect certain medications, and some herbs can serve as a laxative which can also be harmful if overused. Overuse of laxatives reduces the body’s ability to move stool and can also result in chronic constipation.
If you have a chronic illness, talk to your doctor before doing a natural colon cleanse at home. Colon cleanses are not something everyone should consider and the side effects should be kept in mind!
11 Natural Colon Cleansing methods you can do at home
In general, drinking plenty of water, and staying hydrated is great for your body, but it is also a great way to regulate your digestion. People who use water flushes to cleanse the colon recommend drinking 6-8 lukewarm glasses of water per day.
Pair drinking plenty of water with eating food high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables like watermelons, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery.
A saltwater flush is recommended for people who are experiencing constipation and irregularity.
Before you eat in the morning, mix 2 teaspoons of Sea salt or Himalayan salt in lukewarm water.
Drink the water quickly and on an empty stomach. In a few minutes, you’ll probably feel the urge to use the restroom.
Do this in the morning and in the evening, and make sure to stay home or near the bathroom for a while after the cleanse. You may need to use the bathroom multiple times.
Fiber is often overlooked in the standard American diet. This essential macronutrient is found in whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and more.
Plants contain cellulose and fibers that help “bulk” up the excess matter in the colon. This helps regulate constipation and provides the gut with critical health postbiotic bacteria. This will 100% support regular bowel movements.
Juices and Smoothies
Juices are probably the most common colon cleanser out there. Fruit and vegetable juice fasts and cleanses are very common and there are tons of different options to choose from. That being said, keep in mind that there is not enough research on these for the colon, however, some research does point out potential risks.
Moderate intake of juices and juicing can be good for you (and your immune system). Juice blends contain some fiber and nutrients that benefit digestion. They also hold water to help hydrate and keep up regularity.
A 2015 study found that vitamin C can help cleanse the colon. Vitamin C is found in lots of fruits and vegetables added to juice blends. Vitamin C can also help keep your immune system strong and ready to defend your body. Common juices for juice fasts and cleanses include – apple juice, lemon juice, and vegetable juices.
Resistant starches are very similar to fiber. They’re also found in plant foods like potatoes, rice, legumes, green bananas, and grains. Including these in a colon friendly diet, like fiber, can be great for natural colon cleansing.
There is a downside as resistant starches are found in carbohydrates. So if you are on a low carb diet, maybe consider another option.
Consider increasing your intake of natural probiotics or adding a probiotic supplement to your diet. Foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods are great natural food sources for probiotics, but adding a probiotic supplement may be a better option for many.
You can see our top recommended probiotic here. Probiotics introduce good bacteria to the gut with the help of fiber and resistant starches (prebiotics). This helps promote the body’s inflammatory response and promotes regularity — two elements of digestive health related to the colon.
Apple cider vinegar is another popular probiotic that is also a popular colon cleanse.
A high-quality total gut health supplement, with butyrate, is a great option for those who are looking to get the most benefits with the least amount of effort or changes to their diet.
Butyrate is one of the principal energy sources for colonic epithelial cells and plays an important role in maintaining the stability of the gut microbiome. Check out our buying guide of the top total gut health supplements – our top choice contains CoreBiome® the leading butyric acid supplement. This is the best option for those who just want 1 supplement to take every day, and not significantly change the food they eat.
Herbal Teas may assist digestive health and help to improve colon health.
Laxative herbs like psyllium, aloe vera, marshmallow root, and slippery elm may help with constipation. But, be cautious and make sure to talk to your doctor and take their medical advice closely before using these herbs. Overuse of laxatives or herbal laxatives can cause serious harm to the body.
Other herbs like ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper contain antimicrobial phytochemicals. These are thought to suppress bad bacteria. For this reason, they’re included in lots of cleanses, but more studies are needed to know if these hold any real benefits for your health.
Try a cup of one of these herbal teas, and have at most 3 cups a day. Only drink one cup of tea per day if it is a laxative tea.
Natural colon cleansing methods may actually serve to help improve digestive health. But, whether they actually “cleanse” the colon is still up for debate. More medical peer-reviewed research is still needed.
These are safe when not overdone, but do not conduct any sort of colon cleanse without first seeking medical advice from your doctor. Although these can improve your overall health, there are other aspects that need to be considered before starting a cleanse.
To stay up-to-date on all things health & wellness, make sure to check out the other great articles on Smarter Choices and leave a comment below! Or check out this article on apple cider vinegar and set the fact from fiction.