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What is the Connection Between Colon Cleansing and Weight Loss?

By Synthia L. Rose
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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In the diet world, a connection has emerged between colon cleansing and weight loss whereby dieters use an array of colon-cleansing products and procedures to shed pounds or kilograms of aged fecal matter and mucus allegedly clogging the colon. Many advocates of colon cleansing claim one can lose between 2 pounds (0.9 Kg) and 8 pounds (3.6 Kg) in cleaning rituals lasting from three to seven days. These colon-cleansing backers estimate that up to 45 pounds (20.4 Kg) of waste and hardened mucous can be present in colons of very unhealthy eaters. Medical experts counter such beliefs, however, suggesting that most colons are not overly clogged and that significant, permanent weight loss isn’t possible with colon cleansing. Furthermore, some doctors claim that the colon can be harmed by excessive cleansing.

Herbal supplements and colon irrigation are among the most popular procedures used to facilitate colon cleansing and weight loss. Colon irrigation, also called colon hydrotherapy, uses tubes inserted into the rectum to flush out the colon with liquids like water or coffee. Beneficial minerals and electrolytes are sometimes added to these colonic flushes which loosen feces enough that bowel movements can allegedly shed pounds or kilograms of built-up waste and debris. Temperature of the water, speed, and pressure can be adjusted during colonics according to preference. Such colonics are typically performed by licensed naturopaths in a spa setting but can be completed at home using enema equipment and a saline solution.

Some people choose to gain the benefits of colon cleansing and weight loss by taking bentonite clay or herbs like psyllium and flax, which are high in fiber and mucilage. Such botanical supplements remove mucus from colon walls and act as natural laxatives; additional natural laxatives like senna might also be used. Raw foods such as fruits and fresh vegetables are typically consumed while taking these natural supplements. Probiotics, or good bacteria, might also be consumed through live culture foods or supplements since one of the risks of colon cleansing and weight loss is that beneficial bacteria in the intestines will be flushed out along with the impacted mucus and fecal waste. Helpful potassium, magnesium, and other minerals can also be removed during cleansing; thus, naturopaths recommend whole food vitamins for many who cleanse.

The excess defecation stimulated by colon cleansing can lead to a loss of electrolytes and water, dehydrating the body. Stomach cramps are possible. Most colon cleansing and weight loss rituals last two to four days. Some extreme participants elect to forgo even vegetables and fruit, opting for a completely liquid diet during the cleanse. A colon is considered completely clean when no more stool can be removed and only a clear liquid can be forced out of the colon.

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Discussion Comments

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 24, 2015

@clintflint - There are definitely medical conditions where it can help to allow your digestive system to have a break and there are definitely conditions where people can have excess matter in their colons.

But the average person generally doesn't, and I really do object to people saying that you need to clean out your colon in order to lose weight. I don't think that most people who do this lose anything except water weight from starving themselves.

By clintflint — On Jan 23, 2015

@croydon - I suspect only extremists are going to be aiming for a colon cleanse that extreme. I've only ever heard it used by people who were just intending to go on a nutrient-rich juice diet for a couple of days, or some other kind of fast with the intention of re-setting the body.

And fasting has plenty of support in scientific circles as well. It might even have been part of the natural way in which humans consumed food once, as hunter-gatherers who weren't always guaranteed to have regular meals.

A colon cleanse should be a chance for your digestive system to have a break and flush out anything that shouldn't be in there. People do sometimes take it too far, but that's true of everything.

By croydon — On Jan 22, 2015

I can't help but wonder what this does to the resident bacterial colonies that reside in a healthy colon. There has been quite a lot of medical evidence recently that supports the idea that nurturing the right kinds of gut flora can be extremely beneficial to your health and can contribute to reducing weight gain.

But I doubt that they are nurtured by a complete cleanse, particularly if the goal is to make it so that only water is being expelled from the colon by the end of it. It seems like the less beneficial bacteria would have a fighting chance to overtake the better ones in conditions like that.

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