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Colon Cleansing Not Backed by Science and Can Be Dangerous
      08/03/11 03:45 PM
HeatherAdministrator

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Colon Detox Not Backed by Science
By Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: August 01, 2011

Colon cleansing has no evidence to support its use, and can lead to pain, vomiting, and fatal infections, according to a new report.

"A search of the literature using the terms 'colon cleansing,' 'herbal colon cleanse,' 'colon detoxification,' and 'colon irrigation,' yielded no scientifically robust studies in support of this practice," wrote Ranit Mishori, MD, of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues, in the August Journal of Family Practice.

Colon cleansing has been practiced since antiquity as a means of enhancing health through ridding the body of toxins. These procedures are similar to enemas, except that volumes in excess of 50 liters sometimes are used, and the procedure may be done repeatedly.

The liquids used often contain herbal extracts such as cat's claw, burdock, and milk thistle, or other substances such as coffee, enzymes, and probiotics.

Among the benefits touted for colon cleansing are improvements in circulation, immune function, and alleviation of ailments such as headache and fatigue.

Users can perform the procedure themselves, but many visit hydrotherapists or colon hygienists. These providers may be certified by groups such as the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy, but are not necessarily licensed healthcare providers.

They are required to have little more than a high school diploma and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to Mishori and colleagues.

In their report, Mishori and colleagues outlined three cases of colon cleansing sessions that led to adverse outcomes. They also scanned published literature on colon cleansing and found case reports of air embolism, septicemia, and fatal parasitic infections.

The liquid preparations used for colon cleansing are classified as food supplements and are not approved as safe or effective by the FDA, the authors explained.

However, the devices, such as irrigation systems, are FDA Class III. If these devices are used in ways beyond what is medically accepted, such as in preparation for gastrointestinal procedures, the manufacturer must seek FDA approval.

"During the past decade the FDA has issued numerous warning letters to manufacturers for unapproved use of the devices for colon cleansing," the authors noted.

They advised that clinicians caution patients as follows:

Colon cleansing is not medically advisable, particularly for patients who have had any gastrointestinal disorder or other health problems.
Many adverse events have been linked to these procedures including serious infections and heart failure.
The devices are not FDA approved and if sanitary precautions are inadequate, infections can result.
Organizations of these practitioners, and the training they receive, are not scientifically regulated.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest.


Primary source: Journal of Family Practice
Source reference:
Mishori R, et al "The dangers of colon cleansing" J Family Pract 2011; 60: 454-457.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/AlternativeMedicine/27820


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