Celebrities and stars may be raving about the benefits of colon cleansing but a gastroenterologist from Charlottesville, Virginia, urges consumers not to buy into the hype.
“When you perform a colon cleanse, its very unlikely you will see a dramatic drop in weight and beyond just that, our colons actually contain healthy bacteria that help our digestive systems,” says Dr. Cynthia Yoshida. “Over-the-counter products, like laxatives, should only be used by patients suffering from GI issues such as constipation, or under direction by a doctor in preparation for medical procedures.”
This advice is backed up by a recent FDA black box warning on prescription phosphate products used to cleanse the bowel before medical procedures such as a colonoscopies after the agency received numerous reports of a rare but serious form of kidney failure. The products, Visicol and OsmoPrep, now have warning labels of the possible risk for the kidney condition known as acute phosphate nephropathy or nephrocalcinosis.
At that time the FDA also raised concerns about common over-the-counter laxatives made by C.B. Fleet Company Inc., such as Fleet Phospho-soda. While the products are indicated for the treatment of constipation, the products have been used at higher doses to clear the colon and may carry the same risks as the prescription medication. As a result of the FDA warning, C.B. Fleet pulled its phosphate products from the shelves and now offer them only by prescription.
Proponents of bowel cleaning argue that the process is healthy and can help you lose weight, but Dr. Yoshida says that colon cleansing can actually strip the color of healthy bacteria. Without that bacteria, other health concerns may arise. Instead, she says, try sticking to a healthy diet and taking a safe, gentle laxative – used as directed – for occasional constipation. The laxatives will help move the bowels contents completely while restoring the live bacteria in the colon.