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Colonic Irrigation For Weight Loss?

Posted Jan 19 2012 10:39pm

Colonic irrigation may seem like a positive,
"relaxing"and necessary procedure but...

I’m okay with my weight, and with my body. Most days, that is. But what if I opened my email to find a Groupon that lured me with the promise of feeling better, of losing weight, of being cleaner, healthier? And what if I passed on it the first time, simply ignored it, but received it again, when I wasn’t in my best place? And what if I didn’t have the wisdom to know how I was being played with, manipulated, misinformed, for them to make a buck off me?

I ignored the promise of a cleaner colon and all of its wonders.
That was the first time. This time, particularly after inspiration from Carrie’s post at E-D Bites , I needed to post my rebuttal.

Won’t Colonic Irrigation (and laxatives, and diet pills) solve the obesity epidemic?

Here’s what the Groupon promised:

  • Colon hydrotherapy gently purges digestive tract of debris & toxins to ease chronic pain & restore organ function
  • May kick-start weight loss
  • Noninvasive and relaxing treatment
  • Purges body of impacted debris and toxins
  • Can boost organ function and relieve pain


And the facts?

From Medicare:

“Colonic irrigation is a procedure to wash out or lavage material on the walls of the bowel to an unlimited distance without inducing defecation.  This procedure is distinguished from all types of enemas, which are primarily used to induce defecation. There are no conditions for which colonic irrigation is medically indicated and no evidence of therapeutic value.” Given its uselessness, it is not a covered service. Bummer.

From the Cleveland Clinic  

“While the idea of ridding one’s body of built-up toxins from sugar, alcohol, caffeine and meat is appealing, the truth is that the data supporting colonic cleansing and body “detoxification” have not been studied sufficiently in clinical trials.

Carol Burke, MD, Director of the Center for Colon Polyp and Cancer Prevention in Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute, warns of the hazards and lack of evidence to support these therapies. “There is no evidence to support their benefit; there is only evidence of their complications,” adding that complications may include rectal perforations from colonic irrigation and enema therapy, oftentimes requiring surgery.”

“Twenty past studies about colon cleansing published over the last decade were analyzed by researchers, and found little evidence that the procedure offers any benefits. Instead, a number of the studies noted side effects such as cramping, bloating, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance and kidney failure.”

And really, calling the procedure relaxing and noninvasive? Do we need a visual here to remind us of what the process is? (Sorry, no photos this time).

My reaction might seem targeted to colonic irrigation. But really it’s about being taken advantage of—by the media, by those who ought to know better, and by our own vulnerability. Because products promising weight loss, laxatives and colonic irrigation lying about cleansing our weight away, only cause us damage. We so desperately want to believe, to hope that something will fix our ills, will improve our weight, will help us feel better about ourselves.

We’re bombarded everywhere by media messages—as well as comments from friends and strangers, directly and in overheard conversations—about their latest, their best diet ever. Their solution, found at last, if only for this week.

It comes from people you trust—like your chiropractor, whose hands of gold and makes you feel physically better with his adjustments, perhaps. For a significant contribution to his monthly income, he encourages outrageous products such as 3 day cleanses. 

Yup, several of my patients, including those struggling with bulimia have been victim to the transfer of trust—the belief in the provider who has been trustworthy in some arena of care—but who is damaging in others.

Angie believed she had multiple allergies. What she had was the start of an eating disorder that snowballed into severe restrictive eating and reliance on products her chiropractor sold her. In spite of unhealthy behaviors and food avoidance, she was sold a line of products that contributed to her belief that cleansing was the answer. Her health deteriorated, and by the time she presented to me I knew she needed a higher level of care. Seeing her chiropractor ultimately kept her from following up with her doctor, who might have had the wisdom to see the harm she was doing to herself.

It doesn’t help that we are manipulated at every turn about what is normal and realistic, regarding our appearance. I am not saying that the media causes eating disorders—merely that it influences how we see and feel about ourselves. As we age, skin wrinkles, and hair may gray. Trust me, I know. Weight may fluctuate, as does our level of activity and eating. If we compare ourselves to our younger selves, we may yearn to change. If we look to the photos in magazines and online of individuals our age, we are misguided into believing they are real. 

Please view this amazing video, which lets you in on the secret:


Your Challenge

In this post New Year’s period, have you been challenged, triggered by the pull of diets or diet aids? I’d love to see your responses to the crazy messages you’re enduring. How did you twist it to avoid the pull? What did you say to yourself to come to your senses? Please share via the comments on this post!
And if you need help knowing what something isn’t a wise choice, ask in comments as well! Again, check out E-D Bites post for examples.
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