Colon cleanse supplements: Are they helpful and safe as a weight loss tool?

Published:June 2nd, 2012


Obesity these days has become a worldwide epidemic. As a result, more and more people are looking for ways to trim down their bodies and shed those extra pounds, if possible, in the most convenient, fast, and inexpensive ways. Colon cleansing (a.k.a. colonic or colonic irrigation) is one such method that has been increasingly gaining popularity when it comes to losing weight. This technique involves cleansing products or supplements that are commonly made from natural, herbal ingredients and are meant to stimulate emptying of the bowels and also aid in detoxification.

There are numerous medical reasons to explain obesity and excessive weight gain, and one of them points to a poorly functioning digestive system as a major contributor. Proponents of this idea further state that sluggish intestines lead to poor digestion as well as deficient absorption of vital nutrients, thereby, indirectly causing weight gain and even an unsightly protruding belly for some. Because the body is unable to absorb, process, or assimilate nutrients efficiently, many people tend to overeat in order to feel more energetic and satiated for a longer span of time. This is the very reason why there are many adherents of colon cleansing as a tool not just in controlling and managing weight but also in restoring the digestive system to optimum health.

People who promote colon cleansing as a solution to weight problems believe that it has the power to unclog the intestines and gradually make the digestive system function more efficiently. Basically, the advantages of colon cleansing are better absorption of nutrients, and enhanced metabolism which allows the body to burn calories faster resulting in more energy and weight loss. Once the toxins/chemicals, pollutants, and fecal matter build-up are expelled or flushed out from the body, it naturally becomes cleaner and lighter according to proponents of colon cleansing. Weight loss following a thorough colon cleansing is said to average from 2 to 5 pounds.

Controversy, however, seems to arise from the supposed herbal nature of colon cleansing supplements. On the one end, many believe that because these supplements are made from natural ingredients, they tend to be free from hazardous chemicals and substances. But on the other, they can be risky as well especially when the source is unreliable or the supplement contains ingredients that may potentially interact in an adverse way with other drugs or medications being taken by its users. Thus, in order to minimize, if not totally avoid or prevent the negative effects of these colon cleanse products, it would be best to know the specific ingredients in them.

In most colon cleansing products these ingredients are typically found: psyllium husk, cascara sagrada, black walnut, slippery elm, aloe vera, buckthorn, and bentonite clay. Psyllium seed husk for instance, produces a very mild cleansing effect and is great in flushing out toxins and wastes from the intestines as it becomes gel-like when combined with water. It also provides bulk to the colon and stimulates peristalsis. However, it also carries with it the risk of dehydration and because it expands in the digestive tract, drinking plenty of water is advised in order to prevent blockages from occurring.

Next on the list is cascara sagrada. This herb can cause gas, cramping, and diarrhea. Bentonite clay or volcanic ash is another ingredient to watch out for. This common ingredient when mixed with water draws out pathogenic microorganisms and poisons from the digestive tract. Bentonite clay can also draw out minerals or other nutrients from the body, and should not be taken alone as it can literally adhere to the linings of the intestines. Black walnut, slippery elm, aloe vera, and buckthorn are safe ingredients overall. Users should also be on the lookout for cleansing products that consist of chemical laxatives because these kill or destroy even the “good” bacteria in the colon. They are encouraged instead to switch to or replace these with natural colon cleanse products.



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