Ah, the good ol’ colon cleanse! “Cleaning” out the large intestine of digestive waste. A practice that dates back to ancient Greece (Hippocrates recorded using enemas for fever therapy (1)!), and in the US that became popular in the early 1900s (2); a number of well respected doctors advocated it to maintain good health (3).
While colon cleanses are sometimes necessary (like before medical procedures such as a colonoscopy), some people cleanse their colon because they believe it can remove excess “toxins” that have built up. It’s kinda like a reset for your insides!
At this point, there are no scientifically proven benefits of colon cleansing (though there was one small pilot study that found, in patients with IBS who had a colonic irrigation, improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms (4,5).) However, people who practice and promote DIY colon cleanses claim to have experienced immense health benefits. Some say that these cleanses lead to increased energy, better blood pressure, improved liver function, and even a reduced risk of colon cancer, to name a few.
There are a few different ways one may cleanse their colon. Colonic hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation is a “spa treatment” in which large amounts of water, and sometimes herbs or even coffee, are flushed through the colon using a tube that’s inserted into the rectum by a professional called a colonic hygienist (5). Water goes in, poop and other waste come out. Some people take powdered or liquid supplements (either orally or through the rectum) to help the colon flush out. Examples of these include laxatives, enzymes, enemas, and magnesium (2).
The above options should be practiced with care as there are potential risks. And they are not appropriate for everybody, particularly those who have pre-existing conditions like IBS or Crohn’s Disease. Always consult with your health care practitioner!
But it’s good to know that if a colon cleanse sounds appealing to you, but a full-blown irrigation system cycled through your rectum is not appealing, there are much softer, safer, and less-expensive at-home options to help you clear your system out!
We teamed up with TUSHY to bring you this info, because they make really helpful tools to help you poo better, like this stool and these 10 minute-to-install bidets! Who doesn’t want help cleaning you up, after you’ve cleaned out? (New to bidets? We’ve got all the info you need here…)
Please note, the following list is being re-published from TUSHY’s blog. Therefore, this article has not undergone the usual protocols for content on the Allbodies site. We have updated it with citations and sources.
9 NATURAL HOME REMEDY CLEANSES
1. DRINK WATER
That’s it. It’s that simple. Drink water! (You should be doing this anyway, let’s get real). Water is one of the healthiest, easiest, and safest DIY colon cleanses. Water moistens stool and gives it bulk, facilitating its passage through the colon. If you are experiencing dehydration, you will have fewer bowel movements because your body is trying to retain water. Your body will reabsorb water from your bowels, resulting in the stool becoming dry, hard, and very hard to pass. Everyone’s daily hydration needs are different, but it is vital to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
2. SEA SALT AND WATER
A salt water flush is also a known home colon cleanse remedy. It is highly recommended for people experiencing constipation and irregularity. Studies have shown that salt water, when paired with yoga, can clear the colon (6). Before eating in the morning, mix 2 teaspoons of salt with lukewarm water. Sea salt or Himalayan salt is recommended. Quickly down a glass of this water mixture on an empty stomach, and in a few minutes, you’ll probably feel an urge to go to the bathroom. Do this twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed. It’s recommended that during the cleanse, you stay home near your toilet and your TUSHY because…it will flush you out.
3. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar helps flush out waste from our body while keeping the useful bacteria intact. You can take it with honey to mask the taste, while simultaneously cleansing your colon and restoring the digestive system. Mix 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar and honey in one cup of water and drink this combination once daily. Most of the evidence to support the belief the apple cider vinegar detox will remove toxins is anecdotal (7) but apple cider vinegar does have other benefits, as well! There have been studies to suggest it may help manage diabetes (8, 9) and lower cholesterol (10).
4. FRUIT AND VEGETABLE JUICE
Raw fruit and vegetable juices contain many nutrients that may help clean your colon out. Fruits and veggies that are rich in fiber, phytochemicals, and natural sugars can help get things moving (11). Here is a list of fruits that are perfect for a homemade colon cleanse:
Some natural colon cleanse plans recommend consuming only liquids for a few days at a time to help cleanse your colon and digestive tract. It is best to consume fruit and vegetable juices in the form of smoothies to keep all the fiber, water, and other nutrients intact.
5. RESISTANT STARCHES
Resistant starches are sugars that both are harder for the body to break down, and help increase the volume of the stool. These starches remain mostly undigested and become bulk in the stool. The more bulk there is in the stool, the sooner the bowel is stimulated into action, possibly helping to cleanse the colon. Foods high in resistant starches include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sugar Beets
- Sugar Cane
- Sweet Corn
- Green Bananas
- Vegetable Stems, Tubers, and Roots
- Buckwheat and Millet
- Al Dente Pasta
- White Bread
Probiotics introduce good bacteria to the gut with the help of fiber and resistant starches. These bacteria may help curb inflammation (12) and promote regularity (13). Adding probiotics to the diet is another way to cleanse your colon. Doing so also boosts overall health in many other ways. You can get more probiotics by taking probiotic supplements. Also, eat lots of probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, kimchi, pickles, and other fermented foods.
7. HERBAL TEAS
Trying some herbal teas may support digestive health via the colon. Laxative herbs like psyllium, aloe vera, marshmallow root, and slippery elm may help with constipation. Make sure to talk to your health team and follow directions closely before using these herbs. Using them incorrectly can be harmful. Other herbs like ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper contain antimicrobial phytochemicals. These are thought to suppress bad bacteria. For this reason, they’re included in lots of cleanses, though studies on their effectiveness are needed.
8. FERMENTED FOODS
Fermented foods often contain high levels of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that contribute to gut health. These bacteria help the bowels move stool out of the colon regularly, and reduce the risk of gas, bloating, constipation, and infection.
Common fermented foods that contain probiotics include:
- Greek Yogurt
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Research suggests that probiotics may help prevent and possibly treat colon cancer, but researchers agree that more studies are necessary to support these claims. A healthy gut biome offers numerous other benefits for overall health and immune function.
9. EATING FIBER-RICH FOODS
Fiber adds bulk to stool, which reduces the time it spends sitting in the colon, and increases the number of bowel movements that a person has. Many natural, whole foods are rich in fiber, including:
- Whole Grains
People who find it difficult to get enough fiber from their diet can try taking fiber supplements like Metamucil (psyllium).
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Natural colon cleanses may help improve digestive health, though whether they truly “cleanse” the colon is up for debate. If you are interested in trying a colon cleanse, consult your health team to make sure it is safe for your unique body. And check out here why the anus shouldn’t be left out of the healthcare conversation!
Written By: Team TUSHY
All content found on this Website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
(1) The History of Colonic Hydrotherapy. PDF file. July 18, 2020 https://www.gpact.org/docs/the%20history%20of%20colonic%20hydrotherapy.pdf
(2) “Colon Cleansing & Natural Detox: Benefits & Risks.” WebMD. October 23, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/natural-colon-cleansing-is-it-necessary#1.
(3) “Myths and Realities: Colon Cleansing: Healthful or Just a Load of @$%!” Clinical Correlations. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.clinicalcorrelations.org/2009/07/16/myths-and-realities-colon-cleansing-healthful-or-just-a-load-of/.
(4) Hsu HH., Leung WH., Hu GC., “Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome With a Novel Colonic Irrigation System: A Pilot Study.” Techniques in Coloproctology. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27194235/.
(5) Schaefer, Anna. “Colon Cleanse: What You Need to Know.” Healthline. December 31, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/pros-cons-colon-cleanse#safety-tips.
(6) Arya V., Gupta KA., Arya SV., “Efficacy of Bolus Lukewarm Saline and Yoga Postures as Colonoscopy Preparation: A Pilot Study.” Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers. December 07, 2010. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2010.0166.
(7) “Apple Cider Vinegar Detox: Drink, Diet, and Side Effects.” Medical News Today. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320930.
(8) “Apple Cider Vinegar and Diabetes: Research and Tips.” Medical News Today. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317218#evidence.
(9) Gunnars, Kris. “6 Proven Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.” Healthline. March 04, 2020. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar#3.-May-help-lower-blood-sugar-levels-and-manage-diabetes.
(10) Edwin McDonald IV, MD. “Debunking the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.” UChicago Medicine. August 23, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/debunking-the-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar.
(11) “Top 3 Juices to Relieve Constipation, Why They Work, and Recipes.” Medical News Today. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324585#how-much-juice-should-i-drink.
(12) Rettner, R., “Probiotics May Lower Inflammation and Treat Diseases” LiveScience, May 30, 2013. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.livescience.com/35945-probiotics-good-bacteria-inflammation.html#:~:text=Probiotics%2C%20or%20%22good%20bacteria%2C,an%20extended%20period%20of%20time.
(13) Corliss, Julie. “Probiotics May Ease Constipation.” Harvard Health Blog. June 25, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377.