Vitality

What Is An Enema? Health Benefits And Risks Associated With Colon Cleansing

An enema is a procedure used to help stimulate the bowels in the hope of relieving constipation or to cleanse the digestive tract. The technique has been in practice since the times of Ancient Egyptians, and has been used to relieve a number of ailments ranging from fever to intestinal worms. Before you decide whether an enema is right for you, here are some of the possible benefits and risks to such a procedure.

What Is An Enema?

During an enema, fluid, usually a cleansing saline solution or a medicated fluid, is introduced into the rectum and large intestines through the anus. After holding in the fluid for several moments, users then expel the liquid and additional waste from their body. This can help to push waste out of the colon to both relieve constipation, and to cleanse the digestive organs (although there is no medical evidence to back up the latter claim).

According to Everyday Health, enemas are usually recommended by doctors as the last resort for constipation after laxatives and high-fiber food has already failed to provide relief.

toilet-paper Enemas are often recommended as the last resort to treat constipation. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Benefits

Although the cleansing aspect of enemas is scientifically debatable, many people stand by the procedures’ purifying qualities, and more. For example, according to Mind Body Green, coffee enemas are able to increase energy levels, improve mental clarity and mood, and even help with depression and sluggishness.

In addition to its touted cleansing benefits, enemas allegedly help with weight loss by aiding in the removal of excess unprocessed waste in the colon, Everyday Health reported.

Risks

Despite the benefits, the procedure is not without its own risks, especially when performed at home and without professional supervision. For example, according to Everyday Health, enemas can sometimes lead to a number of unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, the procedure itself could possibly harm the rectum and internal digestive organs.

While the odd enema won't likely do much harm, frequent procedures increase your risk of interfering with the body’s own natural absorption of nutrients, and some individuals can even develop a dependency on the procedure and struggle to have a natural bowel movement without one, Everyday Health reported.

Regular enema use can also lead to a condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication, Very Well reported. This is an imbalance of the electrolytes that results from low salt.

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