Colon cleansing is an increasingly popular practice. It is used to help detoxify the body and jump-start weight loss. It can also be used as periodic therapy for some illnesses. However, not all forms of colon cleansing are safe. Some may be more harmful than the condition they are treating. It is important to know what practices in colon cleansing are truly beneficial and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By practicing colon cleansing, people flush the toxins right out of their system and the results include a boost in energy and a general sense of well being.

Medical Procedures

Colon cleansing is usually performed before major medical procedures that will affect the large intestine. The method most commonly used is an enema. In this procedure, a small amount of water is inserted into the rectum through a tube that has been inserted. This water flushes out fecal matter so that the intestine is empty. Colon cleansing is performed before major surgery on the colon and also before studies like X-rays of the intestinal tract that require the use of contrast.

Professional colon hydrotherapy devices (Class II) use sanitary, disposable nozzles to provide an alternative to the enema and some are regulated by the FDA. The FDA recommends "checking with your health care provider before buying a medical device or before obtaining services."


In recent years, the popularity of home colon cleansing has risen. Companies that promote this practice claim their products help detoxify the person’s system and also help lose weight. The thought of weight loss is one of the main reasons this practice has become so popular. Several companies have developed colon cleansing products made from all sorts of combinations of herbs and other substances. These products come as tablets or capsules to be taken orally, or as enema-like solutions to be administered through the rectum. For best results, they are recommended to be used on a “regular” basis.

No FDA Endorsement

To date, there is no over-the-counter colon cleansing product that has received approval from the FDA. This is partly because these products have no valid scientific studies that prove their benefits and the safety of their procedure. It is also because of the lack of medical approval of these methods. However, most, if not all, companies promoting these products firmly state their colon cleansing system is safe and beneficial. They market the product as a cure to all ailments and a booster for faster weight loss. They also promote their systems as easy to use and practical, as well as inexpensive.

The FDA classifies colonic irrigation systems as Class III devices. This means they cannot be marketed legally except for medical purposes (such as before a radiological or endoscopic examination, surgery, etc.). No system has been approved for routine colon cleansing or to promote one's general well being, even if some of their ingredients have been approved by the FDA for other uses.