Risks of Colon Hydrotherapy

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 30, 2012

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Colon hydrotherapy/irrigation is often termed as a natural health care treatment to cleanse toxins from the colon (bowel and large intestine), reduce water retention in the body and increase energy. However, some experts believe that there are a number of pitfalls in this popular procedure. Some complications caused by colon irrigation are:

Electrolyte Imbalance

The colon absorbs water at a rapid growth. If a person receives frequent colon hydrotherapy, his body tends to absorb excess amount of water. This can potentially disturb body’s electrolyte balance causing nausea, vomiting, water retention in the lungs and abnormal heart rhythms. In severe cases, this may result in coma and heart failure.

Bacterial Infection

The use of contaminated equipment for cleansing the colon may infect the person by bacteria. Before taking the treatment, one must ensure that the equipment is sterile, disposable, and fresh (not used before). Use of non-sterilised equipment increases the risk of Hepatits C and AIDS. Other important reason for infection could be unnecessary cleansing of the healthy colon bacteria.

Perforated Bowel

To cleanse the colon, a rubber hose is inserted into it through the rectum. This requires  the hose to be broken through the colon, which can tear the intestine wall. Treating this often requires a surgical procedure. Wrong insertion of tube can also lead to perforation of the bowel wall and lead to development of a fatal disease known as septicemia. In Texas, death of a woman due to unsupervised colon irrigation and bowel perforation was reported. Furthermore, four other cases of injury caused by colon hydrotherapy were brought to light.

Makes Health Conditions Severe

Many researchers have suggested that opting for colon hydrotherapy can worsen a pre-existing health issue and add to the harmful effects of colon irrigation.

  • People, who are already suffering from intestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and tumours, are advised not to take colon hydrotherapy.
  • Patients with heart and kidney diseases are also not the right candidates for colon hydrotherapy as their condition can get aggravated.
  • Consult a doctor before taking colon irrigation if you have had a bowel surgery.
  • Another group of people who should not get colon hydrotherapy is one with internal or severe haemorrhoids.


Meta-analysis published in the Journal of Family Medicine stated that colon irrigation provides no significant health benefits, instead carries harmful effects and in some cases, it can lead to death. Dr. Sanjay Jain, consultant at Southend Gastroenterology Associates, Louisville, warns patients against the risks of colon cleansing. He says that it is an unproven practice, which causes serious harms.


If you wish to have colon irrigation, remember to take it under the supervision of a skilled and experienced health care provider.


Read more articles on Hydrotherapy.




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