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Clinical Effects of Colonic Cleansing for General Health Promotion: A Systematic Review

The American Journal of Gastroenterology volume 104, pages 28302836 (2009) | Download Citation

The opinions and assertions contained herein are the sole views of the authors and should not be construed as official or as representing the views of the US Navy, Department of Defense or Department of Veteran Affairs.



The practice of colonic cleansing to promote general health and well-being continues to generate interest among the lay population. These practices are widely touted as adjuncts to improve vitality and as therapeutic modalities to minimize the symptoms, or prevent the actual development, of a variety of chronic disease states. The data supporting colonic cleansing and body “detoxification” have not been studied well in a systematic manner. This report describes a systematic review of the published literature of both the traditional and complementary and alternative medicine arenas that was performed in an attempt to qualify and quantify the value of colonic cleansing. The investigators concluded that there are no methodologically rigorous controlled trials of colonic cleansing to support the practice for general health promotion. Conversely, there are multiple case reports and case series that describe the adverse effects of colonic cleansing. The practice of colonic cleansing to improve or promote general health is not supported in the published literature and cannot be recommended at this time.

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  1. Division of Gastroenterology, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

    • Ruben D Acosta
    •  & Brooks D Cash


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Correspondence to Brooks D Cash.

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