Every so often, a topic comes up on Goop that's even kookier than vaginal jade eggs and sex supplements: colonics. Talking about the colon might seem off-brand for the G.P.-worshiping crowd, but Goop is all over the colonic beat. They've written about the so-called health benefits of colonics, hyped up the best spots to get a colonic in New York City, and even recommended that readers buy a $135 at-home colonic kit, all in the name of a "detox."
If you've never heard of a colonic before, you might be intrigued, but they're far from glamorous. A colonic essentially irrigates your colon, explains Rabia De Latour, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. During the procedure, a tube is inserted into the rectum and gallons of water are flushed through the colon, she says. As pleasant as that sounds, why would anyone be down for flooding their colon with water?
Well, most people seek out colonics because they want to "detoxify" their bodies or lose weight, and are under the impression that clearing out their colon will accomplish this, Dr. De Latour says. At any given time, the colon will have stool in it, so if you clean all of that out you may feel somewhat lighter — but no lighter than you would after a particularly good bout of diarrhea, she says.
It's important to note that colonics are not medically necessary, Dr. De Latour says. While a gastroenterologist might prescribe a laxative solution to clean the colon ahead of a colonoscopy, they would likely never recommend a colonic, she says. In fact, colonics can be very risky, especially if the colonic is infused with electrolytes, she says. "If you have kidney disease, for example, and you can't manage your electrolytes properly, that could lead to an electrolyte imbalance in your body," she says. "That can be catastrophic, and people can die from it."
The colon itself is very dynamic, wonderful organ, that does its job naturally, and doesn’t need assistance.
Rabia De Latour, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health
Many other colonics involve flushing your colon with coffee, which is a bad idea as well. Colonics are not something that the Food and Drug Administration regulates, so there's no telling whether or not the solution they're using is safe, Dr. De Latour says. And also, any time you insert anything into your rectum, there is always a risk of "perforation," or poking a hole in your gastrointestinal tract, she says.
Even knowing all of these risks, some people are still willing to pay $80-$100 to get a colonic during a cleanse or detox. But here's the thing: your body already has a natural system that detoxes your body for free, it's called your organs. "The colon itself is very dynamic, wonderful organ, that does its job naturally, and doesn’t need assistance," she says. Additionally, your liver, kidney, stool, and urine all work together to remove toxins and waste from your body. "So, you really don't need to have an artificial irrigation procedure do what the human body is doing on its own," she says.
In other words: your colon is doing amazing on its own, and does not need help, thank you very much.