Colon Cleanse Controversy

According to a recent report regarding colon cleanse on CNN, colon cleanse is not recommended by Dr. Michael Picco (consultant gastroenterologist) of Mayo Clinic or Dr. Ranit Mishori  (family medicine physician at Georgetown University School of Medicine). In a report released this week in the Journal of Family Practice, Dr. Mishori and her colleagues examined 20 studies published in medical literature over the last 10 years and found that there are no benefits associated with colon cleansing.

Colon cleanse products sold in health food stores and pharmacies are not necessarily tested and approved by any agency. They are often marketed and used for weight loss.  The study makes valid points about injury, nausea, bloating, cramps, kidney failures, and perforations due to inserting things in the body. The studies need to be taken seriously.

Colon cleanse is one of the shat karma kriyas (cleansing practices) of hatha yoga. In traditional yoga, it is not done for weight loss. Everyone is not a candidate for colon cleansing, and certainly not all forms of colon cleansing. Qualified supervision is recommended for those who wish to do this practice. Some people will have a tendency to overdo things. Like asanas and pranayamas, a selection of what is appropriate is the key as everything is not meant to be used by everyone.

It is important to make the point that like in any other field, there is a wide range of yoga teachers. Whereas some are dedicated and knowledgeable,  many are not. Their knowledge may not, and does not have to, extend to every aspect of yoga. Unless a teacher has experience teaching colon cleansing for many years (I personally know of only one in North America and it is not me), be wary. Often teachers find it hard to say they do not know something and will just look up the procedure in a book. You do not want that. We need to be objective and honest about the positives as well as the negatives in the business of yoga and meditation.

Like everything else, common sense and good judgment should be used. A writer-producer for CNN Showbiz,  Lisa Respers France, has done colon cleansing for years and says it “really makes her feel better.”

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