Clinical effects of colonic cleansing for general health promotion: a systematic review

Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov;104(11):2830-6; quiz 2837. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.494. Epub 2009 Sep 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Enema / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / methods