You may have heard of colon cleansers and even wondered if you should.

According to some alternative health advocates, you should be cleaning your colon as regularly as you shampoo your hair and wash your floors. In fact, some people are making a lot of money by convincing them that their colons are full of years of rotten waste and that colon cleansers will solve the problem. Colon cleansers come in many varieties, including capsules, enemas, enemas, and “high colonics” that remove large amounts of water in the colon.

“Artificial colon cleansers are big business,” says Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian in Phoenix, Ariz., and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. What big business? Just type “colon cleanser” into any search engine and you’ll get an idea.

But when taken to extremes, the desire for inner cleansing can be harmful.

WebMD consulted with experts to find out about the safety and effectiveness of colon cleansers, and whether a colon cleanse is right for you.

Colon Cleanser: Dirty Business
Colon cleansing is based on the theory that toxins build up in the colon over time and stagnate there, causing toxins to spread throughout the body, known as “autotoxicity.” Many 19th century physicians accepted auto poisoning as a fact. Although scientific research from the early 1920s failed to prove this, the misconception persists. Other advocates of colon cleansing believe that the accumulated stool blocks the colon and prevents proper elimination of waste.

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