With people like Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, and Pamela Anderson touting the effects of Colon Hydrotherapy or so-called colonics, the procedure has gained steam lately. Colonics, or the act of eliminating your body's waste by irrigating the colon, is a holistic therapy that's said to get the digestive system functioning better and, some say, it can even help you lose weight, among other benefits.
It sounds harmless enough. You lie comfortably on a table as warm, filtered water gets pumped into your colon through a disposable rectal tube. For about 45 minutes, the water works to soften up any waste material and expel it from the body. Many believe that a clean colon can lead to a healthier life and reduce the chances of many diseases. Stars are doing it to slim down right before a big premiere. But does it really work? The jury is split.
"Colonics are neither necessary nor beneficial, as our bodies do a great job of detoxifying and eliminating waste on their own," says Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa MD, gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Most doctors agree that these treatments can actually cause harm. Possible side effects include dehydration, abdominal pain and bloating, kidney failure, and even a perforated colon, according to a report from Georgetown University School of Medicine.
So why has the procedure become so popular? To find out, we went to colonic guru, Tracy Piper, founder of The Piper Center for Internal Wellness and go-to-gal for celebrities, models, and socialites who swear by colonics.
"Hollywood celebs that embark on colon therapy are way ahead of many people who look down on [it]," Piper says. "They have figured out that cleansing the body in this way enables them to perform better, reduces stress, improves attitude, skin, and endurance, allows them to age seamlessly, and of course, look AMAZING on the red carpet," she says.
While the debate rages on, if you do decide to try the procedure for yourself, look for an accredited therapist through the International Association for Colon Therapy's website. Also, it's not for everyone. People suffering from certain diseases and pregnant women are not advised to do colon therapy so be sure to talk with your doctor first.
If you're in the clear and interested in trying, check out Piper's 14-day plan to improve overall health and wellness (and lose weight) through a combination of a raw foods diet, exercise, and juice cleanses.