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December 21, 2018

The Colon Cleanse: A Viable Alternative to Mainstream Colonoscopy Preparation

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an examination of the colon using a thin flexible tube with a camera at the end which is inserted into the colon through the anus. It is often a somewhat unpleasant procedure, but it is necessary for the detection of polyps — small growths in the lining of the colon, some of which can develop into colon cancer over time.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer in adults via a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or fecal occult blood test (FOBT), beginning at age 50.

A colonoscopy examines the entire colon, while a sigmoidoscopy covers only the lower part of the colon, also known as the rectum and sigmoid colon.

The colon must be free of all solid material for a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to be effective. Unfortunately the mainstream preparation for undergoing either of these procedures — fasting and taking a chemical laxative such as NuLYTELY — is time-consuming, often physically uncomfortable, and can cause significant to severe dehydration in many people.

Is colon cleansing via colon hydrotherapy or home enemas a viable alternative to the mainstream colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy preparation?

Yes. Research presented in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine indicates that a colon cleanse to clear the colon of all fecal matter for a cancer screening is a sound alternative to the mainstream approach. In addition to examining the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of a lukewarm saline bowel cleanse as a colonoscopy preparation in comparison with NuLYTELY (a solution of PEG-3350, sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium chloride), this study also examined the beneficial role of yoga postures used in conjunction with the colon cleanse.

Efficacy of Bolus Lukewarm Saline and Yoga Postures as Colonoscopy Preparation: A Pilot Study

How can I make sure my colon is prepared for examination without using chemical laxatives?

Colon hydrotherapy (colonic irrigation) sessions and/or home enemas are great tools to remove all of the solid materials in the colon that make a colonoscopy difficult. Colon cleansing via either of these methods simply uses warm water to wash out the solid materials and can be soothing and comfortable, especially compared with a day on laxatives.

Cleanse the colon thoroughly just prior (within 2 hours of) the examination. In order to cleanse the colon thoroughly, you may need either a professional colon hydrotherapy session or a personal consultation with me, Kristina Amelong, CCT, CNC, of the Optimal Health Network, to successfully prepare the colon at home with an enema series.

Using colon hydrotherapy and/or enemas can help you avoid the discomfort of diarrhea episodes, the potential upset of electrolyte balance, and the need to undergo a longer period of fasting.

Consider talking to your doctor about using enemas or colonic sessions in lieu of the mainstream colonoscopy preparation. It can save you time, money, and much discomfort.

What type of diet should be followed prior to the colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy in conjunction with the colon cleanse?

The Mayo Clinic recommends following a special diet the day before the exam. Typically, you won't be able to eat solid food the day before the exam. Drinks may be limited to plain water; tea or coffee without milk or cream; broth; and/or carbonated beverages. Avoid red liquids, which can be confused with blood during the colonoscopy. You may not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam.

Mayo Clinic: Colonoscopy Overview

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