Some forms of colon
hydrotherapy use enemas to inject water, sometimes mixed with herbs or with
other liquids, into the colon via the rectum using special equipment. Oral
cleaning regimes use dietary fiber, herbs, dietary supplements, or laxatives.
Practitioners believe that accumulations of putrefied feces line the walls of
the large intestine and that these accumulations harbor parasites or pathogenic
gut flora, causing nonspecific symptoms and general ill-health. This
"auto-intoxication" hypothesis is based on medical beliefs of the Ancient
Egyptians and Greeks and was discredited in the early 20th century, although
many continue to use and enjoy benefits from colon cleansing.
No scientific evidence supports the alleged benefits of colon cleansing. The
bowel itself is not dirty and barring drugs, disease or mechanical blockage,
cleans itself naturally without assistance. Certain enema preparations have been
associated with heart attacks and electrolyte imbalances, and improperly
prepared or used equipment can cause infection or damage to the bowel. Frequent
colon cleansing can lead to dependence on enemas to defecate and some herbs may
reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs.