DR. MOHLER: Colon myths – here’s the real poop you need to know | PostIndependent.com

DR. MOHLER: Colon myths – here’s the real poop you need to know

The colon is truly an amazing organ! The last 5 feet of our G.I. tract absorbs more than a quart of water a day, plus salt and some vitamins. The colon carries about 100 trillion microorganisms — a number 10 times the total number of human cells in the body. The colonic bacteria play a critical role in maintaining our immune system and keeping us healthy. Unfortunately, there are many myths about this master organ.

Colon myth: Colonics are an important part of staying healthy. False.

The concept of cleansing the colon with enemas or oral concoctions arose in the Middle Ages based on the theory of “auto-intoxication.” One hundred years after this cockamamie idea was disproved, the purveyors of colonics clinics and oral “cleansing agents” are thriving. Colonics have been associated with serious infections and deaths from contaminated equipment and perforation of the rectum.

Colon myth: Everyone needs to have a bowel movement every day. False.

There is no standard definition of the normal frequency of bowel movements, but from three stools a day to three a week is a reasonable range. Adequate water, fiber and exercise are the keys to avoiding constipation.

Colon myth: Coffee enemas are useful for treating certain cancers as well as muscle aches and pains. False.

A New York physician, Nicholas Gonzalez, has been a vocal proponent for coffee enemas, but there are no human studies to support their use. Coffee enemas have been associated with blood salt imbalances, heart failure and deaths. What a waste of good java!


Here’s the real poop! The data for the effectiveness for colon cancer screening are strong! Talk to your physician or Google the unbiased colon cancer screening guidelines at the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at pjmohler@bresnan.net.

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