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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
197 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best colon cleanse systems

Feeling slightly out of sorts? Want to feel fresher, more free, and relaxed? Looking to detox? For many people, a colon cleanse can help achieve all of these goals. Periodic colon cleanses are thought to remove toxins and restore the body’s natural elimination processes.

A colon cleanse is sometimes recommended by natural health advocates as part of a total body cleanse. A total body cleanse is a more extreme type of cleanse, known as a high colonic or colon hydrotherapy, where water (sometimes infused with herbs) is introduced to the colon (the lower part of the large intestine) via a sterile hose, similar to an enema. The colon is “irrigated” and its lining cleaned, according to proponents of this procedure.

This type of cleanse isn’t for everybody: it’s pricey, it should be administered by an experienced professional, and its potential risks can be a turn-off. Colon cleanse systems, however, can be used for an occasional cleanse without the need for irrigation, special diets, or fasts.

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While many claims are made about the benefits of colon cleanses, the most commonly reported positive effects include increased energy, improved regularity, some weight loss, and a feeling of well-being.

Key considerations

Colon cleanse systems are made up of capsules, tablets, or powders used over a one- to two-week period. They are sometimes used in conjunction with other supplements and an optional cleansing diet. Users should commit to the entire program to achieve the best results.

Advocates of colon cleanses claim that a cleanse can help ease problems like allergies, skin problems, headaches, PMS, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. However, results are variable; some users get big benefits from a cleanse while others see no change in their health.

Side effects

  • Dehydration: The high fiber content of a colon cleanse system causes the body to divert more water to the bowel. This fiber absorbs a lot of water, and the combination helps the intestines move the cleansing fiber through more easily. This can cause the rest of the body to become dehydrated and may cause symptoms like excessive thirst, confusion, dizziness, tiredness, and more, especially if your electrolyte balance is upset. Drink plenty of water — as much as the system’s instructions recommend, and probably a little more — to prevent dehydration.

  • Gas: All that extra fiber can cause gas, which can lead to stomach or intestinal discomfort and bloating.

  • Cramping: Gas, as well as the fiber moving through the digestive system, can cause abdominal cramps.

  • Nausea: Some users experience mild to moderate nausea from colon cleanse systems. This can be in response to the high amount of fiber moving through the gut, the herbs used to cleanse or detoxify the digestive system, or other ingredients.

  • Constipation or diarrhea: Neither condition is pleasant. Users may experience one or both of these during the course of the cleanse.

  • Depletion of gut flora: The ingredients in a multi-day cleanse may change or deplete the colon of beneficial gut flora. Colon cleanse systems often include probiotics to help rebuild gut flora.

Potential risks

  • Bowel blockage: Those who have ongoing intestinal issues should check with a doctor before starting a colon cleanse, as some health conditions can increase the risk of a bowel blockage. These are extremely painful and can be deadly if not treated immediately.

  • Extreme dehydration: Not drinking enough water during the cleanse can cause dehydration. Minor dehydration makes you thirsty and irritable; extreme dehydration can cause organs to shut down.

  • Cardiac issues: People with known cardiac or circulatory issues should talk to their doctor before the cleanse. Colon cleanses can put additional strain on the body.

  • Reaction to herbal ingredients: While uncommon, people with sensitivities to certain herbs may experience an allergic reaction. Each colon cleanse formulation is different, so read the ingredient label closely.


Oral colon cleanse systems primarily use tablets or capsules to deliver the high-fiber component of the cleanse. Some brands use a combination of capsules and powders, each of which are formulated for cleansing, detoxification, or both.

Active ingredients

  • Fiber: The biggest ingredient in a colon cleanse system is insoluble fiber. This ingredient — usually psyllium husks — isn’t broken down and absorbed into the body, but instead moves through the small and large intestine, trapping food particles within their fibrous structure and carrying them all the way through and out of the body. Consider this ingredient the “scrubbing brush” of the colon cleanse system.

  • Laxative: In many cleanse systems, a natural laxative is added to stimulate the intestines, and the smooth muscles of the bowel expand and contract to push waste through the digestive system. These laxatives may be ingredients like cascara, senna, or aloe leaves. Some brands add Epsom salts to speed elimination.

  • Detoxifiers: Some systems include additional herbal supplements that detoxify supporting organs like the liver.

  • Digestive aids: These supplements included in the colon cleanse system help to ease indigestion, gas, and bloating during the cleanse.

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are sometimes included in cleanse systems to reintroduce beneficial bacteria to the gut during and after a cleanse.

  • Vitamins and minerals: These supplements are often included to reintroduce vital nutrients to the body during and after the cleanse. Minerals like bentonite clay aid in water absorption and cleansing.

Colon cleanse prices

The lowest-priced colon cleanse systems are often the least complicated. Most consist of a single bottle containing capsules that are taken one to three times per day for seven to ten days. They range in price from $7 to $15.

Mid-range colon cleanse systems tend to include additional supplements, such as probiotics, that are taken following the active cleanse phase. They range from $14 to $39.

A few colon cleanse systems command much higher prices, from $74 to $140. These can be much more complex, with multiple capsules, tinctures, and powders that offer further detoxification and cleansing.


  • Drink at least eight glasses of water per day when using a colon cleanse system to prevent dehydration and to aid in the cleansing process.

  • After completing a colon cleanse program, do not do another cleanse for at least six to eight weeks.

  • Add a small amount of juice from ginger root to water or make a tea with chopped ginger to ease nausea and indigestion during a cleanse.

  • You may not need to eliminate for the first day or two after beginning a cleanse, but that should change dramatically by day three.

  • Users commonly report losing five or more pounds during a two-week cleanse. This is mostly water weight, but it can kick-start further weight loss.

  • No detox component to your colon cleanse system? Drink a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey for a mildly detoxifying drink that also hydrates you.

  • Probiotics are also found in yogurt or can be taken in capsule form after a cleanse to continue repopulating the gut with healthy flora.

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Eat a diet rich in fresh, leafy greens and high-fiber foods during and after a cleanse to maintain its beneficial effects on the gut.


Q. Which colon cleanse system is better: a five-day, seven-day, ten-day, or 14-day regimen?

A. Because each brand works slightly differently, a longer cleanse is not necessarily better than a shorter cleanse. You may need to try a couple of different colon cleanse systems (with a minimum six- to eight-week break between each cleanse) before finding one that works well for you — meaning it’s well tolerated and it achieves the results you are hoping for.

Q. I have celiac disease. Is a colon-cleansing system safe for me to use?

A. Before starting a cleansing system, consult the healthcare professional who is treating you for celiac disease. Colon cleansing systems are generally well-tolerated by healthy individuals, but those with chronic or severe illnesses should be cautious and talk to their doctor first.

Q. Can a colon cleanse system be combined with a hydrotherapy colon cleanse?

A. Consult a qualified professional for the answer to this one. However, consider that a hydrotherapy cleanse (or high colonic) only rinses the descending colon, the last part of the bowel, while a colon cleanse system makes its way through the entire lower digestive tract, providing a more complete cleanse.

Q. When should I start a colon cleanse? How often can I use colon cleanse systems?

A. Colon cleanse systems are a popular way to start a new diet. They’re a way to begin weight loss with a “clean slate,” so to speak. However, they can be used when you feel it’s time to detox your system or improve digestion. The high fiber used in these systems can make the cleanse unpleasant and can tax your body, so they shouldn’t be done more than three times per year.

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