What does salt water flush do to the body?

A salt water flush is a technique that involves drinking a saline solution to rapidly flush the colon. Some people use salt water flushes as part of colon cleansing regimens or to help relieve occasional constipation. However, there are some risks and downsides associated with doing a salt water flush.

How a Salt Water Flush Works

A salt water flush involves drinking a solution of warm water mixed with non-iodized salt. The typical proportions are:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 quart (32 ounces or 1 liter) of warm water

Within 30 minutes to 2 hours of drinking the saline solution, you will likely experience watery bowel movements and frequent trips to the bathroom. This happens because the salt water solution is an osmotic agent. When consumed, it draws water into the colon from surrounding tissues due to osmosis.

The influx of water into the colon stimulates bowel movements to flush out the colon’s contents. In addition, the salt prevents the body from absorbing much water, keeping the stool loose and watery.

Intended Effects and Benefits

People use salt water flushes with the intention of:

  • Cleansing the colon of waste and toxins
  • Providing temporary relief from constipation
  • Losing a few pounds of water weight for a day or two

Some alternative medicine practitioners believe that periodically cleansing the colon through irrigation or flush techniques removes toxins and supports better colon health. However, there is no scientific evidence that salt water flushes remove toxins or provide health benefits.

Potential Risks and Downsides

Before doing a salt water flush, it’s important to understand the potential risks and downsides:

  • Dehydration – The large influx of water into the colon causes significant loss of water and electrolytes from the body. This can lead to dehydration and imbalances in sodium, potassium, and other minerals if fluids and electrolytes are not replenished.
  • Dangerous changes in blood pressure or blood salt concentrations – In some cases, the fluid shifts caused by the salt water flush can dangerously lower blood pressure or sodium concentrations.
  • Severe diarrhea and cramping – The rapid emptying of the colon often causes bouts of diarrhea that can be accompanied by intense and painful cramping.
  • Nausea and vomiting – Some people experience nausea and vomiting after a salt water flush.
  • Bloating and discomfort – Bloating and abdominal discomfort are common side effects.
  • Electrolyte imbalances – The rapid loss of fluids can cause temporary electrolyte imbalances.
  • Dehydration and weakness – Due to fluid loss, people may feel weak, fatigued, or lightheaded after a salt water flush.

Repeated use of salt water flushes could lead to chronic dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities. Salt water flushes are also not recommended for people with kidney disease, heart disease, or hypertension without medical supervision.

Dangers of DIY Colon Cleansing

Colon cleansing with techniques like salt water flushes, enemas, or laxatives is potentially harmful. The colon naturally eliminates waste material and bacteria without the need for special cleansing regimens.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no scientific evidence that colon cleansing provides health benefits or protects against disease. However, there are documented harms, including:

  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Infection or bowel perforation from improper technique
  • Severe cramps and pain
  • Making the colon lazy and dependent on laxatives or enemas

Overall, colon cleansing techniques like salt water flushes are unnecessary and can be harmful. It’s better to focus on proven methods of supporting colon health, like eating more fiber, staying hydrated, and exercising.

Safe Alternatives for Constipation Relief

For occasional constipation, there are safer alternatives than a DIY salt water flush:

  • Add more fiber – Eat foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Fiber helps form bulky stool and promote regular bowel movements.
  • Drink more water – Proper hydration is key for healthy bowel function. Aim for 1.5-2 liters of fluids per day.
  • Exercise more – Physical activity stimulates the bowels and can help relieve constipation.
  • Try over-the-counter laxatives – Stimulant, bulk-forming, softening, and osmotic laxatives can help relieve occasional constipation when used as directed.
  • Ask about prescription medications – For chronic constipation, doctors may recommend prescription laxatives or drugs like linaclotide (Linzess) to increase colon contractions.
  • Get medical advice – See a doctor if you have persistent constipation to rule out underlying conditions.

These natural remedies and over-the-counter laxatives are gentler and safer ways to get things moving again. They don’t carry the same risks as a DIY salt water flush.

Key Points

  • A salt water flush involves drinking a saline solution of warm water mixed with non-iodized salt to rapidly flush the colon.
  • It’s intended to cleanse the colon and provide relief from constipation, but has no proven health benefits.
  • Salt water flushes can cause dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, cramping, bloating, nausea and more.
  • Repeated use can lead to chronic dehydration and electrolyte problems.
  • Colon cleansing is unnecessary and potentially harmful.
  • For constipation relief, focus on natural remedies like fiber, fluids, exercise and over-the-counter laxatives.

The Takeaway

Salt water flushes involve drinking a salt water solution to rapidly empty the colon. While some people use them for colon cleansing or constipation relief, they are unnecessary and can be dangerous due to dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities. It’s better to try safer alternatives like dietary changes, exercise, and over-the-counter laxatives to relieve occasional constipation.

Rather than attempting risky colon cleansing techniques, focus your efforts on maintaining a healthy colon through proven strategies like eating fiber-rich foods, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and paying attention to signals like the urge to have a bowel movement.

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