Yeah yeah, the body is a temple. But sometimes it’s also a 7-Eleven. Fast living and habitual comfort eating take a toll on our guts, leaving us feeling a little bloated, a lot constipated, and pretty much always sleepy.
While colon cleanses are still medically unproven, advocates swear by the energy boost and health bump. If you’re feeling chronically pooped, we’ll walk you through trying an overnight colon cleanse at home. And they said Tuesday nights were boring.
What is An Overnight Colon Cleanse?
Let’s define a few terms before you accidentally buy an enema bulb. The colon (a.k.a. the large intestine) has the job of pulling water and minerals from your food before passing it on. “Cleansing” it can be achieved through two entry points – the mouth or the butt. This article is all about the mouth!
A 24 hour colon cleanse is not an enema, which injects fluid up the rectum to stimulate the emptying of your bowels.
…or an anal douche, which flushes the rectum with water.
…or a pharmacy laxative, which treats constipation by cleaning out waste from your colon.
Overnight colon cleanses are thought to flush out the entire digestive system by drinking a beverage an hour or two before bed. Cleanse culture says “toxins and other waste get trapped” in the colon, and need to be flushed.
Technically our organs are designed to clean themselves. But your digestive system, your choice!
7 Overnight Colon Cleanse Methods
Before you raid your pantry: Today’s most popular “overnight” cleanse options are all over the board in terms of results time, frequency, and safety. Talk to your doctor before experimenting with a cleanse, especially if you are taking medications, as overuse can lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies, and chronic constipation.
Pro: Works in as little as 30 minutes.
Con: May cause you to toss your cookies.
Frequency: No more than 1-2x per month or your good bacteria (and blood pressure) will suffer.
The Recipe: Two tablespoons of non-iodized salt in a quart of warm water. Sip in 5 minutes on an empty stomach.
The saltwater flush is simple and shockingly effective. You can expect to feel an urgent need to do #2 within 30 minutes to an hour. Pro tip: Avoid eating or drinking until the poop comes. And don’t mess with the recipe proportions, as additional salt may trigger your upchuck reflex.
Herbal Tea Cleanse
Pro: Tummy-settling with anti-inflammatory properties.
Con: Drinking diuretics in excess can dehydrate your body.
Frequency: 1-2 cups per day for no longer than one week at a time.
Popular Brands: Smooth Move and Get Clean.
Get all the soothing benefits of tea in gently diuretic formulas that carefully flush waste from your body. Senna is among the most popular active ingredients to get your colon bustling, and additional ingredients like ginger, turmeric, and peppermint help settle the tummy and prevent nausea.
Pro: Natural laxative with antioxidant properties.
Con: Can corrode tooth enamel over time.
Frequency: Up to 3x daily.
The Recipe: Juice half a lemon in 8 ounces of warm water. Sip in 5 minutes.
*We’re not talking about the Master Cleanse fast* You’re still eating delicious, solid food with this overnight colon cleanse.
Vitamin C in lemon juice is thought to travel through the body quickly, clearing toxins and other waste with it. Meanwhile, citric acid boosts gastric acid secretion, a fluid produced in the stomach that promotes digestion. Lemon juice also gives your bod bonus antioxidants to protect your cells from free radicals.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Pro: Introduces good bacteria to your gut while promoting digestion.
Con: Can contribute to low potassium levels if you take diuretics or insulin.
Frequency: No more than 1-2 tablespoons daily.
The Recipe: Down a spoonful straight up or mix one to two tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of water. Sweeten to taste with one to two tablespoons of honey or maple syrup.
Apple Cider Vinegar has some serious health-boosting benefits –– like lowering blood sugar, supporting healthy immunity, and promoting weight loss. On the cleanse front, there are claims that it helps to remove “sludge toxins” while introducing natural probiotics and healthy enzymes to your system. While you can shoot it off a spoon, it tastes pretty terrible and is mad acidic on your teeth, mouth, and throat.
Pro: Soothes while cleansing.
Con: Laxative effect can cause diarrhea and stomach cramping.
Frequency: Up to 8 ounces daily.
The Recipe: Juice a full lemon. Add four to six tablespoons of aloe vera. Mix in sugar and honey to taste. Dilute with two cups of water.
When consumed orally, aloe vera can help soothe and heal an irritated digestive tract while providing antioxidant and laxative properties. It’s often used in pill form to relieve constipation, but can also be added in juice form to create a nourishing overnight colon cleanse;
Pro: Aids in digestion while preventing high blood pressure.
Con: High in sugar.
Frequency: Half a cup to one cup, 1x daily.
Fiber-rich prune juice helps maintain a healthy digestive system while preventing heart disease, risk of stroke, and liver issues. You can find it in the juice or organic section of most grocery stores, or blend your own at home.
Last Resort: Laxative
Pros: Effective relief from a sluggish, constipated system.
Cons: Depleting, unpredictable, habit-forming.
Frequency: Take as directed for no more than one week.
Popular Brands: Dulcolax, Colace, and Milk of Magnesia.
Laxatives are effective stool looseners that can encourage bowel movements overnight. Unfortunately, overuse can mess with your electrolyte levels while forcing your digestive system to become dependent. Laxatives can cause your intestines to lose muscle and nerve response, which requires you to take more and more laxatives. Only use these bad boys if you’re really in a bind.
When is the Best Time to Do An Overnight Colon Cleanse?
Generally, an hour or two before bed and AFTER talking to your doctor. If you have high blood pressure or need to keep your sodium intake low, avoid salt water flushes. Ingesting the properties of colon cleanses shortly before your body is in “rest & digest” mode helps the cleanse work with your body’s natural rhythms at night. Plus you have a 10+ hour window at home – near a beautiful toilet – in case you experience any explosive side effects.
What to Expect After Cleansing Your Colon Overnight
Here comes the gray area. Since colon cleanses are not scientifically proven or supported, any number of things might happen.
You could have a cathartic bowel movement and wake up feeling immortal.
You might experience a delayed poo 2-3 days later, but notice better energy levels.
Or you may feel dehydrated because you took the plunge with a saltwater flush.
Every gut is different. What’s important is to talk to your doctor, understand your health goals, and ensure you’re making other lifestyle changes in tandem. In other words, use the colon cleanse as a springboard instead of a quick fix.
The Bottom Line
Trying an overnight colon cleanse is usually safe for most people when performed very occasionally. Remember that moderation is key – even drinking too much water is harmful! The best way to detox your body is by cutting out excess sugars and processed foods, eating a diet rich in whole foods and fiber, and drinking 6-8 cups of water each day.
There are two lifestyle edits that truly change your life overnight: getting a good night’s sleep and washing your butt with a bidet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Overnight Colon Cleanses Safe?
Generally, yes, with some caveats. If you’re a healthy person who is not taking supplements or medications that interact with your cleanse ingredients, you should be fine so long as you cleanse carefully and always in moderation. Tweaking recipes and overusing colon cleanses can result in nausea, dehydration, chronic constipation, and blood pressure issues.
What Is The Fastest Way to Clean Out Bowels?
A saltwater flush, colonic, or laxative is typically the fastest way to inspire a movement. But keep in mind, the fastest solution isn’t always the healthiest for your body. While you are getting relief from bloating and constipation, you’re also affecting your body’s good bacteria and electrolyte levels.
How Often Should You Do An Overnight Colon Cleanse?
More aggressive colon cleanses, like a saltwater flush, should only be performed 1-2x per month. Gentler cleanses that use lemon, apple cider vinegar, or herbal tea can be performed daily until you notice relief.
Why Would You Need To Clean Out Your Bowels Quickly?
Two main reasons: physical relief and medical prep. People clean out their bowels to alleviate bloating, cramping, and constipation and to prepare for procedures like a colonoscopy.
Why Do An Overnight Colon Cleanse vs Other Colon Cleanses
Every recipe in this article is supermarket available, Amazon Fresh orderable, makeable in a microwave, and inexpensive. Yes, you could do your DIY colon cleanse in the morning, but be forewarned––it may result in extra daytime poops.
Then again, you have the option to go for a colonic. These need to be done by a professional, and the risks are greater (think: perforated colon 😬 ). They’re also pricier ($50 to $100+), and you have to travel to your practitioner.
Do Overnight Colon Cleanses Really Work?
While many cleanse advocates swear by the gut relief, immunity support, and energy boost, there’s no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of overnight colon cleanses. Our organs do a great job detoxifying themselves and don’t necessarily require cleanses to move the job along. What can be proven––the health benefits of many of the ingredients in colon cleanses. Probiotics, vitamin C, citric acid, fiber, and good old fashioned water are all helpful in supporting digestion.