Several of my patients either undergo colon cleansing or are interested in this procedure and want my approval. Some patients fast for 10 days and drink only a concoction of maple syrup, vinegar, and water.

Others do a 10-day cleanse that includes eating light meals but taking capsules to draw toxins out of the liver, followed by several days of high-fiber intake and several more days taking a laxative.

Are there any scientific data to show that any of this is beneficial? Are these activities harmful?—KATHY INGALLINERA, NP, Sitka, Alaska

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Colon cleansing is a practice that dates back centuries. On the surface, it makes sense to want to maximize the waste-removal process.

However, in spite of the tremendous popularity of this practice in alternative therapies, a representative at the Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute warns that there is little, if any, actual clinical data supporting its use. Patients should be advised that the best way to care for their colon is to exercise and follow a diet with plenty of fiber and adequate water intake. — Sherril Sego, FNP-C, DNP (153-05)