Counting on a Colon Cleanser? Here are 5 Better Choices

Colon cleansers promise to flush out toxins and improve general wellness, but is there any merit to these claims? And if not, what can you do instead?

Medically reviewed by:
Last updated: May 9th, 2024
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Best Colon Cleanser

If you’ve ever wanted to feel lighter or less bloated, or you were looking for something that could quickly improve your overall health and wellness, you may have turned to cleanses or detox products. Their companies claim they can help rid your body of toxins or other buildup, and many people understandably believe that the colon is a part of the body that needs regular cleansing and detoxification.

The trouble is that detoxification happens in the liver, not the colon, and most cleansing and detox products haven’t yet been tested for efficacy. This doesn’t necessarily mean the products are bad or don’t work. It just means there hasn’t been enough scientific research to validate those claims. And it’s still true that caring for your gut can improve your overall wellness.

So, for those of you interested in improving your digestion or general wellness by addressing intestinal health, our team has put together a collection of alternative recommendations that have much more scientific merit.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of our top picks for the best colon cleanser alternatives.

Our 2024 recommendations for best colon cleanser alternative

  • Best for most people: Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber
  • Best for greater regularity and healthier bowel movements: Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber
  • Best customized gut health supplements: Viome
  • Best for off-the-shelf probiotics: Seed DS-01
  • Best for bloating and indigestion: Pure Synergy Enzyme Power
  • Best for low-FODMAP diets: Tomorrow’s Nutrition Sunfiber GI
Our Top Picks

Rather than relying on herbal laxatives or sub-par fiber doses, Garden of Life offers a substantial amount of daily fiber to improve your digestive health.

Too few Americans get enough fiber, but you can get 5g of soluble and 4g of insoluble fiber from Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Fiber. It also contains nearly 1 billion CFU of an effective anti-bloating probiotic.

Table of Contents

In this Review

Why you should trust us

At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service or product we review, including colon cleansers and their alternatives. We’ve ordered the products mentioned in this guide for ourselves to provide you with an in-depth look at the customer experience, from perusing a company’s catalog to actually consuming the product.

Our team also spent nearly 100 hours studying scholarly journals with articles related to colon health, cleansing, and the connections between digestive and whole-body wellness. Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

Colon cleansers: top considerations

Products that bill themselves as colon cleansers are typically not all they’re cracked up to be. Many are fiber supplements or probiotics trying to appeal to a certain niche in the market, and many also provide you with less fiber and fewer probiotics than more straightforward products from either category.

In the most general terms, people tend to seek out colon cleansers because they don’t feel great and they want to feel better. But how exactly they don’t feel great and what they think they should do about it will make one colon cleanser alternative better for a certain person than another.

Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when you set out to look for a colon cleanser and discover that you should probably be taking something more along the lines of the products in our guide:

What are your symptoms, and what colon cleanser alternative can treat them?

People look to colon cleanses to address a wide range of symptoms, and the companies that make them often market them as ways to treat many of those symptoms, even when scientific evidence is thin or even non-existent. These symptoms can include:

  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

Additional symptoms we regularly see as part of colon cleanser marketing that have less scientific support include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent illness (cold and flu)
  • Brain fog
  • Skin issues

Of course, these lists are not exhaustive, but it highlights some common concerns. Ultimately, there are alternatives to so-called colon cleanses that can help you address many of those symptoms. We’ll discuss four main groups in this guide that stand the best chance of providing some of the relief colon cleansers claim they can provide. These alternatives are:

  • Fiber supplements: Likely the closest thing to a true colon cleanse, a good fiber supplement can help you move your bowels more effectively and prevent material from remaining in the colon for too long.
  • Probiotics: These are living organisms that go to work in your small intestine to help with everything from immune cell and hormone production to food absorption.
  • Digestive enzymes: These enzymes can help mitigate discomfort associated with consuming certain foods, making them ideal for those with known intolerances, like an intolerance for lactose.
  • Custom whole-body supplements: Such supplements are designed for you based on the results of intensive health testing. They can give you what your body actually needs without wasting your time or money on things it doesn’t (though they are expensive in their own right).

We’ll take a deeper dive into each category below and provide specific recommendations for products, as well.

Is the cleanser alternative that suits you best a safe choice?

While a great many products marketed as colon cleanses are often fiber supplements, another large chunk of the market is made up of herbal laxatives. And laxatives typically work by drawing water into your bowels, which causes you to move them. Depending on whether or not you’re actually constipated, this movement can become rather unpleasant. Among such products, dehydration is a significant risk.

Most colon cleanser alternatives are, by comparison, rather safe. Fiber supplements are certainly safe for most people, though certain fiber sources can exacerbate symptoms of IBS, IBD, and other bowel disorders.

Other alternatives might have a few more caveats to them. Probiotics are often safe for most people, but certain strains can interact with specific medications or conditions, and people taking probiotics for the first time can experience stomach issues, including potentially dehydrating diarrhea.

Digestive enzymes have a similar safety profile as probiotics but are less prone to causing intestinal discomfort.

And custom whole-body supplements should be the safest of the bunch, given their basis in comprehensive health testing. However, there are some ingredients that could be included in these supplements that might interact poorly with certain medications or conditions. And these supplements often contain a great many ingredients, so it’d be good to go over them with your doctor.

This all paints a picture in which cleanser alternatives should be safe for most people, but you should also talk to your doctor before incorporating any of them into your regimen.

How do you want to take a given alternative to colon cleanses (pills, mixed beverages, etc.)?

Most colon cleansers are sold as pills or powder drink mixes, and cleanser alternatives are largely the same. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, you might prefer the drink mixes. The downside there is typically the taste experience, and in the case of good fiber supplements, texture can be an issue.

While this comes down to personal preference, certain categories are better served by a specific delivery method. Fiber pills, for example, typically contain far too little fiber, even in brands that ask you to take several throughout the day. A quick fiber drink can get you much more fiber and less hassle.

The inverse is often true of probiotics, which tend to survive better in pill form than as drinks. If you use a powdered probiotic drink mix, you need to consume it quickly. You can’t mix it and take it to work to drink later unless you don’t mind losing some effectiveness.

How much will you spend on this colon cleanser alternative?

Colon cleansers have a relatively wide price range, running from around $25 up to around $65. The alternatives we recommend fall into roughly the same range, with the least expensive option costing about $30 and the most expensive — the custom supplements with recurring testing — reaching either $70 or $139 per month, depending on the extent of the program.

Let’s take a quick look at these cleanser alternatives in terms of price, daily cost, and what each can do for you:

Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber
Seed DS-01
Pure Synergy Enzyme Powder
Tomorrow’s Nutrition Sunfiber GI
Cost per day
Product type
Fiber supplement
Digestive enzymes
Custom probiotic and prebiotic (with option of broader nutritional supplements at additional cost)
Fiber supplement
How it works
Improves quality and regularity of bowel movements
Improves microbial gut balance
Helps break down various foods
Targets your specific health needs
Improves quality and regularity of bowel movements
Discounts available
with code INNERBODY

What is a colon cleanser?

Colon cleansers you see online or at pharmacies are typically fiber supplements or herbal laxatives that have been marketed as colon cleansers despite not meeting the clinical criteria for such a product. In clinical practice, colon cleansers are drugs administered before colonoscopies to ensure the doctor has as clear a view of the colon as possible. They typically contain polyethylene glycol (PEG) in a liquid solution that’s taken orally.

You’ll notice that these cleansers are given to aid in administering a test and not for any health benefit of their own. That’s because the claims made by colon cleanser manufacturers tend to be overblown, if not downright false. Some will say they help “eliminate toxins.” Others will tout potential weight loss, improved energy, and more.

But the liver and kidneys eliminate toxins. And the food waste in your colon isn’t going anywhere — it’s certainly not sneaking out into your body if you don’t flush it out. The reason people who do colon cleanses may feel lighter after is typically because they’ve quickly shed water weight as a result of the product’s laxative properties.

Colon cleanse vs. colonic

To be clear, the colon cleansers we’re discussing here differ from colonics or colon irrigation, sometimes referred to as colon cleanses. Colonics involve large volumes of water — sometimes blended with other substances — pumped into the colon through a tube. They’re essentially very large, deeply applied enemas. And if you find a doctor willing to give you one, you should check their credentials.

Pressure from all that water can actually do more harm than good, potentially perforating the colon, which would allow all that waste to reach your bloodstream — exactly what you thought you were preventing.

How colon cleansers work

Colon cleansers typically work by drawing water to the bowels from other parts of your body and inducing one or more — often powerful — bowel movements. Some fiber-based cleansers work over a longer period, slowly providing your body with supplemental fiber to aid in regularity.

But unsupervised use of herbal laxatives can lead to dehydration, and most fiber-based cleanses use their colon cleanser status to charge you more for less fiber than you’d get in a dedicated fiber supplement that didn’t claim to be a cleanse.

What colon cleanser alternatives are better?

Instead of products billed as colon cleansers, we recommend most readers look to fiber supplements, probiotics, digestive enzymes, or custom-tailored nutritional supplements to treat the ailments that led them to seek out a cleanser in the first place.

The nice thing about those approaches is that they aren’t mutually exclusive. You can combine some or all of them to tackle any digestive issues you might have or to address things like low energy, brain fog, and more.

Are colon cleansers safe?

Frequently cleansing the colon with short-term solutions like laxatives can have adverse side effects and can even cause the colon to be less able to perform its job of absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.

Cleansing too often or not following recommended dosing can have serious consequences, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Imbalance of electrolytes
  • Infection
  • Kidney failure

According to most doctors, the best way to cleanse your colon is to eat a diet high in fiber. This is the most natural way to ensure you expel waste without taking a colon cleansing supplement or an enema. Adult women should get 21-26g of fiber daily, and adult men should get 30-38g daily. Foods high in fiber include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Some cereals

Also, staying hydrated and exercising regularly can keep the colon functioning as it should.

Superior options to colon cleansers

Best Colon Cleansers

Photo by Innerbody Research

So, if products marketed as colon cleansers are often glorified laxatives and low-dose fiber supplements, what should you take instead? Well, that depends a lot on the reason you sought out a colon cleanser in the first place.

Here’s a quick look at some common symptoms and whether certain of our recommended colon cleanser alternatives are good options for them:

FiberProbioticsDigestive enzymesCustom supplements
Brain fog
Excess weight

At first glance, it may seem that probiotics are the way to go. But dysbiosis — a serious imbalance of the gut microbiome — is far less common than a basic fiber deficiency. As little as 5% of Americans meet the daily recommended intake for dietary fiber. But even among patients presenting with severe enough symptoms to qualify them for reflux surgery, only around 60% had dysbiosis.

So, while it’s certainly a good idea for anyone with an unbalanced diet and a potentially unbalanced microbiome to consider probiotics, an increase in dietary fiber is more likely to provide most people with relief similar to what they expected from a colon cleanser.

Let’s take a closer look at these approaches and our favorite products in each category.

Fiber supplements: Garden of Life leads the way

Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber

Photo by Innerbody Research


  • Improves regularity
  • Can relieve constipation
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to alternatives
  • Most Americans don’t get enough fiber to begin with


  • Can cause bloating
  • Many forms are not ideal for those with IBS, IBD, or FODMAP intolerance
  • Insoluble fiber can be unpleasant to drink

Our top fiber recommendation: Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber

If you’re interested in colon cleanses for their supposed ability to flush your colon of “toxins,” you’d likely do better to consider a fiber supplement. As an essential component of a balanced diet, dietary fiber has been shown to regulate bowel movements, prevent constipation, and contribute to heart health. Those first two points are the most relevant to our comparison with colon cleansers, but that third is perhaps even more critical, as there is an inverse relationship between fiber intake and the prevalence of heart disease.

As an alternative to colon cleansers, one of the key advantages of fiber supplements lies in their ability to support regular bowel movements by adding bulk to stool, facilitating its movement through the digestive tract. And fiber also acts as a prebiotic — food for probiotics — helping to balance your gut’s microbiome.

Even if you’re unsure whether a fiber supplement would make the right colon cleanser alternative for you, it’s still a good idea to take one. Some estimates place the percentage of Americans who get the recommended amount of dietary fiber on a daily basis as low as 5%. That means up to 95% of Americans are deficient in dietary fiber — odds are good that you’re in that group.

To be fair, many products marketed as colon cleansers are just fiber supplements. Take Colon Broom, for example. It’s a product that claims to provide you with an “amazing mood” and “crushing energy levels.” But it’s little more than a 3g serving of psyllium husk fiber sold at a rate of $65/month. By comparison, our top pick for fiber supplements offers 9g of fiber for just over $30/month, and it contains several other helpful ingredients.

And some so-called cleansers include prebiotic fibers like fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and xylooligosaccharides (XOS), which can cause bowel distress in some — especially those sensitive to FODMAPs.

Here’s how two fiber-based products sold as colon cleanses compare to our two favorite fiber supplements:

Garden of Life Raw Organic FiberTomorrow’s Nutrition Sunfiber GIColon BroomPeak Biome Peak BioBoost
Cost per day$1$1.17$2.17$1.67
Total grams of fiber9g5g3g7g
Type of productFiber supplementFiber supplement“Cleanser”“Cleanser”
Cost per gram of fiber$0.12$0.23$0.72$0.24
Soluble fiber5g5g3g7g
Insoluble fiber4gN/AN/AN/A
Other key ingredientsOmega-3s, probioticsProbioticsN/AFOS, XOS

As you can see, Garden of Life provides you with the most fiber overall and a significant dose of insoluble fiber, which is more efficient than soluble fiber at pushing material through your colon. It also contains 900 million CFU of Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856, a probiotic strain that has been shown to relieve gas and bloating in adults.

Garden of Life Raw Organic Fiber Ingredients

Photo by Innerbody Research

Tomorrow’s Nutrition also includes a probiotic in its Sunfiber GI blend. Specifically, it uses 8 billion CFU of Bifidobacterium Lactis Bl-04. This strain has performed well in several studies looking at its role in treating intestinal distress associated with IBD and IBS. However, Garden of Life’s inclusion of insoluble fiber still gives it the edge over Sunfiber GI.

In addition to treating gas and bloating that’s already there, this probiotic inclusion also helps prevent the gas and bloating that can sometimes occur with fiber supplementation, especially when hydration is insufficient. This is one of the reasons we recommend powdered fiber supplements over capsules. It’s easy to take capsules with only a few sips of water, but a powdered supplement forces you to drink more, helping to stave off hydration issues.

In testing, we found Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Fiber to be fairly tasty, but its insoluble fiber is a double-edged sword. Yes, it helps with regularity, but it also doesn’t dissolve in water, making the mixture less enjoyable to drink than something like Tomorrow’s Nutrition Sunfiber GI. In the end, we prefer a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, but if it means the difference for you between drinking it and not drinking it, a soluble-only option is fine.

Insider Tip: As long as you’re willing to hydrate sufficiently, you can enjoy Garden of Life’s fiber supplement using this simple recipe from one of our testers: Mix one scoop of fiber with one egg and one half of a mashed ripe banana. Cook as you would any other pancakes over medium-low heat. It’s a tasty way to avoid the thick beverage version of the supplement, and it’s just as effective when cooked.

Tomorrows Nutrition Sunfiber GI

Photo by Innerbody Research

One thing we appreciate about Tomorrow’s Nutrition is its reliance on Sunfiber as its core inclusion, which is a low-FODMAP ingredient certified by Monash University. That’s important, as many fiber supplements contain high FODMAP levels that can increase digestive distress in certain people. It’s more expensive than Garden of Life, but you can use the company’s subscription program to bring its $60 monthly cost down to $49.

Off-the-shelf probiotics: Seed stands out


Photo by Innerbody Research


  • Can help balance out your gut microbiome
  • Linked to improvements in numerous bodily systems beyond just digestion
  • Simple regimens typically only involve 1-3 capsules daily
  • Helps synthesize nonessential micronutrients


  • Can cause stomach discomfort during early use
  • May take longer to relieve certain GI symptoms than fiber or enzymes
  • The best options can be expensive
  • Numerous species and strains can get confusing

Probiotics have surged in popularity in recent years, offering potential benefits well beyond the confines of the gastrointestinal tract. These live microorganisms, commonly bacteria but also including yeasts and fungi, help maintain a delicate balance in the gut microbiome. It’s a symbiotic relationship between these helpful bacteria and our guts, where they help break down the food we eat and play critical roles in gut health, immunity, and even mental health.

Compared to dietary fiber supplements, probiotics aren’t going to help push waste out from your colon. In that way, they’re further from so-called colon cleansers than fiber products. But for those who sought out colon cleansers as a way to address more than just digestion, they can prove superior to fiber.

Colon cleansers claim they offer myriad benefits, but most of those claims lack scientific merit. And probiotics actually have scientific support that they can provide many of those benefits, including:

  • Reduced bloating
  • Improved digestion
  • Greater regularity
  • Bolstered immunity
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced brain fog
  • Weight loss

Among off-the-shelf probiotics, few offer as thorough a blend of bacterial strains from high-quality sources as Seed with its DS-01. It provides nearly 54 billion active fluorescent units (AFU, as opposed to colony forming units [CFU], which can be inactive and ineffective). That includes 24 unique probiotic strains and prebiotic fiber from pomegranate. This isn’t the same kind of fiber you see in fiber supplements. There’s only 400mg of it, and it’s there more as food for these specific bacteria than to act as a fiber supplement.

Seed DS 1 Probiotic Ingredients

Photo by Innerbody Research

At $50/month, Seed is on the pricey side, but it can boast numerous certifications other probiotics or colon cleansers can’t including:

  • Vegan
  • Tested to be free of seven common allergens (gluten, nuts, soy, dairy, etc.)
  • Tested to be free of glyphosates
  • No binders or preservatives

Now, the testing mentioned above is performed in-house, rather than relying on a third party, which we typically prefer. But Seed provides a significant amount of information on its testing processes, including a promise of no “skip-lot” testing, in which companies test one batch out of a much larger number and assume the untested batches are as good.

For a more curated experience, you can have your microbiome tested by several companies that can then custom-tailor probiotics for your particular needs. Viome is our top pick among such companies, charging $70/month for custom probiotics along with free yearly retesting. The company also creates custom-tailored nutritional supplements, which we discuss below.

Custom probiotics and whole-body supplements: Viome earns the top spot


  • Designed to support your specific needs
  • Don’t contain unnecessary ingredients
  • Some companies provide free health testing and free retesting
  • Formulas can be adjusted as test results change


  • More expensive than most other paths
  • Testing often involves a stool sample
  • Regimens can include multiple large pills
Viome Precision Supplements Probiotics Prebiotics Closeup

Photo by Innerbody Research

Custom-tailored supplements offer a unique advantage by addressing specific deficiencies, imbalances, or nutritional gaps that supplement makers can identify through comprehensive health testing. This personalized approach ensures that individuals receive precisely what their bodies need, optimizing the effectiveness of supplementation and preventing you from consuming anything you don’t actually need. This is a much more targeted method than that of the average colon cleanser, which takes more of a one-size-fits-all approach.

In most cases, these companies provide you with an at-home test kit that requires you to take one or more samples, typically including stool, blood, or saliva. Your test results can reveal things like vitamin deficiencies, microbiome imbalances, and more. When you take your custom supplements, these issues should resolve over time. That’s why you’ll want to retest every 6-12 months to see if the regimen is working.

Viome — our top pick for custom gut health (and whole-body health) supplements — is one of the innovators of this approach, and the list of ingredients it can pick and choose from when curating your supplements contains more than 200 components. The company also offers different levels of testing and accompanying supplements, some of which are only designed to check your microbiome and provide you with probiotics and prebiotics, and others that take your whole body’s health into consideration.

Whether you supplement for gut health or whole-body health, this kind of customization is a pricier route than off-the-rack solutions, but the addition of free yearly retesting takes some of the sting out of the experience. And our readers can take 15% off for the first six months by using the coupon code INNERBODY. Considering that Viome’s customized prebiotic and probiotic program costs $20 more than the one-size-fits-all approach of Seed, many people are willing to pay the extra amount for a regimen tailored to their specific needs.

Here’s what some of the company’s programs cost.

Precision SupplementsPrecision Probiotics and Prebiotics
Cost per day$4.63$2.32
Price with promo code INNERBODY$118.15$59.45
Cost per day with promo code INNERBODY$3.94$1.98

Digestive enzymes: Pure Synergy pulls ahead

Pure Synergy Enzyme Powder

Photo by Innerbody Research


  • Can address numerous digestive intolerances
  • Should reduce bloating and dyspepsia
  • Simple regimen usually involves just 1-2 capsules
  • Can improve nutrient absorption


  • Efficacy is limited to specific intolerances
  • Won’t help with regularity
  • Complex blends can be overkill

Our top recommendation for digestive enzymes: Pure Synergy Enzyme Power

You already produce digestive enzymes that can deal with most of the foods you eat. But if you produce one or more in insufficient amounts, certain foods can cause GI distress. So, for anyone thinking of a colon cleanse because they’ve been dealing with bloating, gas, or indigestion, you might want to consider digestive enzymes instead.

Lactase is likely the most recognizable digestive enzyme, mainly because so much of the population has some degree of lactose intolerance. Lactase helps break down milk sugars and prevent the symptoms of lactose intolerance. In addition to lactose, the carbohydrates and fiber in beans are familiar culprits in common digestive issues, specifically gas build-up. Alpha-galactosidase can help you digest those. The other enzymes in a blend like Pure Synergy’s Enzyme Power can tackle other foods that your body might not be producing enough enzymes to handle on its own.

Specifically, common digestive enzymes can help you digest:

  • Protein
  • Plant fiber
  • Starch
  • Fats
  • Sugars
  • Milk sugars

By facilitating the breakdown of complex nutrients into smaller, more readily absorbed components, digestive enzymes support the body’s efforts to extract the maximum nutritional value from the food we eat.

While Garden of Life and other companies we admire create worthy digestive enzyme blends, Pure Synergy’s Enzyme Powder offers the highest doses of the most enzymes that we’ve encountered in its price range. That includes common enzymes like amylase, lactase, and bromelain, but it also contains a 40mg dose of a digestive support blend. These botanicals include fennel seed, coriander seed, ginger extract, and turmeric. These ingredients can help with things like constipation, indigestion, and inflammation.

Pure Synergy Enzyme Powder Ingredients

Photo by Innerbody Research

One bottle of Enzyme Power costs $48, but it contains 90 capsules with a regimen of one per meal. Depending on when you notice your symptoms, you may only end up taking one or two capsules daily, which would lower your cost. You can also sign up for Pure Synergy’s subscription program, which knocks 15% off the price, bringing it down to $40.80.

Frequently asked questions about colon cleansers



Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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