Everything You’ve Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask) About Colonics

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Colon hydrotherapy has gotten somewhat of a bad rap on the internet. As a result of some of the stories and accounts online, many people now question the side effects of colonics, their efficacy, and their safety. However, this isn’t just a “wash-and-go” treatment as some may think; there is so much more involved than just cleansing the colon of waste. For instance, many of my patients come to see me because of digestive problems, and I will work to understand the source of their digestive discomfort, whether it originates from diet and nutrition, holding on to emotions, internal imbalances, stress, physical injuries, or dehydration, amongst other causes.

If you’ve been thinking of trying this treatment, but have dozens of unanswered questions, here’s everything you need to know.

So what is colon hydrotherapy?

Colon hydrotherapy dates back some 3,000 years, with the earliest accounts originating from Egypt.

The large intestine is hydrated and cleansed of fecal waste through a process that involves introducing a gentle flow of temperature- and pressure-controlled filtered water into the anal and rectal area with the use of a medical-grade device. It is similar to an enema or a colema but treats the whole colon as opposed to just the lower bowel. This has the effect of flushing out impacted fecal matter, toxic waste, yeast, and other undesirable matter that often builds up over time. It is a procedure that should only be undertaken by a qualified practitioner.

Why get colon hydrotherapy?

Cleansing the colon with the use of hydrotherapy is not a new concept. Forms of colonic irrigation have been used successfully for centuries to relieve chronic toxicity and enhance health.

We all have different lifestyles, and our nutritional regimes, metabolic activity, and other daily factors differ considerably. However, if we do not empty our bowels regularly, then we do not eliminate waste completely. When input exceeds output, issues can begin to arise.

Impacted fecal matter can cause an imbalance of the natural organisms that normally populate the bowel, leading to what is known as dysbiosis. Decomposing matter can cause a toxic condition and may lead to many health problems as constipation causes backed-up pollution of the body cells. Failures in the body’s process of waste elimination will, at best, cause fatigue, lack of energy, and premature aging and, at worst, degenerative diseases.

Is it safe?

Yes, completely safe! Sanitation is vital to this process. All equipment should be medical-grade certified. The tubes, robes, pads, and, of course, speculums that are used should be fully disposable. If you’re doing this with an experienced practitioner and at a reputable establishment, the water pressure and flow will be monitored carefully throughout the treatment so that there is no danger of bowel perforation. The water used is pre-filtered a few times. The treatment will not lead to a lazy bowel or become habit-forming. In fact, it actually increases muscle tone and stimulates peristaltic action.

Does everyone need a colonic?

You actually don’t need to be suffering with any negative symptoms in order to benefit from a colonic. The treatment is really just a great way to keep your internal body hydrated above anything else, which is especially important in this part of the world. If one suffers from constipation or other chronic conditions, two or three treatments at least will be required to achieve the desired results regarding the elimination of impacted matter and the restoration of bowel regularity. Initially, only gas and recent fecal matter may be expelled.

The main benefits include:

– hydration of the large intestine
– relieving stagnation by removing waste from the colon
– facilitating the decrease of gut permeability
– encouraging bowel motility and peristalsis
– improving nutrient absorption
– rebalancing gut bacteria
– contributing to liver, blood, and kidney cleansing
– prevention against degenerative diseases
– management of IBS, bloating, and alternating constipation and diarrhea
– helping to clear skin
– increasing energy levels and stamina
– helping to manage food and alcohol cravings
– helping the release of emotional waste stored in the large bowel
– helping to manage intolerances, such as processed wheat, dairy, etc.

What happens during a colonic?

During the treatment, a small speculum is passed into the patient’s bowel through the rectum. The practitioner attaches this to a tube leading to a device that allows temperature-controlled filtered water into the colon at a controlled flow. The temperature of the water should ideally be kept as close to body temperature as possible. The patient will temporarily be filled with water up to the level of the entire colon. This process, although sometimes uncomfortable if the dietary preparation is not adhered to, is not painful. It triggers peristaltic action and the patient will begin to expel the water along with fecal matter back through the tube. This sensation can sometimes feel like a simple bowel movement. The fecal matter is flushed out via a transparent pipe or viewing tube, so that what is eliminated may be monitored. During the treatment, the therapist will gently massage the patient’s abdomen to help dislodge impacted fecal matter. The entire process takes about 40 minutes on average.

What happens after a colonic?

Since the colon has been cleared of solid matter, it may take up to four days before it fills up again and normal bowel movements are resumed. Some water is absorbed through the colon wall during a colonic, and one may notice an increased need to urinate for a few hours afterwards. This beneficial effect of flushing the kidneys may also be enhanced by drinking a few glasses of water with the juice of half a lemon added to each glass.

A colonic has a profoundly cleansing effect on the body and many people feel so good afterwards that they want to double their jogging or workout time. Caution is advised here. Although light to moderate exercise is good if you are used to it, any strenuous activity should be avoided 24 hours after the treatment. If a condition, such as habitual constipation or irritable bowel, has existed for a while, tiredness may be experienced for a couple of days after the first colonic.

A light diet of fruits, steamed vegetables, soups, and chicken or fish should be followed for two to three days afterwards, taking care to avoid anything that causes gas. Avoid drinks with gas, whether they are natural or added. Rich or heavy foods, fried foods, wheat and dairy products, spices, sugar, coffee, and alcohol should also be avoided during this period.

Although irrigating the colon does not remove all of the intestinal bacteria, it is still helpful to take probiotic supplements to maintain bacterial balance.

Are there any contraindications to be aware of?

Yes, there are quite a number of contraindications and, if in doubt, a referral letter from a medical specialist is advised. The therapist will also be trained to answer any such questions.

Can the treatment become habit forming?

This is a possibility, and it is the duty of the therapist to highlight this fact and be very sincere when treating a client. The rule of thumb is no more than 12 treatments per year. If the symptoms are long-standing issues, two to three sessions are normally enough, when combined with the all-important home maintenance of nutritional and lifestyle changes, to tackle the issue.

What if the treatment does not work?

The root cause of your symptoms may be a lot deeper than expected; it could be emotional or it could be as simple as a “locked” pelvic area leading to a lack of nerve stimulation in the colon. A well-trained and experienced therapist will be able to determine whether or not there is a deeper underlying cause at play. What we find is that there is usually a trigger at some point in someone’s life when the symptoms first started, and this could stem from a variety of reasons such emotional trauma, a sporting or car accident, food poisoning, inability to use a public toilet, or malnutrition during childhood.

Integrating this with complementing treatments, such as chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy, DORN Therapy, acupuncture, Chi Nei Tsang, reflexology, and energy healing can really enhance the benefits of colon hydrotherapy. I have had phenomenal results with my patients by integrating my treatment with a referring medical or alternative specialist. That being said, remember that the key to healing is “less is more” and not to overload yourself.

Can I lose good bacteria from a colonic treatment?

A disruption of good bacteria is foreseeable during a colonic, but a properly trained and qualified therapist will be able to advise you on the natural supplementation of probiotics and the addition of foods that will feed the growth of healthy bacteria. They will also be able to determine what strains of bacteria would benefit you according to your case history and the results of your treatment. A general multi-strain probiotic is not always the answer.

I've heard that colonics unnecessarily clear our body of nutrients we need to be healthy. Is that true?

Many people question the side effects of colon hydrotherapy. They have an understanding that it is dangerous, that it makes the colon lazy, that it removes good bacteria and nutrients, and that it can cause bowel perforation. What you need to know is that colon hydrotherapy is far from dangerous if performed by a properly trained therapist. The treatment itself actually strengthens and improves bowel movement or peristaltic contractions of the colon rather than making it lazy. The main benefit is essentially internal hydration of the body and, rather than removing vital nutrients, it truly improves nutrient absorption by removing old impacted waste.

Can I lose weight from a colonic?

Yes and no. It is very important not to promote colon hydrotherapy as a weight-loss treatment. However, it can assist you during a weight-loss program and it can give the impression of weight loss due to the reduction of abdominal bloating after the treatment.

Does it help during a detox program?

Yes, absolutely. When detoxing, we release a lot of toxins into the body and sometimes struggle to eliminate them. Colonics help to facilitate this process, thereby inhibiting the body’s ability to reabsorb the toxins.

Will I need to go home after the treatment?

No, you can actually carry on with your day as normal.

Can you treat men?

Yes, colonics work on both male and female clients.

Can I have the treatment during my menstruation?

Yes, you can. There are no contraindications.

Is it a painful treatment?

A colonic should not be painful, but your first treatment may be slightly uncomfortable if there is a lot of trapped gas needing to be released. If you suffer from emotional stress, this may also create discomfort such as cramping, but again a well-trained therapist will know what to do.

How do I choose my therapist?

It is advisable to research your therapist to make sure they are properly qualified. All reputable therapists around the world will be members of a recognized and credible association. This will ensure that the therapist adheres to the strict policies and protocols relating to the safe practice of colon hydrotherapy and that they regularly attend refresher workshops and training courses. In the UAE, the therapist will need a medical license to operate.

What's something I didn't know about the colon?

The colon is also known as the second brain and can actually function on its own without brain activity. We all know and understand how stubborn the colon can be and with a mind of its own. It really does determine our general moods and this is related to the production of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter, serotonin, of which up to 90% is actually produced in the bowel area. If our large intestines are sluggish and not eliminating properly on a daily basis, then our moods are affected immediately. At the end of the day, a sluggish bowel will lower serotonin production, and of course our moods are lowered.

Kay Bodanza is a Colon Hydrotherapy Specialist at The Chiron Clinic with over 16 years of experience in the health, wellness, and fitness industry. She studied Practical Detoxification at the world renowned Chi Centre in the United Kingdom, is a qualified nutritionist and naturopathic wellness expert, and is a Member of the Board of Governance and Middle East Representative for The International Register of Integrative Colon Therapists and Trainers (RICTAT).