by Kay Slick, R.N.
Also known as a colonic irrigation, high enema, colonic lavage or colonics, colon hydrotherapy is the gentle flushing of waste from the large intestine or colon with body temperature water.
What is the colon?
Approximately five feet long and 2.5 inches in diameter, the colon in the end portion of the digestive track, and is a hollow muscular organ whose purpose is to absorb water and nutrients, and eliminate waste. In addition, the colon is host to a wide variety of bacteria that synthesize nutrients such as Vitamin K and some B Vitamins. It is separate from the small intestine by the ileocecal valve, a one-way valve preventing the passage of water into the small intestine.
What does a colonic do?
Waste material, especially material that has been in the colon for a long time, breaks down and becomes toxic. These toxic byproducts are reabsorbed by the blood and circulate throughout the body, making us feel ill, fatigued or weak. This buildup impairs the absorptive, assimilative function of the colon, and inhibits muscular action, contributing to further sluggishness and constipation. The repeated flushing of water in colon hydrotherapy does the following:
- It contributes significantly to the detoxification of the colon and of the body in general by cleansing, flushing, and removing accumulated, impacted waste.
- It exercises and tonifies muscles in the colonic wall which improves peristalsis and assists in eliminating bulging pocket or areas of constriction. This tonification is like taking your colon to the gym, and assists in reshaping the organ.
- It stimulates neuro-reflex points. Every organ in the body is connected to the colon by a reflex point, which is stimulated during a colonic. Such stimulation beneficially affects the organ in a manner similar to foot reflexology.
- Additional benefits may include an increased awareness of the body's functioning, a general feeling of lightness, and increased energy. Clients have reported weight loss, stress reduction, alleviation of constipation, and greater mental clarity.
What indicates a need for colon hydrotherapy?
Inefficient elimination and toxicity may be indicated by one or more of the following: coated tongue, bad breath, shallow blotchy complexion, abnormal body odor, dark circles under the eyes, cold hands and feet, pot belly, brittle nails and hair, allergies, indigestion, headaches, insomnia, backaches, asthma, and depression.
What is healthy elimination?
Assuming there is a proper intake of fiber and water, one characteristic of a healthy colon is an urge to have a bowel movement shortly after a meal is consumed. The elimination should be without strain, and take approximately 10 seconds or less. The stool will be long, large in diameter, medium to light brown in color, without odor, and will float or sink very slowly. It will break up immediately with the flushing of water.
How is colon hydrotherapy done?
Water flows into the body through a disposable narrow rectal tube which the client inserts. Water enters the body gently with only the force of gravity. The colon will fill until peristalsis is initiated, resulting in the release of stool and water. The releases are cyclic and there will be period of more or less activity. You will eliminate around the rectal tube, which allows evaluation and is a source of client education.
You lie on a specially designed, very comfortable table. The water entering your body flows through a charcoal filter and an ultraviolet radiation unit to eliminate bacteria, additives, and debris from pipes. The colon therapist can assist by massaging the abdomen or the feet, and by working acupressure points and promoting energy flow in body meridians.
The procedure is private, respectful of your dignity, and honoring of your process and feelings. There is no odor; it is clean and efficient. The entire process takes about an hour (allow about fifteen more minutes for the first session).
Is it painful? What can I expect?
It may be uncomfortable at first. It may not be. Each colonic is individual to the person. Usually the first session is more difficult, simply because you are experiencing the unknown. A professional therapist is skilled in assisting you and putting you at ease, explaining what is happening and why. Some things you may experience are cramping, urgency and nausea. These feelings are transient and easy to tolerate.
Is it safe?
Yes. The rectal tubes are disposable and are used only once. The table is completely disinfected between clients. Additionally, the table pad is covered with a disposable plastic pad to further ensure your safety and comfort.
How do I prepare?
Eat lightly the day of the procedure and nothing for the two hours immediately preceding the colonic. If you are fasting, it is best to have a colonic at the beginning of the fast. In general, drink at least 2 quarts of water a day prior to the colonic and eat as much fiber as you can.
What should I expect after the colonic and how should I eat?
You should again plan to eat light, easily digested meals for about 24 hours. Soups, steamed or baked vegetables, grains or fish are recommended. In the summer, salads are fine. Continue to drink at least 2 quarts or more of water daily.
You will want to have a bowel movement the next day. If you do not, it is a sign of a sluggish colon that need strengthening, cleansing and tonifying.
Again, the reaction to a colonic is quite individual, reflecting the nature of the person receiving the treatment. Some clients immediately feel energized and have a heightened sense of well-being. Others are more tired and fatigued and need to rest.
How many sessions of colon hydrotherapy are recommended?
One colonic almost never completely empties the colon. Much of what is there is old, hardened, rubbery and quite stuck to the walls. As you learn how to take a colonic and become more aware of what your body is saying to you during a session, you are more able to facilitate the release of material. One colonic will remove some but not all of the stagnant waste. Subsequent sessions will remove more.
It is recommended that you do a series of appointments, the number to be determined by your healing objectives and the recommendation of the therapist. The timing, however, is important.
It is very beneficial to schedule the first four colonics on sequential days: two the first week and two the second week. As the colon is cleansed, the body begins to pull waste from the tissue. The immediate second colonic ensures elimination of that waste, rather than re-absorption. This is especially important for those who feel tired, or slightly upset by the first session. It is the wash and rinse principle.
Will colon hydrotherapy benefit my skin?
Yes, very possibly. The skin is the largest eliminative organ. When the colon is functioning poorly, the skin reflects the work that it must do to eliminate waste. Cleansing the colon diminishes the burden placed on the sin as well as the liver, kidneys and lungs.
What about fluid and electrolyte balance?
Electrolytes are the minerals in the body that maintain proper electrical charge and pH balance in organs and tissues in the body. For example, the stomach is acidic, the duodenum is alkaline. These balances must be maintained for digestion to occur.
The pH of the colon is ideally very slightly acidic. Digestion does not occur here. Re-absorption of water and nutrients from unformed stool as it passes from the small intestine is the colon's function. As the stool becomes more formed, it moves into the rectal vault and out of the body. The majority of material released during a colonic has already had the electrolytes and minerals removed. The amount of loss is minimal and can be replaced by a healthy meal or a mineral drink. We experience mineral and electrolyte loss through the use of coffee, alcohol, diuretics, stress, perspiration and poor eating habits.
Does colon hydrotherapy adversely affect intestinal bacteria and valuable nutrients?
No. No one session will remove all the bacteria. Good bacteria can only flourish in a clean and healthy environment. Colonics improve the "habitat" thereby facilitating their reproduction and multiplication. The proportion of unhealthy bacteria is ideally about 15% in the normal colon, with the healthy bacteria taking the remaining 85%. In a colon laden with old waste and suffering from impaired functioning, this proportion is reversed. Colon hydrotherapy is a valuable tool in re-establishing health. Additionally, clients are encouraged to being a daily supplement of a probiotic to assist (such as Plantadophilus) in re-implantation and growth of healthy intestinal flora.