Cleansing the colon – a little history, and a lot of benefits

Linda Booth, founder of Just for Tummies, carrying out a colonic

Many of you will have an intention – after the indulgences of the festive season – to clean up your diets, start exercising and get back on the road to health.  Some of you will perhaps be kicking off 2020 with some kind of detox or cleanse.  

For millennia, cultures and religions across the world have recognised that periods where food intake is limited can improve physical and spiritual wellbeing.  Likewise, inner cleansing or cleansing the colon has been practiced since ancient times.

In fact, the ancient Egyptians and Greeks were great advocates of this type of treatment, as were traditional Chinese and Indian civilisations. Each of these cultures realised the importance of getting rid of toxicity in the colon, and the many health and wellbeing benefits that come with this natural treatment. The fact that it has endured for so long, and has spread so widely, is a testament to its effectiveness.

A little bit about the history of cleansing the colon

Victorian doctors believed that ‘death begins in the colon’ and it was standard procedure for all doctors to carry an enema kit in their medical bags. They frequently gave their patients an enema to treat an array of conditions.

There was a big movement among Victorian doctors who believed strongly in the gut auto-intoxication theory. They were of the opinion that the lack of a regular bowel movement caused a build-up of ‘toxic’ substances in the intestines, which potentially could gain entry into systemic circulation and cause a myriad of health problems. 

Colonic hydrotherapy - Victorian woman-min

Members of the Victorian upper class would be encouraged to have a bowel movement every morning. This meant having an enema, which would be carried out first thing in the morning. Victorian clothing did not lend itself to being easily removed so it was more practical to empty one’s bowel before getting dressed and embarking upon the day’s activities.

The following quotation, dating from Victorian times, sums up how strongly they believed in cleansing the colon.  No one is quite sure who to credit the words to. Some say it was the great American naturopath, Bernard Jensen, but I believe it was said before him. Perhaps by the English surgeon and physician, Arbuthnot Lane, who advocated the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine. He also recommended three daily bowel movements, believing that intestinal stasis (constipation) was the basis upon which many diseases manifested themselves. Others believe the quote comes from Charles Jacques Bouchard, who was also part of the Victorian auto-intoxication movement or Elie Metchnikoff, a pioneer in germ theory, who advocated the consumption of lactic acid bacteria to improve longevity.

“The colon is a sewage system, but by neglect and abuse it becomes a cesspool. When it is clean and normal we are well and happy; let it stagnate and it will distill the poisons of decay, fermentation and putrefaction into the blood, poisoning the brain and nervous system so that we become mentally depressed and irritable; it will poison the heart so that we are weak and listless; poison the lungs so that the breath is foul; poison the digestive organs so that we are distressed and bloated; and poison the blood so that the skin is sallow and unhealthy. In short, every organ of the body is poisoned, and we age prematurely, look and feel old, the joints are stiff and painful, neuritis, dull eyes and a sluggish brain overtake us; the pleasure of living is gone.”

Around the turn of the 20th century, the first present day colonic equipment was developed. Up to the late 1920s, many doctors had colonic systems in their surgeries and similar equipment was found in hospitals too. Articles dealing with colon health frequently appeared in prestigious medical and scientific journals until the early 1930s.

Today, hospitals have largely replaced colonics with cheaper chemical laxatives, although some people find these unpleasant and ineffective, plus it’s not getting to the root cause of the gut problem.  A treatment with a qualified, registered and regulated colon hydrotherapist will not only help to safely and painlessly cleanse the bowels, but the therapist will also give invaluable insights into what may be causing the issues in the first place, and give advice and guidance on how to rectify them.

I find the history of cleansing fascinating and although conventional, modern medicine has done its best to ‘poo-poo’ the importance of cleansing the colon and, in my opinion, lost sight of the importance of the link between digestive / gut issues and general health.

It’s just common sense to me – we need to regularly get rid of our solid wastes, particularly in cases of chronic constipation.  If your toilet or sink got blocked, would you just leave it in the hope that it rectified itself, or would you call a plumber?

Some of the documented, anecdotal benefits of cleansing include:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved overall health
  • Accelerated healing
  • May improve absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Improved concentration and clarity of mind
  • Improved mood
  • Promotes healthy weight loss
  • Maintains regular bowel movements; prevents constipation
  • Helps keep diverticula pockets clean, preventing diverticulitis flare-ups
  • Reduces the symptoms of IBS
  • Reduces the risk of bowel infections
  • Helps to kill intestinal parasites
  • Can reduce debilitating headaches that are caused by constipation
  • Can improve condition of skin, as it may be linked to constipation (auto-intoxication)
  • May reduce the risk of developing cancers, especially colo-rectal cancers

Lots of people get in touch after overdoing it over Christmas, saying they feel heavy, bloated and lethargic; many experience a flare-up of their IBS symptoms, others are chronically constipated after going overboard on their consumption of gluten and dairy, causing transit time in their bowel to slow right down.

If you feel as though you need to reset this January, then do consider a colon hydrotherapy treatment –you will find a list of qualified, registered and regulated colon hydrotherapists on the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists’ website and the Register of International Colon Therapists and Trainers website.

If you’re not sure what is involved during a colon hydrotherapy treatment, then a video of me carrying out a professional, modern colon hydrotherapy treatment can be found below. Although the video is several years old now, the treatment hasn’t changed in the slightest. (Apologies for the annoying music at the beginning of the video!)

If you have any questions about the procedure feel free to contact me, or join my Facebook group, Tummy Talk, and ask in there.