Is an enema the same as a colonic?

enema v colonic blog image

Over the years, I’ve often been asked this question and the answer is no. An enema only empties the very lower part of the large bowel, the rectal area, and a colonic empties the whole length of the large bowel.

What is an enema?

An enema involves putting warm water or sometimes a raw coffee solution, herbs or laxatives into the rectum via a thin nozzle that you insert yourself. The enema bag holds approximately one litre of water, but the tube has an on/off tap to enable you to regulate the flow of the water going into your bowel.

The water is retained anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, then when you feel the ‘urge to go’, you remove the nozzle from your bottom and you go to the toilet and release the water and any faeces on the toilet. When you first begin to administer your own enemas, you may only be able to retain the water for 10 or 20 seconds. Don’t let this put you off. With practice, you will find that you will be able to retain it for longer. Enemas are incredibly useful if you suffer from constipation, to enable you to get the wastes out. It may also help that whilst the water is being retained, you give yourself an abdominal massage, in a clockwise direction, helping to move the wastes along. If you want to get yourself a home enema kit, contact Manifest Health Limited here. Manifest health also provide lots of advice about how to carry out enemas, and you can also buy herbs and coffee from them.

What is a colonic?

A colon hydrotherapy treatment, colonic irrigation or colonic (all terms mean the same thing) involves a single-use, disposable speculum being inserted into the rectum approx 2″ by a trained, regulated and registered colon hydrotherapist. This type of treatment cannot be undertaken at home. It requires specialist equipment that has to be plumbed in and specialist knowledge to administer the treatment.

It is not uncomfortable in the slightest. Attached to the speculum are two tubes, one slim tube that introduces the warm, highly filtered water into the bowel, and a wider tube that takes the waste water and any faeces, gases away. Both of these tubes are on the outside the body and there is no mess and no odour. It’s a ‘closed’ system which means all the waste is taken away in a tube.

Some colon hydrotherapists are also trained in administering herbal infusions via the speculum into the bowel during the colonic treatment. Common ones used are peppermint, fennel, licquorice root and chamomile. Occasionally Epsom salts are used and very often coffee enemas, once the colonic treatment has been completed. Herbs help to relax the bowel, release painful spasms, especially in the case of IBS, and help to release gas pockets and stubborn, trapped wastes.

The colon hydrotherapy treatment takes anywhere from between 40 minutes to an hour and a half, especially for a first treatment, and a total of approximately 50 – 80 litres of warm, filtered water is used to gently flush the contents from the bowel. The colon hydrotherapist will aim to get the water all the way around the colon, also called large bowel which is approx 5.5/6 feet long. (Around 1 ½ metres.) She may use specific abdominal massage techniques to help encourage gases and wastes to break down, move along and out the bowel. This is very different to an enema that will only clear out the last few inches of the bowel.

On completion of the colon hydrotherapy procedure, the client goes to the toilet to release any residual water and waste.

For a list of qualified, registered and regulated colon hydrotherapists, visit The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapist’s website or the RICTAT Colonic Association’s website.

I hope you find this post useful. If you want to learn more about how to take care of your digestive system and bowels, then sign up to receive my informative emails here.