The difference between colon hydrotherapy and a colonoscopy

Customer service is paramount for Linda Booth, founder of Just For Tummies

As well as April being IBS awareness month, this is also bowel cancer awareness month, but the two conditions are not related. There is no evidence to suggest that IBS increases the risk of developing bowel cancer. The only way IBS and bowel cancer are related is that they can both cause bowel symptoms. People who have had IBS for quite some time may not recognise the change in symptoms, which could be a sign of bowel cancer.

It’s really important for everybody, whether you have a diagnosis of IBS or not, to consult your doctor if you have a change in long-standing bowel symptoms. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend a more specialised test such as a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy is not a colon hydrotherapy/irrigation procedure. The two procedures are quite different. Let’s take a closer look.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure performed in a hospital. You are normally referred there by your GP or if you have a positive FIT for blood in stool, you will be referred for colonoscopy as a matter of urgency, especially if you are aged over 60. It’s very important to carry out your bowel cancer screening test (FIT) when it comes through the post.

You have to drink a bowel prep a couple of days before the colonoscopy procedure to clear out your bowel and you are usually given a sedative during the procedure. Gas inflates your bowel before a camera is inserted into your rectum. The endoscopist will want to get all the way around your large bowel and through the ileo-cecal valve (ICV) into the terminal ileum (last part of small bowel), before going backwards, checking for inflammation, infection, adhesions, scar tissue, diverticular disease/diverticulitis, polyps and cancer. You can, if you wish, watch the whole procedure on a screen, as my husband did when he had his colonoscopy. The whole procedure takes approximately 45 minutes, depending upon what they find. Sometimes if they find bowel polyps, they will snare and remove them there and then and they will be sent off for biopsy.

Why is your colon so critical for good health?

Think of your colon as the waste management station of your body. All of the cells and tissues in your body – and your major organ of detoxification, the liver – rely upon a well-functioning colon so they can cleanse your body of toxins.

While waste products that are left over from digestion of the food you eat is sent to your colon to be safely excreted from your body, important nutrients and hormones are still being absorbed or manufactured there as well. When everything is working in an efficient manner, your colon will be able to handle the waste, and also absorb leftover nutrients (like water, electrolytes, and vitamins) from digested foods and send them back for your body to use.

In essence, your colon is deciding what to get rid of and what important nutrients to redistribute.

The colon sends out signals when it isn’t working properly. It’s vital that you pay attention to these signals. Consult your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Abdominal pain — especially on the left side
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Frequent indigestion
  • Persistent diarrhoea or constipation
  • Rectal bleeding or bloody stools
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Fever

Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to help identify the cause of these symptoms.

Colonoscopy preparation – can colon hydrotherapy help?

Anyone who’s had a colonoscopy will say the preparation is the worst part. Colonoscopy preparation consists of drinking a mixture that results in uncomfortable diarrhoea as a way to clear your bowels for the procedure. Indeed, colonoscopy preparation alone may keep people from doing this important early-detection procedure.

However, you might want to consider colon hydrotherapy as an additional way to prepare for a colonoscopy. It can be a win-win for doctors and patients. Doctors can get better colonoscopy results and patients have a much easier colonoscopy preparation.

Here are 3 important reasons everyone can benefit from colon cleansing:

  1. It’s been suggested that the average person has between 7 – 10 pounds of old faecal matter in their colon, even with a bowel movement each day.
  2. The accumulation of waste on the walls of your colon creates the perfect breeding ground for parasites, yeast, bad bacteria and viruses.
  3. In fact, for too many people today, detoxification pathways are essentially blocked. Over time, toxins build up. It is estimated that the average person is exposed to over 123 toxic chemicals each day from food, water, air, stress and personal care products.

What happens in a colon hydrotherapy treatment?

During colon hydrotherapy, a trained colon hydrotherapist uses warm water to gently encourage the bowel to empty its contents. This process may feel strange at first, but it can clean out your colon more thoroughly than many other colon cleansing treatments. The treatment involves lying on a couch, initially on your left side so that a small sterile speculum can be inserted. Attached to this speculum are two sterile tubes, one taking in the filtered water and the other releasing the contents of the bowel (gases and stool).

The colon hydrotherapist will, using a combination of water temperature variation, herbal implants and specific abdominal massage techniques, examine the bowel and its contents, using the massage techniques and what’s exiting the bowel, to determine the health of the bowel, if any dietary changes are needed, if supportive supplements like probiotics, digestive enzymes are required and subsequently give you a treatment plan. They will then book you in for a follow-up treatment, usually within three or four weeks. The treatment lasts around 30-45 minutes depending upon the length and sluggishness of the bowel. If any red flags are picked up during examination and treatment, the therapist will recommend you see your GP.

Why cleanse your colon?

Besides colonoscopy preparation, there are other reasons to cleanse your colon with colon hydrotherapy.

Colon hydrotherapy is great if you:

  • Experience constipation – a healthy colon will eliminate at least once per day
  • You want to try and keep diverticular pockets clean
  • Need to detox
  • Want to support your digestive health
  • Want to hydrate your body down to the cellular level
  • Want to flush out bad bacteria, yeast, mucous and old faecal matter from your colon

Colon hydrotherapy is also a great way to jump-start your journey to health or to enhance the natural cleansing process that takes place as part of a healthy diet.

It’s safe – this often misunderstood therapy is a completely safe way to flush waste out of your body. Be sure to find a certified colon hydrotherapist from any of these professional associations: The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists, The Register of Integrated Colon Therapists and Trainers, or The Institute of Professional Colon Hydrotherapy.

It’s effective – whether you just need a periodic colonic or want to cleanse out your colon more thoroughly with a series of sessions as you start your new diet, colon hydrotherapy is easy, pain-free, more thorough, and less messy than many other cleansing options.

It reduces detox symptoms – if you are starting to feel the symptoms of detoxification such as fatigue and headaches, then a colonic can help speed toxins/waste out of your body and keep you feeling energetic.

The difference between colon hydrotherapy and a colonoscopy

Colon hydrotherapy is extremely effective in helping to reduce IBS symptoms and is a very popular treatment for people who have been diagnosed with this syndrome, where cramps, uncomfortable bloating and irregular bowels are common symptoms.

When I was in clinical practice, one of my regular clients was a GP who attended every three months for colonic treatment because he wanted to reduce his risk of getting bowel cancer. There is no evidence that colon hydrotherapy can do this because there have never been any clinical trials conducted in this area, but I think it stands to reason that if you can keep your colon healthy, it can reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer.

If you have any questions about colon hydrotherapy or would like to know more about a tailored supplement protocol for your digestive and gut symptoms, please get in touch.