While it may seem like a recent health phenomenon, the practice of colonic cleansing has been around for more than three thousand years. You can read more about its long history in my blog post here.
Fast-forward to today, and colon hydrotherapy is being practised all over the world as part of our global quest for wellness. That said, opinion over the procedure’s effectiveness is divided.
I have witnessed first-hand, in my 28+ years as a complementary health practitioner, the many benefits that this therapy can bring – you can read about them here. Yet there is no denying that many people are skeptical about colon hydrotherapy. You just need to look it up on the Internet to see the stream of articles that claim it is a load old crap, pardon the pun.
I have also received my fair share of ‘off the wall’ questions about colon hydrotherapy from people who only know about colon hydrotherapy due to the bad rap it gets in the media and are therefore filled with doubt, disbelief and distrust in this therapy.
So, I would like to set the record straight on some of the most common myths around colon hydrotherapy.
‘There are no studies to show that colon hydrotherapy works’
One of the criticisms of colon hydrotherapy, at least amongst conventional medicine, is that there are no studies or any evidence-based proof that show that it works. That is quite true and it is highly unlikely to change.
Unlike the NHS, the complementary and alternative medicine community do not have the funds to pay for extremely expensive research and studies.
However, what we do know is that colon hydrotherapy is of substantially proven benefit and this is borne out by the many tens of thousands colon hydrotherapy treatments safely carried out in the UK every year with excellent and sometimes miraculous results.
Take the lady who came to see me struggling with her IBS symptoms of bloating, unpleasant smelling flatulence and abdominal pain, causing her much embarrassment and preventing her from eating out. After one colon hydrotherapy treatment and a short course of a daily multi-strain probiotic, her discomfort was greatly reduced.
I doubt that she is bothered that there is no scientific proof that colon hydrotherapy and probiotics work. Just because there are no “official” studies to show a therapy works, does not mean that the therapy doesn’t work.
‘Colon hydrotherapy will flush out all the good bacteria in the gut’
I hear this one all the time. It’s funny though – people happily take medications, quaff alcohol eat far too many sugary foods, with nary a thought about the long-lasting gut flora destruction arising directly from that, but they panic about a colonic!
It may reduce gut flora levels for a couple of days, but they re-proliferate to their pre-colonic level within a couple of days. More importantly, the treatment clears out the less-than-helpful micro-organisms. Many people just take a couple of live bacteria probiotic capsules following colonic treatment to help top up levels again and eat some good prebiotic foods like onions, garlic, artichokes, bananas and oats.
Furthermore, the colonic treatment will only wash out what is loose within the bowel – both beneficial and pathogenic. The nuclei of the ‘friendly’ bacteria are deeply embedded within the mucosal lining of the bowel wall.
If you have a good, well balanced diet and are eating plenty of prebiotic foods, which are ‘fertilisers’ for your friendly gut bacteria, as well as taking a daily maintenance live bacteria probiotic capsule, then there really is no issue to worry about here.
(Please note that there is a caveat to this point. If someone is having colon hydrotherapy treatment too frequently – perhaps weekly – then there may be some degradation of the bowel lining, affecting the nuclei of the bacteria.)
‘It’s dangerous and can perforate the bowel’
Modern colonic hydrotherapy treatment is perfectly safe when administered by a professionally trained therapist.
Before I begin carrying out a treatment, I complete a comprehensive medical health questionnaire with my patients to determine medical history and ascertain potential contra-indications to treatment.
The treatment is then carried out in a clean and hygienic setting, and the equipment used is single-use, sterile and disposed of immediately in medical waste. Gowns and blankets are used to keep patients warm and covered.
The water introduced into the rectum via the speculum is very low pressure – around 1.5 to 2.0 PSI (pounds per square inch) – and under the skilled administration of a competent, properly trained colon hydrotherapist. There is more pressure applied to the bowel when a person is pushing out faeces than during a colonic treatment.
(There is a caveat here too though. Colon hydrotherapy should not be performed where there is active diverticulitis and following bowel surgery. Age and constitution also need to be taken into consideration.)
‘Colon hydrotherapy washes out all the nutrients’
Does it? Prove it! Most nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine, although vitamin K, vitamin B12, thiamine and riboflavin are absorbed in the first part of the large bowel, where water and electrolytes are also absorbed.
‘It’s a painful treatment’
I think a common and very misguided opinion of modern colon hydrotherapy is that it is a painful procedure when, in actual fact, people find it relaxing and restorative. Many people report instant relief from their bloating, abdominal pain and embarrassing, smelly flatulence after just one colon hydrotherapy treatment. They find that their energy levels and vitality are restored, headaches gone, eyes brighter and skin clearer.
The warm, filtered water is very gently introduced into the bowel under low gravity and this also has a solvent-like action on the impacted faecal matter. Under the skill and guidance of a colon hydrotherapist, this softened faecal matter, together with gases, mucous, and any infected tissue, can be evacuated from the bowel safely and without any discomfort whatsoever.
‘The treatment makes you incontinent’
In all my years of carrying out colon hydrotherapy, and that’s over 20,000 treatments in over 15 years, I have never heard of anyone suffering with incontinence after a colonic treatment. I really have no idea where this myth originated. Perhaps people think that insertion of a speculum into the rectum somehow weakens the rectal muscles, but this is absolutely not the case.
It might make you infertile
Another myth, of unknown origin. It is impossible, both physiologically and mechanically to make any female or male infertile with colon hydrotherapy treatment.
And while we’re here, you won’t see the beer you drank last night, the lego or marble that you swallowed as a child, kidney stones or gall stones coming down the tube. The therapist may see peas, sweetcorn or pink water if you had beetroot. It won’t make you walk bow-legged, and your daughter’s virginity will remain intact!
If you’d like to learn more about Colon Hydrotherapy or speak to people who have already had the treatment, my Facebook group Tummy Talk is a good place to start. And, if you’d like to find a qualified and registered therapist that can carry out the treatment near you visit the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists’ website and the Register of International Colon Therapists and Trainers website.