What is Colonic Hydrotherapy?
The colon is the final – and vital – stage of the digestive system. The large intestine, as it is also called, is about 5 feet in length and approximately 2 ½ inches in diameter. Its main function is to absorb water and salts from food that has been partially digested, and to then pass the waste material out of the body. If waste is not efficiently and regularly carried out of the body, toxic substances may build up and cause a variety of health problems.
Colonic Hydrotherapy or Colonic Irrigation, as it was once known, is the method for cleansing the colon of waste material that has collected there and harmful toxins by gently flushing warm water through the colon. The treatment is claimed to restore the pH balance in the body, to stimulate the immune system and to tone the colon itself.
At one time, the procedure was used mainly in hospitals as a preparation for medical procedure, but it’s perceived benefits now make colonic hydrotherapy a popular treatment in many health spas, where the technique is carried out in clean and comfortable environment – sometimes as part of a detoxification routine or to help to alleviate the symptoms of a number of conditions.
• Colonic cleansing has the effect of clearing impacted material and relieving chronic constipation.
• Many find that the process soothes the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• The technique is frequently used in conjunction with other methods in detoxifying the system, as part of eliminating alcohol, drugs and toxins.
• It can also be incorporated in treatment to establish new dietary habits and lifestyle.
Colonic hydrotherapy is also occasionally combined in treatments to tackle weight control, fasting, liver detox and other types of cleansing. In fact, the Colonic International Association recommends that Colonic Hydrotherapy “is best used as a complementary technique to other therapies. By improving elimination, response to dietary, homeopathic, herbal, manipulative and other therapies is markedly improved.”
It can be described as essentially a natural treatment, because colonic hydrotherapy stimulates the bowel with water in order to use its natural nerve and muscular response.
What to expect
In the western world many people feel reserved about their natural bodily functions, but increasingly, individuals suffering from bowel conditions are seeking relief though a professional cleansing of the colon. Those who overcome their initial embarrassment say that they are rewarded by coming away with an overall feeling of lightness, vitality and cleanliness, following the colonic process.
Before booking your hydrotherapy session you would be advised to ensure that the place you go has therapists that have been fully trained and registered. Before your appointment it is suggested that you do not eat a large meal; some organisations suggest not eating at all for two hours before. No other preparation is necessary.
The therapist will take a brief medical history at your first appointment to ensure you don’t have any condition ( such as active inflammation, for example, diverticulitis or ulcerative colitis) which would make it unadvisable to have a treatment. And the procedure will be explained to you.
You will change into a disposable gown and asked to lie on your side on a table. After a brief examination, a speculum (to which inlet and outlet pipes are attached) is gently introduced into the rectum and warm water flows in to soften and cleanse the colon of waste matter and old faecal deposits. These will be piped out through outlet pipe and flow discreetly into a drain. It is a closed system, so there is no odour. Considerable effort is made to ensure that the dignity of the client is preserved at all times. An experienced therapist will be practised at putting a client at their ease.
About 60 litres of water – filtered and warmed – are used during the entire process, but only small amounts flow in at a time to stimulate the bowel into the sensation of being full and therefore contracting as it would naturally to eliminate waste. Sometimes herbal infusions are also used.
You’ll be asked to turn onto your back so that the therapist can apply special massage techniques to the abdomen to assist the process. The treatment can take from 30 to 50 minutes, after which you will be given plenty of time to use the shower and en suite facilities, and dress at your leisure.
The process of colon hydrotherapy washes out not only waste matter, but also the “friendly” bacteria which are an essential part of the digestive process, so you should be advised on how to replace these. A probiotic (friendly bacteria) implant may be given afterwards or it may be suggested that you take a good probiotic or acidophilus after treatment to re-populate the intestinal flora in your colon.
Effects and Benefits
The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists says that many conditions may benefit from colonic hydrotherapy, including:
- Atonic (sluggish) colon
- Colitis in remission
- Diverticulosis (i.e Diverticulitis in remission)
- Flatulence .
- Headache, toxic
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrone)
- Leaky gut
- Mucous colitis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parasitic infections
- Skin problems: eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, etc.
- Urinary urgency in females.
Since people have colonic hydrotherapy for a number of different conditions, the beneficial outcomes are varied, too.
- Cleansing the colon of waste matter can get it functioning again efficiently
- Muscle tone of the bowel is improved, so there should be a more regular pattern of bowel motions.
- As toxins have been cleared out, skin can look clearer, hair healthier
- The immune system may be strengthened and the metabolism energised.
Colonic Hydrotherapy is claimed to make specific improvements in the following areas:
- Benefit the skin and alleviate conditions such as eczema and acne
- Contribute to a programme of weight control and improve body tone and shape
- The risk of bowel diseases and disorders is reduced
- Enable better relaxation, de-stressing and improve quality of sleep
- Improve levels of energy and general well-being.
One stated advantage of Colonic Hydrotherapy over enemas or laxatives, is that it is not habit-forming, and its effects are said to be wholly beneficial.
Fascinating Facts about Colonic Hydrotherapy
- In his book, Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management, qualified chiropractor, nutritionist and worldwide research in health, Dr. Bernard Jensen says, ‘In times past, knowledge of the bowel was more widespread and people were taught how to care for the bowel. Somehow, bowel wisdom got lost and it became something that no one wanted to talk about anymore.’
- An Egyptian medical document ‘Eber Papyrus’, dated as 1500 BC, makes mention of the use of enemas and other cleansing procedures as remedial techniques.
- Acknowledged expert in the history of enemas, Dr. William Lieberman published an extensive review of the historical perspective on the subject, as reported by Time Magazine:
- The Hindu Vedas hint of its use in 2000 B.C.
- Greek historian of the 5th Centre Herodotus, reported “the Egyptians clear themselves on three consecutive days every month.” The Egyptians learned the art, said the Roman Naturalist Pliny, from the long-beaked ibis, who “washes the inside of his body by introducing water with his beak into the channel by which … the residue of our food should leave.”
- Fashionable Parisians of 17th century Paris, believed that inner ‘lavements’ purified the complexion and produced good health, and Louis XIV is reputed to have had over 2,000 enemas during his reign, some in tinted and scented, and some in the presence of his courtiers.
- An extension of the enema principle came in 1895 with the invention of colonic irrigation by Professor Ismar of Berlin—a controversial treatment, even then.
- Is there a difference between an enema and colonic hydrotherapy, many people ask. There is: an enema only reaches the rectum and lower part of the colon, whereas with Colonic Hydrotherapy accesses the entire length of the colon.
- Fascinating Figures published by the Guild of Colon Hydrotherapists include these:
- The healthy transit time of food through our bodies is less than 24 hours.
- On average in the U.K. it is now 60 hours for men and 70 hours for women.
- The United Kingdom is the most constipated nation in the world.
- One in three people consulting G.P.’s have a bowel problem.
- In his paper ‘Per Rectum: a history of enemata’, published by the Royal College of Physicians, Dr D. Doyle (retired consultant in Palliative medicine, Edinburgh) lists many of the intriguing notions about medical treatment by enema. In the late nineteenth century in USA medicinal treatments were routinely prescribed to be administered via the back passage , for example:
- Aloes enema for round worms. (Aloes, potassium carbonate and starch.)
- Opium enema for inflammation of the bladder and dysentery. (Tincture of opium, starch & infusion of elm bark.)
- Tobacco enema for strangulated hernia and other bowel obstructions. (An infusion of 20 grains of tobacco leaf in eight ounces of boiling water.)
- It seems that in every civilization, in every age, the technique of enemas was used to promote health or alleviate problems: From the Mongols to the Hindus, Greeks to Romans, The Apache Chiricahuas and Bantu tribes. In Mexico, they use Manzanita tea; in the Causasus, they use Camomile tea.
- Enemas used also to be prescribed in obstetrics, to evacuate the lower bowel and so to stimulate uterine contractions – the classical ‘OBE’ of castor oil, bath and enema – to encourage the onset of labour.
The Association & Register of Colon Hydrotherapists
The Association & Register of Colon Hydrotherapists (formerly the Colonic International Association) was founded in 1987 by Dr. Milo Siewert. The lead body for colonic hydrotherapy, it represents the largest number of Colon Hydrotherapists in the UK, maintaining a register of therapists in full and probationary membership. The members of ARCH must have qualified at a recognised training course.
ARCH is a member of The General Naturopathic Council (GNC) and is funded by its members and the Princes’ Fund for Integrated Medicine. From 2010 all ARCH therapists are independently regulated by the government recognised CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council).