- Colon hydrotherapy aims to cleanse your bowel by flushing water through the rectum. But is it really necessary? And is it healthy?
- We ‘ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Read on to discover why you should consider a colonic – and why you shouldn’t.
Colon hydrotherapy has been around since pre-history, and its use has been linked to ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. In 16th-century France, patients were asked to hold a solution of honey and herbs in their colon for two hours, and in North America in the nineteenth century, couples regularly gave enemas to each other. In more recent times, the practice has become more controversial.
What exactly is colon hydrotherapy?
You may know colon hydrotherapy by its other name: Colonic irrigation. While similar to an enema, it is not the same thing. An enema flushes water into the bowel once, in order to clean the lower part of the colon, whereas colon hydrotherapy involves multiple flushes in an aim to clear the whole bowel. The procedure could involve up to 16 gallons of water being flushed into your bowel, and sometimes, as in the past, this is combined with herbs or other natural substances such as coffee.
What are the claims?
There are many claims in support of colonics, but as of yet, there is very little evidence that they work for all of those claims. They are said to remove toxins from your digestive system and restore your body to health, but because they completely wash out the bowel, they also frequently kill the good bacteria that live in your gut and are necessary for immune function and healthy digestion. Probiotics are used in an attempt to combat this by repopulating the gut, but how many of them actually reach their target area is unknown. Because of the natural ingredients, colonics are often considered safe. However, they have been linked to adverse health problems, including:
- Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- Bowel tears
- Bacterial imbalance
- Bacterial infection
Can colon hydrotherapy help me?
Colon hydrotherapy is normally reserved for those just about to undergo medical procedures. But some health professionals believe colon cleansing may remove the toxins that collect in your colon, leading to better overall health. Speak to a health professional if you are considering having a colon cleanse, and never use it as a replacement for medical treatment.
A study carried out in the UK found many clients returned time and time again for a colonic cleanse for self-care and detoxification with no reported harmful effects. However, there is still a lack of strong evidence, and no rigorous controlled trials support colonics for health promotion. At the same time, numerous studies describe the adverse effects colonic hydrotherapy can have on your body’s system.
Several studies support the use of colonics in the treatment of defecation problems. While there is as yet no standardized approach to carrying out colonics cleansing for these issues, the evidence regarding their use is promising. A 2016 study found colonic irrigation to be a safe and effective way of treating diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome. Remember, this should always be carried out under the care of a medical practitioner.
Some people suggest colon hydrotherapy for the treatment of cancer. One of its biggest advocates (although he recommended specifically coffee enemas, not hydrotherapy) was Dr. Gonzalez, a physician who treated cancer with an approach that included tailored diets, pancreatic enzymes, and coffee enemas.
Although Gonzalez reported positive results, his research is steeped in controversy, and his detractors state that his studies were flawed.
It is important to note, though, that Gonzalez himself never recommended his treatment over cancer therapies with proven value. If you have cancer, you may decide to give the practice a go, but do seek medical advice first.
What else can I do to clean my colon?
Probably the best thing you can do for your colon health is to increase the amount of fiber you consume. Fiber works to scrub the debris away from your bowel walls naturally and is a simple way of treating constipation. Also, look out for reactive oxygen in your colon cleansing capsules. It boosts the immune system and may help fight against colorectal cancer. Magnesium is another excellent, natural product to look for. It acts as a laxative, cleansing your bowel and neutralizing stomach acid.
While colonic hydrotherapy does use natural products, it can lead to a number of health problems and is generally considered an invasive treatment rather than a natural one. At this time, the literature seems to be in favor of using colonics for certain defecation complaints, but more research is needed before we will know whether colonics can treat the symptoms of cancer. If you are considering treating your own diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or cancer, visit your family doctor first.