Alternative names: Colon Hydrotherapy, Colonic Irrigation, Colonic, Colonics.
A Colon Cleanse is an alternative medical procedure often associated with naturopathy. Similar to an enema, it involves the introduction of discrete amounts of purified water, sometimes infused with minerals or other materials such as organic coffee, into the colon.
Proponents believe colon cleansing provides health benefits by removing toxins from their bodies and boosting their energy and their immune systems. Some doctors, however, take a different view. Although they may recommend colon cleanse in preparation for a medical examination of the colon, most don't recommend colon cleansing for better health or to prevent disease. They advise against it for two main reasons: The colon doesn't require help to eliminate waste material and bacteria, and it may even be harmful. Your colon absorbs water and sodium to maintain your body's fluid and electrolyte balance. Some colon-cleansing programs disrupt this balance, causing dehydration and salt depletion. Long-term or excessive cleansing programs can lead to problems such as anemia, malnutrition and even heart failure.
The orthodox medical establishment perceives colon hydrotherapy to be little more than a bowel rinse, or expensive laxative.
The procedure uses medically-approved colon hydrotherapy devices with sanitary, disposable speculums, or gravity-fed enema-like systems inserted into the rectum. The fluid is released after a short period, and the process will be repeated multiple times during the course of a treatment.
A 'colema' is a type of colon hydrotherapy performed by oneself using a bucket with an attached hose, while lying on a board positioned over a toilet, into which the contents of enema are released.
Though colon hydrotherapy, colemas and enemas all have features in common, there are some significant differences between the modalities in terms of depth of colon cleansing, amount of water used, and the necessity for a practitioner to be present.
Alternative medicine practitioners recommend it for a variety of ills stemming from accumulation of fecal matter in the large intestine, a process referred to as autointoxication – a theory no longer accepted in mainstream medicine. Some alternative medicine practitioners believe that autointoxication results from increased absorption of bacterial / fungal toxins as a result of an increased toxic load in the colon.
While some hydrotherapists believe colonics lead to better overall wellness, others claim it helps specific diseases such as chronic fatigue, arthritis, and sinusitis. It is also claimed to improve muscle tone in the colon, leading to stronger peristaltic contractions. There is limited scientific research to support these claims.
The American College of Gastroenterology takes the position that in the unusual case of fecal impaction complicating chronic constipation, a 5 to 10 ounce tap water enema may be of benefit, but does not otherwise recommend its use.
Colonic irrigation should not be used in people with diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, severe or internal hemorrhoids, tumors in the rectum or colon, or soon after bowel surgery. Regular treatments should be avoided by people with heart disease or kidney disease (renal insufficiency). Colonics are inappropriate for people with bowel, rectal or anal pathologies where the pathology contributes to the risk of bowel perforation.
Cleansing the bowel with an enema or colonic using several quarts of warm soda water at 100-105°F (37.8-40.5°C), followed by a small cool soda enema at about 80°F (26.7°C) is a time honored way of hastening recovery. Do not give the warm enema without the cool enema following it.
Most of the mucous from the respiratory tract is swallowed and waste to be expelled from this mucous makes its way to the colon. During an illness like a cold, viral particles remain in quantity in the colon. The gentle washing away of the bulk of this material allows the immune system to focus on the respiratory tract rather than maintain a second larger front in the colon. This is one reason why almost all doctors in the preantibiotic era recommended enemas, or at the least laxatives, for colds. The use of enemas gives immediate relief of symptoms and helps to concentrate the immune response where it is needed.
Bowel cleansing may be necessary in order to eliminate blastocystis. The reason for this is the old mucus or old fecal matter lining the intestinal tract must be broken down and eliminated to physically wash out the blastocystis. Other treatments are then able to make full contact with the blastocystis, which may be stuck to the intestinal lining. Colonics or enemas containing agents to kill the organism can help.