Colon cleanses divide people. Some ae loyal fans, while others are fierce skeptics. Whether or not you like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, colon cleanses fit among the ranks of therapies and treatments recommended by the alternative health guru. For many stubborn problems, colon hydrotherapy may help give the digestive system the rest it needs to start working for you, not against you.
First, a Bathroom Primer
Unfortunately, we have many patients walk through our doors who are unable to properly use the washroom. While some of our patients proudly proclaim their ability to go on a very regular basis, many people struggle…and are a little embarrassed by it. Constipation is common. Most people are unaware of the ideal number of times they should go to the washroom in the first place and think that 2-3 times weekly is fine. It’s not. Apart from being highly uncomfortable and allowing gasses to accumulate, many different types of waste products exit the body via the colon: namely, hormones and toxins that are metabolized by the liver.
It is essential to eliminate estrogen through the colon on a regular basis, or else it reabsorbs back into the body and causes frustrating symptoms such as pre-menstrual syndrome, painful periods, acne, swollen and painful breasts can be caused by a buildup of excess estrogen, a phenomenon called estrogen dominance. Ensuring you eliminate waste on a regular basis, in this case a minimum of once daily, is the first step to achieving hormonal health.
Healthy hormones is only one reason to treat the colon. The digestive system is a complex network of organs that work in harmony to coordinate many aspects of your health. For example, most of your immune system resides in your gut, and about 70% of serotonin production—your brain’s “happy” chemical—is made in the digestive system as well. The ecosystem of bacteria that live in the colon, called the microbiome, influences blood sugar control, mood, immunity, metabolism, and many other critical healthy processes. Having the proper gut bacteria can also help us eliminate toxins from our bodies. Many aspects of daily modern life disrupt the natural balance of the microbiome, but what we eat, how we eat, and the amount of stress in our lives cause beneficial bacteria to dwindle while more harmful bacteria can overgrow. Supporting healthy gut bacteria balance is key to feeling well and maintaining excellent health long term. Sometimes, the gut needs a reset in order to function at its most efficient; and colon hydrotherapy is a good way to reset.
When the digestive system is not functioning optimally, you may or may not feel direct symptoms. While many people feel bloated, gassy, constipated, or feel heartburn when their digestive system isn’t functioning properly, some people don’t realize that their poor digestion may be causing downstream effects on other systems in the body like the conditions mentioned above.
What Symptoms Does Colon Hydrotherapy Address?
This cleansing method can assist with the following symptoms:
- Gas and bloating
- Irritable bowel syndrome (alternating constipation and diarrhea due to stress)
- Acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions
- GERD, or acid reflux
- Parasites or yeast overgrowth symptoms, such as rashes and yeast infections
- Bad breath
- Healthy weight loss due to detoxification and restoration of metabolism
Since digestive health is so crucial to the health of the rest of your body, we highly recommend working with a nutritionist or one of our naturopathic doctors to help address the root of the problem. Naturopathic doctors are excellent at treating digestive concerns and can help ensure the effects of the colon hydrotherapy treatment last a long time.
History of Colon Hydrotherapy
Like most holistic practices, colon hydrotherapy was developed and popularized by an innovative doctor, in this case the doctor was John Kellogg in the early 1900s. Dr. Kellogg witnessed the limits of his medicine at the time and was searching for more gentle and effective methods for addressing their patients’ ill health.
Dr Kellogg began using this therapy widely, documenting the results of thousands of patients’ treatments in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In treating gastrointestinal disease, Dr. Kellogg found that through colon hydrotherapy, diet, and exercise, he was able to treat illness and performed only twenty surgeries in over forty thousand cases. Along with some contemporaries, Dr. Kellogg insisted that by restoring regular elimination of the colon was crucial to restoring the health of the rest of the body.
What Does a Colon Hydrotherapy Session Involve?
After an assessment by your therapist, a patient will lie down while a tube is inserted into their rectum. The tube is connected to a hose, which then gently pumps warm water into the intestines. Once the lower intestines are filled with water to the patient’s comfort level, our hydrotherapist will massage the abdomen in order to loosen up any packed or stuck bowel contents, and then the water and intestinal contents will be released through the tube and into a separate disposal. After the treatment, patients have time to use the toilet to empty the rest of their bowel contents. The result is a clean-feeling digestive system.
How You Can Support Your Cleanse?
Fibre – eating plenty of fibre ensure you feed the healthy gut bacteria that are supposed to live in your colon. Also known as prebiotics, fibre provides food for beneficial bacteria that are depleted by poor eating habits, bad diets, and high stress.
Electrolytes – the body absorbs plenty of water through the colon during a colon hydrotherapy session. Drinking an electrolyte drink before or after your treatment can help you replenish the important nutrients and minerals that contribute to healthy muscle and heart function.
Diet – of course, all the colonics in the world won’t improve the damage done by bad diet. Eating the right diet for you that is full of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy plant fats, and complex carbohydrates can ensure that you have optimum digestion in between colon hydrotherapy appointments and beyond. If you’re not sure which foods are appropriate for you, consult a nutritionist, or better yet, one of our naturopathic doctors can help you determine which foods will help you feel your best.
Exercise – sometimes, this is the greatest cure for constipation. Exercise can help encourage the bowels to move by stimulating peristalsis, or the natural wave-like movements of the muscles lining the intestinal wall. Exercise is also crucial for good mood, sleep, stress relief, blood sugar control, lower stress and lower risk of cognitive decline and heart disease. If you’re not exercising, we recommend you start as soon as you can. Every bit counts.
Probiotics – probiotics may be helpful, but there are many strains to choose from and they all have different research and different uses. Probiotics should be taken under the supervision of a licensed professional who is familiar with these types of supplements, as not all probiotics are created equal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is it Colon Hydrotherapy Different from an Enema?
Both enemas and colon hydrotherapy are trying to remove fecal waste from the large intestine, but the extent of each procedure is the greatest difference. In an enema, water is infused into the colon once, whereas colon hydrotherapy uses multiple infusions of water to achieve a more thorough cleanse. An enema does not travel as high up into the large intestine as the water used in colon hydrotherapy. Sometimes, an enema requires the patient to retain the fluid in their intestines for several minutes before expelling it.
Do You Do Coffee Enemas?
We do not. While some websites have popularized coffee enemas, we do not believe in taking in anything other than water into the colon. The intestinal wall has a large network of blood vessels and can easily absorb chemicals from the coffee into the bloodstream. Ultimately, we focus on trying to cleanse the colon and eliminate built-up waste, rather than introducing new substances into the body.
What Does It Feel Like?
While the feeling after colon hydrotherapy can only be described as a feeling of empty lightness, there is the potential for minor discomfort during the procedure. Pressure from the water on the intestines can cause a cramping sensation in the lower abdomen that is temporary when the pressure is released and the watery contents proceed to leave the colon. It is important during the session to develop good communication with your therapist so they can adjust the intensity of the treatment to your tolerance.
Is It Dangerous?
When performed improperly, any procedure has the potential to do harm. When administered by a properly trained therapist, the risk for any issues is very low. However, it is important to fill out the intake form completely and disclose any medical conditions you may have. Colonics are not for everyone, and the therapist will determine if they are a good option for you.
Who Should Avoid Colonics?
For obvious reasons, pregnant women and people who have recently had colon surgery should avoid having colon hydrotherapy. However, other people with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as diverticulosis, inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis, people with colon cancer or other gastrointestinal cancers should not receive colon hydrotherapy. Also, people with heart disease and severe anemia and large hemorrhoids are also contraindicated for colon hydrotherapy.
How Often Should You Cleanse?
Your therapist should develop a plan for you and advise you on the amount of treatments required to resolve your symptoms. It is rare that one colon hydrotherapy treatment is sufficient. Sometimes, 3-4 treatments are required, and sometimes more. However, you should not have too many treatments, nor should you by reliant on colonics to have a bowel movement long-term. An experienced therapist will put together a treatment plan and refer you to the other professionals who can help you reach your health goals.
If you’re curious about how colon hydrotherapy can help you improve your digestion, book an appointment to discuss your case with one of our therapists.