There is a popular saying in the wellness industry: Clean on the inside—beautiful on the outside! The adage often refers to the health of the colon or large intestine and healthy elimination.
The digestive system is a vital part of our self-care. Greatly impacting our overall health, including immune function, the colon is responsible for absorbing water and nutrients, like vitamins and electrolytes. It also pushes solid waste toward the rectum for excretion.
Exploring Colon Hydrotherapy
Colon hydrotherapy also known as colonics, colonic cleansing or irrigation, is a popular wellness procedure designed to care for the large intestines. This alternative healing treatment cleans out the colon by flushing it with water or a water solution that may contain vitamins, herbs, probiotics and enzymes.
Naturopaths that offer colon hydrotherapy believe that cleaning the large intestine helps you achieve optimal colon health by removing toxins and relieving constipation. The treatment is also recognized for managing or reversing a variety of physical ailments and digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Although colon hydrotherapy has existed for hundreds of years, it became popular in western cultures in the 1990s. Proponents report that it heals troubled skin, improves focus and restores regular bowel movements.
Colon Hydrotherapy Controversy
While many holistic healthcare practitioners across the globe tout it as a valuable treatment, colon hydrotherapy is not without controversy. A simple Google search produces results from leading medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic that suggest that colon hydrotherapy is not only ineffective but also potentially dangerous.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s website, “colon cleansing shouldn’t be done regularly or recreationally.” Colorectal surgeon Anuradha Bhama, MD, stresses that there are certain health conditions that a colonic could exacerbate, including disorders of the digestive system. Those with kidney and heart disease should also avoid having the procedure done.
“If you interfere with your colon’s water absorption, that could throw off your fluid balance,” Dr. Bhama explains on Cleveland Clinic’s website. “Our bodies are equipped to cleanse themselves,” she adds.
Weighing the Benefits of Colonics
Colon hydrotherapist Marie Dauphin of the Luam Center for Wellness in New York sees colonics as a way to counter the American diet. Dauphin points out that she has worked with clients — with largely fast-food diets — who had not experienced a bowel movement for a month. And she explains that it’s not unusual to see clients eliminate undigested “non-foods” during a colonic.
”Most of our ill health is the result of an unhealthy diet, but many of us do not realize it. We consume high calorie foods, fats, sugars and sodium. We are not eating enough nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Eating a high-fiber, nutrient-rich diet can promote healthy bowel movement,” Dauphin says.
Dauphin says she is disappointed that western medicine often dismisses holistic wellness treatments. As a result, colon hydrotherapy hasn’t received a fair share of comprehensive studies exploring the benefits of colonics. However, she reveals that ironically, colon hygienists often receive clients who were referred to treatment by their doctors.
“Once your gut has absorbed the nutrients needed from food, regular bowel movements are a sign that your digestive system is functioning properly. But most people aren’t regular. Colon hydrotherapy aids in soothing and toning the colon. It allows the digestive system to be more effective and helps with bloating, gas and diarrhea,” Dauphin explains.
Alternatives for Improving Colon Health
Dr. Norman Walker, author of Colon Health: The Key to a Vibrant Life, delivers in-depth information about each vital organ of the body. In his book, he explains how they are affected by the condition of the colon. He also teaches that through proper care of the colon, you can experience relief from constipation, asthma, colds, allergies, respiratory disorders, digestive problems and other ailments.
For those interested in improving colon and overall health without colon hydrotherapy, Dauphin recommends doing research to better understand colon health. Internal colon cleanses like Renew Life 3-Day Cleanse, which are available at health food stores, are quite effective.
“Eat as healthy as possible and increase fiber intake. We need 25-30 grams per day, but the average American consumes about 15 grams. I’ve seen great results with individuals eating more steamed vegetables, soups, fruits, especially pears, apples, or apple sauce, and getting exercise,” Dauphin advises.
For those willing to splurge a little on convenience, Sakara Life, a wellness food delivery program, offers a no-brainer, Gut Health Reboot, to help you improve colon health.