Also known as colon hydrotherapy, colon cleansing is often used as a prep-treatment by medical personnel prior to major surgeries and medical procedures . Individuals who go in for a colonoscopy may have colon irrigation done beforehand to prevent messy appointments, and women may require it for constipation relief during childbirth. In recent years though, alternative methods of colon cleansing, like the use of teas, have become popular, giving rise to the use of colon cleansing as a routine method for detoxifying the body, reducing digestive issues, and losing weight. Read on to find out if this treatment is helpful or harmful to the body.
What is a Colon Cleanse and What is its Purpose?
A colon cleanse is a procedure meant to clear out the large intestine, which is the organ responsible for waste processing and disposal. The idea of a colon cleanse is to remove any leftover waste and toxins that reside in your large intestine, to allow your body to return to a clean, and healthy state.
The best candidates for a colon hydrotherapy treatment are those who have severe constipation that has not responded to laxative use. However, those who have trapped wind, bloating, and poor digestive function, may also glean improvements in their waistline, nutrient absorption, and lymphatic circulation. A small pilot study done back in 2016, showed that those with irritable bowel syndrome did have notable improvements in their gastrointestinal symptoms after receiving colon irrigation .
Where Did The Idea of Colon Cleansing Come From?
The idea of colon cleansing is based on the knowledge that bio-waste collects in the colon and is discharged from the body through the natural process of defecation. During the 19th century, many medical doctors believed that the bio-waste would stagnate over time, causing toxins in the waste to spread throughout the body through “autointoxication” . While scientific data has failed to confirm this theory, colon irrigation remains a common recommendation.
How Good is the Colon At Cleansing Itself Without Help?
It is important to understand that bio-waste or stool cannot sit within your colon for years upon years, as there are no “pockets” in the colon for waste to get stuck in. The colon actually does a fantastic job of eliminating all bio-waste through regular bowel movements, and your kidneys and lungs remove any toxins or by-products that would otherwise make their way into your bloodstream. This is to say that “adherent stool” and “waste toxins” is a common misconception.
What Happens During a Colonic NYC Procedure?
A colon hydrotherapy treatment typically takes around 45 minutes to complete, and is performed by a trained hydrotherapist. The procedure often follows these routine steps:
- Your hydrotherapist will start with a brief rectal exam. This is to get an idea of your current rectal health and to plan out the rest of the procedure.
- The procedure continues with a speculum being inserted into the rectum, approximately 1.5 inches deep. The speculum has two ports on it, one inlet and one outlet. An inlet tube and outlet tube are each attached to their respective ports. Together, these components create a sealed circuit, meaning no odour and no mess.
- At this point, filtered water can start being pumped in and out of the body. The amount used is carefully controlled in order to avoid complications, but totals to around 60 litres.
- Finally, as water is flowing, your hydrotherapist will begin to gently massage your abdomen. This is to help break up and move any stubborn pockets of waste and gas.
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Colon Cleanse?
In a lot of cases, colon cleansing will be recommended if gentler options have not resolved a patient’s issues. While there isn’t heaps of scientific evidence that proves the following benefits, there is anecdotal evidence from individuals who have received successful treatment. In looking at this anecdotal evidence, we see benefits like:
- Improved mental clarity and mental outlook.
- Improved immune function response.
- Weight loss and slimmer waistlines (the elimination of fluids).
- Increased energy.
- Improved digestive functioning.
- May reduce the risk of colon cancers.
Use Consultations to Understand the Risks Involved
It is important to consult with a licensed healthcare professional and your primary care doctor before going ahead with a colon irrigation procedure, as there are known adverse risks involved. These can include both minor and serious side effects such as:
Minor: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating.
Serious: dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, perforated colon, and the alteration of natural bacteria within the colon.
If you become chronically dehydrated, this can lead to kidney failure, and an electrolyte imbalance can cause problems for your muscles, nerves, and heart as frequent colon cleansing can cause low potassium and sodium levels. If too much good bacteria is reduced in the colon, then unhealthy bacteria may be able to proliferate, and a perforated colon can cause internal bleeding, fever, and chills, which is a medical emergency.
Should You Avoid Gravity Colonics?
While a select handful of individuals may choose to go ahead with the procedure, those who should avoid it at all costs include anyone with Chrohn’s disease, colitis, or diverticulitis. Also, those who have kidney disease, heart disease, or prior colon surgery may also want to avoid colon irrigation as these conditions can increase your risk for complications like dehydration, infection, pancreatitis, and acute kidney failure.
Wrapping It Up – Helpful or Harmful?
While colon cleansing can be helpful to those with irritable bowel syndrome, or those who require constipation relief, the risks often outweigh the benefits for those who have underlying medical conditions or issues. It is important that if you do decide to go ahead with colon irrigation, make sure to discuss the treatment at length with an experienced, and licensed medical practitioner.