Colonic is the short name for colon hydrotherapy, and is a practice that has been around for centuries and is still used today. It is most commonly associated with a body cleanse or detoxification program. But - how good is it? Or can it be detrimental?
A colon hydrotherapy session is simply flushing the colon with water using a specialized machine. This machine may consist of an at-home unit, called a colema board, or may be done with a more high-tech, professional unit. A session usually lasts around 40 minutes during which water is slowly released into the colon. The pressure is very low to reduce any discomfort.
While some criticism circulates that professional machines cause infections, the fear is unfounded. There is no evidence or history of such occurrences and, in fact, of the very few studies done, results show that colonics have a positive influence for many symptoms including constipation, allergies and even a reduction in ovarian cysts (1) and allows for greater absorption of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. (2)
Having a colonic performed by a professional can help alleviate nervousness. A colon hydrotherapist may be able to help with nutrition ideas and explain the internal process during a colonic session. On the down-side, it can be expensive and embarrassing for some who are not yet comfortable with the process.
Home colonic units are highly beneficial and have their own perks. Aside from the obvious benefit of privacy, home units are small enough to fit in a typical bathroom. You are in control of the flow of water and have the power to go at your own pace. These units are best for those who cannot afford (or prefer not to use) professional sessions, or for those who will use the home machine to complement professional colonics during an annual (or semi-annual) cleanse program.
Colonics can be intimidating and costly. While there are no reported cases of negative side-effects, common sense should always be used. If you have had any kind of bowel surgery, for example, having a colonic may not be a good idea unless you work with a skilled professional. If you take prescription medications, you may not benefit as much and the medication can interfere with any cleansing benefits.
Those who take laxatives may not benefit from colonics, either. Laxatives (even senna) actually work in place of normal bodily functions, therefore may interfere with a colon hydrotherapy session and make the colonic session unproductive as muscles become overly reliant on a stimulant.
(Most professional therapists use only water during the colonic to allow the body to strengthen on its own, however a laxative is a stimulant that the body will easily rely on after only a couple of uses. Therefore after a laxative stimulates the bowels, it becomes too weak to work on its own during a colonic. Using a laxative is not the same as cleansing because a laxative does not address the removal of impacted or built-up waste that is often stored higher up in the bowel.)
Water can be a very powerful healing tool. Many practitioners (including doctors of the past, before pharmaceuticals dominated) believe water to be powerful and more natural than laxatives or suppositories.
If you do decide to do a colonic, many advocates find that colon hydrotherapy works best when done in conjunction with a healthy eating program and sometimes healthy supplements that support the intestinal tract.
Foods eaten during a cleanse help keep your system nourished and should be easy to digest. This eases the burden from the digestive tract, allowing it to work more easily while at the same time allowing digestive enzymes to further break down waste buildup, allowing for easier elimination.
As for healthy gut bacteria, the colon naturally replenishes good bacteria that may be lost during a session within 24 hours (as shown in the study listed below under Resources). Some practioners believe that taking probiotics, or good bacteria is a good idea to help replenish healthy bacteria after a session.
Colonics can be a worthwhile practice if you find a good colon hydrotherapist to guide you through a cleanse. A home unit is great for those who prefer the privacy and the price. Either way, do your homework and research, and learn how to help your body cleanse with nutrition.
(1) The Influence of Colon Irrigation on Human Intestinal Microbiota, Yoko Uchiyama-Tanaka Yoko Clinic Japan
(2) The Nutrition and Dietary Consultant, May 1986, Colon Hydrotherapy and its Clinical Applications Colon irrigation may help greatly in enhancing the ability to absorb many vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. by Donald J. Mantell, M.D. Professional Member AANC