Most people are familiar with the protocol of having a colonic prior to a procedure such as a colonoscopy (to be able to clearly see the tissue being examined) or before surgery on or near the colon (to reduce the risk of infection). However, there are numerous health benefits to cleansing the colon that many people are unfamiliar with. In this article we’ll take a look at what exactly colon hydrotherapy is, the different types, and how cleansing the colon on a regular basis may improve your overall health.
What Is Colon Hydrotherapy?
Colon hydrotherapy is a procedure in which water is introduced to the colon (i.e., large intestine) in order to remove waste and aid in detoxification. During a colonic, the water has the potential to reach the ascending colon, or the cecum—the pouch at the opposite end of the rectum that forms the beginning of the colon. The water used is filtered two to six times, depending on the equipment. UV light and activated charcoal or carbon filters may be used for added purification. The temperature of the water is usually kept just above regular body temperature, at 99 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit (38-39 Celsius).
Closed vs. Open Colonics
The difference between a closed and an open colonic has to do primarily with the elimination process.
During a closed hydrotherapy session a therapist inserts a large tube into the anus while the patient is lying on his or her side. The tube is then connected to two hoses, one for the incoming water and one for the outgoing waste. The therapist controls the intake of water and can tell from a gauge when the colon is full, or when the patient tells the therapist that he or she feels full. A valve is then opened to allow the waste to flow through. The process is repeated for about 45 minutes. This type of colon hydrotherapy is called ‘closed’ because the waste is eliminated through a closed tube and hose.
During an open hydrotherapy session the patient reclines on equipment that has an open basin and self-inserts a small, disposable speculum into the anus. A gauge is turned on and water flows continuously up the colon. The patient releases the waste out of the bowel when he or she feels the need—just as you would while sitting on a toilet. The waste is eliminated around the speculum and flows into the basin where it is washed away into a sewer tank. Ventilations systems in the room reduce odor. There is no need for the therapist to remain in the room during the session, thus allowing for more privacy. However, depending on the protocol of the clinic—or at the behest of the patient—the therapist may remain in the room. The session lasts anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes. This type of colon hydrotherapy is called ‘open’ because the waste is flushed into an open basin.
Each system works equally well at safely and hygienically eliminating waste, although preference for one over the other often differs from person to person. Some people don’t like the cramping, full sensation that may be felt during a closed colonic, while others don’t like the idea of waste being eliminated around the speculum in an open colonic. Preferences should be discussed with a qualified therapist or physician.
Benefits of Colon Hydrotherapy
While many conventional physicians caution against colon hydrotherapy as a form of detoxification—reasoning that the digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria—many functional and naturopathic physicians recognize the benefits of cleansing the colon for patients that suffer from constipation or that have a high toxic burden (i.e., a buildup of heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals in the body). Whether you are prone to constipation or not, pretty much no one escapes exposure to environmental pollution, making colon hydrotherapy beneficial for almost everyone.
Here are some of the benefits of colon hydrotherapy:
- Relief from constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and excessive gas
- Elimination of parasites and yeast
- Lymph stimulation
- Immune and endocrine restoration
- GI tract stimulation
- Detoxification of environmental pollutants
- Release of toxic emotions
- Increased energy (due to the removal of toxins)
- Mental clarity
- Reduction in risk of colon cancer
Although there are minimal risks to getting a colonic, make sure you speak with a physician well-versed in colon hydrotherapy to help you decide whether it’s right for you. Sophia Health Network physicians use the Angel of Water Surround ® Colon Hydrotherapy System. Our physicians know the value of this therapy and often recommend regular colon hydrotherapy sessions as part of a patient’s treatment protocol.