The real deal with the colon

Colonics, also known as colon hydrotherapy or high colonics, is a little-discussed topic, and with good reason. The inner workings of the human digestive tract, much less the cleansing of that tract, don’t exactly make for good brunch conversation. Explore the benefits and drawbacks of colonics before you go under the, ahem, hose.

According to the Center for Colon Health in Santa Monica, California, colon hydrotherapy is a form of cleansing the colon with water that dates back to ancient times. The goal is to remove any impacted fecal matter from all 4-6 feet of the colon, the large intestine. How do they do it? With a machine that features a little tube that is placed you-know-where.

The Benefits of Colonics

Colonics professionals say that regular colon cleansing, which takes about 45-60 minutes per session, can alleviate constipation and bloating, help you lose weight, and improve energy. It’s even  credited with reducing migraines, insomnia, and helping with many skin diseases, including acne and psoriasis.

“By releasing toxins out of the body, [colonics] will clear the skin [and] increase [blood flow] to relieve headaches,” says Karin Nahmani, owner and operator of the Pure Centerin Los Angeles and a certified colon hydrotherapist.

Just like brushing your teeth and exercising, colonics is said to work best when done regularly. “We do recommend starting with three sessions twice a year or more often depending on the case,” says Nahmani. The colon is quite deep, and she finds that one session won’t usually clean it out completely.

The Drawbacks of Colon Cleansing

Naturally, there may a little bit of embarrassment that comes with being naked from the waist down, covered in a sheet, and getting hooked up to a machine that pumps purified water through your colon. But there are a few other drawbacks to the procedure. While she believes that it is safe, Nahmani does caution that overuse of colonics can create a lazy colon. In this case the colon doesn’t contract waste out of the body, or the sensors of the colon become weak. She notes that the same condition can be caused by laxative abuse.

Many other health professionals believe that the body is perfectly capable of cleansing itself all by itself, and that a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables can do more to cleanse your bowels than any colon hydrotherapy machine ever could. Mayo Clinic gastroenterologistMichael F. Picco, MD, stated on that “colon cleansing can cause side effects, such as cramping, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.” He also reported that colon cleansing can increase your risk of dehydration and lead to bowel perforations.


The Verdict

Some people swear by colonics, while others wouldn’t dream of ever having the procedure done. If you’re considering having a colonic, it’s best to weigh the risks versus the rewards and check with your doctor before scheduling.