colonic irrigation

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Colonic Irrigation



Colonic irrigation is also known as hydrotherapy of the colon, high colonic, entero-lavage, or simply colonic. It is the process of cleansing the colon by passing several gallons of water through it with the use of special equipment. It is similar to an enema but treats the whole colon, not just the lower bowel. This has the effect of flushing out impacted fecal matter, toxins, mucous, and even parasites, that often build up over the passage of time. It is a procedure that should only be undertaken by a qualified practitioner.


Anyone suffering from gas, bloating, cramping pains, acne and other skin complaints, arthritis, and a list of bowel complaints such as diverticulitis and irritable bowel etc., may benefit from colonic irrigation. In particular, cancer patients are often advised to undertake a course of colonic irrigation sessions as an essential part of their treatment. When a biological cancer therapy begins to enable the body to breakdown a cancerous mass, it is essential that speedy and effective elimination of the resulting toxins is achieved.
Colon and bowel cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and alternative practitioners insist that it can be prevented by efficient hygiene procedures. Providing that care is taken to replace the natural organisms that flourish in the bowel, many health benefits can be expected from colonic irrigation. In general, alternative practitioners maintain that an ill-functioning bowel is the source of all disease, and therefore keeping it clean will be an effective protection against this.
Removing large amounts of toxic matter relieves the patient and can lead to the alleviation of symptoms such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, candidiasis, and a host of other illnesses. Properly executed, colonic irrigation can help restore normal peristaltic action to a sluggish bowel, thus reducing the need for more hydrotherapy treatments over time. In addition, removing the layer of fecal matter which coats the intestines in many individuals allows improved assimilation of the nutrients from foods and can alleviate symptoms of vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies. Many alternative health practitioners consider some form of hydrotherapy for the bowel to be essential in the treatment of degenerative diseases.



Cleansing the colon with the use of hydrotherapy is not a new concept. Forms of colonic irrigation have been used successfully for decades to relieve chronic toxicity and even acute cases of toxemia.
Over time, many people develop a thick layer of fecal matter that coats their colon. It hardens and becomes impacted, reducing the efficiency of the bowel, and in some cases, completely obstructing normal elimination of waste matter from the body. It is quite common for people to have only one bowel movement per day, and some as few as one or two per week.
Alternative practitioners advise that we probably should have one bowel movement for every meal that we eat. If not, then we are not eliminating wastes completely, and if input exceeds output, then we will surely suffer the consequences at some point.
Incomplete elimination of body wastes may result in the following, depending on where the deposits end up:
  • sluggish system
  • joint pain and arthritis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • diverticulitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • leaky gut syndrome
  • heart problem
  • migraine
  • allergies
  • bad breath
  • acne and other skin problems such as psoriasis
  • asthma
  • early senility and Alzheimer's disease
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • cancer, particularly of the bowel
  • multiple sclerosis
During colonic irrigation, a small speculum is passed into the patient's bowel through the rectum. This is attached to a tube, which leads to a machine that pumps temperature-controlled water into the colon at a controlled rate (to be controlled by either the practitioner or the patient). The temperature of the water should ideally be kept as close to body temperature as possible.
The patient will temporarily be filled with water up to the level of the entire colon. Patients say they can feel the water up under their ribs but that the process, although sometimes uncomfortable, is not painful. The amount of water will vary but will generally be in the region of between two and six liters (or quarts) at any one time. This triggers peristaltic action and the patient will begin to expel the water along with fecal matter back through the tube and into the machine.
The fecal matter is flushed out through a viewing tube, so that what is eliminated may be monitored. Quite often, unsuspected parasites are expelled, along with very old fecal material, very dark in color, which may have been in the colon for years. Some therapists comment that it looks like aging rubber.
During the treatment, the therapist will gently massage the patient's abdomen to help dislodge impacted fecal matter. In addition to massage, sometimes acupressure, reflexology, or lymphatic drainage techniques may be used to loosen deposits and stimulate the bowel. It is important that the right amount of water is used, as too much will cause discomfort and too little will be ineffective. If correctly done, colonic irrigation is not painful at all and some patients claim to sleep through their treatment.
Sanitation is vital to this process. The tubes and speculums used are generally disposable, but other parts of the machine, such as the viewing tube, must be sterilized after each patient.
Normally, a series of treatments will be required to achieve desired results regarding the elimination of impacted, decaying matter, and restoration of bowel regularity. Initially only gas and recent fecal matter may be expelled. The residue attached to the colon wall is usually the result of years of neglect, and therapists say that one cannot expect complete relief in only one session.
Impacted fecal matter can cause an imbalance of the natural organisms that normally populate the bowel, causing what is known as dysbiosis. Under ideal conditions, the bowel is populated by a variety of naturally occurring organisms. It seems that the enzymes occurring in fresh fruit and vegetables encourage these beneficial organisms. One of the results of eating processed denatured foods is that this natural balance is upset, and food may begin to rot in the bowel instead of being processed.
Decomposing matter can cause a toxic condition and may lead to many health problems, as constipation causes backed up pollution of the body cells. The process of repair and elimination of wastes enters a downward spiral which at best will cause fatigue, lack of energy and premature aging, and, at worst, can cause degenerative diseases, among them allergies, and even cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
The cost of colonic irrigation treatments varies, but is generally between $35-70 per session, which may last from 45 minutes to one hour. The cost of the machine itself ranges from $4,000-12,000, but again, it should be noted that only qualified therapists should conduct sessions.


Most practitioners prefer that distilled or purified water is used for colonic irrigation, but others use sterilized tap water.


It may be advisable to use a probiotic pessary after colonic irrigation, to ensure replacement of desirable natural flora. There are certain conditions that either partly or completely preclude the use of colonic irrigation, such as an active attack of Crohn's disease, bleeding ulcers, and hyperacidosis. If in doubt, a qualified practitioner should be consulted. Anyone suffering from these conditions should always notify the practitioner when receiving colonic irrigation treatments.

Side effects

Some allopathic practitioners claim that colonic irrigation flushes out essential electrolytes and friendly bacteria from the bowel and that it can be dangerous. Practitioners counter that this can easily be remedied with the use of probiotics, and that in any case, these possible disadvantages are easily offset by the benefits of having large amounts of putrefying matter, harmful organisms, and parasites removed from the system.

Research and general acceptance

Although many alternative health care practitioners swear by colonic irrigation, there is a large allopathic lobby that claims that there are no benefits to be had, and that there are dangers involved. However, there are many decades of records and research from the alternative health care community that indicate that this therapy may have a valuable place in the treatment of degenerative diseases and toxic conditions.



California Colon Hygienist Society. 333 Miller Ave., Suite 1, Mill Valley, CA 94941. (415) 383-7224.
Intestinal Health Institute. 4427 East Fifth St., Tucson, AZ 85711. (520) 325-9686.

Key terms

Dysbiosis — The condition that results when the natural flora of the gut are thrown out of balance, such as when antibiotics are taken.
Peristalsis — The natural wave-like action of a healthy bowel that transports matter from one end of the bowel to the other.
Probiotics — Supplements of beneficial microorganisms that normally colonize the gut.
Toxemia — Poisoning of the blood.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Alternative—quackery Colon therapy
Surgery An intraoperative procedure for antegrade cleansing of the large intestine in an emergency colon resection, which can be used in elective left-sided colonic surgery in patients who are clinically stable, circumventing the need for a temporary colostomy
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

colonic irrigation

Surgery An intraoperative procedure for antegrade cleansing of the large intestine in an emergency colon resection, which can be used in elective left-sided colonic surgery in Pts who are clinically stable, circumventing the need for a temporary colostomy. See Bowel preparation.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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