Colonic hydrotherapy, unlike enema, is more than a procedure to cleanse the colon. It is an approach to health and wellbeing that aims to address individual needs. It looks at the unique interactions between the physical, mental/emotional and chemical functions in the context of genetic inheritance and cultural back-ground. It supports personal responsibility and seeks to get participation.

If over the last 60 years this view of health has become out dated and irrelevant in the face of so many advances in medicine, it is once again regaining credence. Researchers are now showing how epigenetic elements will develop in response to environmental stress factors such as POP (Persistent Organic Polutant) and endo-toxins (LPS) from gut microbiota. For example, in the case of diabetes, a buildup of POP could be affecting metabolic function in individuals with epigenetic tendencies leading to a higher demand for nutrients whilst their diet is being more and more depleted.
**See article published in the Lancet January 26 2008 371: page 287-288 entitled “Environmental pollution and diabetes a neglected association”
Colonic hydrotherapy interventions
· At the Physical level
A colonic therapist will look at bowel shape, position and length, posture, back/abdominal wall and pelvic floor issues, breathing technique, positioning on defecating, pain or lesions delaying defecation, muscle tone and tissue consistency
The physical applications of colonic irrigation is through stretch reflex action, hot/cold water applications on the bowel and abdomen, massage, breathing, positioning
The physical effects are on peristaltic and diaphragmatic actions, spasms, proprio-receptors bio-feedback, releasing of intra-abdominal pressure from stools and gas leading to organ displacement and compression (especially of the bladder ovaries/prostate) and causing pain, constipation, impaired lower body circulation etc
· At the Emotional level
A colonic therapist looks at how a person feels about defecating, their bowels in general from family messages, relationship to food and eating, history of abuse etc.
The emotional applications of colonic irrigation are through the conscious connection to an area normally ignored in a clean and safe situation. There is no obvious smell or direct contact with feces
The emotional effects are through raised awareness and stimulation of gut tryptophan levels. This could account for the fact that it is commonly reported that colonic brings about a state of general wellbeing. This can be used to re-enforce positive feedback and induce a change of behavior and eating habits
· At the chemical level
A colonic therapist will look at diet and life style and may order lab testing for stool pathology and parasitology
The Chemical applications of colonic irrigation are by addition of herbal tinctures, colloidal minerals, salts, etc. to the water and probiotic implants post colonic
The chemical effects are through speedy removal of bowel content which has been shown to be much less impervious to toxin re-absorption than originally thought and through suggested dietary changes and nutritional interventions leading to better bowel movements, better detoxification processes and better bowel micro-flora
Contra-indications and precautions
There are contra-indications that relate to the introduction of a short (2” inches long) and relatively small devise (3/4” diameter) into the rectum such as anal fissures, sever hemorrhoids etc.
The Amount of water introduced is only to bowel tolerance and rarely exceeds a couple of litters. However, this can be a problem with a compromised bowel wall, as in IBD, bowel cancer and medications/bowel pathology leading reduced bowel resistance. Hernia and abdominal surgery should be healed before treatment.
There are non-negligible effects of colonic irrigation on the vagus and pelvic nerves and the possibility of water re-absorption. The later can be control by raising the intra-lumen osmotic pressure. Caution must be applied with liver/kidney disease, pregnancy and hypertension. A medical history should be taken in details, contra-indications screened for carefully and a physician’s consent should be obtained when in doubt.
To my knowledge there are no recorded cases of adverse reactions from colonic treatments administered by trained and competent therapists.
This is fundamental to safety in a colonic treatment and only disposable contact parts and tubing should be used. There is no evidence that colonic machines are safer than gravity fed system but both should be using low pressure and filtered water
Colonic Hydrotherapy when supported by a sensitive approach and sound dietary/ lifestyle recommendations can be an effective tool for the management and treatment of non-specific bowel conditions such as IBS constipation, flatulence, etc.
It is a helpful adjunct to detoxification and can be used as part of a weight loss regiment or towards the management of toxicity induced conditions.
In combination with anthelmintic it is an excellent tool against parasites
It has a positive effect on bowel microbiota which can be complemented by post-colonic implants. The effects of a healthy and varied gut flora are vast and are currently under-going much research.
Training experience and registration
Colonic therapists should be qualified and registered. Currently there are only self-regulated organizations that govern colonic hydrotherapy consequently each therapist and their training should be evaluated according to their own merits and experience.
Anne-Lise Miller is honorary secretary to The Institute of Professional Colon Hydrotherapy; she is a qualified Nutritionist and Colonic Hydrotherapy Practitioner and Teacher since 1991; she is registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council

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