What is Colonic Irrigation?

Malcolm Tatum

Also known as colon hydrotherapy, a colonic irrigation is a process that involves the introduction of liquid into the colon. The process is said to loosen and flush toxins from the colon and thus enhance the efficiency of the organ. At the same time, proponents also claim that by removing substances that are putrefying in the colon, the overall function of the body is enhanced.

A human colon.
A human colon.

The idea of colonic irrigation has been around for many centuries. As far back as ancient Egypt, there has been some thought to the potential for waste products to collect in the body and begin to deteriorate. As the trapped waste begins to decompose, the area is thought to be a breeding ground for bacteria that in turn seeps into the other systems of the body and causes a wide range of health ailments.

Colonic irrigation involves inserting a tube into a person's rectum and sending water through the tube to flush out waste.
Colonic irrigation involves inserting a tube into a person's rectum and sending water through the tube to flush out waste.

One of the basic tools used in a colonic irrigation is the enema. Employed by many people to deal with temporary but painful constipation, using an enema makes it possible to irrigate liquid that is infused with cleansing agents into the colon. While in the colon, the liquid begins to loosen any buildup on the colon walls and soften it sufficiently so that it can pass through the system and be expelled from the body. After filling the colon with the fluid, the patient remains in a prone condition until feeling a strong urge to defecate.

Proponents of this process of colonics make use of several different substances in order to cleanse the colon of impurities. While some prefer using nothing more than warm water, other practitioners urge the use of liquid that is infused with herbs. Psyllium husks may also be consumed a couple of hours prior to the irrigation. In this application, the husks enter the colon and expand, effectively scraping any residue from the colon walls. As liquid is introduced into the colon via the rectum, the husks soften somewhat and are easily expelled along with the impurities.

Engaging in a colonic irrigation is sometimes claimed to be a great way to cure a wide range of physical ailments. Fevers, excessive fatigue, and muscle weakness are sometimes attributed to a clogged colon. There are those that claim the procedure can also help with emotional issues such as depression and anxiety, since the bacteria generated by the putrefying contents of the colon could be the reason that the function of the nervous system is impaired.

While there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence in support of colonic irrigation, modern medicine does not support the use of irrigation processes for the colon as a way of enhancing health. Since the early 20th century, traditional physicians have noted that the colon is remarkably capable of expelling matter and in fact only retains bacteria needed to perform properly. Physicians warn that far from helping an individual to enjoy better health, employing a colonic irrigation too often could disrupt the natural function of the colon, and possibly lead to dehydration. In addition, certain herbal blends could negatively interact with prescription medication, leading to further health risks.

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