by Rick A. Shacket, DO, MD(H)
Colonic hydrotherapy or irrigation is a safe gentle warm water
cleansing of the colon that can help to eliminate stored fecal
matter, gas, mucus, and toxic substances from the colon. A
practice dating from around 1500 B.C., colonics can also help
re-tonify and reshape the colon. However, colonics have a
much broader effect than simply cleansing the colon.
In the 19th Century, the intestinal toxicity theory of disease
became popular. The idea was that poisons from putrefying
intestinal bacteria entered the body through the gut wall.
Constipation was an affliction to be avoided. Numerous remedies
were advocated by the health practitioners of the day. Yogurt
was said to contribute a healthier form of bacteria. Bran
was promoted for "roughage" to speed up the elimination
process. The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor
away" is rooted in the idea of increasing roughage. Enemas
were used to empty the rectum of toxic intestinal waste products.
Colonic irrigation was used successfully during the cholera
epidemic of 1892, to eliminate disease causing intestinal
bacteria from the colon. It was thought to be to be a cure
for cholera and many other bowel diseases at that time.
Additional benefits can often be observed
throughout the body in the form of clearer skin, more energy
and mental clarity, fewer headaches, with circulatory, immune
and weight problems often improving, amongst many other positive
side effects. Many people are referred to colonic practitioners
by other alternative health practitioners including homoeopaths,
naturopaths, acupuncturists, herbalists, etc.; since by detoxifying
the system using colonics, alternative health therapies tend
to be more efficacious. It is an unfortunate but widely held
belief by orthodox medicine that such treatments are no longer
When the bowel is toxic it can harbor an amazing variety
of very harmful bacteria and parasites.
It's interesting to note that even today, intestinal parasites
outrank cancer as man's deadliest enemy on a worldwide basis.
About 200 million people are infected by intestinal parasites.
One in four people in the world today are infected by roundworms.
Colonic irrigation can aid in the removal of these parasites.
Many health authorities feel that disease begins in the colon.
To be in optimum health the colon must be functioning normally.
Of the major indications for colon hydrotherapy today, the
most important is constipation, and for colon cleansing prior
to a same day colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy examination.
Colon hydrotherapy also functions as an important diagnostic
tool for the physician in extracting useful information concerning
digestive and clinical disorders:
• Is an excellent screening device for colorectal cancer,
making it easy for the physician to obtain specimens for diagnostic
• Useful in preparation for diagnostic procedures
for evaluation of the colon.
• May prove valuable in preparation for bowel surgery,
providing a more optimal surgical field potentially decreasing
the risk of post-operative complications due to the presence
of bacteria at the suture line.
• Offers the location and relief of fecal impactions,
amount and color of mucous and the presence of increased amounts
• Provides detection for ova and parasites.
• Useful for detoxification of drug addicts and alcoholics.
Proponents of colonic irrigation advertise that "all
disease and death begin in the colon," that colonics
"detoxifies" the body, and that regular "cleansing"
is necessary to maintain optimal health. Liquids used in colonics
may include coffee, herbs, vitamins, enzymes, wheatgrass extract,
or many other substances; and are used in order to add nutrients
that may be deficient in your body, or to boost your metabolism
or and immune system.
Water is introduced at a low gravitational pressure, so there
is no danger of bowel perforation. Sometimes specialized equipment
is used which features temperature controlled water mixing
and back flow prevention valves, pressure and temperature
sensors, and built-in chemical sanitizing and water purification
units. All equipment is designed for safety and patient comfort.
All equipment is either disposable or disinfected using hospital
approved disinfecting solutions, which kill all viruses, bacteria
and fungi. Colonic hydrotherapy, unlike the use of laxatives,
is not habit forming and actually improves the tone of the
The contraindications of colon hydrotherapy include congestive
heart failure, severe anemia, diverticulitis,
disease (in the acute inflammatory stages), severe hemorrhoids,
in the rectum or large intestine,and recent colon surgery.
Colon hydrotherapy is the safe, gentle infusion of purified
warm water into the colon under conditions that offer safety.
It is the natural solution to conditions, which interfere
with the normal functions of the colon.
1. The Guild of Colonic Hydrotherapists, http://www.colonic-association.com
2. Colon Hydrotherapy and its Clinical Applications, Donald
J. Mantell, M.D.,