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Can colonic hydrotherapy help relieve constipation?

3 years ago
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There is much discussion surrounding colonic hydrotherapy, and the role it potentially plays in digestive health. Here I hope to explain more about what colonic hydrotherapy involves, and whether is may be effective providing relief from constipation.

Colonic hydrotherapy

Many believe colonic hydrotherapy to have a cleansing effect on the bowel 

Colonic hydrotherapy (also known as colon cleansing or colonic irrigation) is the process of injecting water, sometimes mixed with herbs, into the colon via a specially designed tube inserted into the rectum with the aim of removing faeces and toxins from the colon and intestinal tract.

Colonic hydrotherapy is believed to have its roots grounded as far back as 1500 BC when enemas were recorded in an Egyptian medical document. Hippocrates and Galen were believed to be advocates of enemas and enema therapy. Early Americans apparently used enemas commonly to help support health and reduce the risk of disease. In the early 1900's, John H Kellogg M.D used colonic therapy on his patients. In 1917 he reported in the Journal of Medical Association that in all but 20 cases he did not need to use gastrointestinal surgery on those patients.

The popularity of enemas and colonic hydrotherapy appeared to wane in the second half of the 20th Century but people are once again reporting benefits of supporting colon health.  The use of colonic hydrotherapy now combines sophisticated techniques that are known to be safe and can potentially benefit health, reducing constipation and supporting overall digestive function.

Colonic hydrotherapy room

Colonic hydrotherapy uses sophisticated equipment in a safe clinical setting 

The colon is considered by some, particularly those in the field of colonic hydrotherapy, to be one of the most important organs in the body. We know that it is certainly one of the major eliminatory organs, and plays a vital role in maintaining healthy digestion as well as eliminating toxins. It is important for the absorption of nutrients and synthesis of some vitamins.

There are reports of people experiencing reduced constipation and general digestive improvements following colonic hydrotherapy, as well as improved vitality, better skin and an overall energy boost.

There are many different causes of constipation, and the drivers of constipation may play an important role in helping to decide which is the best route to resolution. For example, if dehydration or a lack of dietary fibre are the triggers for constipation, increasing water intake or boosting intake of soluble fibre may be effective in reducing constipation. If however a person feels they have tried many different remedies with limited success, they may like to consider colonic hydrotherapy as a way to effectively re-boot their digestive system with the goal of reducing constipation.

One negative theory associated with colonic hydrotherapy is that the beneficial gut bacteria is effectively "washed out" by the process. There is however evidence to the contrary as one 2003 study indicates that the colonic hydrotherapy process made changes to intestinal bacterial flora which may in fact encourage short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production, and essentially improve bowel peristalsis, therefore reducing constipation.

Many colonic hydrotherapists are strong advocates of using beneficial bacteria to support the digestive system following colonic hydrotherapy to help support healthy levels of gut flora. Beneficial bacteria can be  taken in supplemental form as probiotics.  For example, OptiBac Probiotics 'For every day' or 'For every day EXTRA Strength' may be recommended by a colonic hydrotherapist. You can read more about the benefits of probiotics for constipation here

For every day EXTRA Strength

Optibac Probiotics 'For every day EXTRA Strength' may help replace levels of healthy gut bacteria

As a Nutritional Therapist with a strong focus on digestive health, I have myself experienced colonic hydrotherapy and would recommend people try it if they are interested. I had colonic hydrotherapy as part of a Weekend Detox Retreat, and can say it was a positive experience. The therapist was wholly professional and made me feel very comfortable, explaining the process step-by-step. I asked her lots of questions to help me fully understand the procedure and was amazed when she told me the most unusual thing she had seen was a Barbie shoe removed from the colon of a 45 year old man, presumably something he had eaten as a youngster! Colonic hydrotherapy may act as a helpful motivational tool at the start of a detox programme or weight loss plan, and I did certainly remember feeling a sense of being 'cleansed' afterwards. It was interesting to note that I felt surprisingly sleepy and lethargic afterwards, which can apparently be a common symptom after colonic hydrotherapy, so make sure you are able to rest and take it easy after any treatment.

If you are interested in having colonic hydrotherapy, I would always highly recommend ensuring you find a professional RICTAT (Register of of Colonic Hydrotherapists and Trainers) or ARCH (Association of Registered Colonic Hydrotherapists) registered colonic hydrotherapist.

You can read about other natural remedies for constipation here

Reference: Sakamoto M, Fukai K, Mine H. Effect of colonic irrigation on the bowel habits of constipated young women. Kawasaki Journal of Medical Welfare, Vol.9, No.1, 2003 9-14


1 Comment

  • Linda Booth March 19th, at 14:53

    Hello Jo  Pleased to hear you had a very positive experience of colonic hydrotherapy. I am a registered colonic hydrotherapist, and Vice Chair of The Association of Registered Colonic Hydrotherapists. I've now performed over 9,000 colonic treatments, on many people who suffer with chronic constipation, with amazing results.  


    Really enjoyed reading your blog about it.

    Kind regards.

    Linda Booth MACH RT