Despite increased awareness, gastrointestinal disorders leading to colon cancer are on the rise. Joanne Miller dares to broach the taboo health topic of colonic irrigation, a procedure which may offer relief for some.
The term “colonic irrigation” evokes weird and possibly terrifying images for the uninitiated. What should be a private moment in the peaceful confines of your bathroom shifts to a clinical and mechanical intervention involving a spectator or two.
Fear and ignorance aside, colonic irrigation is a relatively simple procedure whereby a steady stream of tepid, purified water flows through the rectum (via a sanitised or disposable speculum) into the large intestine or colon, to loosen and remove accumulated and impacted matter.
You’ll wear a fetching medical gown and be well covered throughout the session. Admittedly, insertion of the speculum is a brief but awkward moment for most; but Pap smears, mammograms and prostate examinations aren’t exactly pleasant experiences either, though they’re essential in preventive healthcare.
Hygiene is a common concern, but modern colonic irrigation equipment discharges waste through connecting disposable tubes directly into sewers, avoiding contamination, infection, soiling or odour.
Beat the Bloat
Those with chronic constipation or irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) endure the daily discomfort of distended, gas-ridden stomachs. Doctors and colonic practitioners suggest the following measures to minimise side effects.
- Increase your daily water intake (coffee, tea, sodas and alcohol don’t count)
- Sip rather than gulp cold drinks
- Improve your diet by eating more fruit and vegetables (preferably organic), and reducing acidic, fatty and processed foods such as cakes, carbonated drinks, full fat dairy, red meat and offal
- Chew your food properly and sit down while you eat
- Sleep more and stress less
- Move more
Better Out than In
- The colon is four and a half feet long and two and a half inches wide
- One 30-minute colonic irrigation session can remove up to 25 stools
- Autointoxication caused by trapped waste and constipation can lead to conditions such as colon cancer, diabetes, acne, cellulite, lethargy, nausea, recurring headaches or migraines, severe abdominal pain, flatulence, water retention and halitosis
Do Your Homework
Colonic irrigation is relatively low-risk, provided your therapist is properly certified and uses sanitised equipment, complete with disposable, connecting hoses.
Not for Everyone
Colonic irrigation is not for those who are blessed with regular daily bowel movements they can set their watches to. However, while sceptics may outnumber advocates by about 100:1, the procedure can be extremely beneficial for those who suffer from persistent constipation or IBS. Colonic irrigation is by no means a cure, but for many people it relieves the pain and discomfort of severe abdominal distension.
Where to Go?
Until recently, a number of clinics offered colonic hydrotherapy, but the introduction of stricter hygiene standards have seen most places closed.