If you’ve ever wanted to feel truly squeaky clean from the inside out, a colon cleanse, in this case a colonic, is the holy grail, because it literally does just that. A colon cleanse is the… art, we’ll say, of flushing out the large intestine to rid you of any lingering build up that may be compacting or fermenting in the gut.
Colon hydro-cleansing is typically used before medical procedures, like a colonoscopy. During this process, large amounts of water, up to 16 gallons, according to the National Women’s Health Network, are pumped into the colon to flush it out. The total process takes about an hour, and patients will feel very full, or an intense pressure during this time, but it is rarely painful.
Sometimes, it’s a slightly saline solution, but also other liquids like herbs or green coffee are used. In the world of wellness, it’s often used for detoxification purposes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a casual process, or that it’s for everyone, all the time. You may have heard of people doing coffee enemas in the comfort of their own home.
The purpose of a coffee enema is to stimulate the bile production in the liver to aid in the body’s natural detoxification process, which makes this a great option for those whose bodies are not functioning properly, such as those with chronic or autoimmune diseases like Lyme.
Before our wellness junkies get carried away with the idea of ultra detoxification, it’s important to consider if this procedure is for you. For many people, our digestive system does what it’s meant to— it eliminates waste, harmful bacteria, and digested food from our bodies as intended. However, for some, we need a little extra help every once in a while.
If the patient has been impacted with fecal matter, the practitioner might have the water sit in the colon for a short period of time before being removed, so as to dislodge and soften compacted materials. This makes it an option to help clear things out when someone is suffering from chronic constipation, but that doesn’t mean it will solve the issues entirely. It’s also vital to work with a gastroenterologist or a functional nutritionist to decipher the correct diet and plan of action to prevent the chronic constipation from continuing, rather than just dealing with it from the back end. Pun intended.
While there is lack of scientific evidence that proves colon cleanses are effective in treating IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and the many symptoms that accompany it (think gas, bloating, upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, and even breakouts), many IBS sufferers tout the benefits of colon cleansing for those very issues. That may be because so many different issues can be the source of IBS symptoms. Accidentally ingesting a parasite during travels can create a bout of IBS, and colon cleansing can help to flush out those foreign invaders, literally.
Sometimes, IBS is a result of SIBO, otherwise known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This bacteria is typically not found in the rest of the digestive tract, and it’s not the good kind of bacteria. It causes fermentation in the gut, which contributes to gas, bloating, and diarrhea, as well as the malabsorption of nutrients. If suffering from SIBO, a colonic or colon cleanse may be a smart choice as it can help to flush out these harmful bacteria causing pain and excess methane.
There is also research that suggests colon cleansing with water may improve muscle tone within the colon. This means it can decrease intestinal muscle spasms that trigger diarrhea as well as the production and release of excess gas. This same study also points out that if using a temperature extreme compared to that of the body, like cold or (comfortably) hot water during the process, we can increase blood flow and healthy circulation to the area. Increased blood flow promotes vital healing.
So before you jump on the next opportunity to get water professionally pumped up your lower half, consider your needs. Our bodies regularly detox on their own, so if you aren’t suffering from a chronic disease, an autoimmune disorder, or persistent digestive duress, this may not be necessary. Our gut flora hangs in a delicate balance, so we always say it’s best not to disturb it unless we are in dire circumstances.