Proponents claim colonic irrigation, or colon hydrotherapy, detoxes the body through removal of waste. After the process is complete, your entire colon is empty, so directly following your session, you should have foods that won't irritate your digestive system.
Follow your clinician's specific instructions and only have the procedure done by a licensed hydrotherapist. In some circumstances, colonic irrigation may cause side effects.
What It Involves
Colonic irrigation involves flushing the colon by inserting plastic tubes through the rectum into the colon. One tube sends large amounts of water into the colon, while the other tube removes fluid and waste. During the session, the colonic hygienist may massage your abdomen to help the process along.
While there is no evidence to support colonics for detoxification, data shows they're useful for certain digestive issues. A study published in the October 2008 issue of the British Journal of Surgery found colonics beneficial for people with constipation and bowel incontinence.
Recommended Foods Directly After
Because your colon is empty right after the session, you may not have a bowel movement for a few days after your colonic. The Association of Registered Hydrotherapists recommends you follow a healthy diet following your colonic and avoid certain foods that may be irritating.
You should have fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth. Fiber benefits digestion and helps get your colon moving again.
Other healthy foods you may add to your post-colonic diet include leafy greens, fresh fruit, fruit juices, vegetables juices, fish, free-range chicken, vegetable soup and bean soup. Miso soup and kefir are also recommended. These contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria similar to those that normally populate your colon.
Foods to Avoid
Directly after your session, avoid certain foods that may irritate your colon or cause discomfort. Beverages to avoid include alcohol, caffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea, dairy drinks and carbonated drinks. Other foods that might cause problems are chocolate, foods made with white flour, processed and junk foods, foods with refined sugar, ice cream and dairy foods.
Also avoid foods that are fried or fatty, like sausage. Acidic foods, such as tomato soup and citrus fruits, may also cause problems. Test your tolerance with any foods you suspect may irritate your colon.
What to Expect Afterward
Colon therapy may cause side effects like abdominal cramps or discomfort. It may injure people recovering from bowel surgery or who have inflammatory bowel issues. If you have kidney problems, colonic irrigation increases your risk of electrolyte balance.
Contaminated equipment that has not been cleaned properly may cause toxicity or transmit infection. Adding herbs or other substances to the colonic fluid may result in additional side effects. There are rare reports of death associated with colonics.
If you're considering a colonic, talk with your primary health care provider first. While you may be excited about the prospect of removing all those harmful substances from your colon and detoxing your body, there's no evidence to support these claims, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. And as noted above, there are some potential serious side effects.
- British Journal of Surgery: "Prospective Study of Colonic Irrigation for the Treatment of Defaecation Disorders"
- Mayo Clinic: "Colon Cleansing: Is It Helpful or Harmful"?
- Association of Registered Hydrotherapistis: "Colon Hydrotherapy FAQ"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "'Detoxes' and 'Cleanses'"