Pros & Cons of Colonics

unhealthy colon
Close up of the inside of an unhealthy colon (Image: Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images)

Colonics, or colon hydrotherapy, is the cleaning of the large intestine, or colon, with water. Colonics is often used to treat constipation, flatulence and intestinal disorders, as well as body aches and pains, low energy levels, back pain and liver pain. A study in the October 2008 issue of the "British Journal of Surgery" reports that colonics is an effective therapy in treating intestinal disorders when other treatments fail.

Significance of a Healthy Colon

There are many health benefits to maintaining a biologically strong colon. The colon is where waste is processed and eliminated from the body. Sometimes, if you don't eat enough healthy foods, the colon can become backed up or sluggish. Colonics is meant to assist the body in cleansing the colon, complementing the natural cleansing processes of the body. It is not intended to be a cure or a quick way to lose weight. It is simply a supportive measure to obtain overall health benefits.

Pros of Colonic Treatment

Colonics helps remove waste and toxins from the colon, allowing you to feel ‘lighter" after a treatment. This helps improve digestion and absorption of water and nutrients. The treatments are simple; the practitioners make every effort to ensure privacy and respect of the patient. Colonics has been known to assist people who are undertaking weight-loss programs, promote healthy intestinal bacteria and enhance the immune system. You may experience a boost in energy levels as well.

Cons of Colonics

Colon hydrotherapy isn't heavily regulated, or licensed in most states, so there are a lot of different approaches and theories about how to practice. What one therapist does another may not do. There is little scientific research in this area regarding the benefits or the misfortunes of colonics. Another concern is the risk of dehydration or the use of laxatives with colonics, which can elevate electrolytes, a dangerous condition for those with kidney or heart problems.

Colonics is Not . . .

Colonics is not a cure for illness or disease. It is not an enema, which introduces fluid into only the first several inches of the colon, also called the rectum. However, as more and more people embrace the responsibility of their own health care, educating themselves in medical matters, alternative options and traditional health-related choices, colonic irrigation is finding its way back into mainstream use. Most people use colonics only as needed to treat a condition or seasonally to stay cleansed.

Points to Consider

Before beginning a colonic treatment there are a few things to consider. Talk to your doctor first, especially if you have a serious health condition. Speak with the therapist and find out what herbal ingredients, if any, are being used, and if the equipment is disposable to prevent cross-contamination. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after the treatment to stay hydrated.

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