Colonic Irritation?

19th January 2008

Esther Katz gets to the bottom of the matter…

I am in no way ashamed that I see a colonic hydrotherapist every few months; on the contrary, it is the best decision I have ever made. It just isn’t something I’ve publicised. Until now.

I'll expand a little. Since mid-teens my digestion had become increasingly sluggish, until I felt constantly congested. A food intolerance test pointed to wheat and dairy as perpetrators, so I swiftly cut these out of my diet. However, a regime of stir-fried vegetables and crispbreads seven days a week brought my periods to a halt and my energy levels to an all-time low. An evening’s research on the internet led to my finding a local hydrotherapist, (registered with ARCH, the Association & Register of Colon Hydrotherapists) and embarking on several sessions, first weekly, then monthly, then once every three months.

Nine months on, I feel like a different person. I no longer have to deprive myself or feel scared about eating and how I will feel afterwards. Colonic irrigation, or colonic hydrotherapy as it is also known, has put a stop to years of discomfort and worry and I have never felt better. At the same time, though, it is something I have consciously kept from workmates, friends and even family. So why all the secrecy and embarrassment over something that has improved my way of life so much?

Bowel health is not an issue that we, as a nation, discuss freely. One might see the occasional advert for a new herbal laxative, but the various discomforts from which as many as one in three Britons suffer are simply not addressed (in the media or in society) to the same extent as conditions such as cancer or heart disease. In this country, the sure-fire way to become a social outcast is to discuss the state of your bowels over dinner. It is not surprising therefore, that colonic hydrotherapy is taboo, too, a subject about which few people have knowledge and understanding. Strange, when you consider that Britain is officially the most constipated nation in the world…

Colonic irrigation does not deserve to be cast into the darkness any more, so I hope to shed some light on the facts and bring its attention to those of you who may have fantasised, as I once did, that there was such a thing as colon-transplants. Because there is another, not impossible solution.

Each time I do decide to divulge the nitty gritty to a friend, the response is invariably the same: a silent pause, and a blank look that quickly turns wide-eyed. Then, with the demeanour of someone plotting revenge on an ex-boyfriend, said friend hunches down and whispers one of the following: ‘Isn’t it dangerous?’/ ’Does it hurt?’/’Are you fully exposed?’

Answer: no, no and not really.

Colonic hydrotherapy is the gentle bathing of the colon using warm purified water. This is introduced at a low pressure so there is no danger of bowel perforation, and the gentle flow of warm water helps remove all sorts of nasty stuff that may have been clogging up your colon for years, as well as gas, mucus and toxic substances. Yes, the idea of plumbing yourself into a tube may seem scary and I admit I was pretty terrified at first, but once you see what it can do for you you’ll soon become the best of friends. A huge factor in protecting yourself is finding a registered colon hydrotherapist, of course. There are between 180 and 210 across the UK, all of whom have received proper training at one of the approved and inspected Colonic Hydrotherapy training colleges. Look at www.colonic-association.org for a list of members.

So, to the question of pain. It is definitely a strange sensation, having water fill you up like a balloon, but it is not a painful one. A good therapist will be very in tune with her patients and tailor the process to suit each one. The more sessions you have, the more tolerant you become of the feeling of fullness.

And as for nakedness… exposure was a major factor putting me off the treatment at first, as I’ve always been the type of person to get changed underneath a dressing gown (even in my own room!) However, my therapist gave me a white towelling skirt opening at the back; it was so soft and fluffy that the atmosphere instantly felt like that of a luxuriant health-spa. As I reluctantly rolled over for the first time, she encouraged me not to be embarrassed. She does of course, see backsides varying between 19 and 90 in age, in addition to everything that exists in them, on average four or five times a day. It’s hard to believe, but you can end up becoming good friends with someone who is not your partner but who asks you to take off your underwear and roll over to allow them access to your back passage. If anything, you may find that the sheer honesty of the situation allows you to open up quickly to your therapist about things you would not mention to your friends. I view my hour-long sessions as real value for money, as I’m relieved mentally as well as physically.

This brief insight into the world of colonics may seem fairly explicit, and I apologise for any offence – but, as I’ve said, there is an uncessary amount of taboo surrounding a treatment that does help a lot of people with digestive discomfort, and could help a lot more. GPs in the UK are approached about bowel problems by one in three patients – that’s a high enough percentage, but imagine how many more are too embarrassed to even go to their doctor. This is why I’ve brought my bowels out into the open in print.

Now to conquer the dinner party…

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