Colonic irrigation or colon hydrotherapy, also known as a colonic, is an alternative medicine practice that involves flushing the colon with warm filtered water. This is thought to remove a buildup of waste, which supporters of the practice believe is harmful for digestive and general health. Practitioners and frequent patients claim that regular treatments keep them healthier, and that they are less prone to digestive problems. Most healthcare professionals trained in conventional medicine do not recommend the use of colonics for any medical condition, although enemas to cleanse the lower colon may be appropriate in certain situations. Studies have not suggested that this treatment would be harmful to a healthy individual, unless it was administered in unclean conditions.
According to practitioners of alternative medicine, fecal matter builds up in the colon and interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients. It is believed that this causes the digestive system to become inefficient, leading to an assortment of health problems. Receiving a colonic is supposed to address this problem by removing buildup along the length of the colon. Certain people should not have this procedure, including people with intestinal issues such as Crohn's Disease or hemorrhoids. Pregnant women should also avoid colonics, and anyone who is unsure about whether or not it is safe should consult a medical professional.
A colonic session starts with a brief intake form and interview with the colon hydrotherapist, who will go over the procedure and talk about any issues the patient may have. The patient changes into a gown and lies on a padded table so that the hydrotherapist can insert a sterile, single use speculum attached to a length of tubing into the anus. The colon is gently flushed with repeated doses of warmed water, which loosens waste and filters it out through a closed tube system. When the treatment is over, the therapist leaves to allow the patient to use a toilet and get dressed.
As with any complementary alternative medicine practice, it is important for individuals to go to a reputable practitioner who has been properly trained. Traditionally trained doctors and nurses can administer colonics, along with professionals who have trained at alternative medicine schools. In both cases, the colon hydrotherapist will have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and biology and will have attended training on how to use the equipment involved safely. There are several trade organizations for this profession around the world, and they are happy to assist potential patients with referrals.