This guide answers the following question – What is Colon Hydrotherapy?
Colon hydrotherapy dates back to 1500 B.C. in ancient Egypt where records of this procedure were documented in Egyptian scrolls known as ‘Eber Papyrus’.
Fathers of medicine like Hippocrates and Galen also used colon hydrotherapy for the treatment of intestinal ailments.
What is Colon Hydrotherapy?
Colon hydrotherapy, also known as colon cleansing, is a procedure by which the large intestine is thoroughly irrigated with warm and filtered water to ensure the removal of toxins and unwanted or unabsorbed materials from the body.
Although greatly debated, colon cleansing is vital for maintaining your physical and emotional health.
Overview of the structure and function of the colon
The human gut is a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. It is as long as 9 meters, which is about thrice the length of a standard table tennis table. The intestine is made up of five parts namely the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. The large intestine is also referred to as the colon and it is located at the tail end of the gut.
The colon is about 1.5 meters in length. It has various kinks and flexures throughout its length. It connects the small intestine to the anus. It is made of four parts which are the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon. Absorption of nutrients from food takes place majorly in the small intestine.
After this, the indigestible substances are passed on to the colon. The colon ensures the absorption of water and salts from food materials. It also absorbs any important nutrients that are still present in the food materials. This results in the formation of stool.
The colon also helps in the synthesis of some essential vitamins. These vitamins are produced by certain bacteria that live in the colon. B vitamins and vitamin K are produced by bacteria in the large intestine.
The bacteria present in the colon are essential for maintaining normal metabolism. They help to synthesize thousands of useful body substances and are now considered as an ‘organ’ of the body. Furthermore, they play a crucial role in enhancing the body’s immune system.
What does colon hydrotherapy do?
Colon hydrotherapy uses water to gently and methodically flush the large intestine in order to remove fecal and indigestible materials from the intestinal wall. This helps to maintain and renew the gut. Many individuals suffer from constipation and have less than three bowel movements every week.
As fecal material remains in the colon, the colon continues to process it and absorb substances from it. This makes it harder and more difficult to eliminate from the body. Moreover, there is the likelihood of the ‘autointoxication’ phenomenon coming to play.
The autointoxication theory is proposed by a certain school of thought as a mechanism by which dangerous toxins and unwanted substances from non-digestible food material seep back into the bloodstream from feces in the colon.
These toxins in turn trigger an immune response leading to a myriad of conditions. In fact, in a study conducted among individuals with chronic constipation, many of them were found to have high circulating levels of immune cells in their bloodstream, possibly linked to the persistent fecal matter in the gut.
Colon cleansing employs the beneficial properties of water to slowly and gradually decontaminate the colon, releasing fecal substances that can obstruct transport, irritate the colon and impair its function.
Furthermore, colon hydrotherapy has profound regenerative effects on the ‘good bacteria’ of the colon. The entire human intestine houses trillions of beneficial bacteria called the gut microbiota. Scientists have now discovered a connection between the gut microbiota, the immune system, and the brain.
While more research on this axis and the role it plays in the causation of illnesses is still ongoing, it is apparent that a healthy gut microbiota is essential for the optimal functioning of the body and overall wellness.
Dysfunction of the gut microbiota has been associated with many illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, atopic dermatitis, obesity, coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. In many of these diseases, a reduction in the diversity of the bacteria present in the gut has been identified.
Colonic irrigation can help promote an adequate, diverse, and species-rich gut microbiota in the colon. Studies have shown that following colon cleansing, the number of bacteria in the gut initially decreases and subsequently regenerates within two to four weeks. Introducing probiotics and prebiotics during the immediate period after a colonic cleanse helps to increase the diversity of the gut microbiota by encouraging the growth of the right kind of bacteria. This can in turn helps to tackle and prevent many of the diseases associated with gut microbiota dysbiosis.
Reasons why you should have a colon cleanse
- To improve your overall health and well-being.
- To facilitate a healthy gut.
- To promote a diverse gut-microbiota
- To prevent fecal impaction and constipation.
- To stimulate appropriate and adequate colon motility and function.
- To eliminate harmful and toxin-producing bacteria from the colon.
- To ensure a healthy immune system.
What is Colon Hydrotherapy – Final Thoughts
- Colon hydrotherapy is a special procedure by which the large intestine is cleansed using warm water to remove fecal matter and indigestible material from the colon.
- Irrigating the colon helps maintain the gut microbiota, thereby preventing diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and coeliac disease.
- Having a colon cleanse can improve your physical and mental health.
Colon Hydrotherapy References
Azzouz LL, Sharma S. Physiology, Large Intestine. [Updated 2022 Aug 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507857/
Bazzocchi G. & Giuberti R. Irrigation, lavage, colonic hydrotherapy: from beauty center to clinic? Tech Coloproctol 2017;21:1-4.
Colon Therapy – A Brief History. Aqualibria Available at: Colonic Irrigation Articles – Brief history of Colon Therapy (aqualibria.com)
Hounnou G, Destrieux C, Desmé J, Bertrand P, Velut S. Anatomical study of the length of the human intestine. Surg Radiol Anat. 2002 Dec;24(5):290-4. doi: 10.1007/s00276-002-0057-y.
Khalif IL, Quigley EMM, Konovitch EA, Maximova ID (2005) Alterations in the colonic flora and intestinal permeability and evidence of immune activation in chronic constipation. Dig Liv Dis 37:838–849.
Valdes AM Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ 2018;361:k2179