It's time to discuss your colon
The concept of “cleaning one’s colon” has been around for a long long time. In fact, the earliest reports of the practice can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Today, several thousand years later, it’s a treatment that is very regularly carried out all around the world.
Yet the fact that bowels and bowel movements and everything related to that is for many of us a rather private and uncomfortable topic, the majority of people are quite unaware of what a colon cleanse involves.
To be clear, there are two main types: one involves taking laxatives or supplements, such as a special tea, to flush the colon. The other – often referred to as colon hydrotherapy – is the practice of cleansing the colon by passing water through it via the rectum.
The purpose of either is to rid the colon of impacted waste and toxins which can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. If left unchecked, decomposing waste in the colon can actually cause a host of serious health issues, from fatigue and reduced immune function to serious diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
A build-up of waste in the lower intestine is also a common cause of what’s known as leaky gut syndrome – a condition whereby undigested food molecules, toxins and other waste can seep through the gut lining, potentially leading to digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), among others.
While both treatments certainly have their merits, today I am going to be focusing on colon hydrotherapy, as I believe it to be the more thorough type of cleanse. Proponents of colon hydrotherapy report better digestive function, as well as feeling less bloated, more energised and better hydrated after having treatment – and that really is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of its many health benefits.
But before we delve any deeper into those benefits, let’s first take a look at exactly what’s involved in a colon hydrotherapy session.
Understanding colon hydrotherapy
One of the most important things to understand about colon hydrotherapy is that although it has similarities to procedures such as colonic irrigation or enemas, it differs in that the whole colon is cleansed rather than just the lower bowel.
The mechanics of the procedure are simple: the large intestine is hydrated and cleansed of waste by introducing a gentle and controlled flow of filtered water through a small tube inserted into the rectal area. Once the water has passed through the colon, it then passes back out through the same tube along with the now dislodged waste and faecal matter.
A common misconception of colon hydrotherapy is that it is either painful or invasive. On the contrary, many patients describe the sensation as relaxing, and while the initial placement of the tube may feel strange to some, when done properly it should not cause pain or discomfort.
The treatment itself takes around 40 minutes, and once complete clients can get straight on with their normal day with no follow-up supplements or necessary aftercare. And I’ll stress here that this is one of the main reasons why I prefer this type of colon cleanse to those which involve ingesting laxatives.
Furthermore, while it is natural to experience a short-term increase in the number of bowel movements straight after colon hydrotherapy, these are usually perfectly gentle with no sense of urgency – and this is not always the case with laxative cleanses.
I also want to emphasise that there are essentially no negative side effects when colon hydrotherapy is carried out correctly. And worth a mention here is that a key element of carrying the procedure out correctly involves using pre-filtered water (filtered a number of times, in fact), as this ensures the procedure does not lead to a “lazy bowel” or become “habit forming”.
Why should you colon cleanse?
Now that we know the basics behind how colon hydrotherapy is carried out, let’s get into why colon cleansing is so beneficial to our health.
For starters, it is worth making clear that you do not need to have a pre-existing health issue to benefit from a course of colonic hydrotherapy treatment. However, if you are suffering from constipation, bloating, sluggishness, fatigue, IBS, or any of the large number of common digestive complaints, you will likely find the treatment particularly beneficial.
That said, whether we are displaying symptoms of any of the above conditions or not, the Western diet – and its high volumes of sugar and grains and processed foods – takes its toll on our colon. And because that “Western” style of eating is a regular part of just about all of our diets nowadays, it means that pretty much any among us would benefit from the occasional colon hydrotherapy treatment.
And that’s because while our body does a pretty good job of cleansing itself of a lot of the toxins we ingest, it was never meant to deal with the abuse we are throwing at now. Essentially, the way we eat tends to lead to increased toxicity, and in turn some potentially serious illnesses like those I mentioned at the outset: leaky gut, cancers, immune deficiencies, and so on.
One of the main benefits of cleansing the colon is to protect against these harmful conditions – by purging the colon of this harmful and potentially toxic waste, and clearing the way for essential nutrients to filter through the colon lining and into the bloodstream in an unobstructed manner.
With regard to leaky gut syndrome in particular, colon cleansing helps by rebalancing the levels of bacteria in the gut. And this point indeed deserves special attention, because it is a hugely important function. To be clear, when the gut is home to too much of one type of bacteria, infections can occur or the gut can become over-absorbent and allow harmful toxins to flow freely into the bloodstream.
And what about that sluggishness or those less-than-stellar energy levels – a common concern among so many of my clients and so many of us as we get older? Well, colon cleansing has been shown to increase energy levels by flushing the colon of toxins, which frees up the energy that is usually used to force waste through the intestines. This allows it to be refocused on other parts of the body, leading to improved circulation and the combatting of those feelings of fatigue. What’s more, restoring efficient nutrient absorption has been shown to improve mood, concentration and focus.
There’s also good news for those wishing to lose weight, as colon cleansing has been show to kick start weight loss. Because our diets are often far too low in fibre, for example, those “low” or “no fibre” foods tend to move through the digestive tract at one-quarter of the pace of high-fibre foods. This slow-moving food is then prone to producing excess mucus, which sticks to the intestinal walls – weighing the digestive tract down with pounds upon pounds of digestive matter.
Flushing the colon of this matter not only provides a quick win in terms of starting your weight loss journey, but as accumulated toxins are known to slow the metabolism, colon cleansing is also a great way to reverse this effect and get your metabolism running in the right direction.
Finally, there are several visible benefits to be had from colon hydrotherapy, most notably on the skin. Several studies over the years have shown a clear link between the growth of certain bacteria in the small intestine and common skin conditions such as acne and rosacea – a reddening or flushing of the skin. In fact, one particular study found these skin conditions to be up to 10 times more prevalent in people with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine than in healthy controls – and colon cleansing is the perfect way to rebalance this bacteria.
Colon hydrotherapy: Getting on top of your gut health
We’d be smart to regularly remind ourselves that looking after the gut is very much about looking after the entire body. Such is the gut’s influence on so many of our most vital functions. Indeed, as we have seen, gut health plays a part in everything from mood, mental health and cognitive issues, to skin care and general appearance, to weight management, to disease prevention, and much more.
And without a doubt colon hydrotherapy should play a role in your “good gut health plans”. Ridding your body of harmful toxins and restoring the balance of your natural bacteria is an essential when it comes to good health management in today’s day and age.
And while I will take advantage in this conclusion to quickly mention that Intelligent Health now has a full time colon hydrotherapist in house (please drop us an email or give us a call for more details), I’ll also use my closing remarks to remind you that I want you all to work harder than ever to balance out your bigger health picture.
Because the best way, after all, to look after not just our gut health but our overall health, is to keep ourselves as “pure” as possible to begin with. And regular readers and clients of mine will know that for me this starts first and foremost with what you put in your body.
So stay away from those “man made” foods, sticking rather to natural foods, and you’ll have the best chance of avoiding the majority of today’s all-too-common health problems. The long and the short of my philosophy is this: Take advantage of all of the tremendous medical practices out there, but don’t do so as a remedy to a lousy lifestyle – do so in conjunction with good living.
The opinions in the column are by Dr Graham Simpson, the Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Intelligent Health, a preventive medical centre located in Jumeirah, Dubai, and are not necessarily those held by Esquire or Hearst International.