Colon Hydrotherapy: Is It Safe and Effective?
By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Monday, April 3rd, 2023
Colon hydrotherapy is commonly performed before medical procedures such as colonoscopies. However, colonic irrigation, also known as colonic hydrotherapy, is often used as a “complementary and alternative” treatment to eliminate toxins from the body. Is colon hydrotherapy safe? It is the most common question regarding this medical procedure. Proponents of colonic irrigation tout the treatment’s capacity to alleviate digestive and other health ailments. However, there is little scientific evidence that colonics are beneficial for the majority of people. In many situations, the hazards outweigh the potential benefits.
Learn more about colonic irrigation so you can make an informed decision.
How Does Colon Cleansing Work?
As you may have guessed from its name, colonic hydrotherapy or irrigation uses water to flush the lower intestine. A tube is placed into the rectum during the procedure, flushing approximately 16 gallons of water through the colon. As a technique of cleansing the colon and removing bacteria and parasites, many colon hydrotherapists add other items to the water, such as herbs, enzymes, vitamins, or coffee.
Be aware of the differences between colonic and enema if you are deciding between the two. Although they perform similar objectives, they are not identical. Enemas can be conducted at home with a single infusion. Still, colonics require a certified hydrotherapist, specialized equipment, and numerous infusions.
What Are The Colonic Advantages?
Proponents of colonic hydrotherapy assert that treatment eliminates toxins from the lower intestine tract, promoting digestive health. Some claim colonics can also treat diseases unrelated to the digestive tract, such as arthritis, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, mood swings, weariness, and alcoholism. However, scientific data does not support these statements.
People with severe constipation who do not react to dietary modifications or laxatives may benefit from colon cleansing. (e.g., stool softener with laxative as a colonoscopy prep). However, most doctors recommend gentler treatments first. Before pursuing alternative therapies, it is essential to consult a physician, as chronic constipation may suggest an underlying disease that needs treatment.
What Are Colonic Hazards And Dangers?
Colon cleansing has both moderate and severe adverse effects. Colon irrigation can be risky, whether it’s causing an imbalance in gut flora (a healthy microbiome), reacting to other substances in the colon, or damaging delicate tissues.
Among The Mild To Moderate Adverse Effects Are:
- Sickness and Vomiting
- Deflation and a sense of fullness
- Abdominal discomfort
- Anal soreness
- Fatalities have been associated with coffee enemas, but other serious side effects are also possible.
These consist of the following:
- Infection Perforation (tear) of the rectum or colon
- Renal or Cardiac failure
- Electrolyte imbalance, which can cause severe, often life-threatening consequences in those with kidney or heart illness, is a common cause of hospitalizations.
In addition, bacterial contamination is risky if using the same equipment on multiple patients. Sterilizing the procedure area is a must.
What Healthy Alternatives Are There For Colonics?
For most healthy individuals, the body naturally eliminates waste and pollutants. Whether you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues, you can try a variety of treatments to see if your situation improves. These alternatives include:
- Using laxatives to treat constipation.
- Probiotics to support beneficial gut microbiota
- Increased water consumption
Colon Hydrotherapy, is it safe? The answer is yes. If you have tried these remedies and your symptoms persist, it may be time to make an appointment with your physician. You may be suffering from an underlying health problem. If it interests you in colonic irrigation, ask your holistic doctor if it is safe and beneficial for your disease.
About the author
Dr. Patrick Lovegrove
Dr. Patrick Lovegrove is board certified by the American Board of Family Physicians. He was born in Staunton, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he majored in Biology. He received a Medical School Scholarship from the United States Air Force. A graduate of Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine, his over 20 years of clinical experience includes Family Practice, Anti-aging, Holistic Internal Medicine, Pain Management, Aerospace, Sports, and Emergency Medicine. He believes that holistic medicine should be integrated with conventional medicine in a scientifically based model to achieve the best results for patients.