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Colonic Hydrotherapy: Is It Safe?
Are Colonics Even Natural?

Colonics, colonic hydrotherapy and colonic irrigation all refer to one of the fastest growing practices in "natural" medicine — irrigation of the bowel. During a colonics cleanse a flexible hose is inserted into the rectum and warm liquid is forced, under gentle pressure, into the large intestine. After a period of several minutes the bowel is allowed to evacuate.

The idea behind colonics goes back millennia. The ancient Egyptians wrote extensively of their belief that the colon was the key to all diseases and this theme has been repeated throughout history. Modern-day chiropractors, naturopaths and other "natural" practitioners all believe (albeit to varying degrees) in the link between colon health and overall vitality.

What It's Supposed to Do For You

Practitioners of this therapy believe that the health of the colon is directly related to the health of the entire body. Proponents of colonic irrigation claim that the procedure will rid the body of excess fecal matter and remove toxins, resulting in an overall healthier system. Many practitioners stop short of making further health claims but some have gone so far as to suggest the therapy for everything from the common cold to mental illness. Colonic hydrotherapy is often recommended for:

  • Various gastrointestinal disorders
  • Migraine
  • Auto-immune disorders including arthritis, allergy and asthma
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Parasites

But Is It Safe?

Though there's no way to know for sure how many colonic procedures are performed in the US, injuries are apparently rare. Potential side effects include:

  • Infection from contaminated equipment
  • Disturbance of the electrolyte balance
  • Perforation of the bowel
  • Heart failure (caused by excessive fluid absorption)

What The Critics Say

One of the most common criticisms of colonic hydrotherapy is its use by unqualified practitioners. A 2004 study in the UK found that only one third of the registered practitioners interviewed had any previous clinical background and over 80% worked completely alone with no trained medical assistant present during the procedure. And things aren't any better here in the US. In 2003 the Texas Attorney General sued six practitioners (none of whom were medically trained or working with a physician) after one death and several serious injuries resulted from perforated colons.

Is Colonic Hydrotherapy "Natural"?

In my opinion, there's nothing "natural" about filling your colon with liquid and I can't imagine a situation in which I'd recommend it. Your body is simply not designed to work that way and the idea that we're all walking around with "pounds of putrefied fecal matter" in our colons is ludicrous. At best colonic hydrotherapy is a highly invasive therapy; in the hands of someone who doesn't know what he's doing, it's potentially deadly.

About The Author:
Lisa Barger is a traditional naturopath specializing in natural health education. To learn more about Ms. Barger's belief in "Empowerment through Education" or to take a free online natural health class see her website, http://www.LisaBarger.com

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