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Colon hydrotherapy

Colon Hydrotherapy, also known as colonic irrigation is a complementary procedure, mostly provided by specialist treatment centers and sometimes associated with Naturopathic services. It involves the introduction of discrete amounts of purified water, sometimes infused with oxygen, specific herbs or coffee, using medically approved class II colon hydrotherapy devices via a single-use speculum and tube set. The treatment fluid is released from the body at the onset of a contraction (indicated by a resistance gauge) This procedure is repeated multiple times during the course of the 45 minute treatment period.

An enema or colema is a type of colon hydrotherapy treatment performed by oneself using a bucket with an attached hose, while lying on a board positioned over a toilet, into which the contents are released.

In terms of gastroenterology, the term "colonic irrigation" is also used to refer to the practice of introducing water through a colostomy or a surgically constructed conduit as a treatment for constipation.[1]

Though colon hydrotherapy, colemas and enemas all have features in common, there are some significant differences between the modalities in terms of depth of colon cleansing, amount of water used, and the necessity for a practitioner to be present.



The practice has been known since ancient times[2] for treating constipation which was believed to have been the root of many diseases and illnesses. The first recorded reference to colon cleansing date back more than 3000 years to the Ebers papyrus, an Egyptian medical document. This document outlines bowel and colon cleansing procedures using various herbal concoctions and water, and has been carbon dated to between 1500 and 1700 B.C.

In the early 1980s, there were a number of cases of amebiasis, leading to six deaths attributed to therapist Marissa Wright, who failed to maintain sanitary conditions.[3] There have been reports of electrolyte imbalances in children brought on by colonics using softened water.[4] Such imbalances can also be caused by laxative use or diarrhea.


Current complementary medical practitioners recommend it for a variety of ills stemming from accumulation of fecal matter in the large intestine, a process referred to as autointoxication (a theory no longer accepted in mainstream medicine).[5] Some complimentary practitioners believe that autointoxication results from increased absorption of bacterial / fungal toxins as a result of an increased fermentation load held within the colon. Colonic irrigation can be useful in cases of incontinence, where it is tolerable to the patient.[6]

Colonic irrigation should not be used in people with diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, severe or internal hemorrhoids or tumors in the rectum or colon. It also should not be used soon after bowel surgery (unless directed by one's health care provider). Regular treatments should be avoided by people with heart disease or kidney disease (renal insufficiency). Colonics are inappropriate for people with bowel, rectal or anal pathologies where the pathology contributes to the risk of bowel perforation.[7]

Controversy and regulation

Some medical authorities advise against colon hydrotherapy, citing an absence of medical benefit yet increased health risk. In 1985, The California Department of Health Services stated that "neither physicians nor chiropractors should be performing colonic irrigations. We are not aware of any scientifically proven health benefit of this procedure, yet we are well aware of its hazards."[8]

The Food And Drug Administration has ruled that colonic irrigation equipment is not approved for sale (class III) for the purpose of general well-being (it is approved for use by prescription of a doctor, usually in connection to a procedure like a colonoscopy.)[9] The FDA has taken action against many distributors of this equipment.[10]

The practice is currently only regulated in some states of the United States. Some practitioners go through a voluntary certification process, and may be members of one of the colon hydrotherapy associations worldwide, such as the International Association of Colon HydroTherapy (I-ACT) or The Guild of Colon Hydrotherapists.

The American College of Gastroenterology takes the position that in the unusual case of fecal impaction complicating chronic constipation, a 5 to 10 ounce tap water enema may be of benefit, but does not otherwise recommend its use.


  1. ^ Locke GR, Pemberton JH, Phillips SF (2000). "AGA technical review on constipation". Gastroenterology 119 (6): 1766–78. doi:10.1053/gast.2000.20392. PMID 11113099.
  2. ^ Chen TS, Chen PS (1989). "Intestinal autointoxication: a medical leitmotif". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 11 (4): 434-41. PMID 2668399.
  3. ^ Istre GR, Kreiss K, Hopkins RS, et al (1982). "An outbreak of amebiasis spread by colonic irrigation at a chiropractic clinic". N. Engl. J. Med. 307 (6): 339–42. PMID 6283354.
  4. ^ Yerkes EB, Rink RC, King S, Cain MP, Kaefer M, Casale AJ (2001). "Tap water and the Malone antegrade continence enema: a safe combination?". J. Urol. 166 (4): 1476–8. PMID 11547116.
  5. ^ Whorton J (2000). "Civilisation and the colon: constipation as the "disease of diseases"". BMJ 321 (7276): 1586–9. PMID 11124189.
  6. ^ Briel JW, Schouten WR, Vlot EA, Smits S, van Kessel I (1997). "Clinical value of colonic irrigation in patients with continence disturbances". Dis. Colon Rectum 40 (7): 802–5. doi:10.1007/BF02055436. PMID 9221856.
  7. ^ Colon Hydrotherapy. Aetna IntelliHealth (July 01, 2005). Retrieved on 2007-04-23.
  8. ^ Kaiser (1985). "The Case Against Colonic Irrigation". California Morbidity (38).
  9. ^ Subpart F--Therapeutic Devices Sec. 876.5220 Colonic irrigation system. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 Food and Drugs, Subchapter H -- Medical Devices, Part 876 -- Gatroenterology-Urology Devices. FDA (April 1, 2007).
  10. ^ Department of Health and Human Services (July 21, 1999). Warning letter to Dotolo Research Corp (reprint by Casewatch). FDA. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Colon_hydrotherapy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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