Colonic hydrotherapy is an alternative treatment for a myriad of health problems that include, but are not limited to, addiction, bowel obstruction, intestinal parasites, and fatigue. Though it is a procedure which is used to treat these conditions and many others, its effectiveness and safety has not been thoroughly studied. There are a great deal of risks and complications that accompany this procedure. It's not safe for everyone.
Bacteria and waste products can build up in the body's intestines which may contribute to a variety of health problems and diseases. Some believe that cleansing the intestines of these toxins through colon hydrotherapy has a beneficial affect on the immune system, improves mental functioning, and is an anecdote to disease and illness. It should be noted though, that these beliefs have not been scientifically proven.
Colon hydrotherapy works much the same way an enema does in that water is used to flush the bowels. There are other variables included in the process though which seem to make it more effective. Water is used in different amounts along with varying temperatures and pressures depending on the reason for the treatment. Coffee, enzymes, herbs, and probiotics may also be added to improve the effectiveness of the procedure. During the hour long process, a tube is inserted into the rectum through which the water flows. In instances of high colonic treatments, water will go in the tube inserted in the colon and then removed with the wastes through a separate tube called an obturator.
Though there are many conditions people choose colon hydrotherapy for, scientists have studied this procedure for specific health problems. The first is fecal incontinence, and for this condition, regular irrigation takes place in the lower intestine. The second condition is for ostomy care and is only performed under the strict supervision of an ostomy health care provider. Colonic spasm is another reason colon hydrotherapy is used. These can occur during a colonoscopy and a using a warm water colon hydrotherapy treatment may relieve these spasms. It is also used during drug withdrawals to help the patient through detoxification.
Colon hydrotherapy, no matter how effective it may be for some, still carries a wide variety of adverse side effects. If a practitioner inserts too much water during the procedure, the patient can suffer from an electrolyte imbalance in their blood, nausea, heart failure, and fluid in their lungs. There is also the risk of a perforation in the bowel, or a breaking in the wall of the bowel. There have even been some deaths reported due to the use of colon hydrotherapy.
Before undergoing a colon hydrotherapy treatment, be sure that the equipment is sterile and that the practitioner is experienced and licensed. Taking these two measures alone may reduce some of the above mentioned risks. You should also speak with your primary care physician about the condition you are using colon hydrotherapy for before using it as an alternative treatment method; it should not be used as the only treatment when there are safer, more effective treatment options available to you.
There are certain people who should not pursue colon hydrotherapy and they include those who suffer from diverticulitis, Chron's disease, internal hemorrhoids, and those who have tumors in the colon or rectum. It is also not a good alternative for those who have recently had bowel surgery, and those who have been diagnosed with heart or kidney disease.
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.