You may have heard about colonics and wondered exactly what it is. This procedure, which involves having a tube inserted into your rectum and flushes water into the colon, pulling out built-up toxins, has some praising it and others shaking their head in disbelief.
With colonics growing in popularity, it’s been under scrutiny by the medical community with the main question being: Is it beneficial or just a fad?
FoxNews.com talked to professionals on both sides of the colonics debate to get the facts.
What Is Colonics?
Colon cleansing can be achieved through either a colonic (colon hydrotherapy) or through oral methods like fasting or supplements.
The goal of a colonic procedure is to cleanse the colon of stool debris and toxins to increase overall health, Dr. Anish Sheth, assistant professor of medicine at Yale University and a gasterentologist, said.
“I can just tell you from experience, it’s something that’s picked up in popularity in the last ten years or so,” Sheth said.
Natural health consultant and colon therapist, Janice Doochin of Nashville, Tenn., has been practicing colonics at a natural health clinic for about five years.
Most of her patients come in for a colonic every four to six weeks, but Doochin generally recommends patients come in about four times a year.
The colonic coincides with a diet consultation, as the procedure should be coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
When patients come in for the first time, they’re positioned on the table on their left side, and Doochin inserts a disposable speculum. A waste and water hose is connected to the speculum, and small amounts of water are pushed through the hose, flushing out water and feces, with little to no odor.
“The muscle has memory, so it retrains the colon,” she said.
Between filling the colon with water and releasing it, Doochin massages the pelvic area and reflexology points that correspond to the colon.
The waste tube leads directly to the sewer, and a machine reads the pressure in the colon.
“It’s really not painful,” she said. “Some people will have some gas.”
After the procedure, those people who had particularly toxic colons may experience flu-like symptoms. All of the equipment that’s used is FDA-approved, Doochin said.
And if you don’t come back for another colonic and continue with the same diet, she said it takes about six months for the colon to return to its prior state.
Doochin said she believes the colon is the foundation of good health.
“It’s like the plumbing in your house—if things get backed up, then things aren’t going to drain,” she said.
Doochin, who has given more than 1,000 colonics at her clinic, In Harmony Wellness Clinic, said that people should be going to the bathroom three times daily.
“People come to me and they’re going to the bathroom once a week, even every two weeks.”
Our bodies have had to adapt to the revolution of food, which has come to be comprised of many processed foods, she said. Because of the increase of processed food, the colon has become more clogged than it would have been 100 years ago.
“As you clean it out, you lose those cravings for that food. It’s like a garden that’s full of weeds,” Doochin said. “You’ve got some healthy bacteria in there, but they’ve been so overgrown.”
The healthy bacterium that’s removed in the process of colonics is something that many skeptics of colonics see as a huge negative to the procedure. But Doochin said what good bacteria is left is not able to function effectively because of all the processed components.
“You’re stripping it all, but you’re creating this new ground to get this new probiotics back.”
Doochin puts all of her patients on probiotics after they receive the colonic.
After a colonic, she said you can expect to feel euphoric, light, energetic and to get a good night’s sleep.
The main reason people shouldn’t get colonics is that there is no proven benefit, Sheth said.
“If something costs money and takes up your time, there should be some potential benefit,” he said.
There is a chance of infection if the equipment is not sterilized properly, or damage to your colon by colonic perforation, which is highly uncommon, he says.
The greater risk lies with the removal of the bacteria in the colon, which has been shown to be important in our general health.
“These bacteria are actually responsible for keeping the colon healthy,” he said.
Sheth said the medical community is finding that the bacteria in your intestines, which is largely determined by what bacteria is in your colon, can positively influence things like metabolism and weight loss.
Theoretically, Sheth said there’s a risk of creating an electrolyte imbalance in the blood in older patients who have kidney or heart problems.