Colonics vs. Herbal Cleansing

De-mystifying Colon Hydrotherapy

Centuries ago, before modern science, technology, and mainstream medicine, people understood the need for the kind of deep colon cleansing that went far and beyond daily bowel movements.

Our ancestors, in fact, administered enemas using hollowed out reeds and clear river water to flush out the rectum. More recently, our great-grandparents grew up during a time when enema use was part of a widely accepted wellness regimen.

Today, however, many giggle and squirm when they imagine colon hydrotherapy; after all, it involves a part of the human anatomy that most of us are embarrassed to talk about.

As a result, we are needlessly becoming diseased – some of us even dying prematurely – because we no longer understand how dependent wellness is on keeping our colons thoroughly cleansed.


Colon Hydrotherapy: The Bottom Line

“If you want to feel great, it is imperative to understand the vital role colon hydrotherapy plays in fostering overall health and wellness,” says Amy Denman, CTN (Certified Traditional Naturopath), MH (Masters degree in Herbology), and Certified Colon Hydrotherapist.

“This article sets out to dispel the myths and fears around colonic irrigation and – through clear and comprehensive detail of the various aspects of the procedure – bring awareness to this necessary aspect of any health care regimen.”


What Is Colon Hydrotherapy?

Colon hydrotherapy (also known as colonics or colonic irrigation) is a safe and very effective method to cleanse the colon (large intestine) of accumulated waste and toxins.


When Is a Colonic Irrigation Necessary?

Whenever people feel that their bodies are not fully evacuating and eliminating feces, it is time for colon hydrotherapy.


What Are Some of the Symptoms Colon Hydrotherapy Can Relieve?

The list of ailments that can be relieved by colonic irrigation continues to grow. Constipation, however, is front and center, at the top of the list.

Other nagging problems that may be helped by colon hydrotherapy include skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis; allergies, including food allergies and other sensitivities; and indigestion, acid reflux, and gas and bloating – in short, anything to do with the decay and fermentation of food may be helped along by regular colonics.

“So dramatic are the results of colonic irrigation,” says Denman, “that I will not begin an allergy desensitization program unless and until clients have been properly cleansed via colon hydrotherapy.”

I Already Go Three Times a Day – Why Would I Need Colonics?

Many people assume colonic irrigation is only helpful for people who are constipated. This is not so. A lot of people move their bowels regularly, yet when they have a colonic, an enormous amount of old waste material comes out. This means the colon was impacted with layers of old fecal matter. Why?

“Imagine you are living in a lakeside community,” says Denman. “When new construction is going on, and the earth is being moved, the lake fills up with a lot of sediment. Likewise when we move around a lot of food: we masticate it [grind it up], our enzymes break it down, and it travels to the esophagus, and then on into the stomach…leaving a great deal of sediment in the process.

“It’s the stomach’s job to churn food into liquid chyme, and to ensure that large particles are not allowed into the small intestine. When this process is completed, and the chyme is in the small intestine, it’s the small intestine’s responsibility to extract anything of nutritive value out of that liquid chyme.

“Once the small intestine has done its job, everything that is non-nutritive gets sent into the large intestine through the ileocecal valve. The large intestine gets this liquid chyme, and begins absorbing and drying it out. This is why the longer it takes to complete the digestive process, the dryer your stool will be.

“At this stage of digestion, the liquid chyme becomes a coating, a lining in the large intestine. Layers and layers of it begin to build up as the liquid chyme dries out, turning into feces. This is why, as we age, the diameter of the colon can become larger and larger, caked with layers of dried chyme sediment.

“During colon hydrotherapy, we literally put water into the large intestine and hydrate it. The water goes in and filters down into these layers, and then each layer filters or sifts out of the body, just like lake silt. As the colon becomes more and more hydrated, an assortment of different colored waste material gets released.

“At first the material being released may look like little balls coming out of the sigmoid and the rectum – this is literally what’s hanging out in and around the rectum. Then, the next round of waste can be very orange, then very dark green, and later yellow, and so on. It’s absolutely amazing what comes out of there!”


Who Can Benefit from a Colonic?

Nearly all of us! The colon is approximately five to six feet in length. Due to the standard American diet (refined foods, flour, meat, fat, sugar, alcohol, preservatives), erratic eating habits, and improper food combining, the average adult can have between five and twenty pounds of accumulated waste in the colon.

People with digestive disturbances and acne may benefit from colonic irrigation, as well as those who suffer from depression and mood swings. Individuals who would like to have more energy, sometimes report significant improvement after colon hydrotherapy.

Some women in the perimenopausal stage of life (between thirty-five and fifty-five years of age) may benefit from colonics, as well as those in high-stress careers and/or people who have a great many distractions and demands placed on their lives.

“Commonly referred to as A-type personalities, these individuals tend to store negative energy, stress, and tension in their large intestine,” says Denman. “This is the type of person who may benefit from colon hydrotherapy. It can allow them to simply let it all go.”


The Procedure: Step-by-Step Colonics

While every clinic operates slightly differently, many reputable professionals – those who’ve received certification through a school approved by the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy (IACT) – may follow a simple system such as the following:

    • The client is provided with an introduction, an educational overview of what to expect during colon hydrotherapy.
    • The treatment room and colon hydrotherapy equipment consists of a treatment table, colon hydrotherapy equipment, and disposable speculum and tubing (which runs from the rectum back to the equipment, and then out through the clinic’s plumbing system).
    • Clients are fully gowned, and covered with a sheet. Additionally, male clients at Denman’s clinic wear a male support strap. The individual’s privacy is considered vital and, contrary to various myths, the client’s bare bottom is never exposed to the colon hydrotherapist.

“This is one of the biggest fears people have, the thought of having their privacy breached, of being vulnerable and exposed,” says Denman. “Modesty is number one for my clients.”

    • The insertion of a disposal speculum is very brief, done with a nice, gentle glide – and a slight wiggle – at just the right angle, and within seconds the client is lying on their back, and the procedure has begun.
    • Starting the colonic itself – this is the stage where the hydrotherapist is filling water slowly into the large intestine to absorb and saturate it. When the client feels full (a state which can also be monitored by the equipment and the colon hydrotherapist), the equipment is switched from the filling mode to the release cycle.
    • Water is siphoned back out of the body, in a closed system that feeds directly into the clinic’s drainage system. Clients can view what is being released through the clear, disposable plastic tubing.

“Nobody is running back and forth to the bathroom,” says Denman. “It’s really a very relaxing and pleasant experience for ninety-nine percent of the people.”

Who Is Qualified to Perform a Colonic?

Colon hydrotherapists who have received certification and profciency training through I-ACT approved schools and/or instructors are recommended. These individuals will have successfully completed a curriculum that includes one hundred hours or more of hands-on instruction.


Two Very Different Colon Hydrotherapy Systems

A common concern among people who are considering colonic irrigation for the first time is the fear of the rectum being torn. In order to understand where this fear comes from (and why – depending on the equipment used – this fear is unfounded), it is necessary to outline the two types of colon hydrotherapy equipment currently in use.

The Open System:

The first is what is called an open system. With this system, the client may enter the colon hydrotherapy room in private. They undress from the waist down, and position themselves comfortably on the “therapy bed” base. Next, they gently and easily insert the lubricated, individually packaged sterile disposable rectal tube into their rectum, just past the second sphincter muscle. After they drape/cover themselves, the professionally-trained I-ACT certified therapist will enter the room to instruct, monitor, and be available to assist them as needed throughout the entire session.

With the open system, the client controls the rate of the water from the gravity-fed column by a “flow control knob.” The water is purified by an “ultraviolet-ozone water purification and filtration unit” before it passes through the rectal tube, and gently into the rectum. Safe, purified, temperature-controlled water flows in. When the client feels the need to release, the rectal tube will move to one side inside the rectum, and allow the softened feces to flow out, down the drain in the base of the “therapy bed,” passing through a two-inch clear viewing tube. An “odor exhaust system” ensures the area remains odor-free. Each session lasts approximately forty-five minutes.

The Closed System:

This system requires a colon hydrotherapist to be in attendance with the client for the duration of the forty-five minute session as it is the therapist, not the client, who controls the flow of water into the large intestine and out again. Similar to the open system, a client may enter the colon hydrotherapy room in private. They undress from the waist down, and position themselves comfortably on the “therapy table.” The professionally-trained I-ACT certified therapist is responsible for ensuring that the speculum is inserted easily, assisting the client by using a gentle glide, at just the right angle into the rectum. The insertion is barely felt when undertaken by a therapist, who assists often and routinely.

With closed system colonic equipment, waste material is evacuated through medical-grade plastic tubing attached to the instrument, and eliminated via the drainage line. This prevents offensive odors.

“There are vast differences between both the open and closed systems, and the types of environments in which colon hydrotherapy is available,” says Denman. “However, both methods have FDA Registered (Class II) medical device status, and both strive to preserve the dignity of the individual while resulting in the all-important cleansing of the colon.

“My goal personally is to exceed peoples’ expectations, of colon hydrotherapy, and to encourage newcomers to this therapy to proceed with due diligence when choosing a clinic and colon hydrotherapist,” says Denman.


Is a Colon Hydrotherapy a Health Preventative?

“I love what I do as a naturopathic, and I’m passionate about my work as a colon hydrotherapist,” say Denman. “People often ask me, ‘do I treat this sort of ailment,’ and ‘do I treat that kind of illness.’ I don’t treat anything. My responsibility as a naturopath and colon hydrotherapist is to help you nourish your body, and detoxify your system so that the nutrients you take in are being absorbed and fully utilized.”

“Colon cancer is the second cause of cancer deaths in the United States. I firmly believe that my grandfather and uncle – who both died of colon cancer – would still be alive today if they’d had regular colonics. I feel as though by assisting people with colon hydrotherapy, I’m helping to prevent someone’s premature death.

“Most people experience more energy, and a greater sense of well-being with regular colonic irrigation,” says Denman. “I believe the practice adds years to your life, and life to your years.”


What Is the Cost of Colon Hydrotherapy

The average cost per session is between $65 and $95, depending on the style of clinic, the location (large urban center versus small community), and the level of expertise of the various professionals at each clinic.


Denman’s Testimonials

Case Study 1

“Colon hydrotherapy can be life changing…sometimes even a matter of life and death.

“I have a seventy-year-old client who was chronically constipated for years. He sought help from his MD and a gastroenterologist. After three years of traditional care, he was still constipated. When his MD recommended colon hydrotherapy, he eventually showed up at my clinic looking as though he were on death’s doorstep.

“Today, after nine treatments he is like a new man – the color is back in his cheeks, his eyes are sparkling blue, and he can now stand upright again. He says he will continue with colonic irrigation until they put him in the ground!”

Case Study 2

“Another client came under care with us at the insistence of his wife and daughter. He has a very demanding career, but had time off over the Christmas season, so we scheduled him in for three days in a row over the holidays.

“At the time of our initial consultation, he told me that he’d always had three regular bowel movements a day, so he didn’t really understand how he could still be impacted.

“I explained to him the way in which layers build up over time. What you’re doing at home in your toilet is simply not enough if you want to be thoroughly and completely cleansed.

“During all three visits, that man’s body released more impacted fecal matter than I have ever seen in any of my clients. You’re paying to see poop, and this man got his money’s worth! Through the viewing tube, there was never, ever a clear moment in three days – he says he could hardly believe his eyes. And now he has more energy after those three colonic treatments than, he says, he’d had in years!”

To read more about Denman’s practive, go to


When Are Colonics Not Recommended?

For every single medical procedure, there are individual cases, times when the procedure is not recommended. Colon hydrotherapy should not be considered for clients who have recently had the following procedures, or who suffer from the following conditions:

  • Abdominal hernia
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Abnormal distension/masses
  • Acute liver failure
  • Anemia
  • Aneurysm
  • Carcinoma
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Crohn’s disease/ulcerative colitis
  • Dialysis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fissures/fistulas
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Hemorrhoidectomy
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Lupus
  • Pregnancy
  • Rectal surgery
  • Renal insufficiencies

Additionally, if you are taking prescription medication for any condition diagnosed by your health care provider, it is important to ensure that the medication will not be interfered with by additional water intake and absorption.


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