Colon Hydrotherapy
Potential Benefits and Risks
by Nancy Hearn

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Colon hydrotherapy, also called colonic irrigation, is similar to an enema in that a tube is inserted into the rectum and is flushed with water.

The main difference is that water only enters several inches of the rectum with an enema while the colon irrigation procedure flushes water much higher into the colon, or large intestine.

The main purpose of a colon hydrotherapy treatment (or colonic) is to loosen impacted fecal matter from the intestinal lining and to flush out the old feces, bacteria, parasites and other toxins.

In some cases, the colon hydrotherapist will add herbs or other nutrients to the water to help facilitate the cleansing of the colon.

The procedure uses medical equipment to cleanse the colon, filling it with water and then flushing it out several times during a session, which usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes. 

Colon hydrotherapy is often recommended for people with chronic constipation and other intestinal disorders.

According to a 2008 study reported in the British Journal of Surgery, colon hydrotherapy is purported to be an effective therapy for treating intestinal disorders when other treatments fail.

The importance of colon health cannot be underestimated. Many health advocates believe that the foundation of good health and optimal immunity begins with the health and cleanliness of the colon.

The question is whether colon irrigation is an effective and safe method for colon cleansing.

Potential Benefits

I have known many individuals who swear by having regular colonics and they have experienced numerous benefits, such as:  more energy, better sleep, less gas and bloating, better bowel movements, weight loss, pain relief, fewer headaches, and even mood enhancement. 

Other potential benefits include the following:

  • Removal of toxic waste from the large intestines and stimulation of body detoxification
  • Improvement in digestion and elimination
  • Better nutrient absorption of food 
  • Increased hydration of the colon, improving elimination
  • May help prevent some types of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders (since intestinal health affects the body’s production of serotonin).

Potential Risks

I have never found sufficient research to confirm the effectiveness or overall benefits of this type of colon cleansing. In addition, many doctors and health advocates believe that the risks and gut imbalances that can occur outweighs the potential benefits. 

Just a few of the potential risks include: 

  • Bacterial infection from the procedure (especially from inadequate sanitation of medical equipment)
  • Risk of punctures in the lining of the rectum made during the treatment
  • Removal of much of the good bacteria in the gut, which is essential for intestinal health and the function of the immune system 
  • Risk of dependence on the procedure for bowel elimination.

Personal Experience

Many years ago, I had a few colonics with a highly respected and certified therapist.

I did not have any intestinal issues at the time, but I did it because I believed that a deep cleansing of the colon a few times a years be beneficial. 

What I experienced after each colonic, however, was an imbalance in my intestinal flora.

This is because the treatment flushes out not only the toxins but also the good bacteria, which are essential for gastrointestinal health.

Even though I always replenished the good bacteria with probiotic supplements after each treatment, I found it took a few weeks for my digestion and elimination to get back to normal.

Thus, I never felt like the colon cleanse was worth the imbalance it caused and I also became more aware of the risks.  So I have never had a colonic since. 

I have focused more on trying to keep my colon clean by staying hydrated (first and foremost!), eating plenty of fresh, plant-based foods, and taking probiotic supplements as needed.

On occasion (for example, when I have had to take a medication, which are almost always constipating), I have relied on the help of herbal laxative teas, aloe vera juice, colon cleansing supplements (OxyPowder) or high doses of high-quality probiotic supplements such as Garden of Life, Nature's Way or Renew Life (up to 100 billion live culture). 

These colon cleansing alternatives are highly effective, much less invasive than colon hydrotherapy, and also less expensive.


Anyone who has Crohn’s, Celiac, ulcerative colitis, kidney disease, or hemorrhoids should avoid colon hydrotherapy.  As with any medical procedure, it would be wise to ask your doctor if this treatment would be beneficial to you.

To decrease your risk, always seek a certified therapist who specializes in colon hydrotherapy and has a professional environment and equipment, as well as years of experience.

References; The Pros and Cons of Colonics; 2011.; 5 Interesting Facts about Colonic Irrigations.

Return from Colon Hydrotherapy to Benefits of Hydrotherapy 


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