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How to use the Colon Hydrotherapy machine

How to use the Colon Hydrotherapy machine

The physiology of colonic hydrotherapy
F. Seow-Choen
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, Singapore
Received 27 October 2008; accepted 5 January 2009
Objective Colonic hydrotherapy is widely used and
many of its practitioners are medically qualified. None￾theless, the basis of many of their practices requires
physiological scrutiny.
Method The claims of colonic hydrotherapy are exam￾ined against known physiological facts.
Results Hydrotherapy is not entirely physiological.
Conclusion Colonic hydrotherapy may increase the dis￾semination and absorption of toxins and bacteria into the
Keywords Colonic hydrotherapy, colonic bacteria,
colonic toxins
Colonic hydrotherapy is promoted regularly in popular
magazines and in the media and is practised widely in the
UK . A sizeable proportion of its practitioners have
medical backgrounds. Hydrotherapists claim that many
symptoms may be caused by toxic overload if colonic
hydrotherapy is not carried out, including weight gain,
fatigue, constipation, diarrhoea, mood swings, weakened
immune system and stress . They also say that many
conditions benefit from colonic irrigation, including
allergies, arthritis, asthma, atonic colon, bloating, candida,
colitis in remission, constipation, diarrhoea, diverticulosis,
flatulence, leaky gut, haemorrhoids, toxic headache, hal￾itosis, indigestion, lethargy, mucous colitis, multiple
sclerosis, parasitic infections, skin problems such as
eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and acne, and urinary urgency
in females . It is not strange therefore that some patients
believe that colonic hydrotherapy has helped them to pass
out meat lodged undigested in the gastrointestinal tract
evidenced by the passage of numerous pieces of undigested
rump steak and indigestible objects including a marble
lodged in the colon for 22 years .
What is colonic hydrotherapy?
According to one of the leading associations for colonic
hydrotherapy, about 60 l of water are used per treatment,
but only small amounts are allowed to enter the bowel at
any one time, acting to dilate the lower bowel, stimulating
the bowel to empty itself . Water is then fed into the
lower bowel and worked around the whole bowel. Herbal
infusions or coffee may be used during colonic treatment
. Each treatment takes about 30–45 min .
Physiological or pathophysiological
Hardly a word about colonic hydrotherapy has been
published recently in colorectal journals to help colorectal
surgeons understand this particular alternative therapy.
Some of these important physiological issues will be
addressed in this paper.
Fallacy and facts
Practitioners claim that the colonic treatment exercises
and tones the bowel, thus aiding the evacuation of waste
both during and after treatment . Physiologically
speaking, however, the colonic wall is made up of smooth
muscle and cannot be trained or toned up by exercises.
Hydrotherapists say that over time, between 5 and
40 pounds of faecal matter accumulates as a thick layer of
waste on the wall of the colon, thereby putting an
unnecessary strain on the surrounding organs and the
nervous system, and interfering with the absorption of
essential nutrients from the colon . This leads to
autointoxication whereby toxins from this accumulated
faecal matter are said to be absorbed into the bloodstream
and spread throughout the body, leading to numerous
immune system-related diseases .

These statements are not physiological, however. In
the human body, faecal matter in the right colon is liquid.
The right colon therefore has some absorptive function
mainly for salts and water. As faeces move from the right
to left colon, however, faecal content becomes more solid
as it gets ready for evacuation. There is less and less
contact therefore between ‘toxins’ deep within the solid
faecal boluses and the absorptive colonic mucosa. Intro￾ducing a large volume of water trans-anally, however,
breaks up this solid faecal packaging. This theoretically
disseminates toxins contained within the solid faecal
boluses. It therefore increases the potential contact
surface between toxins and colonic mucosa. Secondly,
infusion of a large volume of liquid into the left colonic
lumen increases luminal hydrostatic pressure which by
osmotic pressure may cause both toxins and bacteria to
permeate the colonic wall into the systemic circulation.
Stool from men consuming three constant diets contain￾ing 15, 30 and 42 g ⁄ day of dietary fibre were studied .
Compared with the low fibre diet, the medium fibre diet
decreased the concentration of the bacterial mass in wet
stool by 11% and the high fibre diet by an additional 32%
. This study showed that fibre dilutes luminal contents
by packaging the bacterial mass . Keeping toxins
within hard faecal lumps is nature’s way of keeping toxins
under control. Flushing the faecal boluses disperses and
disseminates bacteria and toxins enabling them to enter
the systemic circulation. Furthermore, no colorectal
surgeon had ever seen faeces accumulating in the fashion
described by hydrotherapists with older faecal matter
accumulating on the colonic wall as a thick layer and
leaving a narrow central lumen as a passageway .
Colonic hydrotherapists also claim that colonic treat ment is a naturopathic modality of treatment .
Herbal colon cleansing products, especially coffee, are
said to contain ingredients that may improve the function
of the gastrointestinal tract, repair the interior of the
colon, normalize intestinal muscle contractions and
improve good bacteria balance . Hydrotherapists
claim that that the more frequent the use, the better
the benefit with regard to overall health and gastrointes￾tinal system.
In promoting coffee enemas as a colon cleanser,
hydrotherapists claim that 100% organic, completely
caffeinated coffee is best . They say that whilst many
people use regular coffee blends for coffee enemas,
decaffeinated coffee just does not lend itself to coffee
enemas at all . However, about 10% of people with a
moderate daily oral intake of caffeine (235 mg ⁄ day)
reported increased depression and anxiety when caffeine
was withdrawn and about 15% of the general population
report having stopped caffeine use completely, citing
concern about health and unpleasant side effects .
Excessive caffeine intake, for example, ten cups drunk
consecutively, can cause restlessness, vomiting, chills,
muscle twitching, diarrhoea, confusion and irritability
. The lethal dose of caffeine in humans is about ten
grams or about 100 cups of coffee at one time .
Colonic hydrotherapists say that it is useful for some
organic colonic disease states such as diverticulosis where
regular elimination is important . Colonic divertic￾ulosis, however, is a condition where the bowel wall is
very thin over the area of the diverticulosis. Introducing
hydrotherapy may lead to increased intra-luminal pres￾sure, bowel distension leading to bacteraemia, toxaemia
and even to micro-perforation or perforation of this thin
walled diverticulosis.
Hydrotherapists also claim that circulatory, immune,
inflammatory and weight problems can improve with
colonic hydrotherapy . They claim that after
treatment with colonic therapy, the bowel is better
able to absorb nutrients and less likely to absorb
enterotoxins . They say that when the interior of
the colon becomes blocked by faecal matter and waste,
the colon cannot absorb nutrients efficiently and will
not eliminate waste appropriately. Hydrotherapists claim
that such an under-functioning colon causes weight
gain, constipation, diarrhoea, fatigue and other sick￾nesses. Their claims are self-contradictory. If the
absorptive function is blocked so that nutrients cannot
be absorbed, how can toxins be absorbed? When the
intestines function normally after hydrotherapy and ‘are
better able to absorb nutrients’ will they not also better
absorb toxins?
In truth, nutrients are absorbed mainly by the small
intestines. The right colon absorbs mainly water and salt.
As faecal matter moves from right to left, it becomes
more formed and hence absorption of toxins becomes
less and less likely. The left colon cannot decide to better
absorb nutrients and not absorb enterotoxins if the left
colonic contents are fluid, which will be the case if colonic
hydrotherapy is being used. All the nutrients the body
wants had already been absorbed in the small intestine
and right colon . Faecal matter in the left colon is solid
waste material, consisting of the indigestible residues of
food, bacteria and dead cells from the lining of the
alimentary canal that is to be expelled from the body
through the anus. We should not disperse these in a fluid
environment to be absorbed.
Hydrotherapists are also confused about the function
of the colon in the elimination of bodily waste. They
claim that the colon is the main part of the eliminative
system of the body, where wastes are excreted from the
alimentary tract, the lymphatic system and the blood￾stream . It is important to keep bowel function
regular to prevent the other eliminative organs from
F. Seow-Choen The physiology of colonic hydrotherapy
2009 The Author. Journal Compilation 2009 The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland. Colorectal Disease, 11, 686–688 687
becoming overworked and to avoid the effect of toxins
building up in the body .
However, our study of physiology shows us that the
lungs eliminate the carbon dioxide and help maintain
acid–base balance. The liver and the reticulo-endothelial
system neutralize circulating toxins from food and the
body and unwanted matter in circulation and secrete
them into the gastrointestinal tract or excrete them via
the kidney. The kidney eliminates circulating and neu￾tralized toxins and also helps maintain acid-base balance.
What then does the colon do? The right colon absorbs
water and disssolved substances. The left colon and
rectum mainly dessicate and store faeces and evacuate
them via the anus. The unwanted waste in the colon
comes mainly from indigestible matter in ingested food
and a large proportion of this is actually dietary fibre.

It is therefore wrong to think that the primary
function of the left colon and rectum as the collection
of nutrients and fluids from digested material. Nutrients
are absorbed mainly by the small intestines and the right
colon . About 1.5 l of chyme passes into the large
intestine per day. All ingested protein and carbohydrate
would have long been digested in the upper gastrointes￾tinal tract before reaching the colon. The bulk of chyme
consists mainly of water and the indigestible ingested
fibre. Most water and electrolytes are absorbed during
their passage through the large intestine leaving less than
100 ml to be excreted in faeces. Absorption takes place in
the proximal colon with storage mainly in the distal
colon. The colon is a specialist in sodium and chloride ion
absorption which creates an osmotic gradient, in turn
causing absorption of water in large volumes . The
colon can absorb a maximum of 5–8 l ⁄ day . If this
amount is exceeded, diarrhoea may appear. Bacteria
especially colon bacilli are capable of digesting only small
amounts of cellulose thus providing a few more calories
of nutrition to the body; this is normally negligible in
humans. Right colonic bacterial interaction with chyme
also produces Vit K, Vit B12, Vit B1, Vit B2 where they
are then absorbed. This interaction also results in flatus
especially carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane which
are passed out . Solid faecal matter is actually three￾quarters water and one quarter solid matter. The solid
matter to be passed out consists of 30% bacteria with 10–
20% fat, 10–20% inorganic matter, 2–3% protein from
dead bacterial and sloughed cells and 30% undigested
fibre . Infected individuals excrete high numbers of
viruses and bacteria. Generally, contamination by human
excrement is regarded as the greatest risk to water
supplies, with a huge resultant morbidity and mortality
worldwide. The right colon extracts fluid and salt from
the chyme flowing into it from the small intestine. As the
faecal matter flows from right to left, the colon bundles
up the initially liquid faeces as compact stool so that no
further absorption of unwanted waste can take place in
the left colon. However, this waste from the storage space
of the left colon is massaged and mixed with water and
forced to the right side where it can be absorbed if
hydrotherapy is used. These are borne out by the
complications of hydrotherapy seen in our clinics and
practices. Some of the recent complications reported
included rectal perforation, aplastic anaemia and dissem￾inated abscesses .
In conclusion, there is no physiological basis for colonic
hydrotherapy and at least some of its premises are untrue.
Colonic hydrotherapy may in fact cause the dissemination
and absorption of toxins and bacteria into the body. This
is because faecal matter is solid near the rectum and
hydrotherapy, which breaks up this matter into a
suspension, may facilitate the absorption of bacteria and
toxins into the systemic circulation.

The physiology of colonic hydrotherapy



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