What is a Colonic?



“If there's one thing to know about the human body; it's this: the human body has a ringmaster. This ringmaster controls your digestion, your immunity, your brain, your weight, your health and even your happiness. This ringmaster is the gut” Nancy Mure, PhD

As someone who struggled with chronic digestive complaints, I understand how true that statement is. It took me years to find the solution to my gut issues. One thing that helped me were regular colonics. I am fortunate enough to have a friend, Shannon, who is a colon hydrotherapist. Shannon and I chatted, before one of my colonics, about the most common and embarrassing questions people have about colon hydrotherapy. Here’s a round up of our discussion and other common colonic questions.


What is a colonic?

A colonic also know as colon hydrotherapy or a high colonic is the process of flushing the large intestine, the colon, with warm, filtered water. There are two types of colonic systems: a closed colonic system and an open colonic system. I’ve only experienced an open system colonic so that is what I will be discussing in this article. During a colonic, you relax on a specialized table with a small tube, inserted into the rectum, carrying water into the colon. The water hydrates the stool in the colon. You then push out the water and stool like you were having a bowel movement. This process is repeated until you are no longer eliminating stool, usually 45-60 minutes.


Colonic vs enema, what is the difference?

While both help to detoxify the body and eliminate stool the difference is in how through of a job they do. Enemas can be self-administered and only impact the lower portion of the colon, the rectum, sigmoid and a bit of the ascending colon. Colonics are done by a trained colon hydrotherapist and they irrigate a much larger portion of the large intestine. Enemas last 10-15 minutes. Colonics last 45-60 minutes. Enemas are inexpensive, just the cost of an enema kit $15-20. Colonics range in price from $60-120+. Both have their benefits. I recommend using whichever one is most available to you.


What are the benefits of a colonic?

The gut is responsible for waste removal, and it can get bogged down and not function properly. When you are not properly removing waste, the body becomes increasingly toxic. Signs that your gut is not functioning optimally are constipation, weight gain, difficultly sleeping, skin complaints, headaches, dietary and seasonal allergies, and food cravings.


The concept behind a colonic is cleaning out the gut. Just like a car, if you do not flush the system and change the fluids the engine will build up sludge and eventually stop working. Colon hydrotherapy helps to flush the gut, eliminating built up waste, allowing the body to function better. As anyone who has been constipated can attest to one good poo makes a world of difference.


Are colonics safe?

Colonics are generally considered safe. Before receiving one, a colon hydrotherapist will go over a detailed health intake. Based on your health history and health goals they will help you decide if a colonic is safe for you.


Do you need to prep for a colonic?

Prepping properly for a colonic can help tremendously with the quality of your session. Eating lighter for the 24 hours before your colonic is recommended along with eating fewer carbs. I usually take a 400-500mg dose of magnesium the night before to reduce cramping and act as a stool softener. The day of, drink plenty of water and do not eat anything 2 hours prior to your colonic. Personally, I eat lightly for the rest of the day after my colonic, consuming mostly smoothies and soups.


Does it hurt?

This varies from person to person. How sensitive someone’s gut is, how constipated they are, a history of gut disorders, and how nervous they are to be doing a colonic all impact how uncomfortable the colonic will be. Most individuals experience mild cramping; some, however, will experience intense and occasional painful cramping. Whatever your experience, a skilled colon hydrotherapist will help you though it and ease any discomfort. My experience has been mild cramping that does not last long.


How big is the tube going in your bum?

Small, about the diameter of a drinking straw. It is always well lubricated, usually with coconut oil, for an easy insertion. Although the tube may seem long, it only going into the rectum about 1.5-2 inches, approximately the length of your thumb.


Does it smell?

Surprisingly, not much. All the stool and water go directly into a drain. There is also a fan in the table to help with the odor. Colonic rooms often have air fresheners available if you want to be extra odorless.


Is it weird pooping in front of someone?

Absolutely! My 3-year-old wouldn’t find this weird but as an adult it can be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that this is what a colon hydrotherapist does, every day…all day. They have seen it all, heard it all, and smelled it all. They are dedicated to helping you heal, not to judge. Often the colon hydrotherapist will step out of the room, giving you more privacy. Be prepared for them to be in the room about half the time unless you ask them differently.


Can everyone hear you pooping?

No. With an open system there is a fan running to help manage the odor. That fan plays a double role and makes enough noise that you can’t hear much else. There is often white noise also playing in their rooms to help mask any embarrassing sounds.


Do you get to see what’s coming out?

This depends on the set up of the colonic room, but most wellness centers have it set up so you can see. Because admit it, we all want to see what is coming out.


Will you poop yourself on the ride home?

This was my biggest fear when I had my first colonic. I was no nervous I brought a towel to sit on during my ride home. Shannon assured me, for most people, this is not an issue. After a colonic you can take as much time as you need in the bathroom. Some individuals with severe constipation or very distended bellies may have pockets of water between stool left over. Her recommendation, if it is your first colonic, for the first several hours after, go to the bathroom if you need to pass gas, just to be on the safe side.


Personally, it has never happened. I used to sit in the bathroom for 10 minutes after my colonic making sure everything was out. Now I hop off the table, clean up, and get dressed knowing nothing is going to leak out by accident.


How will you feel after?

This changes from person to person and from colonic to colonic. After a session you can feel energetic, less bloated, and lighter. You can also feel tired, headachy, and your belly could be a bit sensitive. All these reactions are normal, and any unpleasant ones usually ease in a few hours. Generally, the cleaner your system and the more colonics you have had the fewer side effects you will experience.


Have you every had a colonic? What benefits have you seen from getting colonics? Let me know in the comments.