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Colon hydrotherapy: application, effects and risks

Colon hydrotherapy: application, effects and risks

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To detoxify the body, but also in the case of an abundance of intestinal diseases that require extensive cleaning of the intestine, the enema (enema or clysma), also known as intestinal lavage, is often the first choice. The so-called Colon Hydro Therapy (CHT) is a popular option in this regard. By specifically flushing the colon with water, the digestive organ is to be cleaned here, which not only removes excess slag but also pathogens from the intestinal coils. Our contribution to the topic reveals how the process works in detail and what there is to consider at CHT.

Colon hydrotherapy - an overview of the most important facts

  • description: Colon Hydro Therapy (CHT) is a specific form of colon cleansing. At CHT, water is introduced into the large intestine through a plastic tube to free it of toxins and waste materials. The water and the dissolved intestinal contents are then drained off odorlessly via a drain hose. The therapist supports you with a gentle abdominal wall massage.
  • application areas: Indigestion such as constipation, hard bowel movements or chronic diarrhea, skin diseases such as psoriasis, headache, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, etc.
  • Duration: The treatment takes about an hour. Depending on the type and extent of the complaints, the therapy can last a total of between six and 15 sessions.
  • Contraindications: Pregnancy, bowel surgery, cardiovascular complaints, heart attack, angina pectoris, acute inflammatory processes in the gastrointestinal tract, tumors in the intestinal area.

Note: “Colon hydro therapy” has been an option for colon cleansing for decades, which many patients describe as helpful and effective for various health problems. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that there is no scientific evidence to date for the effectiveness of this method. At the moment, it is only known from studies that intestinal irrigation can help with emptying disorders, for example - so far there have been no indications of further healing success through colon hydrotherapy. Therefore, please note our section on risks and contraindications of CHT.

Our large intestine

Everyone knows that the intestine is an essential part of our digestive system. A major main task in the digestive process is the large intestine (Intestinum crassum) too. After the stomach and small intestine, it forms the third important section in the digestive tract, which is mainly responsible for preparing the pulp for excretion.

But even if a large part of the nutrients and water in the small intestine are removed from the food porridge, the large intestine filters out significant amounts of fatty acids, proteins, vitamin K and minerals such as sodium, chloride or potassium before the indigestible food residues ultimately serve as stool for the body leave again.

Large amounts of fluid can also be withdrawn from the large intestine, increasing the daily absorption of water in the digestive tract by more than one liter. The fluid intake in the large intestine is therefore also an important preliminary stage for urine production and for regulating the electrolyte balance.

The colon can be roughly divided into three main sections: The smallest unit, the appendix (Caecum), forms the blind end of the large intestine. Often mistakenly referred to as a functionless relic from the early days of human evolution, we now know that the appendix still performs various organ functions.

For example, he is involved in a number of immune processes and in this connection also in the activity of the lymphatic system. In addition, some doctors assume that the appendix is ​​responsible for the colonization of the large intestine with intestinal bacteria after a diarrhea event and after the targeted cleaning of the intestine by means of intestinal irrigation.

The centerpiece of the large intestine, the colon, is attached to the appendix.Colon), on. It is thanks to him that Colon Hydro Therapy owes its name unmistakably, since the intestinal irrigation mainly aims to clean the coils of the colon. This houses the well-known intestinal flora, a special intestinal environment consisting of bacteria and other microorganisms that naturally symbiotically settle in the colon and help with the decomposition or fermentation of the food pulp to the final feces.

Recent research suggests that the intestinal flora is composed of at least 500 to 1000 different types of microorganisms, whereby

  • Bifidobacteria (for example Bifidobacterium bifidum),
  • Clostridia (for example Clostridium or Ruminococcus),
  • Enterobacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli)
  • and lactic acid bacteria (e.g. streptococci or lactobacilli)

represent some of the key representatives.

In addition to its digestive function, the microbial intestinal flora also supports the body in the defense against pathogens and in the detoxification of the metabolism. It is also an additional source of vitamins and energy (especially for fatty acids, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12) and also appears to be involved in improving physical endurance and heat resistance. The colon, therefore, can produce much more than just bowel movements, even if this is surely one of the most important tasks of the colon.

The stool is transported from the colon through rhythmic contraction movements of the intestinal muscles, the so-called intestinal peristalsis. It is generated by nerve impulses, which send signal stimuli to the muscles in the intestinal tract at regular intervals and have their origin in a natural stimulus reflex of the digestive tract on the arrival of food in the stomach.

In addition, this gastrocolic reflex is again shaped by the microorganisms of the intestinal flora, which also exert a certain permanent stimulus on the intestinal nervous system and thus maintain the intestinal peristalsis.

In batches, the faeces can be transported into the rectum through regular contractions. It forms the end of the large intestine and is known to be used for stool excretion, whereby the faeces are first collected in the rectum, a separate section of the rectum, and are only excreted via the anal canal at regular emptying intervals. The excrement itself also follows a rhythm that is coordinated by the so-called intestinal peristalsis.

What is Colon Hydro Therapy?

It is not difficult to see that diseases of the large intestine and especially the colon can lead to massive disorders in the area of ​​bowel evacuation and thus also in the discharge of body slags. Even more, a disturbed intestinal flora can cause intestinal infections and inflammation through a weakened immune system.

Many health experts see regular colon cleansing as an important guarantee for a healthy digestive tract. A colon cleansing can also help you lose weight by stimulating your metabolism and helping to detoxify.

There are various measures for colon cleansing. A very simple option is, for example, the targeted consumption of dehydrating or diuretic foods such as cucumber, tomatoes or asparagus. They ensure better hydration in the intestine, which softens the stool and facilitates removal. Whole grain products, especially spelled products, are also said to be digestive and intestinal cleansing.

In some cases, however, this form of additional hydration is not enough to completely cleanse the colon. The best example is persistent constipation, which usually manifests itself in the colon and causes an excessive build-up of heavily compressed faeces there. In this case, targeted colon irrigation in the form of colon hydrotherapy (CHT) can help.

An increased amount of water (up to ten liters) is fed to the colon through a plastic tube inserted through the anal canal, which is intended to dissolve the fecal compaction. The water temperature is usually between 21 and 42 degrees Celsius, because warm water can soften the chyme more easily. On the other hand, the heat provides an additional calming of the intestinal muscles, which reduces cramps and stimulates a harmonious bowel movement.

In order to improve the intestinal cleansing effect of CHT, some therapists rely on the addition of substances that are said to have a laxative or intestinal flora strengthening effect. These include, in particular, highly antioxidative and / or liquids containing lactic acid bacteria such as

  • Vinegar,
  • Milk,
  • Coffee,
  • Saline
  • or laxative herbal extracts.

The solution of deposits on the intestinal walls should thereby be facilitated and the enrichment of a weakened intestinal flora by lactic acid bacteria should be improved. In addition to the enema, the abdominal wall is usually lightly massaged during colon hydro therapy, which also helps regulate the intestinal peristalsis.

History of Colon Hydro Therapy

Enemas are among the oldest treatment methods in the world. Even in ancient Egyptian medicine, it was customary to have an enema for gastrointestinal disorders or indigestion. The famous Chester Beatty VI papyrus, which was made around 1250 BC, even knows about suitable enema recipes:

“Remedies for eliminating a turn in the anus [prolapsus]: ​​flour / porridge of long beans; sub-egyptian salt; Goose fat; Plant mucus from barley; Honey; be made into a mass; will be given to the anus for four days. "

The Egyptians, like the Babylonians and Indians, used a funnel-shaped enema made from animal bladders as an aid to enema. The term comes from the ancient Greek word klysterion for "cleaning" and already shows what the purpose of the ancient enemas was - namely to clean or clear the intestine.

In many places there were even specialty doctors who only deal with the correct implementation of an enema. The Egyptian court physician Iry was even awarded the title of "Guardian of the Royal Intestinal Exit" by his pharaoh for the outstanding services he rendered to the monarch in this regard. This may sound amusing, but it also shows the important function that the enema already played in ancient disease therapy.

Centuries later, the father of modern medicine - Hippocrates of Kos - increasingly discovered the cleansing aspect of enemas. He therefore used it especially for the treatment of constipation and metabolic disorders. At that time, the so-called alcoholic enema came up, which for the first time made use of clear liquid substances instead of enema porridge.

The Greek doctor Galenos von Pergamon, for example, recommended an enema with bitter red wine in the first century BC for existing intestinal injuries. The disinfectant and soothing aspect that red wine has thanks to its high antioxidant content is particularly noteworthy here.

Even in the Middle Ages, enemas retained their medically relevant status. At that time, the treatment process was further perfected by newly emerging aids such as iron tubes, steel enema syringes and funnels or pressure enemas made of rubber. In modern times, Vienna lecturer Anton Brosch finally developed the so-called "Enterocleaner" in 1912. A device that allowed colon irrigation in the context of medical hip baths.

His apparatus was further improved in 1922 by the tropical medicine specialist Gottlieb Olpp, from which the subaqual intestinal bath emerged as a modern treatment method for the implementation of enemas. For this purpose, the patient was administered saline or chamomile extract enemas several times in succession via an enema saddle, which was strapped around the buttocks with a belt, while he was sitting in a tub with warm water. For the first time, narrow rubber tubes were used as standard for intestinal tubes for irrigation.

Until 1950, the subaqual intestinal bath was the official treatment method for the professional implementation of colon hydrotherapy. In the 1980s, more modern devices were finally developed by experts such as the American Ray Dotolo, who better met the applicable hygiene standards and promised the patient greater comfort during treatment.

Areas of application of colon hydrotherapy

The main reason for using Colon Hydro Therapy are digestive problems, which are associated with stool feces in the colon. However, early on, Hippocrates' ideas were increasingly incorporated into the enema treatment concept. The founder of modern conventional medicine is also known as the inventor of the "four-juice teaching". This says that the human body produces four vital juices, namely

  • Blood (sanguis),
  • Mucus (phlegm),
  • yellow bile (cholera)
  • and black bile (melancholia).

In the event of illness, these four juices - also called body moisture by Hippocrates - were fundamentally out of balance, which is largely due to disturbed digestion. From the perspective of modern medicine, one can certainly argue about the veracity of four-juice teaching. But not about the importance of digestion for metabolism and its secretions.

The intestine also has important functions for immune defense, which is why it can only partially fulfill these tasks in the event of emptying disorders and severe contamination. Derived from this, a cleansing of the intestine to stimulate the metabolism or immune system, as well as to remove excess secretions, can completely remedy a host of other health problems. For this reason, below is a brief overview of all complaints for which the CHT promises help.


Constipation (constipation) is certainly number one among the indications for an intestinal irrigation. In particular, if constipation does not resolve itself, nutritional measures do not improve and constipation lasts for several days, serious health risks can arise.

In addition to the fact that persistent constipation is usually accompanied by painful intestinal cramps and flatulence, the hardened stool that later leaves can also lead to further problems. These include injuries in the anal area, the development of hemorrhoids due to strong pressing during bowel movements and, due to hard stool as well as the pressure exerted during pressing, rectal prolapse. As already mentioned, the latter was treated in ancient Egypt with the help of enema cures lasting several days, which temporarily liquefied the stool and thus made it easier to excrete it until the rectum had pulled back into the abdomen.

However, if the constipation persists, there is a risk of stool in the large intestine (coprostasis). It can lead to the formation of rock-hard balls of feces, which in turn promote complete intestinal obstruction (ileus). In the worst case, the intestinal peristalsis comes to a complete standstill, which can sometimes be fatal.

In all of the above cases, CHT is often the only option to avert more serious health risks from the patient if other enema options have failed. In addition, constipation and its side effects are far from the only digestive complaints that respond to such an enema.

  • Stomach pain,
  • Flatulence,
  • chronic diarrhea,
  • Intestinal cramps
  • or also sluggishness

can also be treated separately with an intestinal irrigation. The principle is always the same: by thoroughly cleaning the intestine, irritating stimuli and diarrhea such as bacteria or fungi are eliminated and any intestinal muscles that are too slow or overstimulated are regulated, which ultimately normalizes bowel activity again.

Intestinal diseases

Chronic digestive complaints are in many cases also accompanying symptoms of an intestinal disease. Just think of irritable bowel syndrome (RDS), in which the intestine reacts extremely nervously with diarrhea and painful intestinal cramps through the slightest disruptive stimuli, such as eating too spicy or certain food additives.

This intestinal hypersensitivity is mostly due to either intestinal nerve hypersensitivity or previous gastrointestinal inflammation (gastroenteritis), which led to bacterial overgrowth in the intestine, which subsequently led to intolerance and special intestinal sensitivities.

Likewise, diverticula, which describe benign protuberances on the intestinal walls, can cause irritable bowel syndrome and digestive problems, or cause deposits of intestinal slag due to irregularities in the intestinal mucosa, which suggest an intestinal irrigation.

Colon hydrotherapy can also be used for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases - but only between the acute episodes and after extensive consultation with the treating doctor.

Patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease in particular are always reliant on rapid bowel movements in this regard. The reason for this is the fact that, in the event of a corresponding clinical picture, the intestine often reacts so irritably to the consumption of certain foods that it leads to intestinal cramps lasting for hours, if not days, which unbelievably aggravates those affected.

Acute colon inflammation (colitis) is almost always promoted by infectious agents, which, thanks to careful intestinal irrigation, are also cleaned up. In this way, the intestinal flora as well as the intestinal walls are provided with the germ-free milieu that is essential for regeneration in order to recover from the inflammation.

By the way: Often, no foreign strains are responsible for colon inflammation. The colitis is very often caused by a simple overpopulation of certain intestinal bacteria (for example Escherichia coli) or intestinal fungi (for example Candida fungi), which of course then unbalances the intestinal flora and through toxic excretion products and a spread of the actually benign pathogens inflammatory infections in the intestinal wall.

Nutritional errors

Speaking of nutrition - there is usually an overpopulation of intestinal bacteria and intestinal fungi either by a weakened immune system that is no longer able to maintain the balance between the bacterial strains in the colon itself, or by an abnormal intake of additional bacterial cultures through food. Easily perishable and sugary foods are an ideal breeding ground for relevant inflammatory pathogens.

Eating stuffing food, on the other hand, is often the cause of constipation because the food in question needs a very high level of water to break it down. In return, water can hardly be withdrawn from them. The fluid intake in the intestine is thereby enormously impaired, which makes the stool too tight and provokes complications in the elimination.

In combination with a lack of movement or a lack of hydration, the intestinal peristalsis then slows down quickly, which makes the transport of the food pulp even more difficult and triggers feces. The heavily stuffing foods include flour and finished products with too little fiber such as

  • Crisps,
  • Flesh,
  • Cheese,
  • Cake,
  • Pizza,
  • French fries,
  • Sweets
  • and white bread.

Furthermore, certain food intolerances should not be underestimated as triggers of constipation. Above all, a histamine intolerance leads to indigestion such as constipation or flatulence and can also trigger allergic inflammatory reactions in the area of ​​the intestinal mucosa.

Another nutritional-related indicator of colon hydrotherapy can be the goal of detoxification. Especially with people who are overweight, the intestinal irrigation is a very popular means of removing stuck body slag by stimulating the metabolism and cleaning the intestinal walls. In addition, the process stimulates the digestive activity, which benefits the weight loss.

Colon cleansing has a very similar effect on cellulite, which is particularly common in women due to the increased storage of lymph and fatty tissue in the conjunctival tissue. Especially with overweight women and menopausal women, where the proportion of firming connective tissue structures decreases due to a falling estrogen level, cellulite is an unpleasant phenomenon. Colon irrigation can also stimulate the metabolism here in such a way that stored fat slags and lymphatic accumulations in the conjunctival tissue are better removed.

In this context, we also recommend our guide to lymph drainage.

Skin diseases

It may seem a little strange, but an intestinal irrigation could also help people with chronic skin conditions. In fact, various studies have shown that there is apparently a connection between skin diseases such as psoriasis and damage to the intestinal mucosa. Moreover, the skin and intestines in people with psoriasis appear to be in a symptomatic interplay, which is associated with skin and mucosal damage to both organs and extensive inflammatory processes.

The results of the study suggest that suitable measures for colon cleansing can also improve the symptoms of skin complaints. Again, the special cleaning effect of colon hydrotherapy on the metabolism can be used as an explanatory approach. Various patients have reported in the past that an appropriate detox treatment helped improve their irritated skin.

Acne and neurodermatitis are other skin diseases that often require an intestinal irrigation. It can be assumed that the cleaning principle works very similarly with colon hydrotherapy.

Other causes

Metabolic stimulation as well as the elimination of slag and problematic secretion accumulations also includes the elimination of inflammatory secretions and irritants that contribute to the development of pain. Furthermore, the detoxification of the body achieved in this way is also intended to improve nerve signals and thus overall nerve function. Based on this therapeutic goal, colon hydrotherapy is also used for the following pain and nerve complaints:

  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • A headache,
  • Loss of performance,
  • Migraine,
  • fatigue
  • and rheumatism.

Colon hydrotherapy procedure

In general, an intestinal irrigation should only be carried out by trained specialist staff, such as an intestinal specialist or a certified alternative practitioner, in order to avoid treatment errors. Colon hydrotherapy is never implemented without appropriate preparatory measures, within which the intestine is pre-cleaned. Complete therapy can last between six and 15 sessions, depending on the type and severity of the underlying health problem.

First step - pre-cleaning of the intestine

To prepare for the actual therapy, doctors and alternative practitioners often prescribe a special detoxification diet that lasts for several days to weeks and can be continued even after the start of therapy. A high-fiber diet with digestive foods such as psyllium or porridge is often combined with cleaning supplements such as bentonite and liquid probiotics for colon cleansing. In this way, the first slag accumulations should be roughly detached from the intestinal walls and the intestinal peristalsis should be stimulated in a targeted manner.

Second step - inserting the enema

To carry out the actual intestinal irrigation, the patient is no longer placed in an intestinal bath, but in a relaxed side position and covered, which should increase the feel-good factor during the treatment. Now a pre-sterilized short plastic tube is inserted into the anal tract. This is connected to a water container through which water is fed into the intestine as a result of warm water, the temperature of which varies between 21 and 42 degrees Celsius and is said to cause relaxation or loosening of the intestinal muscles.

Third step - abdominal massage

During the introduction of the water into the large intestine, the treating therapist at CHT will also scan the patient's abdominal wall for particularly tense zones and carefully guide the water there, carefully massaging the tissue. The massage additionally increases the stimulation factor on the intestinal peristalsis and at the same time ensures improved relaxation of the nerves in the abdomen.

Fourth step - removal of intestinal contents

While other forms of enema require a toilet after the procedure, the loosened intestinal contents are easily drained off with a separate drain hose in colon hydrotherapy. This has the advantage that the treatment is completely odorless and hygienic without the patient having to move around. However, should a subsequent toilet visit be necessary, the patient can of course still do this in the treatment practice.

Risks and contraindications

The meaning and nonsense of CHT has been the subject of much discussion in the past, as the procedure is considered outdated by some medical professionals. Others still swear by the age-old procedure for colon cleansing, but point out that colon irrigation is not a permanent solution. Too frequent use can have the opposite effect and intestinal flora and intestinal peristalsis can be disturbed rather than stimulated in their natural function. There is also the risk that the body's electrolyte balance will be disturbed by repeated rinsing. Inadequately sterile treatment utensils also harbor the risk of an intestinal infection.

Caution: Also be warned of a wrong use on your own, even if there are now various offers for aids for home CHT. The incorrect insertion of anal tubes or working with too much pressure when introducing the rinsing water can lead to serious injuries to the intestinal walls as well as to abdominal cramps and bleeding.

Pregnant women as well as persons with acute inflammatory processes in the gastrointestinal tract, bleeding, tumors or surgical wounds in the intestinal area should completely refrain from colon hydrotherapy. The same applies to kidney dysfunction and survived heart attack. An intestinal irrigation can put an increased strain on the circulatory system, so that people with cardiovascular problems or circulatory weakness should also avoid CHT. (ma)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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Video: I lost 6 lbs in one Hour. colonic hydrotherapy session. Colonics Before and after (December 2022).