You may have heard about colonic cleanses, and you might be wondering what is a colonic cleanse and what happens during one? Is it super uncomfortable? Do scary, shocking things happen? While you may have been told it can be detoxifying for your system, colonic cleanses are not essential for your health. To put it simply, a colonic cleanse is when large amounts of water, or sometimes herbs or coffee, are flushed through the colon by inserting a tube into the rectum. As a result, this stimulates the bowels to help you go to the bathroom. While proponents of colonic cleanses believe it can help get rid of toxins, and even help you have more energy, there are some other things about a colonic you may want to know.
First off, there are many medical professionals who advise against colonics. Because the body has it's own organs to flush out toxins — the kidneys and the liver — many healthcare practitioners find colonic cleanses unnecessary. Although research is still inconclusive about whether colonics can be helpful or harmful, doctors often notice patients will experience side effects like dehydration, and in some cases, colonic cleanses have led to infections, and to bowel perforations. Doctors also warn that those with kidney or heart disease are at higher risk of health issues resulting from colonics.
Some people believe that colonics can be good for you, and say that generally getting a colonic is a smooth process. "The session typically lasts around 45 minutes and is aimed at cleansing your large intestine," Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, of NYC Surgical Associates, tells Bustle. "Someone might want this as a sort of detox/cleanse method. A colon hydrotherapy instrument will be inserted into your rectum and warm water will pass through your colon. When the water is transported in and out of your colon, your doctor will also employ abdominal massage techniques to eliminate wastes in your body that are sticking to the colon walls." And just like that, the procedure will be over.
Before someone gets a colonic, they should definitely do their research ahead of time— and check with their primary care physician if a colonic is a good idea based on their health, and also make sure the practice where they make your appointment is reputable, and clean. People who get colonics also should be sure to stay hydrated before and after the treatment. Here are a few things experts say might happen during and after a colonic, if you're curious.
1. It Actually Doesn't Hurt
It might seem like something inserted inside someone's rectum in order to "wash them out" may be a bit... uncomfortable. But Hollingsworth says it's not that bad. "It ... does not hurt," says Hollingsworth. "It is a cleansing process for your colon, which causes many to think that it would hurt, but it should not." Once again, someone who wants to get a colonic should make sure the place where they will be receiving the treatment is reputable to prevent any potential discomfort, pain, or other unwanted side effects.
2. There Might Be Cramping
During the procedure, someone who is receiving a colonic may be running back and forth to the bathroom, Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Bustle, in order to have bowel movements. And as a result, they might experience some cramping in their abdomen, which she says can be avoided by staying warm. Some hydrotherapists give clients heating pads, Trattner says, to help with cramps.
3. It's Possible To See Waste Leaving The Body
Depending on what type of machine is being used, those receiving treatments might get to see waste leaving their body — if they choose to look. "[Patients] can actually see some undigested food pass through the tube," says Trattner. Again, that might be more shocking to some more than others.
4. It's Common For People To Go To The Bathroom A Lot After
Many people are surprised to learn that after receiving a treatment, people actually "go" a lot more once they get home. According to Hollingsworth, there will be an increase in bowel movements within the first few hours, but that was the intention of the treatment. Once again, those who have undergone a colonic should be sure to stay hydrated.
5. Some Notice Bowel Movements Smell Differently
Many who experience colonics say that their poop smells a bit different then what they are used to after a colonic. "The sight and smell of bowel movements might be different than usual/expected," Hollingsworth says. This is typical of the procedure, says Hollingsworth, and happens because the colon is cleansing wastes and toxins from deep inside the intestines.
6. The Whole Cleansing Process Will Last A Few Weeks
Once someone gets a colonic, and even after they've had those first initial bowel movements, the process won't be entirely over. While bowel movements will eventually go back to normal, there typically will be a few more weeks of cleansing.
As Hollingsworth says, "It will actually take weeks for the body to get rid of all the waste in the colon. Again this is normal and means the colonic worked."
7. Some People's Moods Change
The actual colonic itself may not be too shocking. But the way some people say they feel may be. After the session, some people report feeling lighter, and "peppier," Christina La Macchia, of Christina's Colonics and Fitness, tells Bustle. Of course this isn't the case for everyone, but some people do report feeling less bloated, and even experiencing a more even complexion.
Even though colonics are not for everyone, those who have undergone the treatment often say they experience no pain, but occasional cramping, as well as more frequent bowel movements thereafter. It is important to note that though colonics may seem like a popular form of detoxifying the body, some medical professionals warn against them. Anyone interested should talk to their doctor beforehand to learn the potential risks associated with colonics.