You may have heard about a certain professional treatment that clears everything out of your colon — but what is a colonic cleanse and what exactly 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, colonics 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 the treatment you may want to know before searching “colonic near me” and booking an appointment.
First off, there are many medical professionals who advise against colonics. Because the body has its 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 one is a smooth process. "The session typically lasts around 45 minutes and is aimed at cleansing your large intestine," says Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., a general surgeon based in New York City. "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 you decide to get a colonic, you should definitely do your research ahead of time — and check with your primary care physician to see if it’s a good idea based on your health. It’s also important to make sure the practice where you make your appointment is reputable and clean. When getting a colonic, you should be sure to stay hydrated before and after the treatment. Other than that, here are a few things experts say might happen during and after a colonic, if you're curious.
It's Common For People To Go To The Bathroom A Lot After
Many people are surprised to learn that after receiving a treatment, you actually "go" a lot more once you 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, as this helps regulate your body’s digestive system.
Some Notice Bowel Movements Smell Differently
Many who experience colonics say that their poop smells a bit different than 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.
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. According to Hollingsworth, this means the colonic worked.
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.
Chung, B.D. (1999). Effect of increased fluid intake on stool output in normal healthy volunteers. J Clin Gastroenterol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9916661/
Fork, F.T. (1982). Colon cleansing regimens. A clinical study in 1200 patients. Gastrointest Radiol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6754521/
Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., a general surgeon based in New York City
Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., LAc, a licensed acupuncturist and integrative medicine expert
Christina La Macchia, of Christina's Colonics and Fitness