Colonic Irrigation and Colon Hydrotherapy

by Rick A. Shacket, DO, MD(H)


Colon hydrotherapy or irrigation is a safe, gentle, warm, water cleansing of the colon that dates from about 1500 B.C. Its purpose is to help remove stored fecal matter, gas, mucus, and toxic substances from the colon. Colonics can also help tone and reshape the colon. However, colonics can do much more than simply cleanse the colon.

In the 19th Century it was thought that putrefying intestinal bacteria entered the body through the gut wall. Therefore, constipation was an affliction to be avoided. Numerous remedies were advocated by the health practitioners of the day. Among them, eating yogurt was said to contribute a healthier form of bacteria. Bran was promoted for “roughage” to speed up the elimination process. The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is rooted in the idea of increasing roughage. Enemas became popular as a way to empty the rectum of toxic intestinal waste products. Colonic irrigation was used successfully during the cholera epidemic of 1892, to eliminate disease causing intestinal bacteria from the colon. It was thought to be to be a cure for cholera and many other bowel diseases at that time.

Health Benefits

Additional benefits can often be observed throughout the body in the form of clearer skin, more energy and mental clarity, fewer headaches, with circulatory, immune and weight problems often improving, amongst many other positive side effects. Many people are referred to colonic practitioners by other alternative health practitioners including homoeopaths, naturopaths, acupuncturists, herbalists, etc.; since by detoxifying the system using colonics, alternative health therapies tend to be more efficacious. It is an unfortunate but widely held belief by orthodox medicine that such treatments are no longer useful.

When the bowel is toxic it can harbor an amazing variety of very harmful bacteria and parasites. It’s interesting to note that even today, intestinal parasites outrank cancer as man’s deadliest enemy on a worldwide basis. About 200 million people are infected by intestinal parasites.

One in four people in the world today are infected by roundworms. Colonic irrigation can aid in the removal of these parasites.



Many health authorities feel that disease begins in the colon. To be in optimum health the colon must be functioning normally. Of the major indications for colon hydrotherapy today, the most important is constipation, and for colon cleansing prior to a same day colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy examination.

Colon hydrotherapy also functions as an important diagnostic tool for the physician in extracting useful information concerning digestive and clinical disorders:

  • Is an excellent screening device for colorectal cancer, making it easy for the physician to obtain specimens for diagnostic purposes.
  • Useful in preparation for diagnostic procedures for evaluation of the colon.
  • May prove valuable in preparation for bowel surgery, providing a more optimal surgical field potentially decreasing the risk of post-operative complications due to the presence of bacteria at the suture line.
  • Offers the location and relief of fecal impactions, amount and color of mucous and the presence of increased amounts of gas.
  • Provides detection for ova and parasites.
  • Useful for detoxification of drug addicts and alcoholics.

Proponents of colonic irrigation advertise that “all disease and death begin in the colon,” that colonics “detoxifies” the body, and that regular “cleansing” is necessary to maintain optimal health. Liquids used in colonics may include coffee, herbs, vitamins, enzymes, wheat grass extract, or many other substances; and are used in order to add nutrients that may be deficient in your body, or to boost your metabolism or and immune system.



Water is introduced at a low gravitational pressure, so there is no danger of bowel perforation. Sometimes specialized equipment is used which features temperature controlled water mixing and back flow prevention valves, pressure and temperature sensors, and built-in chemical sanitizing and water purification units. All equipment is designed for safety and patient comfort. All equipment is either disposable or disinfected using hospital approved disinfecting solutions, which kill all viruses, bacteria and fungi. Colonic hydrotherapy, unlike the use of laxatives, is not habit forming and actually improves the tone of the colon.



The contraindications of colon hydrotherapy include congestive heart failure, severe anemia, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease (in the acute inflammatory stages), severe hemorrhoids, a tumor in the rectum or large intestine, and recent colon surgery.


Colon hydrotherapy is prednisone the safe, gentle infusion of purified warm water into the colon under conditions that offer safety. It is the natural solution to conditions, which interfere with the normal functions of the colon.


1. The Guild of Colonic Hydrotherapists,

2. Colon Hydrotherapy and its Clinical Applications, Donald
J. Mantell, M.D.,