Colonic Hydrotherapy

BEFORE WE START, A WORD OF WARNING. What you are about to read is not for those of a nervous disposition. Or the elderly, the squeamish, the easily offended or pregnant women. Matters are about to be raised here that are not to be bandied about in polite company. Delicate matters. Not to put too tine a point on it, colonic matters. For we are going on a voyage of discovery, dear reader. And I’m afraid to have to tell you that it’s going to take us a long, long way. Up my bottom.

It all started with the old guts giving me a spot of gyp. Why? Who knows. Anyway, whatever started it, Mrs Stress was keen to nip it in the bud. “Gut prob­lems? Bloated? Constipation?” she said over supper. “Probably stress. Irritable bowel syndrome. That sort of thing. What you want is colonic irrigation.”

I stopped in mid-forkful. I could feel my sphincter contracting as quickly as the doors close on the USS Enterprise. Colonic irrigation? Was the woman completely mad? Water? Through a hose? Up the arse? “Celebrities do it,” she went on. “Apparently Kim Kardashian’s a big fan.”

Well, that did it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made a point of distancing myself as far as possible from Kim Kardashian in almost every aspect of my life. I’ve nothing against the girl personally. It’s just that she goes her way, I go mine. I saw no reason to vary this policy when 11 came to strangers inserting tubes into my alimentary canal. No reason at all. As I explained to Mrs Stress. Calmly. Clearly. Put my foot down. The line was drawn. No colonic. Period.


Which is how I found myself at the entry buzzer of the Natural Hygiene clinic in London, faint of heart and faltering of limb, with an appointment to see a certain Dr Milo Siewert.


Big tubes

I’m not sure what I expected a man who who was about to hose out my recturm to look like. but Dr Milo certainly wasn’t it. A tall, dignified 70-year-old American in a shirt and tie, he exuded a quiet authority that spoke of an impressive track record: “I’ve been doing colonies for 35 years, had them mvself all that time, and never had a day off work,” he said reassuringly. The colonic treatment room was adorned with colourful diagrams of people’s insides and a floor-to-ceiling poster of a waterfall. There was a treatment bed. At the end of the bed, there were tubes. Big tubes.


Milo explained the theory; how the colon, or large intestine, all five feet of it, completes the digestive process and harbours billions of friendly bacteria that help detoxify faecal waste, synthesise vitamins and guard against infection. In theory, the transit time from eating to defacation should be 24 hours or less. In practice, stress, poor digestion, and any number of irritable bowel conditions can slow it down so much that poisonous wastes are re-absorbed into the bloodstream along the colon. Colonic hydrotherapy, so the theory goes, introduces water into the rectum to soften and expel faeces, release gas and cleanse compacted deposits. At least, I think that’s what Milo said. Mv mind wandered after the word”rectum”.


I tell Milo I’m a little nervous. He agrees that we Brits do tend to be “a bit tight” about this kind of thing. “The Americans are pretty good. The Ger­mans are fine. The French are very relaxed,” he points out matter-of-factly. I would have issued a snort of derision at this stage, except that by now I was up on the treatment bed, trousers off, lying on my side with my knees drawn up. It’ s at this point that Milo pulls down my Calvin Kleins, administers a little lubri­cant, takes his plastic-gloved index finger and- I’m afraid there’s no way around it—sticks it into my anus. “We’ll just check everything’s okay here,” says Milo, by way of explanation.


It’s amazing how big a finger can seem when it’s up your backside. “Okay Paul,” says Milo reassuringly, replacing his finger with the nozzle of ‘the hydro-therapy equipment, which is about the same size. “Just try and relax in there a little, it’ll be a lot easier.” I don’t know about you, but there are times when I can relax. At home, in front of the TV. Sitting on the grass on a warm summer’s day. But I’m afraid lying on a bed while a man I barelv know puts a nozzle up my bum isn’t one of them. I ask Milo, in a small, squeaky voice, just how far up there it actually is. “Oh, about an inch and a half. Feels like about six feet, right?” Yup, six feet, give or take a mile. “Women seem to handle this bit a lot better than men,” he adds with a knowing look.


Next, Milo starts introducing the water. The technique works like this: the nozzle is connected to two hoses, an in hose and a transparent out hose. The water is under gentle gravitational pressure. By stopping up the out hose, Milo can fill my colon progressively higher with water, building up the pressure, then let it out, all the time inspecting what’s being piped away. He turns me on my back and massages my abdomen, feeling where the water’s got to. It’s a much more hands-on experi­ence than I’d expected.


How does it feel? Well, it doesn’t hurt, once you’ve got over the initial shock. The water, cold at first, gets warmer too. It just feels like you’re doing the biggest number two of your life, for half an hour, in front of a stranger. Yet for a man who is in the process of inspecting my faeces, Milo manages to conduct the whole thing with an extraordinary amount of dignity.

How does it feel? Well, it doesn’t hurt, once you’ve got over the initial shock. The water, cold at first, gets warmer too. It just feels like you’re doing the biggest number two of your life, for half an hour, in front of a stranger. Yet for a man who is in the process of inspecting my faeces, Milo manages to conduct the whole thing with an extraordinary amount of dignity.


He tells me about the importance of stools. “Amongst Tibetan and African tribal people the average stool size is 700 grams,” he explains. “Amongst I Europeans it’s nearer 150 grams. And you know what they say. The smaller the stools the bigger the hospitals.” It’s a little aphorism I’ve tried since on my friends. I’m not sure it’s going to catch on.


Milo finishes up, turns me over on my side, and removes the nozzle. I am like one of those water bombs you made as a kid out of a balloon. Milo sends me off to the loo next door. “Make sure you stretch around,” he instructs me. “get rid of ail that water.” On the loo, which is very nicely appointed, I stretch around and become a human geyser for several minutes. In many ways, it’s one of the most disturbing parts of the treatment. When will it stop? Will there be any seepage later? Is my sphincter still working?


Back in the treatment room, Milo reassures me – what I’ve just experienced probably improves sphincter function, if anything. Milo tells me that my stool colour is good, but that its hard to gauge the consistency. He invites me back for another three treatments. “Don’t worry,” he says as I leave. “The next one will be much easier. The bodv adapts to it.”

How doI feel after mv first colonic? If I told you that I left the clinic with a feeling of lightness, that there was a spring in my step and a smile playing about my lips, that I slept like a baby that night, and awoke refreshed and rejuvenated, you might claim that I was full of crap. But I’m not. And I can say that with some certainty.


How does colonic irrigation work?

Essentially it removes faecal matter from the lower five feet of the digestive tract. According to William Tiller of the International Association for Colonic Hydro-therapy, based in San Antonio, Texas, waste material accumulates in the colon, breaks down and becomes toxic. These toxins are recognised by the body’s immune system as inflammatory allergens, which causes all kinds of problems, including bloating, constipation and general fatigue.

What’s it good for?

Medical opinion is divided. Enthusiasts claim it cleanses the blood, empowers the immune system, calms the nervous system and can rejuvenate every body cell. The ailments it’s claimed to alleviate range from bad breath to constipation and backache. Sceptics claim it has no benefits whatsoever.

What’s the difference between colonic irrigation and an enema?

About 15 gallons of water and several feet of tubing. The cleansing effect of one colonic irrigation is the equivalent of having 12 to 15 enemas.

Are there any health risks?

You should only go to a qualified and reputable practitioner, that’s for sure. Infection is possible if equipment isn’t clean, and in extreme cases rupture of the colon can occur if the procedure isn’t carried out properly. It’s also thought that the large volumes of water used could disturb the body’s natural fluid balance. Colonic irrigation may also disrupt the natural balance of intestinal bacteria-though taking a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus longiforum (found in live yoghurt) should counteract this. If you have any health problems you also should discuss these with the practitioner.


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