What is a Colonic?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Colonic irrigation or colon hydrotherapy, also known as a colonic, is an alternative medicine practice that involves flushing the colon with warm filtered water. This is thought to remove a buildup of waste, which supporters of the practice believe is harmful for digestive and general health. Practitioners and frequent patients claim that regular treatments keep them healthier, and that they are less prone to digestive problems. Most healthcare professionals trained in conventional medicine do not recommend the use of colonics for any medical condition, although enemas to cleanse the lower colon may be appropriate in certain situations. Studies have not suggested that this treatment would be harmful to a healthy individual, unless it was administered in unclean conditions.

Fecal matter builds up in the colon and can interfere with absorption of nutrients.
Fecal matter builds up in the colon and can interfere with absorption of nutrients.

According to practitioners of alternative medicine, fecal matter builds up in the colon and interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients. It is believed that this causes the digestive system to become inefficient, leading to an assortment of health problems. Receiving a colonic is supposed to address this problem by removing buildup along the length of the colon. Certain people should not have this procedure, including people with intestinal issues such as Crohn's Disease or hemorrhoids. Pregnant women should also avoid colonics, and anyone who is unsure about whether or not it is safe should consult a medical professional.

A fully functioning and healthy digestive system can improve health.
A fully functioning and healthy digestive system can improve health.

A colonic session starts with a brief intake form and interview with the colon hydrotherapist, who will go over the procedure and talk about any issues the patient may have. The patient changes into a gown and lies on a padded table so that the hydrotherapist can insert a sterile, single use speculum attached to a length of tubing into the anus. The colon is gently flushed with repeated doses of warmed water, which loosens waste and filters it out through a closed tube system. When the treatment is over, the therapist leaves to allow the patient to use a toilet and get dressed.

Practitioners use tubing to flush fecal buildup out of the colon.
Practitioners use tubing to flush fecal buildup out of the colon.

As with any complementary alternative medicine practice, it is important for individuals to go to a reputable practitioner who has been properly trained. Traditionally trained doctors and nurses can administer colonics, along with professionals who have trained at alternative medicine schools. In both cases, the colon hydrotherapist will have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and biology and will have attended training on how to use the equipment involved safely. There are several trade organizations for this profession around the world, and they are happy to assist potential patients with referrals.

Patients who undergo frequent colonic treatments say they are less prone to digestive problems.
Patients who undergo frequent colonic treatments say they are less prone to digestive problems.
Enemas may be used to cleanse the lower colon.
Enemas may be used to cleanse the lower colon.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I do my own "colonics". Of course in the old days, they were called enemas. I have severe IBS with spastic colon and chronic constipation. I was on several medicines but still had pain at times. I do a colonic every other day, and I am off all my medicines.


Do not do it! Stupid waste of money. I work for six G.I. docs and surgeons, and we laugh at the idiots who think this is a healthy thing to do.

I have assisted with over 500 colonoscopies and have never seen 'build up.' The colon is for waste, not to shove an object up for huge dollar amounts. Do not be fooled by the idiots.


i had a colonic six years ago. i felt so good and lost an inch off my belly. I'm ready for one more


I had a colonic many years ago. Probably about 2007. Recently I began to itch in my face and eyes it never went away. It made it impossible to function in my daily life.

So I decided to see my doctor and every medicine he prescribed did not touch the symptoms. It literally felt like my skin was burning and looked that way. After six colonics, the symptoms have been eliminated and I actually have more energy that I have had in a long time. I suggested it to my mother who is chronically ill and she has fared much better with it.

Doctors say bad things about it but I have my answer. Just give it a try. Only if you don't suffer from the contraindications then it is suggested for you not to have it.


I am a Colon Therapist and I use the gravity method. It's a glorified enema, it can't hurt you. Try one to see for yourself. You will be amazed at the difference just one can make. Watch one online to see how simple it is.


Asked my doctor about using colonics as one way to treat my chronic constipation. He said I was crazy to even consider it and then gave me the third in a series of prescription meds to try. O.K. Call me crazy but isn’t he guessing? The way he talked, I might somehow kill myself by improperly using a drugstore enema. Thanks Doc!


I live in Cincinnati Ohio. Are there any Colon Therapists so that I too can experience the colonic cleanse?


Yes, I went to Atlanta Colonic and Massage also and found their office to be very professional and were sensitive to my concerns (fears), since it was my first time experiencing an "open system" type colonic. much more private and comfortable. Two thumbs up!


Although I live in Douglasville I get colonics at Atlanta Colonic & Massage in Alpharetta GA. They have a very professional office and staff and for me it’s worth the drive.


I just found out that I am three weeks pregnant. I'm 23 and this is my first pregnancy. I would like to get a colonic. Is this OK?


I had my first ever colonic yesterday and today I suffer from massive headache. Is it normal?


My Name Is Carole Young. My company name is Optimum Health and Longevity, and I have been a Colon Hydro therapist for over 11 years. I am IAC certified and when I started my practice I worked under a Nature and Medical Doctor as well as several local Natural Wellness resorts in North County and San Diego. Please visit me at CaroleYoung.com or call anytime at 760-294-1070 to ask questions about this gentle procedure.

Carole Young

Optimum Health & Longevity




I looked at an article on colon cleansing and it said that it was a quack. But then I saw the "sources" and they were all clearly biased as I suspect the author was. So I had one to see for myself and I can tell you I feel healthier, more energetic and happier than I've felt in years. There's nothing like first person information.


I am a Colon Therapist. It is totally safe. The western md argues it flushes out good bacteria. Yes, as do the use of antibiotics. Probiotics (good bacteria) can easily be replaced afterwards. The benefits are much farther reaching than the critics portray. Professional organizations have conflicting interests and want revenue, and sales.Every human needs this service. You will be so glad you did it at least once.


I have had chronic skin problems for most of my life, from psoriasis, acne and perianal itching. I had my first colonic yesterday and for the first time in years, the itching has stopped. I highly recommend getting a colonic, I am very happy with the results!


I have diabete, high blood pressure and a disease called Mds can I still have the colon cleanser done?


How do you know if you have a good clinic to have the colon cleansing done? I live in Ellenwood Georgia do you know a place for me to go?

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