An enema is a procedure in which the colon is washed by water and/or solution squirted into the anus. Enemas have a rich history dating back thousands of years. And although many familiar only with the modern western medical tradition may find the concept of colon hydrotherapy foreign or embarrassing, the truth is that enemas were regularly administered to patients (even in the Western world) up until the 1920s. Following the advent of advanced surgical and drug therapies, however, enemas and similar holistic therapies fell out of vogue and became seen as fringe.
This is unfortunate, since both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggest that enemas provide a number of fascinating health benefits. The main benefit touted by enema advocates is that flushing the colon removes feces, parasites, dead tissue, and other debris. By removing this debris, the enema not only helps restore regular bowel movements, but it also has far-reaching impacts for the bodys physical health. Some claim that enemas clear up the skin, reduce the frequency and severity of common colds, improve sexual vitality, combat irritable bowel syndrome, and even potentially relieve psychological ailments, such as depression or anxiety.
While these far reaching claims may seem somewhat dubious to those schooled in the allopathic tradition, modern medicine has produced evidence to support at least some of these ideas. For instance, it is now known that the gut contains a number of key nerve fibers — thus, it is more than reasonable to hypothesize that a therapy that rehabilitates and reinvigorates the gut could have significant psychological and neurological benefits.
Enemas also massage the colon, hitting what are known as pressure points. These are areas of the muscle tissue which are interconnected nodally with other key muscles, joints, and myofascial tissue in the body. In essence, enemas act like acupressure inside the body, releasing pent-up myofascial energy and thus improving whole body health. Enemas may also act on a more concrete level, eliminating waste built up as the result of constipation.
Some enema therapists believe that different solutions can have different impacts on the health of the colon and the body. Common treatments include coffee, yoghurt, Epsom salt, lemon juice, and even vinegar. While all enemas yield a laxative effect, these specialized enema treatments can have ancillary benefits and potential dangers. Some people believe that yogurt enemas, for instance, support healthy bacteria in the colon and intestine because yogurt contains live bacteria. Some contend that coffee enemas help cleanse the liver by causing it to produce an abundance of bile. Clinicians often use barium enemas to help with X-ray photography of the gastrointestinal tract. The barium solution can light up potentially problematic areas and help with diagnosis.
The health benefits you may gain from enema therapy will likely depend on the frequency of the therapy, the nature of the solution you use, any preconditions you may have, and the manner in which you administer the therapy. Talk to your physician before radically changing your colon hygiene. In some patients — elderly or infirm patients or people suffering from diseases or intestinal disorders, for instance — enemas may be contraindicated. Since enemas can change the pH balance of your intestine as well as the salinity and bacterial levels, you may experience temporary side effects during and after therapy. Cramping is not uncommon. Similarly, you may produce loose stools in the days following the enema.
These precautions notwithstanding, enema therapy has been battle tested, and most practicing gastroenterologists believe that it is safe and probably healthy — when not taken to the extreme. Above all, listen to what your body tells you. If you aggravate your intestines by washing them out too much, cut back on therapy. You can supplement the benefits of enema therapy by taking care of your body. Get eight hours of sleep a night, remove stressful elements from your life, get plenty of low impact exercise, and reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates. An excess of fats, sugars, and starches can stress the liver and pancreas and potentially lead to both toxic buildups in the intestines and obesity, which can cause untold ancillary health problems.
Dont think of enema therapy as a panacea for discomfort or gastrointestinal distress; rather, think of it as a piece in a larger puzzle. Work with your doctor and nutritionist to develop a comprehensive holistic health plan, one that focuses on prevention and reduces the negative influences in your diet, environment, and behavior.