Colonic Irrigation

Colonic Irrigation, also known as colonic hydrotherapy and colon cleansing, is a complementary and therapeutic treatment that washes out the large intestine with large amounts of purified water via an enema.[1]
During colonic irrigation treatment, a plastic speculum is inserted into the rectum, just past the internal sphincter, and a plastic tube is attached. Water passes through the tube and into the rectum where it then sits for around fifteen minutes. During the colonic treatment, the patient is asked to lie on their left side while the warm water is flushed slowly into the rectum. A separate tube then empties out the used water and any fecal matter that is present. The entire process should last no more than 45 minutes. In total most sessions use around 60 litres of water.[2]


Within the UK the act of colonic irrigation should be carried out by a fully qualified colonic hydrotherapist. Ideally the colonic hydrotherapist should be registered with ARCH, the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists.[3]

Benefits of colonic irrigation

There are many benefits to undertaking a course of colonic irrigation for both health and detox purposes. The Institute of Professional Colon Hydrotherapy state on their website that the many benefits include:

• Increase in energy levels
• Rejuvenated skin
• Body feels lighter and invigorated
• Can help to loose weight
• Improve bowel function/IBS
• Improve digestion [4]

Improve bowel function – Colonic irrigation can help to relieve the symptoms and cause of constipation and is a good alternative to the use and dependence on laxatives. Colonic irrigation is also known to strengthen the bowel, whereas laxatives can make the bowel ‘lazy’. A healthy bowel also reduces the chances of developing bowel cancer.

Constipation has many causes. A lack of dietary fibre and fluids are the main reasons why individuals become constipated. With regular fibre intake and drinking plenty of fluids per day, the bowel can usually recover. However, when these methods have been tried and failed, colonic irrigation is recommended as a way in which to reboot the gut and to prevent further episodes of constipation.[5]Further information on how colonic irrigation can help alleviate constipation can be read in the paper: ‘Effect of colonic irrigation on the bowel habits of constipated young women’. [6]

Increase energy levels –Many individuals report that they feel much lighter and healthier after irrigation. Sleep can also be improved and those who suffer from headaches find that they get them less often or not at all.

Improved digestion– After having colonic irrigation the symptoms of IBS, such as bloating and cramping can disappear.

Improved skin complexion– For those individuals who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and eczema; then colonic irrigation can greatly improve the condition and health of the skin.

Boosting the immune system– After having a coarse of colonic irrigation, the gut environment has been completely cleaned and made pure. This is therefore the perfect ground in which the heathy gut bacteria is able to grow. Therefore conditions such as thrush can be completely eliminated.

Hydration of the body– As there are around 60 litres of water used throughout one treatment, individuals who undergo the therapy will be advised to drink the recommended 2 litres a day to keep their bowel in the healthiest condition.

Weight Loss and colonic irrigation

Although there is very little research on the impact that colonic irrigation has with terms to weight loss, there is evidence to suggest that undertaking colonic irrigation can cause weight loss. The UK Health Centre states that it is a very common occurrence for individuals to lose weight after colonic irrigation. Many professionals believe that a healthy gut is one of the key factors to losing weight and for those who have an unhealthy gut, losing weight is that much harder.[7]

A healthy gut also means the successful removal of harmful toxins and waste products
that can build up over time. One efficient way of doing so is via colonic irrigation. Today’s modern lifestyle can all contribute to this build up of toxins such as lack of a healthy diet, lack of exercise and a busy lifestyle.[7]

How colonic irrigation aids weight loss

What is important to note is that the colonic irrigation process removes toxins, not fat. This is a common misconception that many people have. This therefore means that other aspects of life such as diet and lifestyle also have to change. Colonic irrigation is seen as being a kick start to the process of losing weight and is seen as an additional benefit. As already stated, a healthier gut also enables the body to lose weight much more quickly than the unhealthy gut. The International Association and Register of Integrative Colon Therapists and Trainers also state on their website that many individuals feel lighter after a colonic, as they have lost waters, not cellulite or fat.[8]

Colonic irrigation and other life changes for weight loss

Many colonic hydrotherapists also offer a naturopathy plan in order to allow the body to care for itself in a natural way. The body should be kept in its natural state and this also means maintaining a healthy weight. Changes can include the introduction of a new diet plan, so as to maintain the healthy gut post colonic irrigation. Fruit and vegetables and raw uncooked foods that are high in fibre are usually suggested. One good way of ensuring that the body gets its daily amount of fruit and vegetables is by juicing. As well as an easier alternative to consuming the daily amount required, it is also a handy way in which to stop the temptation of snacking, one of the biggest reasons for weight gain. Juicing also helps to maintain a heathy functioning gut.

The cost of colonic irrigation treatment in the UK today

Colonic irrigation or colonic hydrotherapy is not available on the NHS. Therefore individuals have to pay privately for this complementary therapy. Prices can vary widely from clinic to clinic so it is wise for individuals to do some research and to find the right treatment at the right cost for their financial situation.NHS Choices state that the average cost within the UK is between £40 to £90 for one session.[2]

The UK Heath Centre states on their website that prices are around the £50 to £70 range, and that once again this will very much depend upon the choice of clinic, location of the clinic and the level of training that the colonic hydrotherapist has as well as years of practice. First consultations can also cost more than subsequent visits, as they usually include a thorough consultation. This may increase the cost by up to £10.

It is also important to note that individuals who undergo a course of colonic irrigation treatments usually pay less as the sessions are heavily discounted. Therefore many individuals choose to book several treatments over a specific course of time in order to pay less for each individual treatment.[9]


It is very important that those individuals who are considering undertaking colonic irrigation for the first time do some research. It is wise to visit several clinics, check the credentials and professional status of the therapist whom will be carrying out the treatment and compare prices. Reading online reviews, accessing online forums and asking people who have used their services are all advantageous. What is of most importance is that the therapist holds the necessary qualifications and that the clinic is clean and welcoming.

When colonic irrigation is not recommended

The NHS Choices website clearly states that there is no evidence to suggest that there are disadvantages to having a colonic irrigation. However any health problems or medical conditions should always be discussed with the colonic hydrotherapist before treatment. ARCH have clear guidelines on what health conditions and medical problems would mean that colonic irrigation is not recommended.

Health problems include the following:

•Tendency to yeast infections

•Inflammatory disease that effects the colon: such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis

•Anal fissures that are painful

•Haemorrhoids that are painful

•Cardiac conditions

•Hypertension (High blood pressure)

•Renal and bladder disease

•Cirrhosis of the liver

•Any trimester of pregnancy[3]

Colonic irrigation reviews

Undergoing colonic irrigation is an entirely personal thing and everyone will have different experiences and feedings about the process. Mihal Freinquel on her Huffington Post blog writes that although the experience itself was not an enjoyable one, it was not painful. She describes a bloated feeling and of having slight cramps, similar to when you have diarrhoea. So although uncomfortable, the process was not painful. The overall opinion was that the colonic irrigation was worth it.[10]

Stevie Martin on The Debrief website states that the entire colonic irrigation experience was a strangely weird one. However, it was also stated that the experience was slightly hypnotic. This user also gained a great psychological perspective because of the release of tension that occurred during and after treatment.[11]

The North Devon Journal posted an in-depth piece on their website. Ultimately what the individual felt after treatment was cleaner, less bloated and had more energy. It was also reported that the individual concerned had a reduced appetite. The final comment was that they would have colonic irrigation again when needed.


1. McFerran, Tanya (21 February 2008). Martin, Elizabeth A, ed. Colonic irrigation. A Dictionary Of Nursing. Oxford University Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-199-21177-9.

2. Is Colonic Irrigation Available On The NHS? – Health Questions – NHS Choices. NHS.UK. 2016. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

3. Modern naturopathic colon hydrotherapy. ARCH. ARCH Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016

4. The Institute of Professional Colon Hydrotherapy.IPCH. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

5. Can colonic hydrotherapy help relieve constipation? Constipation Experts. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

6. Sakamoto M, Fukai K, Mine H. Effect of colonic irrigation on the bowel habits of constipated young women. Kawasaki Journal of Medical Welfare, Vol.9, No.1, 2003 9-14

7. HealthCentre Colonic Irrigation & Weight Loss. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

8. What would you like to know? Frequently asked questions. International Association and Register of Integrative Colon Therapists and Trainers. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

9. Cost of Colonic Irrigation. UK Health Centre. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

10. Freinquel, Mihal (12 June 2012) My First Colonic: A Trip Through My Intestines. Huffington Post. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

11. Martin, Stevie. Colonic Irrigation: What is it and should I get it? The Debrief. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

12. North Devon Journal. COLONIC HYDROTHERAPY: Would you ever have the treatment? Read what our reviewer thought. Retrieved Web. 13 Aug. 2016.