Maintaining a healthy colon is important for maintaining overall health. The focus of colon therapy is to maintain or regain regular bowel function. Regular bowel function means thoroughly eliminating food wastes eighteen hours after eating. After food has passed through the small intestine (eight to ten hours after eating) it enters the colon for final processing and elimination. The large intestine or colon is made up of six sections: the cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid and rectum. In total, the colon is five feet long and two-and-a-half inches in diameter. A healthy colon requires good nerve and muscle tone, and proper circulation, as well as adequate nutrients and pure water.
There are four methods by which the body eliminates wastes: exhalation, perspiration, urination and defecation. The major organs involved in waste removal are the lungs, skin, kidneys, liver and colon. If any one of these systems or organs fails to perform, the other three must accommodate removal of the excess wastes. If a system cannot tolerate the surplus of wastes, the body is forced to reabsorb it. The reabsorption of wastes causes body toxicity levels to rise. Once toxicity levels rise, disease and illness take over.
Cleansing your colon is a very ancient custom. In the past, it was accepted as a common and sensible practice. If an individual suffered from an ailment such as a flu or fever, enemas were performed in lakes and rivers to facilitate healing. In ancient times, hollow river reeds were used to blow water into the rectum. Much later, as natural doctors and healers such as Father Sebastian Kneipp or Dr. John Harvey Kellogg explored the benefits of hydrotherapy and colon cleansing, the habit of colonic irrigation became acceptable once again
How Can It Help Me?
Eat lots of whole natural grains, fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink lots of water, and you will maintain a healthy colon through regular bowel movements. If the proper nutrients are not provided for the body, the body systems, including the colon, will slow down or fail. The colon is not performing regularly if a bowel movement does not occur within eighteen hours after a meal. The earliest signs of an unhealthy colon are constipation, diarrhea and chronic gas or flatulence. Any pain in the colon is a sign of a problem. Other signs of possible colon problems are acne, lethargy, mood swings, allergies, headaches and recurrent illnesses such as flus and fevers.
Many chronic, degenerative diseases are a direct result of poor colon health, including arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and various autoimmune diseases.
How Does the Colon Work?
The cecum controls the amount of undigested waste, or chyme, that enters the colon from the small intestine. As well as food wastes, the chyme may consist of predigested food, water and secretions from the small intestine, liver and pancreas. Once the chyme enters the cecum, final digestion begins. The colon is supported by haustrum, the small sacs in the colon wall produced by the arrangement of muscle fibers. The muscles gather and release to push the feces to the rectum. The haustrum also cause the cells in the wall lining to secrete a mucus which lubricates the colon and assists the transit of the feces. As the feces makes its way through the ascending, transverse and descending sections, it is constantly churned, processed and assimilated until it reaches the sigmoid, where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs. A bowel movement is prompted by the entrance of food into the stomach.
What Happens If Feces Remain in Your Body?
When fecal matter is retained in the sigmoid or in the colon, the remaining water in the feces is absorbed by the colon wall, making the feces hard. The harder the feces, the more difficult it is to eliminate. When the colon is impacted with fecal matter, very few friendly bacteria can survive and unhealthy bacteria form. Unhealthy bacteria feed on the undigested proteins and organic compounds in the feces and produce toxic by-products. When the colon becomes obstructed with hardened fecal matter, the absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste material slows. The mucus and feces in the colon putrefies. This toxic decay is then absorbed into the body by the blood capillaries. Storing fecal matter in any area of the body creates irritation, inflammation and disease.
Maintaining the health of your colon means avoiding a toxic bowel. Exercise, fasting and a proper diet will decrease your chances of a toxic bowel. Replenishing friendly bacteria through supplementation with acidophilus or other probiotics is commonly recommended by practitioners after a series of colonics (for more information, see Section 6, Nutritional Supplements). Massage and skin brushing will also encourage lymph drainage and waste removal.
Fasting allows the body to rid itself of toxic waste and unfriendly parasites that have developed over years of negligence. Also, it provides the body a reprieve from the rigorous demands of digestion and elimination.
Colonic irrigation is the fundamental approach to colon health. Unlike an enema, colonics are a slow and precise process. A colonic should only be performed by a certified colon therapist. There is home equipment available, but it is advisable to seek counsel before attempting to cleanse at home. It requires about one to one-and-a-half hours.
During this process, the client lies down on his or her stomach and a speculum is inserted into the rectum. Two tubes are inserted into the rectum through the speculum. One allows water to flow in and one allows water, gas and fecal waste to flow out. This process is not painful and is diligently monitored to ensure that fresh water does not enter the colon until bodily water and waste have left. A colonic allows only a few ounces of water to enter the rectum at one time, to a total of twenty to thirty gallons of water. During the process, the therapist will gently massage the abdomen to encourage waste removal.
You will experience an array of benefits from colon cleansing. Usually, you will feel lighter and more energetic. Increased circulation, a clear complexion, increased stamina and relief from headaches, arthritis and allergies are all common results of a colonic.
For people with healthy colons, colonics may be used once a year if desired. For people with impacted and unhealthy colons, a series of colonics is suggested as the first step towards colon health. A person might undergo three to six colonics before his or her colon is cleansed. If the colon is unhealthy, cleansing is a must. Once a colon is cleared of toxins and fecal build-up, regular exercise, healthy eating habits and an annual fast or colonic can keep the colon healthy for life.
What Can I Do?
The main contributers to an unhealthy colon are poor diet, stress and a lack of exercise, water and fresh air.
Avoid foods that are processed, preserved, dried, roasted or burned, as well as those that contain pesticides, steroids and antibiotics. Always avoid tobacco, coffee, alcohol, chocolate and white sugar. Eat more organic fruits, whole grains, vegetables and legumes and less meat to provide lots of nutrients and fiber. Fiber supplies the roughage that helps you move feces efficiently through your colon.
Exercise is a natural laxative and provides good muscle tone, and water aids waste elimination in the colon, bladder and the skin. Without water, the body fluids thicken and lubrication in the colon is less effective. If you postpone or ignore the urge to eliminate, you destroy the natural rhythms of the body and constipation results. In this case, the sigmoid stores feces longer than is natural and healthy.
Certain types of medications, such as antibiotics, will destroy friendly intestinal flora and produce an unhealthy colon. Bacteria play a major role in digestion and elimination. The large intestine is full of intestinal flora. These bacteria consume and synthesize nutrients from the processed food, producing vitamins K and B12 for the whole body. Some toxic by-products from this process are indole, skatole, hydrogen sulfide, methane gas and carbon dioxide. These products cause the feces to be odorous.
Similarly, laxatives are detrimental to health. Although laxatives relieve the symptoms of constipation, they create further problems in the colon. The body recognizes laxatives as pollutants or poisons in the system, so the colon will quickly remove the undesirable toxins. However, this does not always work. Traces of the toxic substances remain in the colon and are then absorbed into the blood vessels and lymph nodes. Laxatives also cause the bowel muscle to become unnaturally lazy, eventually making it capable of eliminating waste only with the help of laxatives.
Where Do I Go Next?
Naturopathic practitioners, nutritionists and colonic irrigationists are listed in the white or yellow pages or natural health books. Also, naturopathic associations have numbers and addresses of certified colon therapists. Make sure to check credentials.