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Colonic irrigation: Helping to break the taboo of bowel health
After suffering for years from irritable bowel syndrome and unsuccessfully trying conventional treatments, Natalya Wilson undergoes a course of colonic irrigation.
THERE are not many taboos left in the world.
Reality TV programmes such as Channel Four’s Embarrassing Bodies mean many people feel confident talking about previously unthinkable subjects, But when it comes to bowel health, most of us can be hesitant, even with their doctor, yet conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are becoming more and more prevalent, and bowel cancer increasingly prominent in the UK.
So people should really be more than ready to address this troubling issue.
When, in my early 20s, I started suffering stomach cramps and abdominal bloating (which often resulted in me looking several months pregnant) and needing the loo an abnormal number of times a day, I was unwilling to address the problem, preferring to suffer in silence.
Eventually, the pain overcame my embarrassment and my GP dagnosed IBS. Over the years, I was prescribed all sorts of medicines, and followed a careful diet, but nothing seemed to completely alleviate my symptoms.
I’d resigned myself to putting up with painful IBS episodes for the rest of my life when I was approached by Elaine Wilson, owner of The Clinic on the Green in York, to try colon hydrotherapy – often referred to as colonic irrigation.
Elaine is a fully qualified colon hydrotherapist and a member of the Institute for Professional Colon Hydrotherapists (IPCH), who has been practising since 2005 and she is passionate about it.
I was initially rather wary of such an intimate procedure, and even more so about going public about my IBS – but the possibility of an improvement in my condition overcame these inhibitions, so I went along to find out what it was all about.
Elaine immediately put me at ease and the relief that I felt about being able to discuss my symptoms with someone who was not only sympathetic, but also very knowledgeable about IBS, was comforting and she immediately instilled in me some hope that colon hydrotherapy could be the answer to my condition.
“IBS is very common and there are all sorts of factors including diet, smoking, side-effects of medications and stress. It’s not really a single illness – you could have 20 people in a room with IBS and they could all be presenting different symptoms,” she said.
Elaine, who sees as many as eight patients a day, added that 90 per cent of her IBS patients have found relief from colon hydrotherapy and that one of the main reasons is that the very nature of the treatment – the colon is flushed out with purified water which then passes through a transparent sterile tube before being flushed away – means that she can see the end results of the digestive process at close quarters.
“What I see gives me lots of information about how a patient’s digestive system is working,” said Elaine.
“I can then give them individualised advice about what to do, and I often give ‘homework’ to do between treatments to get the best results – and those who do it have had really good outcomes.”
Elaine decided that as my symptoms were rather severe, I should undergo an initial intensive course of three to four treatments, two to three weeks apart. She says that any more frequent treatments are not good for a healthy bowel, as they could flush out the good bacteria.
I was rather nervous about my first treatment. It is intimate and intrusive and rather uncomfortable at first, but by the second or third treatment, it becomes less so.
Each hour-long treatment involved the bowel being flushed out with 80 litres of water, giving Elaine plenty of opportunity to study the waste.
She also massages the stomach to encourage any trapped matter to flush out.
After my first session, the waste water showed up undigested food particles, a sign that my digestive system was not producing enough enzymes to break it down sufficiently; gas, a result of undigested food and the cause of the bloating, and mucus, which could be a sign of irritation.
However, Elaine said she expected this sort of result from the symptoms I had described.
She gave me ‘homework’, prescribing some enzyme supplements to encourage the stomach to produce acids to break down the food and invited me back in a fortnight.
Each of the four initial sessions showed gradual improvements, reflected in the way that I felt after each one – less bloating, cramping and improved bowel movements, so that after just a couple of months, some of these symptoms disappeared altogether.
By the time I started monthly “maintenance” sessions, the waste that Elaine observed was normal – a miracle, in my book, after all of those years of pain and discomfort – and after these sessions, I felt somehow “lighter” in body and spirit, too.
Taboos are there to be broken and a healthy bowel can be life-changing, so if you are suffering in silence, take the plunge and see if colon hydrotherapy is the cure for you.
• A session of colon hydrotherapy with Elaine costs £60. For further details, phone The Clinic on Green on 01904 673050 or visit practicepartner ship.co.uk