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Colon Hydrotherapy
A Forgotten Art

C olon Hydrotherapy, a popular form of treatment among certain physicians in the 1930's and 40's. is undergoing a resurgence. Colon lavage was first recorded 1500 B.C., in Ebers Papyrus, which dealt with the practice of medicine. These enemas were described as the infusion of aqueous substances into the large intestine through the anus. Hippocrates (4th and 5th Century B.C.) recorded using enemas for fever therapy. Galen (2n Century A.D.) also recognized and was proponent of the use of enemas. Pare in 1600 A.D. offered the first distinction between colon irrigation and the popular enema therapy of the age.


Colon Hydrotherapy since the turn of the century has experienced periods of popularity alternating with periods of reaction. The factors that contributed to this ambivalence primarily were due to the practice of colon hydrotherapy by the untrained and unskilled, which was very detrimental to its professional growth. When the therapy gained the attention of such physicians as James A. Wiltsie, M.D. and Joseph E.G. Waddington, M.D., great value was placed on the therapeutic benefits of this modality.

The philosophy attributed to colon therapy by certain physicians of this era was depicted by Dr. Waddington: "Abnormal functioning of the intestinal canal is the precursor of much ill-health, especially of chronic disease conditions.


Restoration of physiologic intestinal elimination is often the first, but to often ignored, important preliminary to eventual restoration of the health in general." Dr. Wiltsie contends that "Our knowledge of the normal and abnormal physiology of the colon, and of its pathology and management, has not kept pace with that of many organs and systems of the body. As long as we continue to assume that the colon will take care of itself, just that long will we remain in complete ignorance of perhaps the most important source of ill health in the whole body".


In summary, through misconceptions, misunderstandings and preconceived emotionalism, controversy has prevailed, but accomplished nothing. Historically, we recognize two unequivocal conclusions-first, there is something of value to this therapy or it would have been conclusively withdrawn; second, that through lack of professional control and study, colon hydrotherapy never received the attention and recognition it justly deserves. Today, with modern technological advancements in colon hydrotherapy instrumentation, colon hydrotherapy has become a safe, valuable modality to the physician in treating disease.

Colon hydrotherapy is an extended and more complete form of an enema. The treatment is designed to cleanse above the natural defecation area of the rectum to the cecum.

Colon hydrotherapy involves the gentle infusion of warm filtered water into the rectum, using no chemicals or drugs. It is the natural solution to conditions which interfere with the normal functions of the colon. The procedure includes the gentle insertion of a small rectal tube into the client by the therapist or physician. The individual lies on his back, and water is mechanically infused into and out of the intestine without any assistance on the part of the patient. The out flowing water removes excess flatus (gas), mucus, infectious material and feces. Modern instruments can incorporate a water pressure well below that of a standard hospital enema. The temperature, water pressure and flow can be continually monitored throughout the treatment by the operator. The treatment can be performed without any discomfort on the part of the patient. This is a closed system in that flatus (gas) and waste material are evacuated through the hose attached to the instrument and eliminated via the drain line. There is no offensive odor or health risk to those in contact with sick patients as with enemas and bed pans, and the dignity of the patient is maintained. During the empty cycle, the therapist gently manipulated the abdomen over the intestine to facilitate removal of waste material. Under the direction of a physician, the temperature of the water can be alternated, inducing relaxation and contraction of colon muscular walls with warm and cool water respectively, providing benefit for the atonic bowel condition. Colon hydrotherapy instruments also offer the administration of oxygen by prescription with the inflowing water for the treatment of parasites, as well as for anti-inflammatory and healing purposes. Supplemental infusion solutions, i.e. saline, kayxelate, etc., or others as prescribed by a physician can be offered.

There are instruments which feature a built-in check valve which prevents waste water from returning to the water source. The instruments also feature a disposable unit which consists of a speculum, obturator, water and waste line, eliminating any possible contamination of the patient from a previous treatment. Colon hydrotherapy is thought to remove fecal material from colon walls and dilutes the bacterial toxin concentration in the large intestine. The cleansing effects of colon hydrotherapy reduce stagnation and subsequent bacterial proliferation in the colon and maintain harmony of the intestinal flora in promoting optimal colon health. Therapeutic effects are improved muscle tone, which facilitates peristaltic action and enhances the absorption of nutrients from the cecum and ascending colon, while minimizing the absorption of toxic waste material. In addition, the removal of stagnant waste material and comprised toxins could rejuvenate the immune tissue that resides in the intestine (recent European studies speculate that a greater portion (80%) of immune tissue than previously thought resides in the intestines).

Colon hydrotherapy is not a cure-all, but an important adjunctive therapy in the overall health care of the patient. The principle involves tubular and cellular drainage outwardly from the rectum and inwardly via the portal and mesenteric lymphatic system.

The enema's cleansing ability is limited to the area of the rectosigmoid and shorter periods of time because of the body's natural wish to expel material from the rectum. Colon hydrotherapy extends beyond the natural expulsion area to offer greater cleansing and therapeutic benefits.

Variations in the enema therapy include: cleansing, which softens the feces and promotes evacuation of the bowel; retention, which softens the feces and lubricates the lower bowel and rectum, carminative, which is used primarily to relieve flatus (gas) and nutrient, which provides liquid nutrition for rapid absorption by the colon and rectum. Disease and functional disturbances of the digestive organs are the most frequently complained about problems today. The health of most organs as well as our overall well-being depends upon how well our bowels (intestines) function. A change in the diet after many years of wrong eating habits does not assure optimal colon health.

The American Cancer Society ....suggests that bowl cancer is caused by environmental agents such as pesticides, herbicides.... and carcinogenic agents in the air.

Research has shown that regular use of refined carbohydrates and lack of fiber in the diet increases the transit time of bowel wastes and stimulates putrefaction in the colon. Both of these factors have been linked to constipation and certain bowel diseases such as: diverticulitis, colitis and colon cancer, which has a high success rate for cure with surgical management when detected early. The American Cancer Society has provided evidence in recent years which suggest that bowel cancer is caused by environmental agents such as: pesticides and herbicides sprayed on crops, hormones, and antibiotics fed to animals, and carcinogenic agents in the air we breath. Periodic cleansing of the colon could minimize the exposure of these potential carcinogens to the colon wall.


by Tony Centracchio, P.A. Continue to page 2

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