What is colonic irrigation?
Colonic irrigation is a complementary therapy. It involves flushing waste material out of the bowel using water. The procedure is also known as colonic hydrotherapy.
Colonic irrigation is carried out by colonic hydrotherapists. They are not regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), but they may be registered with the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists (ARCH).
Before having colonic irrigation, the therapist should ask you about your medical history. During the procedure, you will lie on your side while water is passed into your bowel through a tube inserted into your rectum (back passage). The water circulates through your colon, and waste products are passed out of your body through the tube.
The procedure lasts about 30-40 minutes, during which around 60 litres of water is introduced into the rectum. Herbal infusions are sometimes added to the water.
Does colonic irrigation have health benefits?
Despite many people having colonic irrigation, there is little evidence to suggest there are any health benefits associated with the procedure. In 2011, researchers in America analysed studies about the procedure, but found no strong scientific evidence to support it.
Is colonic irrigation safe?
ARCH recommends that you should not have colonic irrigation if you have:
an active infection
active inflammation, such as diverticulitis, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
Colonic irrigation is also not recommended for women in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy or whose pregnancy has complications.