Lately I’ve gotten quite of few inquiries about my opinion on colon irrigation for improving skin clarity. And while some of you may be squeamish when talking about elimination (isn’t elimination such a polite way to refer to pooing?…That’s for you squeamish people), its an important part of a balanced body and clear complexion. I myself am very comfortable with this subject and have been for a long time. I remember back Blink 182’s album “Enema of the State” – some kids at my high school thought it was funny because of its taboo reference to all things bowel, but I was pretty “meh” about it as I had doing colon hydrotherapy, since I was a teen with blemished skin. For those of you under the age of 25 and are like “Blink what?”…don’t worry, its not worth the Googling.
The fact of the matter is that colon irrigation really helped me with my acne. When our bowels are backed up with waste, and we are not properly detoxifying, the skin is a natural option for our bodies to excrete toxins out of. And, constipation also leads to dehydrated skin as dry, uneliminated stool dries out our entire bodies. The inability to evacuate our bowels also can contribute to inflammation, as it congests our Pitta (which resides in our small intestine).
Emptying our bowels is very important – and even on a non-vanity related note, it makes you feel better. Ayurvedic doctor and author, Dr. Vasant Lad, once said that bowel elimination was like ecstasy, making you feel lighter, freer and more comfortable in your own skin. Bless that man – his definition of ecstasy is so healthy and sweet. He’s never been to the Guvernment and seen all the glow sticks (ah glow sticks, a wonderful 90s phenomenon that never quite left club culture. Under 20 year olds: these were post-Blink 182).
But colon irrigation, is not something Ayurveda really advocates. Not that it doesn’t believe in enemas – actually they have a whole sector of healing devoted to the use of medicated enemas (referred to as “bastis”). No, its the fact that we in the west primarily use water alone to clean out our bowels. This is very Vata increasing as it creates the energy of movement in the large intestine which is governed by Vata. It is said that this can lead to anxiety and scatteredness as well as dry out our bodies. This to me makes a lot of sense, because as an esthetician, I know that if you wash your face and do not protect and replenish it with a moisturizer, it will also become very dry and dehydrated. So, it is the same for our colons.
Instead, Ayurveda recommends using teas, oils and other infusions in enemas instead of full on irrigation. With bastis, one holds the liquid in the bowels then releases it instead of doing a series of washes (like is done in colon hydrotherapy aka. colonics). It is said that the constant pumping/flushing of water into colon hydrotherapy can actually create flaccidity and the over expansion of our intestinal walls.
So, if you are thinking about trying out colon therapy, you have to move forward cautiously and only do it if you really need to. I do think its important to eliminate waste if you are unable to do so yourself, but keep in mind this is not a treatment you want to become dependent on. I recommend consulting with an experienced colon therapist and putting together a plan while you are seeing a specialized health practitioner who can work on strengthening your digestive system. This plan, or series of treatments, should have an end date and not turn into habit. It should act only as a support until you can properly eliminate on your own.
Also, you must be very careful that you do not have a severe Vata imbalance when you decide to do this. If you already are a high-strung, nervous, dry and slight Vata person, this will only aggravate your imbalance further. Try seeing an Ayurvedic doctor who can put together a formula for a basti instead.
And lastly, you will want to super-moisturizer you internal body by taking oils, eating hydrating (and easy to digest) foods to mitigate the dehydration and abrasiveness this procedure has on us. Remember, we must be gentle on ourselves. And while I was pretty flippant when I was a teenager doing colonics, unaware of any after-effects of colon irrigation – I was just lucky I did this when I was younger and in my moist, robust Kapha stage of life. If I hadn’t, and it translated into Vata excess and depletedness, it really would have been an enema of the state… no, we’re talking about colonics so that pun doesn’t work. Colonics against humanity! Ah, forget it. Blink 182 was lame.