Colonics for Better Skin? The Pros and Cons of colon irrigation

//Colonics for Better Skin? The Pros and Cons of colon irrigation

Trust me, this was the least grotesque image I could find when typing in "colonic" into my search.

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.

2012-06-14T16:08:25-04:00 By |Digestion|6 Comments

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6 Comments

  1. Natalie Cheng-Kai-On January 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    I agree that patients should be referred to a professional Colon Hydrotherapist who will assess and determine an individualized treatment plan for you. They will likely refer you to a health professional so that you will receive the full benefits from the treatment. You should never depend on them for good skin, and proper elimination. With the proper program, a lazy bowel will improve its tone and learn how to contract properly.

    An invaluable part of colon hydrotherapy is the ability to determine why you are having symptoms like acne, digestive problems, etc. You will be able to see if you aren’t eating enough fiber, drinking enough water, absorbing your nutrients, or if you have parasitic infection.

    I have seen a lot of my patients benefit from colon hydrotherapy visits. Just make sure that they are going to someone who is fully trained, and following safe, and sterile techniques!

    Natalie Cheng-Kai-On, ND

    • kristen January 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Great point Natalie! Colonics can be used as a diagnostic tool too! And yes, sterility is so so important.

  2. Naomi January 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    I too am one of those who has been curious about colon irrigation but to tell you the truth, the very thought of the entire process terrifies me. Lately, I’m finding that my bowel movements becoming less frequent, perhaps the signs of aging, a slowed down metabolism. Are there any foods (other than all bran buds, and fibre 1), or vitamins that I can take to help?

    • kristen January 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Your slowed down bowel movements can be in part due to dehydration if this is a recent issues (with the dry weather). This is also why some of us get constipated after air flights (which are drying). One laxative is castor oil. One to two table spoons of castor oil moves bowel very effectively. I will actually be posting about this. Though it is not a laxative to be taken more than once a month or so. You can also drink aloe vera juice – this is gentler and can be consumed daily. Fibre is very important – but I like it in my food best. Apples with the peel, berries with their seeds, squash (also with its peel) – all give us roughage which help move our bowels. They are also not as dehydrating as some other fibre products.

  3. “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.”
    I disagree with this statement, colon hydrotherapy does not cause flaccidity, on the contrary, it exercises the colon (which becomes weak as a result of toxic build up), it helps to reshape the colon and it stimulates the reflex points of the colon. Colon Hydrotherapy is not just the flushing of the colon with water, a well trained colon therapist will look at several factors such as lifestyle, elimination habits, diet, drug use etc. Sessions are geared towards healing the colon and yes implants may be recommended for clients depending on individual presentations (implants like wheatgrass, bentonite clay, chlorophyll, probiotics, some essential oils etc).
    Colon Hydrotherapy is not addictive, it is an enlightening educational process, you expand your awareness of your body’s functioning, signals from your abdomen, your skin or your face.

    • kristen January 20, 2011 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Monica! My information on hydrotherapy is derived from teachings by Ayurvedic teachers, doctors and lecturers. This, of course, is the Ayurvedic point of view – and I know there are many differences of opinions from different modalities. I myself have found that colon hydrotherapy did help my acne, so I am not discouraging receiving the treatments, and I do think that any exploration into your internal body and overall health is extremely enlightening. But I must say that Ayurveda recommends bastis over colon irrigation because it has less of this “washing” action. Also because it encourages an upward flow of energy into the colon through the rectum, when there should be a downward flow of energy into this area. An aside: I should have added that it is important to take acidipholus to replenish and encourage good bacteria after treatments as well as said that on the day you receive treatment that you need to eat very light and only things which are easy to digest as bloodflow becomes concentrated in the colon rather than the stomach.
      I will say that I am always grateful for contributions from practitioners even if they do disagree – because the more information given to my readers, the better they can make their own decisions.

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