Listening to My Body - My First Colonic Therapy Session
By Margaret McGoverne
Why A Colonic?
If you've read some of my other articles posted here, you may recall that my digestion has been a bit of a problem for me - heartburn, bloating, wind and swinging from constipation to "the runs" have been recurring motifs of my digestive history. With this in mind, I had considered the benefits of having a colonic irrigation (also known as Colon Hydrotherapy) for quite a while, but I'd never taken it forward. Two things prompted me to take the first step in learning more about my colon - my weight loss in 2007, together with a new healthier eating regime, made me very aware of the years of the abuse I'd put my digestive system through, and I wanted to have a New Year detox. The second thing was that despite my new healthier lifestyle, I still had problems with all aspects of my digestion. I realised that if the end of the process wasn't working right, I was still doing something wrong somewhere along the line, and a colonic seemed like a good place to start my quest for a healthier bowel.
So in February I did some research on the internet and found a fairly local clinic that appeared to have a professional approach and the right certification (my therapist was qualified through I-ACT, the International Association of Colonic Therapists). There was lots of good background information on the website about colonics, and having read this I emailed the clinic, not wanting to speak to someone on the phone about my bowels, and received a very helpful reply. The colonic therapist in charge rang me back, and sent me a pre-treatment questionnaire that I had to complete, which asked not only about past and present health issues, had some surprising questions covering things like my skin, and mental concentration. Having sent this back I made an appointment for the following Friday, and on the day made sure I went to the loo before I set off - almost like tidying up before the cleaner comes in!
On The Day
When I arrived I was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as people I'd spoken to about it were - there is still a very strong taboo about all things pertaining to bowels and bowel movement, but in the spirit of a holistic pioneer I went in to a very nice waiting room, where I was soon met by my therapist, Tracey. I was reassured to see that there was no-one else in the treatment room, as I had read a few accounts on the internet of other treatment centres that mentioned the previous patient still being in the room - I would imagine this could be embarrassing for both parties! Before we started the treatment I had a consultation with my therapist, who went through my questionnaire with me and asked me lots of questions about my eating habits, what my bowel movements looked like and their frequency, and general lifestyle questions. She also answered my questions about how a colonic works, and how waste was dealt with during the session. After explaining that my initial session would use 2 tanks of water and showing me the equipment, my therapist explained what would happen. I was weighed with clothes and shoes on, just to measure how much loss if any was apparent after the treatment. I was invited to take a large clean towel into the separate bathroom, and to undress below the waist, and wrap the towel around myself. I must say here that everything was done in such a way as to preserve patient dignity, and I never felt too self-conscious. I had a wee then came back out and sat on the treatment table, which looks very much like something out of a doctor's surgery. I was advised to leave my socks on so that my feet wouldn't get cold, which was good advice!
The therapist had put on some soothing holistic music, with I thought was for the dual purpose of creating a calming environment for the patient, as well as covering any sounds that might result from the treatment - in the event however there were no embarrassing sounds, as the unit is completely self contained. The therapist remained with me throughout the treatment, which I was slightly surprised at, as I'd imagined they would set me up then leave me alone - however the treatment is very interactive, with the therapist checking your responses and comfort level throughout the session. One of the things I was worried about was whether the tubing, once in place, could come out, and if so whether it would be messy! My therapist assured me that this very rarely happened, and even if it did, it would be very unspectacular, as the was body simply closes up again - nothing escapes!
I lay flat on the table, and we practised a few deep breaths through the stomach, after which I lay on my left side with my knees drawn slightly up. There were no gadgets on the table with me, just me, a pillow and the towel around my middle. base and lie back resting my head on the pillow. The moment of truth came, and I was advised to take a deep breath in, then a hard long breath out - at this point the speculum and tube were inserted very quickly and with no pain, discomfort or fuss, although it did feel cold for a moment!
The water was warm, slightly higher than body temperature, and after the initial inflow I could feel very little. My therapist told me she was going to ask me to do a "hold" - that is she would introduce water for 3 seconds, then "release" - after this first hold I told her when to release it - I should feel full but not in pain. The waste pipe was visible to me via small tilting mirror on the wall and I must admit I felt initially mortified when the waste tube started to produce! However Tracey was very positive, and constantly encouraged me, explaining what would be coming out, and what her trained eye could tell about my eating habits. Apparently I don't chew my food enough, and this is a real issue with digestive problems. Also, my bowel was absorbing some of the water, probably because I was quite dehydrated. I had prided myself on drinking 3-4 glasses of water a day, but Tracey advised me I needed to increase this to at least 6 glasses a day to help combat the constipation. After a while I moved round to my back, with the bottom of my back very slightly tilted, and my therapist administered some stomach massage to encourage break up of old matter. The massage was fairly deep, but never painful, and it actually felt like quite a relief as, when certain parts of my stomach were massaged, large amounts of waste and gas would come out! The type of colonic irrigation I was having is known as a closed (pressure) system, which has one tube going in and one coming out, but only one insertion via the connector. The water moves basically with gravity, together with some manipulation of the tube by the therapist.
As the treatment progressed I was able to take more water into my bowels via the "holds", presumably because I was expelling matter and gas. We discussed some of the undigested food matter that was visible in the tube including tomato skin and satsumas - apparently both quite hard to digest, and something I have a lot of, so some clues began to emerge about my eating habits - I need to chew more, and add more variety to the fruits and vegetables I eat!
At the 45 minutes mark I felt like my stomach had had enough, and sure enough my therapist told me we were nearly done for the session - I had a bit more stomach massage, and then a rinse through of more water. When this was complete, we repeated the breath in-breath out manoeuvre to remove the speculum, and I sat up, towel still wrapped around me. I felt like I needed to go to the toilet badly, but when I went, it was mostly gas and water. Once I'd been, I didn't feel any pressing need to run to the loo at any time during that day, which laid to rest another misconception I'd had about the treatment.
One very considerate point that was much appreciated was that while I was in the loo the therapist turned the CD player up so I could sort myself out without worrying! Once dressed I was weighed again, and we had another brief discussion about eating habits, drinking water and other things I had to do as part of my "homework" - this included varying my fruit diet, trying to chew more, drinking more water and not eating late at night. This part of the treatment was very useful for me, and gave me several good pointers to what I needed to do to improve my digestion. I purchased a rehydration solution to add to my drinking water, and some probiotic capsules - this wasn't compulsory but was recommended to help maintain hydration of my colon and to reintroduce "good" bacteria.
Moving Forwards with a Healthier Colon
I have since had three more colonics, and find them to be a relaxing and energising experience - after the initial worry and embarrassment I actually looked forward to them, and each time felt cleansed and re-energised. I can't say that I felt the euphoria some users have reported, but neither have I felt any ill effects whatsoever. I would recommend a colonic treatment session, not just for the colonic itself, but for the chance it offers to discuss things we're normally quite reticent about, and for the good health ideas and suggestions I came away with. For me, these have truly improved my digestive health, and helped me to know and love my colon!
Margaret McGoverne is the founder of The Holistic Shop.com website: http://www.theholisticshop.com.
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This article was posted by Margaret McGoverne