Many people have never heard of colonics or colon hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, as it used to be known. It’s not a mainstream therapy and the idea can sometimes be met with some degree of horror when people find out what it is!

But here’s the thing.. even the people that HAVE heard of this treatment have a very limited idea of what colonics actually are and what a hydrotherapy session can or cannot do.

I’ve been working as a colon hydrotherapy practitioner for 17 years now, and I have noticed that clients usually fall into one of three categories: 

  1. They have a functional bowel problem like constipation, diarrhoea, bloating or IBS which pretty much covers most digestive issues.
  2. They are already health conscious and recognise the value of a colonic as a detoxification process and use the treatment to improve or maintain health.
  3. They have been through some kind of emotional process like a divorce, a bereavement or birth, or even a job or house move, and they see the treatment as a way to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and mark a threshold – it’s as if they are saying, “that was the old me and I want to welcome a new version”.

Whatever the reason, all are welcome of course, but there is something of which every client needs to be made aware, which is this:

 “If the body is not ready to let go and the mind is still needing to be in control, there can sometimes be little to no release – and there is very little that the practitioner can do about it.”

So let’s just look at a couple of examples of how certain types of clients can have unrealistic expectations of what a single colonic treatment can do.

The Constipated Client

Chronic constipation is what happens when a person doesn’t empty their bowels regularly and over a protracted period of time. This type of client can often have the idea that the water will just go up their bum and wash away years and years worth of constipation in one session of approximately 40 minutes – alas this is rarely the case.

Constipated stool is extraordinarily dry and hard and it is likely that several treatments will be needed to soften the stool and awaken the bowel to a more regular function. This process will take time and a serious commitment on behalf of the client. Imagine if you’d been asleep for years and someone burst into your bedroom shouting “get up, get up quick and go and run a marathon!” You’d be ill equipped to oblige them without a lot of training – and so it is with bowels.

I remember a lady of about 65 years old who had one poo every ten days and had done so for 50 years. She sat in front of me and said quite determinedly that she was only having one treatment and that I had to “get it all out.” Obviously I did my best to relieve her of as much waste as possible, but it was an unrealistic demand on her part.

So if you’re chronically constipated, you really do need to be looking at potentially a weekly or fortnightly visit for a while to help to hydrate your body and awaken the gut’s neurons to support better bowel function. Ultimately, we’re hoping to educate your bowel and remind it how to work better for you.

You would also be advised to take a daily probiotic to provide the necessary gut bacteria to support your digestive transit and gut motility.

The word Trust in decorative letters with other words inside

The Over-Controlling Client

Another problem that can contribute to a minimal release is the type of client who has issues around control and is holding on and trying to micro-manage everything. Every two minutes during the treatment they’re saying “is it working yet?” and “how much is coming out?”

These types of people are living in their heads in a world of weights and measures, and rights and wrongs. They tend to have a limited understanding of how their body works and view it as just a vehicle that carries their heads around. Despite having tonnes of knowledge and facts and figures and scientific proof of this, that and the other, there is usually no trust or faith in their body. It seems they are at odds with themselves, as if in a permanent battle of wilfully trying to manage their body into some specified behaviour. There is usually very little integration of the body/mind/spirit.

They have likely predetermined that the treatment can only be deemed a success if several pounds of weight is lost and tonnes of poop comes out yet, ironically, it is this very attitude of needing to control every part of the procedure that will hamper any kind of significant release or change.

Effectively, with control comes fear and with fear comes stress. Stress arises when we have expectations and no faith in the process. Stress will shut the bowel down and reduce peristalsis (the muscular movement) which propels waste through the colon, and which is usually stimulated by the colonic treatment. Until this type of client is happy to surrender to their body and relinquish their mental control, most activities will have minimal impact on their health, including colonics.

Sadly, these types of people are usually quick to descend into judgement and blame when expectations are not met, but accept no responsibility for their contribution to the problem.

The word Faith with other words inside

The Best Way to Approach a Colonic

In an ideal world a client will come to their appointment with an intent to free themselves of anything that their body is happy to release. Sometimes that comes in the form of tears or an emotional process in advance of the treatment, but more often it is a successful and fulfilling (or fully emptying!) release of lots and lots of poo. People are usually surprised by just how much rubbish they can hold in their bodies, and there is no way of knowing how long something has been held inside – just be glad it’s gone!

It’s really normal to be nervous if you’ve never had it done before, but if you can be honest about that and comfortable in your “not knowing” or apprehension, you will be fine.

It’s so helpful if you can turn up for your treatment in as relaxed a state as possible. Try to avoid stimulant drinks prior to your appointment and don’t have a massive meal either.

The most important thing of all is this. No-one is going to fix you – only you can do that.

My job is to facilitate your healing through supporting your body in releasing its waste. If you handover all responsibility for your health to anyone outside of yourself, be that a GP or a complementary practitioner, you will never progress along a healing path.

Health, like happiness, is an inside job. I will walk the path with you and guide you as much as I can, but ultimately, in the treatment room, both you and I are at the mercy of your gut’s intelligence, yet usually, when we give it the love and respect it deserves, it responds appropriately.


Article by Katherine Brooke, international speaker and bestselling author on the subject of gut health and poo. Katherine trained in Colonic Hydrotherapy at the National College of Holistic Medicine in 2005.

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