I got a colonic for the first time last week and it was the best thing that I could have done for myself that day. Here’s the thing, it’s not for every body and every circumstance. I’ve always been anti-colonic thinking that your body should be able to eliminate when it needs to and shooting water at your system would probably cause more harm than good (that said, I have been known to give myself an at-home enema on occasion — hey IBS-C sufferer over here — I realize I sound like a hypocrite but with my gut history it felt very different to me). With all the said, I’m now a true believer and want to do one seasonally or at least every 6 months.
I shared over on instagram that I was going to get a colonic and was shocked just how many questions there were and how many people were wondering about the experience in general. It seems to be a service people are interested in but a little freaked out to do. SO, I’m breaking it all down for you. After reading this post you will have an understanding of what to expect, what the options are, and what some potential positives and negatives could be. Let’s keep in mind here that I’m NOT an expert and have had just one colonic in my entire life. I always suggest doing your own research before doing anything related to your own body — especially when it has to do with something going up the butt LOL.
Let’s start with the basics —
WHAT IS A COLONIC?
As per verywellhealth, a colonic is the infusion of water (or other liquid) into the rectum to flush out the colon. It is also called colonic hydrotherapy or colon irrigation.
I learned quite quickly that there are two different types of colonics. A colonic with an open system and one with a closed system. In an open system (what I did), you’re allowed to be in the room by yourself and you have a doorbell just incase you need assistance. You are naked from the waste down, are sitting on something like looks like a large reclining toilet (think of it as the lazy boy of toilets), and insert the tube to the LIBBE System (your butt is over the toilet bowl). The LIBBE System uses a very thin tube (thinner than on a closed system, or so I’ve been told). Once you’re situated, warm, purified water flows through to the colon. It’s a gravity based system so there is no crazy pressure to your insides. The water softens and loosens the waste in your colon.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how it works from here…I know I was…I mean you have a tube up your butt...
You take in as much water as you feel like you can. You will reach a point where you feel like you’re “full.” It’s helpful to clench and hold at this point. When you can’t hold onto it anymore — a few seconds, you gently bear down, let your muscles relax, and the waste material and water will flow out. You don’t have to remove the tube for this to happen. You repeat this process over and over throughout the course of the session.
What’s the closed system look like? I’m not 100% sure because I’ve never done it (though now I’m tempted to). What I do know is there’s a practitioner in the room running the show as opposed to the LIBBE System, gravity, and you doing the work. It’s totally up to personal preference and what works best for you and your body and mind to find the system that works for you. I personally liked having control over everything (are we shocked? Total type-A virgo over here), but would give the closed system a go because I've heard good things about a closed system practitioner in my area.
Now that we’ve set the shitty scene and covered the basics (I should also mention the tube the waste leaves the “toilet” from is clean so you can watch yourself get cleared out), let’s move onto some of the most asked questions I received on instagram.
COLONIC Q+A WITH NWL
DOES IS HURT?
Not at all! It’s just a bit uncomfortable.
WHAT’S IT FEEL LIKE?
You’re pretty much giving yourself diarrhea for an hour on and off. The best way to put it is you’re riding the wave, if you know what I mean. I think it’s important to note here that a lot of people get nauseous. The practitioner // person running the colonic center will probably warn you of this and have essential oils on hand. I didn’t need them, but I could see why you might. Oh! And there is no smell. The system has an exhaust device so there is no need to worry about that.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLONIC AND AN EMEMA?
Let’s start with the similarities. They both have the same aim, to use water to flush out the colon. The difference? In an enema, there is only one water infusion vs. a colonic where there are many
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
My open system session lasted an hour. The colonic therapist (that’s the best way I can think to describe her) told me that closed system session usually last about 45 mins so if I got to the 45 minute mark and wanted to tap out because I’d had enough // felt cleaned out, I could. But I wanted to do the whole thing, so I hung in there the entire 60 minutes.
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT FLUSHING OUT GOOD BACTERIA?
This was something that didn’t even cross my mind before going in (shocking I know!!) because I had been in so much discomfort for a week because of a flare up. Truth be told, I have dysbiosis. I’ve been through a protocol to try to correct it with my functional medicine doctor - made some progress - was supposed to do round two of a slightly different protocol, but never got my act together to finish it. What is dysbiosis? It means the flora is my gut isn’t optimal. It’s not even that I have a ton of bad bacteria. It’s just that I have a lot of neutral bacteria taking up space that’s not doing me any favors — good nor bad.
After I got this question, I did some research online. It’s true that bacteria is being flushed out of your colon through the process. That said, your body is smart. It lets go of more of the bad bacteria and holds onto the good. Though, I don’t doubt you lose some good stuff in the process to. I will leave it up to you to do your own research to decide if it’s worth it to you. In my case, I would actually be happy to have some bacteria flushed out (knowing that more neutral // bad bacteria would be flushed out rather than good) and hope that it would give me the opportunity to start fresh and reinoculate my gut with the good stuff through probiotics and fermented foods.
WHY DID I GET ONE?
I was on the tail end of a gut flare. I was having that feeling like you have a pit in your stomach, nothing sounds super tasty and you just feel full even though you’re not. Do you know what I’m talking about? All of the sudden, I felt like everyone around me was talking about colonics and I took that as a sign. One of my friends had just gone to the place I ended up going, she had good things to say about it, there were great yelp reviews, and the founder went to Bauman (the nutrition school I attended). It may sound woo woo, but it just felt right and I felt like I was being called to do it. It wasn’t forceful and if it feels that way you probably shouldn’t do it.
There are a lot of pluses to the treatment but also a lot of negatives. You are initiating the movement of toxins that have been living in your gut for upwards of 30 days and that can lead to a major die off effect. This means you could potentially leave feeling way worse than when you came in. If you’re constipated (which I wasn’t at the time), it could be necessary to go in for back to back sessions (like 2 days in a row), to get completely cleaned out. After my experience, I personally don’t think I would ever go in full of food // constipated. It felt like the perfect thing to do as a tune up after a cleanse or after not feeling super hot and not having a lot in your system just to get a flush in (or actually more like out LOL). That said, everyone is different!!
WHERE DID I GO?
I went to SF Colonics on Pacific Ave. in San Francisco. There are multiple rooms with open systems in each one. It was super easy to book an appointment and very low stress.
I’ve heard fabulous things about Body Harmony on Van Ness in San Francisco (I’m SF based if you haven’t caught on). This facility practices with a closed system. I feel like I want to give it a go next time and will probably update this post when I do.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Hehe. If you’ve been reading you know the answer to this — YES. I would absolutely do it again. It’s not something to do often, but I feel like it could be beneficial to do every few months with the changing of the seasons. I know my system has a hard time in the cooler months, so implementing 2 or 3 colonics in my routine throughout the year could be helpful for me.
I hope this was helpful, but I also hope that you do your own research before deciding what is right for your own body!