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Review: colonic hydrotherapy

By Ross Chainey, Health Editor
Last updated March 8 2006

Some people swear by colonic irrigation as an effective way to cleanse the body and protect against disease, while for others the indignity doesn't bear thinking about. Ross Chainey was sceptical, but after visiting Aqualibria he left a convert and returned to the office with a spring in his step.

It’s a delicate issue but let’s not be delicate about it – colonic irrigation is the cleansing of the colon by means of inserting a hosepipe up your bum and blasting lukewarm water up your rectum. At least, that’s my scientific definition.

The treatment is supposed to aid the elimination of waste matter from the colon, whether to assist detox or protect against diseases such as bowel cancer. To me, however, while not doubting its efficacy, it seemed like a rather extreme way of keeping my insides ship-shape. Not least because of the indignity of having some Nurse Ratched character ram said pipe up my back passage.

The truth however, as with most things, was nowhere near as upsetting. When I tried it out for myself the experience was, in fact, rather splendid – the best thing I’ve ever had done to me. And it was in no way humiliating. How the amazing turn of events, I hear you ask. Well I’m coming to that, and to how, all hubris aside, this treatment altered my perspective on the way I treat my body. I thought I was ultra-healthy, a fitness and wellbeing fanatic, but I was wrong. And to think, it all started out as a joke…

As a new recruit at MSN UK, I swaggeringly declared that what the health channel needed was a database of innovative and up-to-the-minute treatment reviews. Little did I know that I was setting myself up for a big, big fall. I was thinking facials and tropical spa breaks… they were thinking embarrassing examinations and strategically placed leeches.

“Great idea”, said my boss, rubbing his hands together and practically twiddling his evil moustache, “you can go for a colonic. That would be hilarious.”

“Er, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind”, I retorted.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”. This from a man who would have me mud-wrestle a hormonally charged gorilla if he thought it would raise a few clicks.

But never mind, I’m willing to take one for the team. And, I have to admit, I was a bit curious. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, I always say, and all the people I know who’ve had one swear by it, so there must be something to it.

It was with this in mind that I made my way to Aqualibria, a smart looking, not at all clinical clinic on Harley Street in central London where I was greeted by Company Director Velile Ndebele.

Wiser than Yoda and smarter than a brain pie, Vel sat me down and eloquently explained what the treatment would entail. It is at this point important to say that it wasn’t colonic irrigation I was waiting to try out, but colonic hydrotherapy, and there’s a big difference. An American system (natch), colonic hydrotherapy has a similar aim as colonic irrigation – aiding the elimination of toxins from the body by flushing them out from the bowels – but uses a much gentler technique to achieve it.

Vel demonstrated, with the use of models, that with colonic irrigation the water is pumped into the colon via a wide-rimmed tube and the waste extracted the same way. With hydrotherapy on the other hand, the water enters the body via a much smaller tube (about the girth of a biro) and, once the bowel is ready to expel, is released normally. And, critically, you get to insert the tube yourself - so no Nurse Ratched.

Vel’s life changed when she discovered similar treatments whilst travelling, and during my one hour consultation that precedes any first treatment, she also explained the health benefits of colonic hydrotherapy and the importance of detoxifying the body. Vel also probed me (hey, calm down) on my lifestyle and diet, followed by a quick biology lesson on the kinds of nasty diseases that are the result of not keeping your colon clean.

After uncrossing my legs (that hernia looked particularly unappealing), it was my moment of truth; time to try out the treatment for myself. Vel led me to the opposite room and showed me how to ready myself for the treatment, before leaving me to undress and prepare. The process is rather ingenious really; after changing into a gown, you simply climb into what is essentially a large plastic arm chair, with a gap between the legs, from where it’s easy to insert the tube (you don’t need me to go into any more detail here, I’m sure).

Once in position, you can recline and relax – yes, relax – and cover yourself, dignity intact. When I reached this point Vel returned to get things underway. To the left of the chair is a series of pipes, underneath which runs a transparent tube so you can view the toxicity literally drain out of you. At the turn of a knob (hey, I said stop it) the water started to move and I felt myself fill up with water. Initially it’s a disconcerting feeling, and Vel sensed my confusion. “Ross”, she said tenderly, “just let go”.

And it was good. I lay there for an hour as the water worked its way further up my colon, gradually wearing away at waste and expelling it from my body. Without going into too much gory detail, the amount of, er, stuff, that comes out is incredible, and this was only my first treatment. And, surprisingly, the treatment feels therapeutic and as Vel massaged my stomach in search of lumps and blockages, I could have quite easily nodded off.

It takes more than one treatment to properly detox and clean out the colon – six, in fact – but I would only be returning for one more. As I’m training for a marathon, the full detox isn’t recommended, as the latter stages induce headaches and flu like symptoms. Still, I felt unbelievable afterwards, and bounced back to the office all joie de vivre and ranting and raving to my colleagues about the treatment. And when I returned the next day for my final session I had undressed and was changing into my robe before Vel could even say “hello”.

The results of the second treatment were even more impressive as the water reached even further up my colon. “The darker the older”, Vel said, and judging by its murky hue, this stuff had been clinging on to my colon since the Battle of Hastings. I began to regret the fact that I wouldn’t be back for more, especially when Vel told me that at treatment four the waste expelled from the body can be black. I’d have brought my camera along for that.

Red meat in particular has a habit of hanging round the gut, sometimes rotting inside us for years, and if that doesn’t make you want to try out colonic hydrotherapy and become a vegan, then I don’t know what will. Perhaps the fact that some of us can lose five kilograms during a course of colonics. I’ve been training since December and, due to the build up of muscle, hadn’t shed a pound until, following my two treatments, I was instantly four pounds lighter.

Aqualibria also provide each client with a bespoke lifestyle plan based on questionnaires completed at the outset, mainly focussed around drinking fruit or vegetable juices to aid the detoxifying process. I left with one of these, determined to treat my body with the respect it deserves. And failing that, I could always re-visit Vel. In fact, I will be, after the marathon for the full detox so I’ll let you know how that goes. I can’t wait, but until then, I’ll just have to cope with the excitement at the prospect of seeing that black stuff.

A one hour colonic hydrotherapy session at Aqualibria costs £95, and the one hour consultation £35.

Contact details:
1 Harley Street
Telephone: 0800 612 9481
website: http://www.aqualibria.com/


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