Are Colonics the New Cleanse?

We may live in a juice-happy world, but colonics are gaining ground as the detox du jour.

When three of-the-moment comedians (Chelsea, Whitney, and Kathy) recently riffed on the virtues of colonics during late night TV, one thing became clear: waste management is going mainstream. 

No longer an out-there, alternative therapy, these colon flushing treatments are becoming the go-to cleanse for those not on camera, too. Every six months, TV exec Lauren A. visits We Care Spa in Desert Hot Springs for a three-day program. “With my job, I eat out a lot or grab prepared foods on the run, so a series of colonics is my version of a cleanse after a stretch of eating poorly,” she says. “To me, it just makes sense to occasionally relieve your body this way.” Talent manager Michael W. favors colonics over other cleansing methods, like juicing, when stress causes his rash-prone skin to act up. “Of everything I’ve tried, it’s made the most noticeable difference — within a week,” he says. Leah Joiner, a Los Angeles colon hydrotherapist, tends to agree: “Juice cleanses on their own can be beneficial, but there’s nothing like a colonic to flush out toxins that may be surfacing in other ways.”

The idea of colonics relieving you of toxins isn’t quite as popular in the medical realm, however, where most doctors feel these treatments are unnecessary. “Intuitively a colonic can be very attractive. You get one and have an immediate response, feeling lighter and cleaner, but there’s no real benefit,” says New York City gastroenterologist Carl McDougall, M.D. “If you eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables, the fiber will help cleanse the gut and nourish good bacteria, and the phytonutrients will have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic effects, helping to neutralize chemicals. The key is to eat this way regularly.” 

Of course, that can be a tall order in today’s processed-foods world, which is probably why the idea of ‘cleansing’ has gripped the nation — and created more fans of the full-on flush. “Our clients experience so many benefits—everything from weight loss and clearer skin to fewer headaches and reduced bloating, even less mental fog, which can be caused by toxicity,” says Bridgette Becker, a colon hydrotherapist at We Care, where a simultaneous liquid diet of vegetable juices and purees plus herbal teas helps give the digestive system a rest. “Before a colonic, people tend to ask a lot of questions and we encourage that,” continues Becker, who recommends seeking out only board certified practitioners. Curious? Here’s what you need to know from the colonic experts:

A pro should fully explain the treatment before you’re on the table
“We show clients the machine, water tube, and speculum to put them at ease. They can see that everything comes sealed in sterile single-use packages,” says Becker.

The machine is temperature and pressure regulated
“Some people are worried that the water goes in like a fire hose, but it’s nothing like that,” Joiner explains. “It actually enters quite slowly so that the body can absorb it.”

You don’t have to “do” anything
Water flows in and waste flows out, separately of course (a commonly asked question). The “release” happens naturally, Becker says, as a result of each “fill” during the treatment.

You may feel uncomfortable during the process
Some people get a headache, feel a little queasy, or sense pressure. All of this is normal and if you breathe through it, your body will relax and begin cleansing, notes Becker.

You’ll probably feel much better after
“Clearing out the colon with a colonic hydrates the entire body,” says Joiner. “It can give you more energy and help you sleep better. Clients often report waking up feeling more alert and rested the day after.”

Don’t worry if nothing comes out
“We call these ‘soaking’ colonics,” Becker says. “It means your body is dehydrated and the flush is providing much-needed hydration.” (A second treatment might be recommended).

One colonic is beneficial but a series can work wonders
Just like multiple days of juicing, multiple colonics can up the detoxifying effects. “A series of colonics over several days or weeks helps the liver to more fully release toxins,” says Joiner.

The standard American diet makes everyone more toxic
People are eating more processed foods and drinking dehydrating liquids like coffee and soda and the combination leads to constipation, so a colonic can be really beneficial, says Becker.

Colonics can enhance digestive health
“You can’t grow a rose garden in a garbage patch,” says Joiner. “So occasionally flushing out waste with a colonic can create the kind of environment in which good bacteria can grow and thrive.” Taking a high-quality probiotic will help good bacteria repopulate.

Probiotics also help boost immunity
Studies show the benefits of taking probiotics across the board, and after a colonic, it’s particularly important to increase levels of healthy bacteria. Look for one with 20 billion CFUs (colony forming units). We Care’s version is shelf-stable, patented, and guaranteed to deliver the CFUs listed on the label.