“The road to health is paved with good intestines.”
Elaine Hanson, colon hydrotherapist
Admittedly, the subject of bowel movements does not make for good dinner conversation.
There aren’t a lot of cocktail parties where people shoot the breeze about stool odour, and very few water-cooler gab sessions centre on the health of your colon.
You know, your colon?
It’s that 1.5-metre tube at the end of your digestive tract that absorbs water, expels waste and ends at your anus.
I didn’t really know much about my colon either, until I had it cleaned with colon hydrotherapy, an interesting procedure that’s also referred to as colonic irrigation.
One is irrigated by having purified water, and occasionally other liquids such as coffee or apple-cider vinegar, put into the colon, via a tube inserted into the rectum.
Sounds a little uncomfortable, I know, but it really wasn’t all that bad.
The process takes about 45 minutes and promotes the “release” of unwanted material, including prehistoric poop, from your large intestine, aka your colon.
As it turns out, it’s a really important organ, a really big part of the body’s waste-management system.
It’s an area of the body that many people rarely, if ever think about let alone discuss, says Elaine Hanson, a Whitehorse-based colon hydrotherapist.
Hanson, who is also a holistic nutritionist and massage therapist, runs Alpine Meadow Massage and Wellness Centre, ironically located on Hanson Street.
“Most people don’t want to talk about feces. In fact, most people don’t want to talk about colon health or what’s down there at all,” says Hanson.
“Our rectum and our colon are things that we have emotionally detached ourselves from.”
When’s the last time you talked about them with someone?
It seems the rules of individual privacy and conventional etiquette limit the amount of discussion around the colon and rectal area, unless there’s a problem.
And problems can remain largely undetected, according to the UK-based Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists.
Often undetected is waste material, such as impacted feces, dead cellular tissue, mucous, parasites and worms, which can hide in the colon’s nooks and crannies and/or stick to the organ’s walls.
That material is toxic and can impair the body’s ability to absorb water and vitamins.
Common symptoms of an unclean colon include headaches, backaches, constipation, fatigue, bad breath, body odour, irritability, confusion, skin problems, abdominal gas, bloating and diarrhea.
The signs of a healthy colon are equally visible and can be checked on your next visit to the restroom, according to the association’s website.
A colon is likely healthy if bathroom visits are brief, and bowel movements quick.
“The elimination should be easy, take no more than a few seconds and the stool will be long in diameter, light brown in colour, should be without offensive odours and should float or sink very slowly.
“When the toilet is flushed, the stool immediately begins breaking apart by the action of water movement.”
So, you’re actually supposed to look when you’re done. It’s not only OK to check, it’s recommended.
Hanson checks. It’s a big part of the treatment.
It can tell you a lot, says Hanson.
So, after reviewing the procedure and then inserting a lubricated proctoscope into your rear-end, Hanson fills your colon, massages your belly and waits for your “release”.
She freely admits it; she finds it kind of fun to see what comes out.
I’ll admit, once I got into it, I was kind of curious to see what was in there.
To find out, you just have to hold and release, hold and release while Hanson diligently monitors your stool colour and consistency through a clear section of the hose coming out of your bottom.
She also checks the toilet to see what’s coming out, and with both “tools” is able to gather a lot of information.
If you’ve got whole chunks of carrot ending up in the bowl, you eat too quickly and don’t chew your food enough.
If you’ve got yellow, green or pale stool, you may have a liver deficiency.
If it looks like champagne bubbles are coming out of your insides, you’ve got yeast.
And, if a parasite, worm or fluke comes out, you may need to check with your physician, you could have a colony.
The first treatment tells you a lot, says Hanson.
And your first hydrotherapy session determines what your second round will look like.
My second, third and fourth involved coffee, apple cider vinegar and some sort of seed extract.
Those were my “implants,” yours could be different.
Hanson gives different implants — different kinds of liquids diluted in about one litre of water— to different people depending on your needs, and often in conjunction with a fast.
If you’ve got parasites, chances are you’ll get a garlic tea and clove implant.
A chlorophyll implant is used to detoxify and restore your colon’s pH level, as an alkaline environment, as opposed to an acid one, is healthy.
Coffee helps to irritate the colon and shake off and release unwanted debris.
The whole process, which is used to both deal with and prevent problems, leaves the colon cleaner, stronger and healthier, says Hanson.
It also helps people who aren’t regular, that is, they only have a bowel movement every three to five days, get back on track as eating without excreting is hard on the digestive tract.
“It’s turning (waste) into compost, especially if it’s not being eliminated at least once every 24 hours,” she said.
“The analogy I use is take everything you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours, expose it to 36.5 degrees and see what it starts to look like.”
The short answer is a gassy, fermented, putrid mess.
I’ve never really had a problem with my colon, so I’d never really thought about the reason for having one.
It’s to get rid of stuff you don’t need so you can feel cleaner, lighter and more energetic.
It makes sense — you wouldn’t play in sewer. Therefore, it’s probably not a good idea to let a sewer play in you.
And, carrying a sewer, as it were, doesn’t only affect you physically, it affects your mind, says Hanson.
“The colon is a mirror of the mind. If you’re anxious, then the colon is anxious. If the colon is uptight it’s not going to function properly.
“When we’ve got tons of things on our mind we can’t digest properly, the opposite is also true.
“Colon hydrotherapy can actually help to clean out the mind.”
I felt cleaner. I also ended my two-year experiment with the nicotine patch, stopped eating so much junk food and generally felt happier.
Maybe it’s a coincidence and maybe it’s not.
Regardless, I’d never considered the mind/body connection in a colonic way.
Apparently, most people haven’t.