Stomach bloating describes a range of symptoms associated with the gut. People often complain of a stretching sensation in the tummy and painful abdominal cramps. Growing research suggests that simple self-help solutions belie the complexity of the issue – poor gut health can be chalked to a wide-range of interactions – both internal and external. Treating stomach bloating and its associated symptoms may require a multi-pronged approach – this is where colonic hydrotherapy may help.
Colonic hydrotherapy may have made headlines with high-profile celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Cindy Crawford and Beyonce touting its health benefits, but Lena Gillespie, director of surgeon-led consultant practice Cosmetech, insists the practice is no passing fad: “Colon hydrotherapy has been around for thousands of years, and it has been embraced by many cultures.”
What is colon hydrotherapy?
Colonic hydrotherapy works by inserting a tube into a person’s rectum and then flushing waste material out of the bowel using warm water.
How can it benefit bloating?
To understand how it benefits bloating, it is important to first understand the processes involved in the gut, explained Gillespie: “Digestion is a complex process which can be easily disrupted. The small intestine is where most nutrients and up to 90 per cent of the water is absorbed.
“The large intestine ( Colon ) is responsible for processing indigestible food material and the trillions of bacteria in the colon produce substantial amounts of vitamins by fermentation (K and B vitamins, including biotin).
“However as the bacteria ferment gas can be produced which causes discomfort and bloating.”
Digestive problems can occur when expelling waste is either too fast causing diarrhoea or too slow causing constipation and bloating, said Gillespie.
As she explained, a person’s normal transit time is 24 hours but this can be disrupted by a range of factors including:
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
This is where colonic hydrotherapy can help. “Colonic hydrotherapy can help to cleanse the colon, stimulate the nerve and muscle action of the bowels and help the colon to work normally again,” said Gillespie.
“In turn this will help to maintain healthy colonic flora and will decrease the risk of abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation and infectious colitis,” she added.
According to Gillespie, combining colonic hydrotherapy with an abdominal massage also helps to improve overall wellbeing and boost energy levels. The therapeutic aspect of the treatment can help to break the negative cycle of stress and its impact on bloating.
She said: “Abdominal massage is a great way to create gentle external pressure along the intestinal tract, which stimulates intestinal contractions (called peristalsis) and helps get the intestinal material to the rectum before it gets hard and dry.
“This compliments the Colonic Hydrotherapy Treatment and helps to alleviate the symptoms of IBS, which includes constipation and gas.”
How often should you have a colonic?
Three colonics over the course of two months is recommended for optimal results as it enables a deep cleanse, noted Gillespie.
“After that it’s maintenance depends on the individual and what their requirements are,” she said.
According to the NHS, before having colonic hydrotherapy, the therapist will ask a person about their medical history to check if they have any health problems that might make the treatment inadvisable.
The health body noted that that there is no scientific evidence to suggest there are any health benefits associated with colonic irrigation.
Commenting on the health benefits of colonic hydrothrapy, Dr Diana Gall of Doctor4U said: Anything that improves digestive health has overall benefits on physical and mental health. Gut health is closely linked to mental wellbeing, gut problems can often cause anxiety and vice versa. However, there is no substantial scientific evidence that there are health benefits of having colonic hydrotherapy, and there are some unpleasant side effects to be aware of.”
She added: I wouldn’t advise this therapy for patients with certain health conditions such as anaemia, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney or liver disease, and any bowel conditions such as Chrohn’s disease or bowel cancer, as well as any existing rectal or anal problems such as rectal bleeding, anal fissures, or haemorrhoids.
“For patients who are otherwise healthy, colonic hydrotherapy may make them feel more energised and less sluggish. Feeling lighter and less ‘bunged up’ can provide more comfort, even if it isn’t having any considerable health benefits.”
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