Health Guide

Colon therapy

What is it?

Colon therapy originated in Egypt, Greece, and India where enemas were commonly performed. By the late 1800's, colon therapy was a common treatment in the United States and colonic machines were in most doctor's offices and hospitals. The most famous promoter of colon therapy was John Kellogg, MD, of Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg claimed to have treated over 40,000 patients with digestive diseases. He also claimed that his treatments prevented the need for surgery in all but 20 of the 40,000 he treated in his sanitarium. He later went on to found the Kellogg cereal company.

Proponents of colon therapy state that irregular or incomplete bowel movements are a major contributor to many illnesses. They believe that constipation causes an accumulation of waste in the large intestine. Slow moving solid wastes will allow fats to become rancid, carbohydrates to ferment, and proteins to putrefy. This wastes, along with unhealthy bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, and dead cells create a condition known as "bowel toxemia."

In a typical colonic session, a therapist inserts a small, sanitized tube into the anus. Filtered water (and maybe herbs or oxygen) is slowly released into the bowel. The water helps dislodge fecal material from the pockets in the colon. The machine allows the fecal material to leave the bowel at the same time the water is entering. During the treatment, the therapist might apply gentle massage to the area to help the process.

A single session lasts from 30 to 45 minutes.

Colon therapy is thought to relieve a wide range of symptoms relating to poor colon function. These include backaches, headaches, bad breath, gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation, sinusitis, lung problems, skin problems, poor concentration, fatigue, depression, and arthritis. It may also be used to treat hypertension, auto immune diseases, parasites, poor immune function, and many other problems.

Patients with certain medical conditions should avoid colon therapy. These include ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, severe rectal hemorrhoids, and tumors of the large intestine or rectum.

There are many types of practitioners currently offering colonic therapy. Most alternative physicians, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and nutritionists can provide either colonics or a referral to a competent colon therapist.

When choosing a colon therapist, make sure the person has been properly trained. Because fecal matter can transmit disease, it is critical that the therapist uses proper hygienic techniques. The facility and the equipment should be clean and well cared for. Most therapists now use disposable tubing and speculums. Those using reusable equipment should use proper sterilization procedures and autoclave the pieces between each treatment.

  • American Colon Therapy Association (310) 572-6223
  • California Colon Hygienists Society (707) 829-0984
  • International Association for Colon Therapy (916) 222-1498
  • Wood Hygienic Institute, Inc (407) 933-0009


1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.

2. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.

3. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.

4. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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