Colonic irrigation explored

Pop stars and Hollywood actors have tried it and now, in the name of research, feature writer Katy Evans gets to the bottom of colonic irrigation. Here's how she got on.

Pop stars and Hollywood actors have given it a go and now, in the name of research, has ealife's very own Katy Evans. Here's how she got on

PRINCESS Diana was a devotee, Janet Jackson, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Mariah Carey have all allegedly had it done, and Gillian McKeith of You are What You Eat fame prescribes the treatment for most of her clients. What am I talking about? Colonic irrigation.

When it comes to bottoms, most Brits get squeamish at any mention of the subject. We're fine with discussing illnesses concerning other body parts but when it comes to health matters below the waist, most of us clam up.

Perhaps though, with growing incidents of constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), infertility and even colon cancer, it's time we all paid more attention to what's going on down below.

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One colon hydrotherapy web site estimates that due to our poor western diet, some people carry around 10-25 pounds of waste material in their colon and blames this for conditions such as those mentioned above, as well as “diarrhoea, frequent headaches, backaches, fatigue, bad breathe, body odour, irritability, confusion, skin problems, abdominal gas and bloating, lower back pain, sciatic pain, low resistance to colds and infections, and low energy and vitality”.

Colonic irrigation is nothing new; it's mentioned in Chinese texts as far back as the third century BC and was favoured by those in ancient Egypt and Greece.

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Here in Britain, colonic irrigation was a mainstream procedure in most hospitals and many doctors' surgeries until the 1940s, when it fell out of favour due to costs and an increasing reliance on manmade drugs to supposedly improve our health.

Daniel Reid, author of The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity, says the West relies too heavily on chemical laxatives which only exacerbate the condition by irritating the colon and failing to remove the deeply encrusted waste. According to Reid, colonics are completely natural, using herons as an example - apparently they carry out their own colonics by squirting water into their bowels to flush out the debris.

So is colonic irrigation really an aid to better health or just an unnecessary, unpleasant procedure?

Many people squirm at the thought and some doctors think it's a waste of time (pardon the pun) but think about it: when you wash up, if you continually swoosh all the left over bits of sticky food down the plug hole then eventually the pipe will become blocked. Or, if you were to put dirty oil into your car it would soon wreck the engine. People think nothing of taking their car to the garage for a service, or giving their homes a good spring clean, so why not do the same for our bodies?

We all brush our teeth on a daily basis but how many of us pay as much attention to what's coming out, or not as the case may be, of the other end?

Sara Jane Szczepanski, a qualified colonic hydrotherapist and former NHS nurse of more than 30 years, is utterly convinced of the health benefits associated with colonics.

Throughout her career, Sara has given more than 3000 colonics so certainly knows a thing or two about poo. Despite some health professionals saying detoxing is a waste of time, Sarah believes it is extremely beneficial. “If we had not started processing food after the Second World War, if we didn't use so many drugs to try and cure ailments, if we didn't smoke, drink and eat so much sugar and salt, then our bodies could probably cope OK. But they can't cope with the amount of toxins we are exposed to.”

Last May, Sara set up Osalo, in Ipswich, where she has so far administered around 200 colonics to both men and women.

She is also one of only a few people in East Anglia to offer a special coffee detox treatment in addition. “We all know drinking coffee is bad for our health,” says Sara, “but it actually has beneficial effects when taken 'at the other end'. The caffeine is absorbed through the lining of the colon and travels to the gall bladder and liver, where it has a strong detoxing effect.

“If we keep our livers healthy, the rest will follow suit,” she explains.

Having started her career as a student midwife at Ipswich Hospital, Sara moved to Hemingstone in 1988 and took a part-time job at the Shrubland Hall health clinic, where she first encountered colonic irrigation.

“I'd given people enemas before, at the hospital, but I had no idea what this was all about. I have to say I was a bit shocked at first. I thought 'How could anyone feel any better with a tube going into their behind and water being pumped in?',” says the bubbly red head.

But she soon became a convert when she witnessed for herself the improvement in patients and how much better they felt afterwards. “I'd get people coming up to me saying 'Thank you sister Sara, I feel so much better'.”

Last January, Sara trained at the British College of Colon Hydrotherapy in Gloucester, where she discovered the benefits for herself.

“At first the students were nervous about being guinea pigs but by the end we were fighting for whose turn it was to go next as we all felt so much better afterwards,” she laughs.

Sara thinks a lot of people are put off because they think a colonic is the same as an enema. “An enema involves using either soap and water (as they used to do for pregnant ladies) or a mixture of harsh chemicals which only flushes out the lower part of the colon and is designed for instant results.”

A colonic, on the other hand, uses only pure water and reaches the upper portions of the bowels.

There is more than one method of administering colonic irrigation; some people use machines that pump the water in but Sara prefers to use gravity, where a large tub of water, like ones on a water cooler, is suspended above the bed so the water flows into the tube naturally rather than being forced.

“I think it's more gentle. Another benefit is that I can add things to the water such as herbs to ease bloating.”

So what does the treatment actually feel like? In the name of investigative journalism I decided to find out.

When I see the metal speculum I start having doubts but Sara assures me that only an inch and a half actually goes into my body.

A large 'out' pipe connects to the end of the speculum, to carry away the waste, and a narrow 'in' pipe, joins into the top for the fresh water. So in effect, a circuit is set up with water going in and out at the same time.

A full treatment involves around 15 gallons of water. “A lot of people see the tank and assume it's all going in them in one go but that's not the case at all,” says Sara.

After warming the speculum to body temperature, Sara asks me to undress below the waist and lie on my side on the table. At all times I am covered by a blanket.

Of course I am slightly nervous, but it's not as bad as I'd imagined. Once the speculum is in place, I roll onto my back and on goes the tap. At first there is a cool sensation as the water enters, which soon becomes warm. While holding the speculum in place with one hand, Sara squeezes the 'out' tube intermittently with the other.

“This is to mimic the action of the colon; to remind the muscles of what they should be doing,” she explains.

For the first few minutes, the water coming from the out tube remains clear, but after five minutes or so, things start moving! Sara seems very pleased with the 'colour and consistency' of what she sees flowing though the tube, which indicates that my colon is in good working order. Quite a few times I feel as if the pipe is going to come out, but Sara assures me this won't happen, which it doesn't.

The only discomfort I experience is in my stomach, which feels like it's having period pains. Sara says this is natural as the uterus is right next to the colon so stimulating one effects the other.

Because I am not used to the procedure, my natural reaction is to tense up a bit and try and 'hold on', rather than letting go; this is also normal for a first time, says Sara.

I also have quite a bit of trapped air, which causes some discomfort, and so Sara adds mint and lobelia drops to the water. This has an almost instant effect and the feeling is one of relief.

After 25-30 minutes, the pipe is removed I go to the toilet adjacent to the treatment room, which has speakers piping out relaxing music in case clients are worried about making strange noises!

Sara tells me I have had an “excellent evacuation”.

And that is the end of the basic colonic; next to come is the coffee.

This is administered in the same way but once the liquid is inside, Sara removes the tube and I lie on my side while it absorbs (and no, nothing leaks out).

Another trip to the loo 15 minutes later and the treatment is complete. I'm please to hear Sarah tell me my bowels are doing their job properly. She also says that because I have no major health problems, I won't need regular treatments, unless I want to do it to kick start a detox programme.

I have to admit I was hoping for miraculous, tummy flattening results; although I did feel somewhat lighter, my stomach was not washboard flat (but then I did eat a huge lunch before hand).

And contrary to my worries, I was not rushing off to the loo every five minutes for the rest of the day. However, when I went back the following week for another treatment (having laid off the sugar in the interim as part of a mini detox) I did make the mistake of eating straight afterwards. This did get me rushing to the loo about three times throughout the afternoon so be warned - go easy with your food intake and wait a good few hours to eat.

Having now experienced colonic irrigation, I can honestly say (and this is speaking only for the gravity method) that it is no where near as bad as I feared. It does make you feel like you have diarrhoea, but you put up with this because you know it's doing you good. I felt as if I'd been purged of all toxins, which made me determined to stick to a healthy diet.

Sara is very gentle and explains everything thoroughly; she maintains your modesty at all times and, in case you were wondering, there are no nasty smells.

I personally think a lot of people who are overweight, bloated, or have bowel troubles could benefit from colonic irrigation. If it's good enough for royalty then it must be worth a go. And perhaps Sara's special ingredient will have the added bonus of putting you off drinking coffee for good.

Osalo is at Alexander House, 19-23 Fore Street, Ipswich, 01473 232770. For more information, visit The first consultation (1.5 hours approx) costs £85; further treatments are £75. A course of six is £420. The coffee treatment is an additional £25.

Sara is offering a reduced price of £65 per treatment until the end of March, for all new customers who present this article when making a booking

For further information:

Check out

The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity, by Daniel Reid (Pocket Books, 2001, ISBN 0-7434-0907-8) also check out XXXX and XXX

Also referred to in The Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ, by the disciple John (C.W. Daniel Company, Saffron Walden, ISBN 0-85207-103-5)

Fact boxes

Sara recommends the treatment for anyone suffering from:


Sluggish or constipated bowels.


Trapped wind.


Skin problems ie spots, acne, eczema, psoriasis,

It also helps boost the immune system and can aid the start of a detox programme.

Avoid the treatment if you have:

High blood pressure


Severe anaemia

Abdominal hernia

Advanced heart, liver, or kidney disease

Are in the early or advanced stages of pregnancy

If you still can't face the thought of treatment, try Sarah's tips to ease bloating:

East slowly and chew each mouthful 6-8 times.

Do not talk while eating.

Don't smoke.

Don't chew gum (it sends air into your stomach).

Don't drink during eating, wait 20 minutes either side.

Drink organic peppermint tea 20 minutes before you eat.

Drink fennel or lemon and ginger tea 20 minutes after eating.

Avoid cabbage, sprouts, garlic, onions, peas and beans, highly spiced foods, lots of sugar, carbonated drinks.

To help expel trapped wind:

Try massaging your tummy, clockwise as you look down at it.

Lay on your right side and draw your knees up, or get on all fours, head down, bottom up, like a baby (if this is possible).

Do some exercise or go for a brisk walk.

Try peppermint water - 1-2 tsps in warm water sipped slowly.

Try a couple of slices of fresh ginger in boiling water, cooled and sipped slowly. Fennel may also help.

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