Junk food, booze, smoke, stress and pollution. Sound familiar?
With the festival frolics of summer almost behind us and the bleak months irrevocably approaching, we’re doomed to feeling sluggish, bloated, pale, and exhausted during winter’s looming reign. But the formidable grey season needn’t tempt us into a spell of gluttony and debauchery. As autumn closes in outside, I head to London’s Marylebone for an internal spring clean.
The repercussions of contemporary urban life can provoke an imbalance in our bodies, contributing to a host of health problems. When there is this imbalance the colon (responsible for eliminating body wastes and protecting us from infection and disease) struggles to eradicate waste products and they solidify within us. If this waste continues to sit in our bodies toxins are then reabsorbed back into our liver and bloodstream, which can lead to a multitude of ailments including headaches, fatigue, pimples, bad breath and sluggishness to name but a few.
Further disorders can also result, including constipation, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids, colitis and even bowel cancer.
Colonic hydrotherapy, or irrigation, is a gentle internal bath using purified water to help soften and eliminate stored faecal matter, gas, mucus and toxic substances from the colon. Additional benefits include clearer skin, increased energy, mental clarity and fewer headaches, with circulatory, immune and weight problems often improving.
My experience of colonic hydrotherapy begins at The Integrated Medical Centre in Marylebone. Their philosophy supports conventional, complementary and traditional medicines, and the clinic welcomes me with the scent of spice from their street-front health shop.
On meeting my therapist, Anna, I’m immediately put at ease. She’s exuberantly friendly and has an obvious zest for life and a passion for colonics. We discuss my medical history, diet and lifestyle, and I learn more about my digestive system in those few moments than I did in five years of school biology.
All this chat about my insides makes me feel queasy, but Anna’s enthusiasm is infectious and she confides that she’s never met a patient who wasn’t nervous when experiencing colonics for the first time. So with Anna’s reassuring cheer ringing in my head I go away, strip down to basics and return, anxiously trembling, in a blue paper gown.
It’s unlikely this get-up will make it to the catwalks this season but at least my modesty is preserved. Aromatic oils burn in the room which is comfortable and clean. I feel in safe hands.
Once I’m at home on the bed’s crisp, white linen the inexorable course of action begins. A small speculum attached to a plastic hose is inserted into my body via the rectum. This connects to the colon irrigation machine mounted on the wall. As water is gently introduced into the colon the volume, temperature and pressure of the flow can be adjusted by Anna. She talks me through the whole process as she works her magic.
The colonic itself takes 45 minutes during which time the water filling up inside me induces peristaltic contractions in the colon, and I begin to expel faecal matter through a tube. Anna tells me to prepare for an uncomfortable sensation as she is about to increase the water pressure. I can tell her to stop at any time. I do. Almost immediately. It’s not at all painful, just odd. But soon my body learns to override the initial nerve response and I begin to feel at ease.
As Anna gently massages my belly, circulating the water inside, I take this opportunity to indulge in the workings of colon conservation. Is this for everyone? “Anyone should have a colonic, it is a preventative. It keeps you in optimum health”, Anna enthuses. “Anyone on medication or taking recreational drugs should clean out the colon to ease pressure on the liver. Those who should avoid colonics include people on heavy steroids, with ulcerations on the bowel and with Crones Disease”.
We lead to the inevitable topic of diet. Anna recommends eating natural live bio yoghurts and foods that are close to their natural environment, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.”Experiment with different types of grains and aim for eating on a rotation system. Foods high in essential fats are good such as fish, seeds, nuts, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil. Avoid foods like sugar, coffee and alcohol. They have absolutely no nutritional value at all and only dehydrate the body. Milk builds a lot of mucus so avoid it if you are intolerant. And never take laxatives as they cause your bowel to become lazy and it won’t function as well.”
I remember Anna’s earlier comment, that some individuals feel tired or euphoric post-colonic. I feel neither, but I do feel enlightened, both mentally and physically. This feeling of overall wellbeing may or may not be psychological, but I undoubtedly have the best sleep in a long while that night, waking up just before the alarm’s thunderous siren. My head is cloudless and my snooze button redundant. In fact, I feel clearer and more alert for many days following, until I visit Anna again. By which time I’ve made conscious changes to my lifestyle, like cutting down on alcohol and drinking more water.
Following a third session in ensuing weeks I’m still reaping the benefits. And with Anna’s mantra ‘to create healthy habits’ buzzing in my brain, I’m on my way to becoming as exuberantly excited about life as she is.
Integrated Medical Centre
43 New Cavendish Street
London W1G 9TH
Tel: 020 7224 5111