After a morning yoga class which consisted of slow stretches and bends that are specially sequenced to stimulate the colon, I took a class that detailed how to detox everything from our diets to our homes. (Apparently, PureWow’s “no outside clothes on the bed” post is a thing.) I was getting the idea that this colonic hydrotherapy might have gained traction in the pre-Ozempic days for dependably fast weight loss, but that its enduring appeal—many guests return annually—has more to do with overall health than with external beauty. By the afternoon, after a half-cup of mixed vegetable and fruit juices, some tea and a shake with a high percentage of psyllium husk (a natural laxative), I was ready for my second hydrocolonic session.
Today’s therapist really spilled the tea, telling me that sometimes people brought husbands or boyfriends along, but didn’t tell them until they arrived at the property about the daily deep enemas, so that basically they were ambushed by the butt wand. The process was more “productive” today, so I kept my therapist talking to keep my mind off the intense movement going on in my stomach.
“People have coffee in the morning and they poop, so they say ‘I’m regular,’ but really it’s a fake poop,” she exclaimed, as she adjusted the tube to release some built-up air.
“A pantomime of poop!” I replied. She explained that even though caffeine stimulates peristalsis (that’s the name for involuntary reflexes of the intestines), it’s not a natural occurrence, but merely one that’s a product of a chemical, caffeine. (I’d been deadly worried about getting a soda-withdrawal caffeine headache while detoxing, but a small half-caffeinated yerba mate tea was on offer, so that I could replace my usual daily fix.)
A word about the history of this rear-end rigamarole: Written descriptions date as far back as 1,500 B.C., and enemas were known in ancient Sumeria, Babylonia, India, Greece and China. Shakespeare wrote about them. King Louis XIV supposedly had thousands in his lifetime. And Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, besides inventing cornflakes and innovating the modern American health spa, wrote in a 1917 issue of the Journal of American Medicine about how diet, exercise and cleansing the bowels were more effective than surgery in treating gastrointestinal disease.
So, it’s an old, old practice, even though today’s medical establishment pooh-poohs it. In 2009, a review in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that “there are no methodologically rigorous controlled trials of colonic cleansing to support the practice for general health promotion. Conversely, there are multiple case reports and case series that describe the adverse effects” including dehydration, risk of infection or a perforated bowel.