The Subtle Effects of Colonic Hydrotherapy
Colonic hydrotherapy is not just about cleansing the colon. It is about restoring the subconscious connection with our digestive process, strengthening the colonic muscles and restoring the natural rhythm to our bowel habits. Chronic constipation is not always about diet, nor is IBS always the result of food allergies. Instead we lead secret lives and ignore our body’s signals in order to socialize our bathroom habits. It’s time to bring the colon out of the closet. Colonic Hydrotherapy has drifted in and out of man’s perception as we have cycled between personal and impersonal approaches to health and wellness. Throughout history there have been periods of time where man was treated as part of a group, denying his individual nature and needs. During this time, colonic hydrotherapy declined as did many other types of treatments that required personalized healing time and attention. Now, treatment of the colon is quickly coming to the forefront of many medical and complementary views of healing. This may have a great deal to do with our developed lifestyles of convenience.
Our society is becoming a world of immediate gratification and convenience. Drive-through retail, 24 hour service, one-hour photo and quickie-marts are quickly becoming the defining factors of our daily routines. Within this psychological shift is the neglect of our bodies and the imposition of artificial schedules and demands on natural body rhythms. More and more people are experiencing digestive distress, chronic pain and irritable bowel issues. Not a surprise considering the number of people that eat in their car at a red light. We are constantly discussing nutrition, diet, cleansing, but when are we discussing the psychology of bowel function?
I believe that there are three reasons for this dramatic increase in bowel imbalances that are not addressed. These would account for the high incidence of Irritible Bowel Syndrome that remains untreated despite eliminating gluten, doing every cleanse on the shelf and even eating purely organic food. When do we discuss unresolved physical trauma, lifestyle bowel habits and the weakened somatic connections to the abdomen and colonic cavity? When we do, we will finally make progress in treating bowel disorders.
The time has come for us to be aware of the need for comprehensive therapy in treating our bodies. We are a very complex organism, threading the organizing element of mind throughout the entwined dependence of body systems. We must realize that every experience we have throughout our life, leaves an impression not just upon the mind, but upon our body structure as well. Every experience therefore necessitates, by the very nature of the experience, a reaction. A reaction that is based in the nervous system resulting in muscular movement which brings about changes not only in posture, but in comfort and energetic movement. These changes can be positive or negative, resulting in relaxed ease of movement or restricted painful limitations.
One of the key components of this shift is the movement of fascia. Fascia is a term for the layers of general connective tissue that underlie all epithelial tissue, and particularly form the connecting aspects of membranes in body cavities. It is particularly noticeable that twists and tensions in the fascia have pronounced effects on the muscular contractibility of the colon and the digestive tract in general. Since fascia is thixotropic in nature, the generation of muscular heat is essential for a smooth fluidic structure of the matrix of fascia. Without this, the fascia gels, stiffens and restricts muscular contraction, peristalsis and postural ease.
Many clients complain of pain during evacuation, chronic constipation and transitory abdominal discomfort. Many of these problems occur because of the restriction of abdominal fascia. This is particularly true if the patient has experienced injury or pain, causing fascia to reorganize itself along minute lines of tension in order to restore balance and lessen the pain. It also is common in people who work their abdominal musculature to such an extent that it is too tight to allow proper bowel movement. I have seen women so thin and muscular that they may look like the WWF girls, but they can’t go to the bathroom to save their lives. The muscles of their abdominal girdle prevents the expansion of the colon essential for its proper function.
The body shifts fascial tension and posture to accomodate the unchanging challenge to bowel function. These changes can also trap circulatory, neurological and osseous anatomical components, the effects of which can be devastating to the health of the colon, which is dependent on nerves and circulation for proper tissue nutrition and for removal of essential electrolytes. This pattern for many people, becomes the beginning of constipation and chronic pain.
This pattern can be exacerbated by our pre-existing life experience as well. All of our life experiences pattern the body in certain habitual forms and we react to future experiences based on the current pattern that we have developed for ourselves. In colonic hydrotherapy, we can see this pattern in each person’s approach to colon care. Many people have spent their lives training their bodies to evacuate in certain acceptable locations and situations. How many people will only go to the bathroom in their own homes, or shun public bathrooms because they don’t want anyone to hear them? I know one patient who was so disgusted by one public restroom that had attached rotating seat covers that she couldn’t allow herself to go. What is even worse is that these people are teaching their children to obey the same bowel habits, preventing them from going when they need to. How many mothers have told their child to wait to go to the bathroom because they were in the car, or it was inconvenient? Convenience has dictated not only our unhealthy approaches to diet and body awareness, but also to bowel habits.
Colonic hydrotherapy is not only a re-education of the natural colonic rhythm, but also of the psychological view of appropriate bowel function. Colonics teaches us to listen to our bodies’ needs and support our bodies’ natural rhythm. This is especially important because patterns are forming in the younger generation based on the habits and experiences of the older generation. Each person is passing on their view of bowel habits and natural rhythms to their children, for better or for worse.
There are many things that determine our development, since we are constantly in a state of change from the moment we are born until the time we die. The only thing that is constant in our life is change. The expression of our genetic makeup is shaped by our environment, our choices and our experience. In many of these instances, we are not even aware of our reaction or our development. Most of this expression and change is initiated through our tactile sense, through the power of touch. Infants in the earliest stages, learn about the world around them and about themselves by bumping against that very world and sensing the distinction between within and without. For we experience not just the touch, but the thing we touch or are touched by.
Without this essential method of earliest development, we cannot grow, change, experience. And as adults, many of us have limited our tactile senses allowing only controlled touch, many adults experiencing no touch at all. In the colonic hydrotherapy session, massage of the abdomen is an essential component to restore the lost connection between the mind and the abdomen. Many clients have distanced themselves from this essential area of digestion. Oftentimes women complain as they view their abdomen only as fat, forgetting all the essential functions that take place there. By utilizing massage therapy during the colonic session, we can bring their awareness to their digestion through this most fundamental pathway since infancy.
The loss of the connection with digestion also affects our reproductive health. Numerous women have unresolved structural issues with the positioning of their uterus (commonly referred to as a tipped uterus). This presses against the sigmoid area of the colon restricting evacuation. These are the women who develop constipation just before their period. As the uterus swells for the commencement of their period, it inhibits the space the sigmoid has to allow evacuation. Also, many women experience difficult PMS pain, bloating and other miserable symptoms that make them psychologically and emotionally distance themselves from their abdominal region. Even the act of evacuation produces pain based on the patterns of the nerves that ennervate the uterus. So chronic unresolved PMS pain can actually create similar pain with evacuation, simply by identification and habit.
Consequently, colonic hydrotherapy is much more than cleansing, much more than an hygienic approach to health. It is a chance to change the formation of fascial tension, bring about a healthy approach to colonic rhythm and provide a pathway to change at the deepest levels of the somatic and autonomic systems. Simple additions to therapy such as heated towels or compresses for fascial flexibility and increased abdominal massage for somatic connection, can make all the difference in the effectiveness of colonic hydrotherapy sessions. There are even therapies such as visceral manipulation that can restore the normal positioning of the uterus giving immediate relief from period pain and constipation.
By restoring a normalized rhythm to bowel evacuation, patients can begin to address the real issues that prevent natural and healthy bowel rhythm. And this renewal of the connection with their body’s most basic needs can bring added bonuses such as pain-free periods, better sleep patterns and even more energy.