Colonic Irrigation vs. Enema


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Colonic irrigations and enemas are very similar procedures, however, an enema is done at home (a do-it-yourself process) where as a colonic irrigation is performed by a professional therapist.

What is an enema?

Like in colonic irrigation, in enemas, water is directed into the rectum to clean the bowels of built-up toxins and waste products. People tend to use enemas to treat the same conditions as in colonic irrigation, such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Enemas sometimes contain herbs, which are generally safe, however if you are pregnant or nursing you should avoid certain herbs, including:

  • Aloe Vera – This herb is included in enemas due to it being good at cleansing the colon. It also helps tackle infections, which may be on the colon walls causing bowel problems. Many people have enemas with aloe vera if they suffer from constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as it can help regulate bowel movements. The properties of aloe vera also mean that anal inflammation can be soothed as the colon is being cleaned. It has been claimed that aloe vera is a good addition when cleaning the colon of a child as it can ward off side effects.
  • Barberry – This herb is an antiseptic as well as a blood purifier (it can help remove toxins from the blood). Barberry is commonly used in enemas for the relief of constipation. It also aids the functioning of the liver and gall bladder whilst destroying the harmful bacteria that accumulate in the colon.
  • Juniper and juniper oil – The addition of oils in enemas, such as juniper oil, are often used to relieve constipation. Junipers itself is an antiseptic herb that is possibly best known for use to make the urinary system healthier. It is generally an included ingredient in enemas to ease digestion, relieve indigestion and help prevent diarrhoea and wind (excessive).
  • Mistletoe – Enemas containing mistletoe are not especially common. If they are used, it is often as an alternate “treatment” for colon cancer.
  • Liferoot – This herb is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, therefore, it is frequently used in enemas to remove harmful bacteria from the colon safely. However, it may also rid the body of some natural, good bacteria that are there to benefit the body.
  • Mugwort – This herb is often used in the enema mixture to aid the removal of worms from the bowel. These are a problem for numerous people and mugwort has been shown to have beneficial properties in terms of removing them from the body.
  • Southernwood – This particular herb should be especially avoided if pregnant as it causes premature uterine contractions and can occasionally lead to birth defects. You should also avoid having a enema containing southernwood while you are breast feeding.
  • Wormwood – This herb is beneficial as a stimulant for the bowels. It helps digestion whilst encouraging gastric secretions. Wormwood is often included in enemas to ease excess wind and aid digestion. Also, if you suffer from intestinal worms, this herb is supposed to be a very good remedy to rid the body of them effectively.

These are just a selection of the many herbs you should not have in an enema if you are pregnant or nursing, many of them can cause the onset of premature uterine contractions. You should also note that there has been no scientific study into exactly how safe enemas are in pregnant or nursing women, therefore, there are risks.

Colonic Irrigation vs. Enema

There are numerous differences between colonic irrigation and enemas, such as:

  • Cost – As you perform enemas on yourself at home, they are considerably cheaper as all you need to purchase is the equipment (which is reusable). Contrastingly, a professional performs a colonic irrigation and so you must pay for their time and services, which is significantly more expensive.
  • Skill – A trained professional, who is aware of what they are doing and the consequences of doing it wrong, performs colonic irrigation. However, with an enema, you may accidently cause harm to your body, as you are not trained in the profession.
  • Result – The actual results achieved are the same with both colonic irrigation and an enema. However, the outcomes are accomplished much quicker with colonic irrigation as more water is used and more flushing is done to remove the waste. With enemas, the results appear more gradually over time (depending on how often you do it).
  • Convenience – Many deem enemas as being more convenient than colonic irrigation as it means not time must be spent booking the treatment and travelling to the clinic. This further affects costs as less fuel is used. However, in terms of the treatment itself, colonics are probably more appropriate for many as it is easier to allow a professional to do the work. If you are performing an enema on yourself, you must be able to stretch your arms to the correct position and co-ordinate your movements correctly with limited vision of what you are doing.
  • Knowledge – The majority of people are unaware of how to actually perform an enema on themselves. This can lead to a higher risk factor of causing damage to your body. On a less serious note, if you are not sure of how to perform an enema, you may not obtain the results desired. It has also been deemed as posing a chance of becoming addictive if used to often and/or incorrectly or may cause you to become psychologically dependent on the enema to cause bowel movement. There is a greatly reduced risk of this if instead you choose to have a colonic irrigation treatment given by a professionally trained therapist.
  • Muscle strengthening – It is known that colonic irrigation is rather effective in strengthening the colon muscles. Even if performed correctly and well, enemas do not have the same strengthening effect.
  • Amount of water used – Often, not much water is used in one enema; this may be due to the user not really knowing how much they should use, or because of fear and/or discomfort. Whatever the reason, it often means that more than one enema each day would be required to pump the same amount of water as one session of colonic irrigation. It has been noted that a colonic is often the equivalent to 6 or 7 enemas.

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