My first colonic irrigation: A noob puts the unconventional treatment to the test
Here’s what happened.
If articles had readership ratings the way films do, this one would be rated ‘M’ for mature readers only. And who aren’t eating anything when they’re reading this.
Because, gentle reader, the topic for today’s article is colonic irrigation, a subject that ‒ despite the vast reams of serious medical literature advising against it ‒ is near and dear to legions of hypochondriacs and wellness junkies the world over.
For the uninitiated, the Mayo Clinic website ‒ practically a bible for the hypochondriacs amongst us ‒ says a colonic cleanse is “normally used as preparation for medical procedures such as a colonoscopy. However, some alternative medicine practitioners offer colon cleansing for other purposes, such as detoxification…During a colon cleanse, large amounts of water — sometimes up to 60 litres — and possibly other substances, such as herbs or coffee, are flushed through the colon. This is done using a tube that's inserted into the rectum.”
Which sounds vaguely promising, especially if the whole point of sticking what’s essentially a miniature water fountain up the wazoo is, to quote one of the many articles on the subject on Goop, to clear “the toxins of modern day life”.
Which is how on a recent visit to the Philippines to the fancy The Farm at San Benito, I found myself lying on my back on what was basically a plastic reclining sun-bed that just happened to have a big hole in the middle. It’s the kind of toilet that would appeal to a very lazy person for whom the idea of doing a number two while lying down is pure heaven. Except in this contraption, my hips and legs ‒ thankfully, covered by a cotton sheet to protect one’s modesty ‒ were also hiked up like I was having a pelvic exam at a gynaecologist’s. Which, if you’re a man, is a very weird sensation to be experiencing.
“I feel like I’m about to give birth!” I complained to Lulu, my attending nurse.
She rolled her eyes. “Giving birth is a hundred times worse than this!” said the mother of four, as she gently inserted a small, short lubricated plastic tube up said wazoo that, in turn, was connected to the water tank.
At The Farm, the colonic involves coffee though chamomile tea is also an option. I feel like you could write jokes all day about the spa’s choice of rectal beverages, but apparently, coffee is great because it helps mask the odour.
Anyway, I dutifully obeyed Lulu’s instructions. Within seconds of the coffee solution beginning its drip, my bowels started to cramp, at which point, I was encouraged to push out the crap. As it were. The whole process ‒ cramp, push, cramp, push ‒ repeated itself for about 20 minutes and the entire time, Lulu sat by my side, rubbing my tummy to encourage the evacuation process, and chatting like we were just two good friends gossiping over tea and scones on a Tuesday afternoon.
Needless to say, the whole thing was mortifyingly embarrassing. At least, it was for the first 10 minutes. At one stage, I told her that whatever The Farm was paying her to do this job, it wasn’t enough.
“I do about eight of these a day,” she replied, possibly to subtly tell me that there was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. I did my mental maths. Assuming she took weekends off, that’s over 2,000 colonics a year. And once I got my head around that, I stopped caring that I was actually doing a number two literally in front of a complete stranger.
“Keep pushing!” Lulu exclaimed as she peeked at the waste container. “My goodness, it’s still coming! Where have you been hiding all this?”
“Really?” I asked, interested in spite of myself. “But I just went this morning before coming here!”
Lulu sniffed. “Stuff can sit in your digestive tract for years and years! I had a client who pushed out five corn kernels. And she said the last time she had corn had been six months before!”
A thoughtful silence descended on the room as I turned the image over in my mind. “Lulu sifted through the soupy debris and counted?” I asked myself. As my eyes drifted to the floor-to-ceiling glass wall that looked out onto a charming vista of towering tropical foliage, banana trees and dripping vines, I imagined she was probably thinking of what she was going to cook for dinner.
And then, just like that, it was over. I was taken aback. Apart from the brief, intermittent cramps, the whole procedure had been surprisingly clinical and non-eventful, and somehow, there had been no smell at all. Not even of coffee.
A quick rinse with a hand-held hose under the modesty sheet and I was off to the en-suite bathroom and told to sit on the toilet for a couple of minutes to evacuate the rest of the coffee solution. I showered, and when I emerged from the bathroom, everything had been cleaned up and dressed for the next patient. All trace of my mortification was gone. It was as if the CIA and their cold-eyed cleaners had swooped in to clear the bodies after the routine assassination of a Third World drug lord.
As I sat in the recovery room, with a warm compress pressed on the belly, chewing on electrolyte pills and sipping herbal tea, Lulu passed by. “Not so bad, right?” she said cheerfully.
I was careful not to look her in the eye, though I did feel lighter both physically and emotionally and, oddly, refreshed. And a little hungry. As I got up and made my way out of the clinic to head towards The Farm vegan restaurant, I reminded myself to stay away from the corn.
Always check with your doctor before you sign up for any form of colonic irrigation. This personal experience should not be substituted for advice from your own healthcare professional.
A holistic medical wellness resort, The Farm at San Benito offers a range of colonic irrigations, with prices starting from PHP7,000 (S$170). The writer was a guest of the resort.