5 Myths Surrounding Enemas, Debunked - Men's Health Magazine Australia

5 Myths Surrounding Enemas, Debunked

Got the bloating blues? Struggling with your number two’s?

As a colon Hydrotherapist, bloating and constipation are two of the most common symptoms we treat every single day. IBS now affects more than 1 in 4 people, and constipation will impact nearly everyone at some point in their life. But if you’re like most people and you don’t have a lot of gut health experience, it can be confusing to know what to do. Chances are you’ve googled “constipation relief” or “how to get rid of bloating” and come across enemas.

Now, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding enema use so it is important to note that there are two different types:

Fleets Enemas: A pharmacy staple, this is a one-time use 133ml laxative solution you squirt into your bum to soften and release whatever is sitting in the lowest part of your sigmoid colon and rectum. They are chemical-based and have very little effect considering your colon is about two meters long. These are not recommended for regular use, in fact we don’t advise them at all. Fleet enemas can cause dependency in the bowel.

Gravity Enemas: Uses a 2 litre silicone enema bag (or similar) to introduce purified water or other natural therapeutic solutions into the colon via your rectum. This is the most traditional form of colon cleansing and has been used for centuries. Gravity enemas can reach the entire descending colon and works by hydrating and softening the hardened waste matter. This process removes trapped gas and stimulates the colon muscles to move themselves which stimulates a large evacuation when you sit on the toilet afterwards.

I believe a gravity water enema is the best, non-toxic, immediate solution for constipation and bloating you can find. And cost effective at that! A silicone enema bag when properly cared for can last you for years.

Gravity enemas have been used for thousands of years across all traditional cultures, with the first medical records dating back to ancient Egyptians in 1500BCE. Prior to the introduction of pharmaceuticals, during the 1920’s and 1930’s gravity enemas were common practice in hospitals worldwide for constipation.

So why have these miracle constipation workers been given such a bad rap? It’s no secret there is an abundance of crappy medical advice and misinformation on the internet, but enemas seem to get thrown a lot of shade due to their taboo nature. To put you at ease, let’s debunk of the most common myths surrounding enemas!

Having personally done thousands of my own gravity enemas over 15 years (most days when I suffered with extreme constipation) I can personally assure you all of the below are completely false. Of course, this goes without saying but… enemas should be used with common sense and as directed.

5 myths about enemas

1. Enemas are messy

The image that comes to mind when you picture putting water up your bum and what comes out after isn’t pretty. But although it sounds like an explosive clean up job, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! If you don’t normally suffer from incontinence, you should make it to the toilet in plenty of time. With a gravity enema you control the speed of the flow and can stop the water coming in at any time. The tip forms a nice seal, so leakage is minimal if any and experienced users have it down to an art! Your toilet bowl will need a good scrub but you can put the hazmat suit away.

2. Enemas cause bowel laziness

Quite the opposite! Doing an enema is like a workout for your colon. By stimulating the colon to move and removing excess compaction that is blocking the way, enemas allow for better movement of waste through the passageway. Regular enemas can also help the body create more regular bowel movement patterns.

3. Enemas are Painful

Constipation is painful. Enemas are simply a gentle infusion of gravity fed water (or other therapeutic solution) into the colon via the rectum. They actually make it more comfortable for hard poo’s to exit and can minimise built up pressure. It may feel a little strange at first but mostly it just feels like you need to do a big poo. You can handle that! Especially considering you’re likely suffering with chronic gut discomfort anyways. Don’t worry about the insert either, the most comparable feeling is sticking a tampon up your bum. No big deal. Considering the instant relief that follows from the release on the toilet, it’s well worth it!

4. Enemas will cause bowel perforation

The pressure from your gravity fed enema is far too low to cause any sort of bowel perforation. Although each person is slightly different, the pressure from most enemas remains below 0.5 PSI (which when the water goes in just feels like you need to have a bowel movement).

Colonoscopies inflate your colon with gas up to 4 times that, which is deemed medically safe while you are under general anaesthesia. If your colon can withstand a colonoscopy, it can tolerate a bit of gentle water coming through from a gravity feed. The soft silicone tip inserted sits only about two inches inside the rectum and never actually gets in far enough to touch the colon walls.

5. Enemas cause electrolyte imbalances

Although a unique theory, have you ever had an electrolyte imbalance after doing a large bowel movement? Considering the copious amounts of alcohol people drink with no regard for their hydration or electrolyte levels, you don’t need to start when it comes to enemas.

Enemas use purified water to stimulate a bowel movement but most of the water is not actually absorbed. One enema will not cause an electrolyte imbalance, but you should be well hydrated when using them. If you are truly concerned about your electrolytes simply add a pinch of rock salt to your water after.

No one should have to live with constipation, IBS or constant bloating, and the portability of an enema kit makes it the perfect companion for at home or travel. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be pro in no time. The other benefit of enemas is that you get instant relief!

Water in, everything else out. Faster and more effective than any laxative

Kyah is a Colon Hydrotherapist at Bayside Colonics.

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