Welcome to the colonic section... but first a quick piece of advice for those thinking of a colonics as part of a liver flush plan.

We receive many requests for colon hydrotherapy in conjunction with planned liver flushes. To minimise disappointment please book your colon hydrotherapy appointment before organising your liver flush.  We are rarely available at short notice for new patient appointments. 


The Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists (ARCH) was founded in 1987 and has, since that time, become the lead organisation in this field of health care with members throughout the UK and Eire.

It is important to stress that, somewhat surprisingly, anyone can call themselves a colon hydrotherapist; and not all colon hydrotherapists are registered with a governing association overseeing quality of training, continued professional development, premises standards and publishing codes of practice.

We at the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic believe that this is frustrating for the public. Therefore being committed to providing the highest quality of care, Hamish, as the colon hydrotherapist working at the clinic, is fully registered with ARCH and has been since 2001, having trained in 2000.

ARCH and its members are regulated under government guidelines set out by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

The purpose of the CNHC Register is to enhance public safety, by giving the general public access to a list of complementary therapy practitioners that have been assessed as meeting national standards of competence and practice.

A link to the CNHC and ARCH websites can be found via the links above where you can access much useful information about its members, regulations, natural medicine, colon hydrotherapy and the Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists.

We know that choosing the right clinic and practitioner is a very important decision. To help make your choice a little easier we have listed some of our feedback on these pages.


The Colon Hydrotherapy setup at the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic with an en-suit bathroom for your exclusive use before and after treatment.

What is Colonic Hydrotherapy?

Colon hydrotherapy (colonics) is a safe, effective method for cleansing the colon of waste material.  The procedure is very simple; the colon is repeatedly flushed with warm filtered water at low pressure which, when released, brings out with it any loose and impacted debris and toxic material.  The water is introduced and released via a small sterile tube inserted into the rectum to a depth of two inches (5cm).   The procedure is not painful or uncomfortable provided that a few basic rules are followed by a competent practitioner.  The procedure itself lasts approximately 45 minutes.

The Treatment.

At the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic the procedure of colonic hydrotherapy forms a vital part of a much wider naturopathic treatment. Over a course of treatments many aspects of your health and lifestyle will be discussed.Encouragement, combined with simple practical and personalised advice, will be given enabling you to maximise your unique potential. Nutrition will play a important role in this process, as will many other aspects naturopathic health advice including detoxification and functional testing. This may initially sound daunting but underlying all the advice is the principle of sustainability with the ultimate goal of you becoming independently and enjoyably healthy.

The following is taken from the website of The Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists (ARCH):

Many people have pre-conceived ideas about Colonic Hydrotherapy (also known as colonic irrigation). Our aim is to explain how the treatment is performed and to give you some idea whether or not it is something you would wish to undertake.

Colon Hydrotherapy is not a new treatment. In fact, it was used in hospitals until recent times when it was replaced by strong purgatives which are used for emptying the bowel before procedures or for treating faecal impaction.

The colonic treatment stimulates bowel activity by using the body's natural nerve and muscular response mechanisms, so is essentially a natural treatment. Laxatives are used to initiate a response by acting in different ways, such as by irritation or reversing the osmotic gradient.

By using the body's natural nerve and muscular activity colonic hydrotherapy may help to tone and exercise the bowel, thus aiding the evacuation of waste both during and after treatment.

Colonic treatment is used as a naturopathic modality and clients who choose this treatment include those who suffer from various bowel conditions. One of the best things about colonic hydrotherapy is that the benefits of the treatment are very personal to the client. This means that as a client you will know how you feel after the treatment. You won't need to be influenced by anyone else.

Many people report an improvement in symptoms, and choose to have colonic hydrotherapy on a regular basis. Others wish to experience one treatment to see what it is like. In an ARCH survey, 96% of people consulting an ARCH practitioner would recommend the treatment. This shows an extremely high level of satisfaction.

As a professional organisation our therapists will not make claims to cure chronic conditions.

What is involved?

You do not need to make any special changes to your diet or lifestyle before a treatment, however many people choose to have a treatment when embarking upon a new health regime.

As registered, professional therapists, we are used to people feeling nervous, especially before a first treatment. Part of our job is to put you at ease and ensure you are comfortable having your treatment.

At your first appointment your therapist will take a full medical case history, and will explain the procedure and treatment process to you. Do not hesitate to ask any questions.

A brief rectal exam must be carried out and then the speculum is gently introduced 1.5 inches (4cm) into the rectum. This procedure should not be painful. If you feel any pain or discomfort please inform your therapist.

An inlet and outlet tube are attached to the outside of the speculum to provide a through-flow of water going in and water and waste going out. The waste is piped away, and since the whole system is closed, there is no odour.

After lying on your left side to allow the speculum to be gently inserted, your therapist will ask you to turn onto your back.  To assist elimination of waste and gas pockets your therapist may use gentle abdominal massage techniques.

Sometimes herbal infusions are used during a colonic treatment and a probiotic (friendly bacteria) implant may be given afterwards if indicated. Again your therapist will discuss your treatment with you during the session.

How much water is used?

Every treatment is individual, but as a guide we estimate around 60 litres of filtered water is used per treatment. However, only small amounts of water are allowed to enter the bowel at any one time. The water acts as a stimulant to tell the bowel it is full, and the bowel muscle responds by contracting and eliminating waste matter and the water. It acts in the same way as when your bowel is full normally and you have the feeling you want to go to the toilet.

The water pressure is carefully controlled and is in fact lower than is normally generated during a bowel movement.

In all the colonic treatment takes around 30-45 minutes on the couch. (See FAQ's below for further information.)

How many treatments are necessary?

Your therapist will discuss with you your individual motivation for deciding to have a colonic treatment. People have different reason for having a treatment so you will be treated as an individual. An ARCH therapist will never pressurise anyone to have more treatments than are desired or necessary. As a professional organisation our therapists are trained to the highest standards and we will always give you our best advice.

Is colonic hydrotherapy safe?

Yes. Since they are not self administered but conducted by an ARCH therapist they have a proven record of safety and are effective. The filtered water is administered at low pressure so there is no danger of bowel perforation. All equipment used is either disposable or sterilised using hospital-approved sterliants or regularly serviced autoclaves.

All our therapists are trained to ARCH standards having undergone practical application training along with practical and written exams. The colonic schools that teach to ARCH standards are independently audited. ARCH members are required to undergo continuing professional development and keep up to date with relevant legislation. Furthermore, from 2010, all ARCH therapists are independently regulated by the government recognised CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council) to give you further confidence.

Are there any circumstances when a colonic treatment cannot be performed?

Yes, there are conditions where a colonic treatment would not be undertaken.

These include conditions such as active infections, active inflammation (for example, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, etc) a painful fissure or painful haemorrhoids. In such cases treatment cannot be carried out until they are healed or in remission.

Some diseases such as congestive heart disease, severe uncontrolled hypertension, severe anaemia, liver cirrhosis, kidney disease, severe haemorrhaging and colo-rectal carcinoma are absolute contra-indications to treatment as are some physical conditions such as severe abdominal or inguinal hernias which cannot be easily reduced.

If you as a client, or our therapists, are in any doubt, we will refer you to your G.P for advice.

Treatments are also not performed during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and not at all during complicated pregnancies.

We always take a full case history before commencing a treatment. If there is any doubt we will refer you to your G.P.

The Colon

The colon, also known as the large intestine or large bowel is part of the digestive system. It is located at the end of the digestive tract in the abdominal cavity. It is divided into several regions. The appendix, caecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and the rectum. The anus acts as a valve under voluntary control.

The function of the colon is to re-absorb digestive juices, water soluble salts and bile back into the blood stream and thence to the liver. It also stores food and other bodily waste products until elimination. The colon acts as host for vast numbers of beneficial bacteria, these bacteria help us with various tasks including immunity to infection, regulation of cholesterol levels, production of a number of vitamins and maintain a healthy colon.

Most diagrams of the bowel show an idealised picture, whereas in reality the length, shape and position vary immensely.

The length is variable and can be anything from around 3 to 11 feet. The path it follows may be very bendy and can have many loops. For some people it may be that they have inherited a very long bowel which slows down transit time and can cause constipation problems.

The bowel structure is made of smooth muscle, which is different from ordinary (skeletal) muscle tissue in so much as it works under the autonomic (or automatic) nervous system. This means we have no conscious control over it. Once we have chewed and swallowed our food, the rest of the digestive process is done for us, until it is time to evacuate our bowel which is partly autonomic, and partly voluntary.

What we eat and how often we eat, influences how often we empty our bowel. It is expected that we will go to the toilet for a bowel movement at least once every 24 hours. Inability to empty the bowel regularly can lead to constipation and people may feel bloated and uncomfortable as a consequence.

Sometimes the colon may become tight (spastic) or go into spasm which is a feature of irritable bowel syndrome. Although the colon muscle is different from skeletal muscles it can still suffer from cramp which can be very painful. The symptoms of an irritable bowel are wide and varied but range from constipation to diarrhoea along with irregular defecation and incomplete evacuation.

The colon forms an important part of the elimination system of the body and waste from the alimentary tract, the lymphatic system and bloodstream are collected prior to excretion. It is therefore important to have a healthy and properly functioning colon in order to help the overall balance of the body.



What is Colonic Hydrotherapy?

Also known as colonic irrigation, colonic, colon lavage or high colonic, Colonic Hydrotherapy is a safe, effective method of cleansing the colon of waste material by gentle, repeated flushing with water.

What is the colon

The colon, large intestine or bowel is situated in the abdomen and forms the last part of the digestive tract (the food carrying passageway extending from the mouth to the anus).  It includes the caecum and appendix, the ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon, the rectum and the anus (see diagram on inside front cover). The colon is approximately 5 feet long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

An extremely important organ in its own right, the colon and its resident trillions of bacteria also carry out a number of vital functions pertaining to the health of your whole body. These include the completion of the digestive process involving absorption of water-soluble nutrients, the synthesis of valuable nutrients such as vitamin K, short chain fatty acids and portions of the vitamin B complex, energy production and immunity provision.

The colon is a major part of the excretory system, (which also includes the kidneys, liver, lungs and the skin) and is responsible for eliminating food and other bodily wastes.  The healthy colon provides an important role in protecting us from infection and disease.  In a normal functioning colon, this is achieved with the help of approximately one hundred trillion friendly bacteria, which inhabit the colon and make up some 70% of the dry weight of our faecal waste. The colon is principally controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system, a branch of the nervous system which controls resting, relaxing, rebuilding and digestive functions.

However, the delicate balance of this internal ecosystem can very easily be disturbed by a number of factors including stress, pollution, poor food and drink choices, certain medications, including antibiotics, smoking, exposure to toxic substances and food preservatives.

What is the purpose of having a colonic?

Waste material can build up in our colon and the muscular action of the colon can be diminished resulting in constipation and inadequate bowel movements. 
Whilst our body is very well adapted and able to deal with the consequences of our modern lifestyle, sometimes the delicate balance can be affected by diet, stress and health. This doesn’t just apply to our colon, and we are not suggesting that a colonic is the answer to all health issues.
We always encourage a healthy balanced diet along with rest and exercise as the basis towards good health. 
It is a fact however, that many people suffer with bowel problems and there are many drugs that are regularly used to treat symptoms of bowel problems.
Colonic Hydrotherapy is an effective way of removing waste matter by using the gentle introduction of water into the bowel which stimulates the muscle to contract thus emptying itself.

As the colon isn’t the only organ of elimination, what makes the colonic treatment so important?

The colon is part of the body’s excretory system. The other excretory organs, i.e. the lungs, skin, and kidneys are important and work together and have different functions to eliminate toxins. For example, our lungs need clean fresh air and regular exercise to function properly. It is the job of our colon to be able to excrete waste efficiently and absorb water and salts properly. Water is important for proper functioning of the kidneys and to keep us hydrated and to cleanse blood, as well as being the major constituent of most cells. The liver, as an organ of detoxification is also closely linked to the bowel through veins.

Why not use enemas, suppositories or laxatives instead?

Everything has its proper place. Many people take pain killers and then become constipated or being away from home or on holiday can upset the natural rhythm of our bowel movements. Laxatives can be useful for relieving the symptoms of temporary constipation.
Enemas are useful for emptying the rectum, (the lowest 8-12 inches of the colon) usually 1-2 pints of water are used to do that. Suppositories are also used to accomplish the same task.
Colonic Hydrotherapy has the ability to release waste from all areas of the colon. Robert Gray M.D. estimated one colonic treatment is equivalent to thirty enemas.

What makes a colonic so special?

During a 45 minute session around 60 litres of filtered water is used to gently flush the colon. Your therapist will take time to discuss with you any particular issues or problems you may have and give you information on any diet or lifestyle changes that may help you. A colonic treatment will help to empty your colon, and may be used as one way of helping your bowel function. They will also advise you if you may need to consider other adjustments in order to help.

How can I tell if I would benefit from a colonic?

The best way to find out is to experience a treatment and see how you feel afterwards. 
Colonics are very safe and gentle. There is no reason why you would not be able to have a treatment unless you have any contra-indications.

Is a colonic painful?

Very rarely there is more than a minor and transient discomfort experienced by some people. ARCH therapists will be able to put you at ease and answer any of your concerns. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, please tell your therapist. Occasionally the colon may contract and give a colicky sensation but such episodes are usually brief and easily tolerated.

Is it embarrassing to have a colonic?

No, you will fully maintain your dignity at all times. You will be in a private room with your therapist who fully appreciates the sensitivity of the colonic procedure and will help you feel relaxed and at ease. Your emotions and feelings will be acknowledged and honoured. After the gentle insertion of the speculum into the rectum, you are completely covered. The mess and odour that some people envisage, and sometimes present during an enema does not happen since the whole system is enclosed and any gas simply comes away as bubbles in the wastewater.

Is there anything I need to do to get ready for a colonic?

We would recommend you eat and drink lightly a couple of hours before a treatment, but essentially you need make no adjustments to your normal routine. You do not need to fast.

What can I expect afterwards?

Generally speaking as soon as your treatment is completed you can carry on with your normal routine. Occasionally some people may have more bowel movements over the next few hours, but there shouldn’t be any uncontrollable urgency or discomfort.

If colonics are so good why haven’t I heard about them before?

Historically, artefacts and records show that people have regularly purified their bodies, including cleansing the colon. Around the turn of the 20th century, the present day colonic equipment was developed. Up to the late 20's many doctors had colonic systems in their surgeries and similar equipment was found in hospitals too. Articles dealing with colon health frequently appeared in prestigious medical and scientific journals until the early 1930's. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in alternative therapies as a natural approach to health and colonics has regained popularity.

Are colonic dangerous in any way?

Being an essentially natural process, there is virtually no danger with a colonic. Our intent is to provide a safe, healthy and worry free service. Cleaning and sterilization of the necessary equipment is done as a standard procedure and clean linen or gowns are used for each treatment.

Are colonics habit forming?

No. A colon therapist who is dedicated to your health, will encourage you to set a goal of having a well-functioning colon. It may take a little while before your next bowel movement after a good colonic. This is when people think they are becoming "dependent" on colonics since it may take some time for faecal material to occupy the colon once again. Dietary and lifestyle changes may be necessary to ensure long lasting and vital health.

Will a colonic make me constipated or give me diarrhoea?

The most frequent post-colonic experience is to have a slight delay in bowel movements and then a resumption of a somewhat larger, easier to move stool. Sometimes there may be no bowel movement for some days following a colonic. However this is quite normal and should be interpreted as such. Very infrequently diarrhoea or loose bowels may be experienced. If this should occur, it is usually of very short duration. If you are at all concerned do contact your therapist.

Suppose I have been suffering from constipation for a long time, will colonics help?

In many cases constipation can be successfully treated with natural, harmless techniques, including the use of colonics. There are three factors involved in having a well functioning colon: diet & hydration, exercise and emotions. All three must be balanced for the colon to function well. The process of Colonic Hydrotherapy is an aid for cleansing and healing the colon sufficiently so that changes in diet, exercise, and attitude are then able to manifest the desired results. Many people find the relief provided by colonics inspires motivation and enthusiasm to institute positive changes in their lifestyle.

Some people say that colonics wash out intestinal flora and valuable nutrients. Is this so?

Good bacteria can only breed in a balanced environment. It also stands to reason that valuable nutrients can better be absorbed in a clean environment than in a putrefied one. The important bowel bacteria are present on the bowel wall and are not removed during Colonic Hydrotherapy treatment, thus leaving a large nucleus to grow naturally. If your bowel bacteria are out of balance, your therapist may implant a pro-biotic after treatment and/or recommend a course of probiotic treatment.

What effect does Colonic Hydrotherapy have on our immune systems?

Recent European studies speculate that 80% of immune tissue resides in the intestines. Colon Hydrotherapy is not a cure-all, but an adjunctive therapy in the overall health care of the client.

How long does a colonic take?

Probably 90% of all colonics take about 45 minutes. It could also be shorter or longer than that, based upon the judgment of the therapist and your individual wishes. Additional time will be required before the colonic for the therapist to go over your medical history, and around 15 minutes should be allowed for changing. At a first colonic appointment you should expect to spend an hour and a half at the clinic.

Is there a special kind of water used for Colonic Hydrotherapy?

We use drinking quality water meeting E.U. standards. The water is then further filtered before being warmed to the correct temperature.

Will it be okay to eat after having a colonic?

We suggest that you eat at your normal meal time, and consume a moderate amount of whatever seems gentle and nourishing to you. Just as it doesn't make sense to have you car cleaned and then immediately drive it through mud, eating a meal known to cause trouble in your abdomen directly after a colonic isn't an intelligent choice. Steamed or cooked vegetables, salads, vegetable soups or broths, fruit, or juices are the best choice.

Will one colonic completely empty the colon?

This will depend on many factors and will vary from one person to another. Everyone has different reasons for having a treatment so this will depend upon your personal objectives and can be discussed with your therapist.

How will I know when the colon is empty?

It will probably never be completely empty, as it is an organ in continuous use. The objective should not be an empty colon, but rather a well functioning colon.

Will a colonic clear up my skin?

Your skin actually "breathes" and is an important organ of elimination of waste material. Sometimes, if the colon, liver or kidneys are functioning poorly, the skin will suffer. As elimination is accomplished through its proper channels, the skin will very often clear up.

How expensive is a colonic?

At the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic the initial consultation, which includes an appropriate naturopathic consultation and colon hydrotherapy treatment (sceduled for 2hrs 15 minutes in total with the colonics lasting approximatly 45 minutes), is currently £70 and follow up treatments are £60. If you are intested please follow this link to our full Fees section and information about the clinic's deposit system.

If you have any further questions please give the clinic a call and we will be happy to answer your questions.  Please leave a message if you can't get through and we will call you back as soon as we can.