Colonic Vs Enema: What's The Difference?

Colon cleansing has become popular in recent years. One of the main reasons is the growing awareness of the importance of gut health in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. The colon is an essential part of the digestive system, and a healthy colon is crucial for proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste (via the National Cancer Institute).

Although scientific evidence is limited, many people believe that toxins and waste products can accumulate in the colon over time, leading to various health problems and chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and arthritis. According to this philosophy, colon cleansing is a way to flush out these toxins and promote weight loss, boost immunity, and even enhance mental clarity. These claims have led to an increased interest in colon cleansing among people seeking alternative or complementary therapies for various health conditions.

Colonic irrigation and enema are two different methods used to cleanse the colon or large intestine — in other words, they both aim to remove fecal matter and toxins from the colon, per D'Avignon Digestive Health Centre. However, there are key differences between the two.

Colonic and enema: How are they administered?

Colonic irrigation, also known as colonic hydrotherapy, is a medical procedure that involves the insertion of a tube through the rectum and into the colon. Fluids (around 60 liters) are then pumped into the rectum to flush out fecal matter, per the Mayo Clinic. The water may contain other substances, such as herbs or coffee, to help promote colon health. The process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and is typically done in multiple sessions, explains the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists.

On the other hand, an enema involves fluid injections into the colon to stimulate bowel movements and flush out fecal matter. There are two main types of enema: large-volume and small-volume, according to WebMD. As the name suggests, large-volume enemas involve administering a larger amount of fluid, typically between 500 ml to 1000 ml or more, to clean out larger parts of the colon and relieve constipation. On the other hand, small-volume enemas involve administering a smaller amount of fluid, typically between 60 ml to 250 ml, to clear the lower colon. Other types of enema include oil retention, return flow, and cooling enema. Generally speaking, enemas are typically self-administered and can be done in the privacy of one's home.

What are the key differences between the two methods?

Although both colonics and enemas are used for the same purpose, they differ in how they are administered, the volume of water used, and the duration of the treatment. Colonics use a much larger volume of water, typically around 60 liters, while enemas use a much smaller volume of liquid.

While both colonic irrigation and enemas can help to remove waste from the colon, they are not without risks. Colonic irrigation, in particular, carries a risk of infection, electrolyte imbalance, and bowel perforation if not performed by a trained professional, warns Healthline. Enemas can also be dangerous if not done correctly and can cause rectal damage or irritation, per Healthline. In addition, some enema solutions like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are too acidic and might irritate the stomach. Generally speaking, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before undergoing any colon cleansing procedure.