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Colonic therapy popular around Ashland

When 25-year-old Sarah West first learned about colon hydrotherapy four years ago from a book by Richard Anderson, &

Cleanse and Purify Thyself,&

she wanted to try it. At that time she was working to detoxify her body. Her skin was bad, she suffered on and off from depression, and she wasn&

t eating well. West thought home enemas might help.

They did. In fact, she liked them so much that she started regularly having colonics, also called colon hydrotherapy and colon irrigation &

a process by which warm water is used to flush all of the fecal matter out of the colon.

A speculum is inserted into the anus and then a plastic tube is attached to the speculum and hooked up to a colonics machine. Warm water, which sometimes has herbal treatments in it, is then slowly piped into the rectum and colon. This stimulates peristalsis and the patient will then begin to expel fecal matter, which can be seen through a viewing tube on the machine.


I used to get a series of 12 over a 12-week period twice a year,&

says West. &

I absolutely loved them. I felt a lot lighter, I had tons more energy, my skin started clearing up. ... I just felt better about myself. And I haven&

t gotten depression at all.&

West believes so strongly in the healing power of colonics that she now owns Ashland Colon Hydrotherapy, located at 290 N. Main St., which she took over from Tashina Wilkenson this past summer.


I wanted to get into this business to help others reach their goal of health and vitality,&

West explains.

Serving 15 to 20 people a week, West says she has many repeat customers. &

One time really won&

t get everything out. You&

ll feel much better but it takes a couple times.&

The process takes from 45 minutes to one hour, says West who studied colonics at the Prime Pacific Health Innovations in Vancouver. She lies her client down on a heated bed and puts hot towels around their stomach and neck, using essential oils and massage to help them relax.

The more relaxed a client is, the more successful the colonics. &


s a very unusual thing for you to do,&

West admits. &

You are going to the bathroom while lying on a table in front of a stranger. ... Your colon really responds to stress. It takes a couple times to feel totally comfortable with the whole process.&


The colonics therapy gets the toxins out of your body,&

says Claudine Jordan, a filmmaker who moved to Ashland from Chicago in July and is one of West&

s regular customers.



s like when you clean your house,&

says Jordan. &

There are certain things that are not as pleasant but it has to be cleaned. If you just see it as cleaning toxins out of your body then there is nothing wrong with it. The people doing the work are doing a great service to humanity because this must not be a pleasant job. ... Sarah&

s one of the angels in this town.&

Just how healthy is colonics? Conventional health practitioners are skeptical and critics point out that there have been no scientific studies to back up the health claims of hydrotherapists and patients.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist who runs QuackWatch.org (an Internet site dedicated to rooting out quackery and health fraud) has been tracking claims about colonics for 25 years. Barrett believes that the health benefits touted by colonic hydrotherapists are gross exaggerations. &


s actually no health value to colonics,&

Barrett insists. &

The theory behind it is that the large intestine is a toxic waste dump. That simply does not correspond to reality.&

Barrett also points out that colonics can be dangerous. According to Barrett, an incorrectly administered colonic can cause serious damage to the tissue of the large intestine or the anus and can possibly result in death. In one highly publicized case, a 72-year-old Texas woman perforated her large intestine while doing colonics. Laverne Burrell was hospitalized and remained sick for several months, until she died of liver failure.


That happened on an open system,&

says 50-year-old Debbie Charbonneau, a colon hydrotherapist in Sunderland, Mass., who has been giving and getting colonics for 25 years. &

An open system is done by gravity and water keeps flowing. With a closed system, it&

s just a different type of set-up,&

she argues.

Charbonneau, who like West is certified by I-ACT (the International Association of Colon Therapists) and whose equipment is FDA approved, says the process is sanitary and safe. &

Some people wonder if it hurts,&

she says. &

It does not.&

Charbonneau and West both agree it is important to go to a qualified hydrotherapist whose equipment is up to date. Since colonics is not well regulated (anyone can purchase equipment and set up a colonic irrigation practice), consumers have to be careful.

At Ashland Colon Hydrotherapy one session costs $60 or buy four for $200.

For more information about colonics, contact Ashland Colon Hydrotherapy at 201-0500 or via e-mail ashlandcolontherapy@yahoo.com. Colonics are also available from Source of Health Colon and Colon Hydrotherapy Center in Medford.