All of the above information has been described by doctors as absurd. But the therapists aren't completely making it up; they've learned it at one of the colonic schools or read it in a book on the subject, such as one by Bernard Jensen. In discussing what he calls "bowel management," Jensen tells a few anecdotes about healing constipation and skin problems with the treatment. He has gruesome photos (of unclear origin) that depicts three-foot-long rubbery-looking things that supposedly lurk inside the colon. Also pictured are before and after photographs of a man who's supposedly written a testimonial. In the before, his stomach is sticking out so that he looks pregnant. One after photo shows him a little less bloated - or sucking it in. Another after photograph shows the same man with a shirt on holding something in front of him that totally obscures his stomach. How that's supposed to prove anything is anybody's guess, yet practitioners treat it like the Rosetta stone of colon therapy.
One of the more complete bibliographies on the topic is given by Trisha Rossi, regional director of the American Colon Association. Rossi, proudly presents the list as having everything needed to prove the benefits of her craft. It includes such books as Intestinal Gardening and Fodor's Guide to Health and Fitness Vacations. All but four of the dozens of published medical articles cited were from the 1930s and 40s, demonstrating nothing more than the possible sociological phenomenon that bowel opening is popular during depressions and recessions. (You know what they say about tightwads.)
Regardless of whether anything's been scientifically proved, do these things help? According to a gastroenterologist, absolutely not. He says that the majority of women who come to him with uncomfortable, and what they consider to be unsightly, bloating have what is called irritable bowel syndrome. Getting colonics for this problem, he says, is like banging your head against the wall for a headache. Any stimulant exaggerates the phenomenon. These bowels don't need a sudden jerk. You'll probably just wind up constipated from the unnatural stimulant and think you need another colonic. He offers a much simpler solution for irritable bowels: He gives patients a bulk fibre supplement to coordinate the movement and prevent the spasm that causes the problem.As for the concept of matter stuck inside the bowels for years, that's not something that's taught in any medical school. "You don't have old stuff rotting away - that's a Victorian idea," says a doctor. Experts on colon cancer don't think petrifying waste is possible. They do point out that people in primitive societies, which have diets with more roughage and less refined food, do have more frequent bowel movements and a correspondingly lower rate of colon cancer. This may very well be due to a fast transit time, which gives carcinogens and other undesirable elements less contact with the bowel. But they don't see the connection between colonics and frequent bowel movements. As one of them says, "I'm not sure having colonics is the physiological equivalent of shitting like a Bantu."