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High Colonic Irrigation
By Carol Signorella

"Colonic what?" I exclaimed.

"Colonic irrigation," Connie explained. "Like an internal bath to wash the poisons out of your system. You already know about all the unwanted food additives in our diets, and just think of the little extras not listed on the label. The pesticides sprayed on your fruit and vegetables, the hormones and antibiotics fed your beef and poultry. And then, if you want to talk about pollution..."

"All right, Connie. So what happens when you're irrigated?"

"Simplicity itself. Water - tap water usually- is slowly pumped up into the colon, our large intestine." "An enema," I shuddered.

"In a way. But more water - an average of twenty five to thirty gallons is used, and, under gentle pressure, it travels and cleanses the length of your colon, washing out all .the stale bile and putrefied waste poisoning your system. A colonic only takes an hour and is completely painless. You might even sleep through it."

Hmmmmm, not likely, I thought. Still, I had to admit that Connie's appearance had certainly improved since her first colonic irrigation three months before. Her eyes, skin and hair all glowed. In fact, it's hard to describe Connie without making her sound like an ad for Short & Sassy.

That evening, on the subway (where I do most of my serious thinking), I tallied my complaints. Burning, itching eyes. Yellow, dull skin. Depression. Anxiety. Muddled head, uncoordinated body. Energy plummeted to a dreary low. For years I'd been busily trying out every possible cure for my present physical/emotional malaise. I'd jogged, quit smoking and drinking, added bran and dried fruit to my diet, even experimented with mega-vitamin therapy, but all to little avail. I remained dragged out, anxious and definitely not my most vital self!

Why give up now? I thought. Maybe colonies could be a solution. Still, I wasn't going to let Connie talk me into anything without doing some independent research first Naturally, enough, I started with the American Medical Association they, however, were less than helpful. "The AMA," I was told, "has no definitive statement on colonic irrigations, we neither recommend them nor are against them." A trip to the library at Columbia University College for Physicians and Surgeons proved equally unenlightening. Their latest text on colonies was a 1927 volume entitled Troubles We Don't Talk About.

The first professional opinion I sought out also proved to be discouraging. My internist, Dr. Richard Nachtigall, who has a thriving Park Avenue practice, advised me to forget colonies. "I can't see much use for these irrigations," he said. "I've never heard of any real proof that they are useful except for certain abnormal conditions, such as defective liver, where it is necessary to remove bacteria-producing toxins." Dr. Milton Brothers, husband of Dr. Joyce Brothers, was even more emphatic: "I would never recommend them. It's an archaic practice and could be harmful. Colonies may induce a condition called electrolyte depletion. The bowel needs certain electrolytes, essential salts, acids and alkalis to perform its functions properly, and this sort of intensive irrigation could deplete the colon of these substances."

Not yet entirely deterred, I consulted another physician who believed colonies could improve health. Nobody is really certain, he said, where those all-important electrolytes are conserved, nor can any certain case be made for irrigation affecting their presence in the colon.

Admitting that he personally believed in colonies (without including them in his practice), he also told me that these treatments are very popular among the rich and celebrated on the West Coast and Europe. "Of course, it's just not something people want to talk about much," he explained, and then he asked me to keep his name confidential. My anonymous source did, however, refer me to a Manhattan chiropractor and physical therapist who regularly performed this procedure, Dr. H. William Baum (ed. note: now deceased).

Dr. Baum, whose sprightly step and taut, satin like complexion belied his eighty-five years, practiced naturopathic medicine, that is, he treated sickness primarily through natural means, believing that drugs and surgery should be resorted to only in extreme cases. Taking the holistic approach to health, the naturopathist views disease not as an isolated malfunction, but rather as an indication that the entire body is in a state of "dis-ease."

For over sixty years, Dr. Baum had been performing colonic irrigations and had never found them less than effective and safe. I had mentioned the negative views of the physicians I'd consulted, but Dr. Baum remained unfazed. "Most doctors don't prescribe vitamins, either," he said, sensibly enough. Reassured by Dr. Baum's manner and remembering the glow colonies had brought to my friend Connie. I swallowed hard and asked to be treated.

The first step was familiar enough. I changed into a pair of paper slippers and one of those thin, hospital-given gowns that open at the back. Then clutching a pamphlet about colonies, I climbed aboard the long leather table and lay down on my side. The rectal applicator was inserted and the irrigation process began.

Throughout the colonic, I was attached to what resembled an old-fashioned water cooler, about four feet high and placed on the end of the examining table. When Dr. Baum pulled a lever in one direction, water burst into the clean, glass tank until it reached halfway to the top. Then the lever was reversed, and water began to slowly feed into me. The doctor moderated the pressure so that the water slowly worked its way through the twists and turns, obstructions and gases of the long large intestine.

After a while, I realized with something like amazement that the water slushing up my intestinal tract had risen to just under my rib cage. Even so, I felt relaxed and experienced no pain. Dr. Baum's irrigation was much less unpleasant than either a home or hospital enema. I was not relaxed enough to drift right off to sleep, but I felt sufficiently comfortable to chat with Dr. Baum and learn a bit more about how and why colonies work...

Washing Away Wastes

The indigestible portion of the food you eat, Dr. Baum explained, lodges in the large intestine and stays there until eliminated in a bowel movement Infrequent movements or periods of constipation can, however, result in a partial decomposition of these waste substances which encrusts the colon and further hinders elimination. These toxins air then reabsorbed into the bloodstream, lowering the body's defenses against' bacteria and viruses. The body strains to fight against the poisons, and, if the effort is too great, various organs or even the circulatory system itself can break down.

The early indications of this futile war against waste, Dr. Baum continued, include sallow skin, nervous irritability, coated tongue, bad breath, offensive body odor, headaches, bloating, poor appetite, and a feeling of stomach heaviness symptoms which bore a marked resemblance to my own complaints.

Colonies might not be necessary, Dr. Baum went on, if Americans had enough bulk in their diets, exercised regularly, and avoided the chemical toxins found in alcohol, tobacco, polluted air, and processed foods. Few of us, however, do lead such uncontaminated lives.

Why, I wondered, can some people smoke and drink and eat poorly and still remain in good physical health? Dr. Baum explained that this lucky group has a tremendous natural capacity to eliminate toxins from their systems, but even so, he advised me not to be too jealous. "Their bad habits will catch up with them someday."

Colonic irrigations can be performed with varying frequency. Dr. Baum thinks first-time patients should have three in a row to be sure they're thoroughly cleansed, and after that, the number of treatments "depends on what I see coming out." A few people have one a week for years, others one a month, while most people am satisfied with three or four irrigations a year, often timing their treatments to correspond with the

change of seasons. "The shift to warm or cold weather," says Dr. Baum, "can upset the body's rhythms. An irrigation helps you adjust Actually, these treatments aren't designed to cure any specific ailment; rather, they're designed to tune up the system so it becomes more capable of healing itself."

I asked Dr. Baum if a laxative would be equally effective. His answer was an emphatic no. "Colonics involve only the large intestine," he explained, "while laxatives pass through the small intestine as well. That's where digestion and absorption of nutrients occur, vital processes which should not be interfered with Besides, emetics are, in a sense, addictive--for them to continue to be effective, you need to take larger and larger doses."

So, with irrigation, the small intestine is left to itself (as it should be) and only the toxins contained in the colon are washed away. Dr. Baum's reasoning seemed sound enough to me as my hour long irrigation. drew to a close and I prepared to reap the benefits of his ministrations.

Aftermath

As I climbed off the treatment table, I felt wonderful, high, energetic, positive, and strong. Before I left his office, Dr. Baum told me to take it easy for the rest of the day and then suggested I change my diet to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of bulk, and that I stay away from refined or processed foods. These changes would improve bowel functioning, he said, and lead to better overall health as well. I left feeling both peppy and inspired.

A few hours later, however, my high had completely faded, I was nauseous, dizzy, and nervously dialing Dr. Baum. He was not just reassuring, but positively congratulatory as I reeled off my symptoms. "That's the body continuing where the treatment left off, he told me.

"The irrigation obviously stirred up a lot of poison. Eat something mild at regular intervals, rest, and come back in a few days for another treatment". I did just that and continued the treatments once a month for nearly a year, sometimes adding an extra one when life was particularly stressful. I also followed Dr. Baum's advice about diet and within a few months noticed that I no longer had to discipline myself to eat properly. My craving for sugar had disappeared I genuinely preferred an apple or helping of yogurt to a rich sweet I also found myself developing a queasy aversion to coffee, cigarettes, and foods with preservatives my body had learned to be naturally repelled by toxic substances.

After a year of colonics, my appearance and energy levels were both radically improved. No more draggy mornings or late-afternoon slumps. The bags under my eyes have disappeared entirely, and the sallow, yellowish tone that had spoiled my skin has been replaced by a healthy glow. I seem to think more clearly now, and I need less sleep. In a word, both my body and mind feel marvelously clean.

I couldn't be more enthusiastic about colonics, and, as it happens, I'm in pretty distinguished company. I understand that John Lennon, John Canadine, Mae West, and Dick Gregory were all regulars. Want to join this select company? You should know that colonic irrigations cost about thirty dollars (ed. note: today the cost is usually about sixty dollars), and though some M.D.'s do give these treatments, you're more likely to get help from a chiropractor or physical therapist *

From Cosmopolitan Magazine, October 1979

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