Enema Basics

 

         

 

 


Types of Enemas

Soapsuds Enemas

A soapsuds enema is the injection of a mixture of water and soap into the colon.

The soapsuds enema uses a mixture of a mild soap and warm water injected into the colon in order to stimulate a bowel movement. Normally given to relieve constipation or for bowel cleansing before a medical examination or procedure. Contrary to what the name implies, soapsuds are not necessary for the enema to be effective. It is the presence of soap in the solution that increases the effectiveness of the enema.

For adults the normal volume given is 500cc to 1500cc (one to three pints). Castile soap, which is a mild, vegetable oil based soap is commonly used. For liquid Castile soap, approximately one teaspoon per 1000cc (quart) of water is used. Castile bar soap, and other bar soap with minimal additives such as Ivory may be used, however these present difficulty in judging the appropriate amount of soap to add to the solution. In general, add no more than is required to turn the water a slightly milky color. Liquid handsoaps and detergents should not be used.

The large volume of water in the enema causes the colon to expand, which stimulates involuntary contractions of the colon (peristalsis). The soap has an irritating effect on the colon, which also contributes to peristalsis, resulting in a more effective enema than tap water alone. In order for the enema to be the effective the patient should retain the solution for five to ten minutes, if possible. Although a retention period is necessary for the enema to be fully effective, the soapsuds enema is not classified as a retention enema, but is usually referred to as a cleansing or evacuant enema.

The patient normally lies on their left side to receive the enema. If the patient is in good health and mobile, the knee chest position may also be used.

The solution is typically given in an enema bag or bucket, although a bulb syringe may also be used. The enema tube or nozzle should be lubricated and then inserted two to four inches into the patient's rectum. The bag or bucket is raised appoximately 18 inches above the patients hips and the solution is administered slowly over a period of minutes. If a bulb syringe is used, the bulb should be squeezed slowly while injecting the solution.

Approximately one half hour should be set aside when administering the enema. Allow at least five minutes for administration, a retention period of five to ten minutes, with the resulting bowel movement taking ten to fifteen minutes. If given to relieve constipation, one enema is usually sufficient. Some medical procedures call for several enemas to be administered in order to completely clear the colon. If more than one enema is required, the soapsuds enema should be given first, and the following enemas normally contain plain tap water. More than one soapsuds enema should not be given unless ordered by a doctor.

Impaction is a serious form of constipation which in extreme cases may be life threatening. While the soapsuds enema may be used in a home setting to relieve occasional constipation, medical care may be required for more severe cases of constipation, or for recurring constipation.

A nurse prepares a soapsuds enema.

Click to watch a demonstration


A doctor administers a mineral oil enema with a syringe.

Mineral Oil Enemas

Proper bowel movements form an important part of healthy living. Bowel disorders like constipation, hemorrhoid, colitis, etc. are common in people who love junk foods or processed foods. Enema helps to detox the body from excess waste that gets accumulated by consuming these foods. Enema is not only done for colon cleansing but also for weight loss programs. Some people also use it for recreational drugs and anal sex. Mineral oil enema slows down the rate at which water is absorbed from the bowel. This results in the feces getting softer before it gets evacuated. The retaining period of this oil should be about 30 minutes in order to soften the stool. However, along with the benefits of mineral oil laxative, there are a number of side effects too.

Instructions for Mineral Oil Enema

The first ingredient you need is mineral oil. Take two cups of it. Thereafter, add about 5 - 6 cups of filtered water to the oil. Stirring the mixture for a long time won't help in mixing the oil and water. So, stir it for a minute and then heat the mixture to about 102 - 103 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a microwave for heating or even a gas stove will do. Continue heating the mixture for sometime until it attains the required temperature. You can use a thermometer to keep a check on the temperature. After having heated the mixture, pour it into an enema bag and proceed with administering the enema. The enema bag comes with a rectal tube which is required for the medication.

Some Considerations

Expecting mothers or lactating mothers are advised to consult medical professionals before administering enema. This even applies for those who are planning for a child.

You should also inform your doctor, if you are on other medicines or supplements, and any history of allergic reaction to foods, medicines or other substances. If your medical history includes heart failure, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, rectal bleeding, kidney problems or any kind of medical disorders, you should seek medical advice before using mineral oil enema.

Having appendicitis or intestinal blockage also prohibits the use of this procedure.

Side Effects

Common side effects that may occur include bloating, gas and diarrhea. Stomach cramps and nausea may also show up in some cases. Many people have been known to suffer from severe side effects associated with allergic reactions. These include developing rash and hives and difficulty in breathing. Tightness in the chest, swelling of the lips, mouth or tongue are also signs of severe allergic reactions due to mineral oil enema. Other side effects include disturbed bowel movement within 6 to 8 hours, even after taking the enema, and feeling of dizziness. The person may also feel weak along with muscle cramps or pain in the muscles. Fainting, swelling and irritation are also the possible side effects. Enema also harbors a risk of damage to the tissues of rectal or bowel regions, if not performed as directed. Such accidents could cause internal bleeding, which could worsen the problem by triggering intestinal bacterial infection. During an enema procedure, the vagus nerve may get stimulated and this may result in causing abnormally slow heartbeat.

To conclude, mineral oil enema is an effective way for colon cleansing. However, the indiscriminate use of mineral oil as laxative can trigger severe side effects as mentioned above. So it is important to consult a qualified medical personnel regarding the use of this procedure.


A therapist prepares to administer colonic therapy.

Colonic Hydrotherapy

Colon cleansing (also known as colon therapy) encompasses a number of alternative medical therapies intended to remove feces and nonspecific toxins from the colon and intestinal tract. Colon cleansing may take the form of colon hydrotherapy (also called a colonic or colonic irrigation) or oral cleansing regimens, such as dietary supplements.

What is a Typical Colonic Like?

After completing a health history form and consulting with the colon hydrotherapist, the client is asked to change into a gown and lie face up on a treatment table.

The colon therapist inserts a disposable speculum into the anus. The speculum is connected to a long disposable plastic hose connected to the colon hydrotherapy unit.

Warm, filtered water is slowly released into the colon. The water causes the muscles of the colon to contract, called peristalsis. Peristalsis "pushes" feces out through the hose to be disposed in a closed waste system.

The client and the colon therapist do not smell the feces. The therapist usually looks at the feces through the clear hose, and may comment on the color.

The client typically feels some discomfort in the abdomen during the therapy.

The colon therapist may apply light massage to the client's abdominal area to facilitate the process.

After the session, the therapist leaves the room, and the client may sit on a toilet to pass any residual water and stools.

A typical session lasts 45 minutes to one hour.

Why Do People Get Colonics?

People get colonics for the following reasons:

To remove accumulated waste from the colon

To help prevent constipation

To improve overall health

Colonic Concerns

Health professionals are divided over the use of colonics. The majority of conventional health practitioners do not feel colonics can improve overall health. They believe colonics should only be used before certain medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy, or occasionally for constipation.

Proponents of colon hydrotherapy believe that fecal matter can accumulate and harden in the colon. They believe this buildup of fecal matter may:

Prevent the absorption of water and nutrients

Lead to constipation

Allow harmful colon bacteria and yeast to grow

Cause stagnant toxins to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the colon wall (called autointoxication)

Lack of fiber, excess sugar, and a diet high in red meat are believed to contribute to the problem.

History of Colonics

One of the earliest proponents of colonics and the autointoxication theory was John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., founder of the Kellogg cereal company.

Many credit Kellogg for the popularity of colonics from the early 1900s to the 1940s among conventional physicians. Kellogg frequently lectured on colon therapy and recommended colonics for many conditions, such as depression and arthritis.

As laxatives grew in popularity, colonics became less popular. Also, the lack of published evidence on the benefits of colonics contributed to its decline.

Today, some alternative practitioners continue to recommend colonics. It has become popular again, and many people seek colon therapy for detox and colon cleansing and to improve health and wellbeing.

Side Effects and Safety of Colonics

Consult your primary care provider before having a colonic. People with certain conditions, such as diverticular disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, severe hemorrhoids, blood vessel disease, congestive heart failure, heart disease, severe anemia, abdominal hernia, gastrointestinal cancer, recent colon surgery, and intestinal tumors should not have a colonic.

Pregnant women should not have a colonic as it may stimulate uterine contractions.

Side effects of colonics may include nausea and fatigue after the session, which can last for several hours.

Although infrequent, complications may include perforation of the abdominal wall, electrolyte imbalance, and heart failure caused by excessive absorption of water.

Additional Tips

After a colonic, the client is usually encouraged to take supplements containing friendly colon bacteria, called probiotics.

Refrain from eating prior to a session.

A demonstration of a colonic.

Click to watch a demonstration

    
       

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