Why You're Hearing About It
It's been in and out of fashion for millennia, but there's renewed interest in colon irrigation thanks to juice cleanses that include colonics to further clean the pipes and bougie urbanites who shun Western science in favor of New Agey therapies (18-to-36-year-olds are up to 40 percent more likely to opt for alternative medicine).

The Big Promise
Improved sleep, more energy, relief from myriad intestinal ailments, stress reduction, and speedier weight loss.

The Process
There's a gentle pressure as a sterile tube thinner than a pencil pumps water into the large intestine. To move things along, the hydrotherapist may press firmly on the belly while rubbing it with castor and essential oils. You may feel hot and crampy, as with food poisoning. When you feel the need to release, the tube stays in place while the excretion goes out around it; this industry has its shit together.


A Brief History of Colonics

1500 B.C.
An ancient Egyptian papyrus references enemas.

400 B.C.
Hippocrates and the ancient Greeks use enemas to counteract "autointoxication," the poisoning of the body by intestinal waste.

1890-1930
Colonic equipment appears in U.S. medical facilities; John H. Kellogg, M.D., is a major proponent.

1950s
Pharmaceuticals flood the market with gastrointestinal medications; laxatives cause colonics to fall out of fashion.

1991
An adventurous Sarah Jessica Parker takes Steve Martin for a colonic in L.A. Story.

2012
Gwyneth Paltrow launches colon-cleanse products on her Goop website.

The Numbers
2 to 5 Gallons of water sent into the large intestine
45 Minutes the average session lasts
$80 to $100 Average cost of a colonic
2 to 6 Days, consecutively, pros suggest undergoing the procedure for best results

Discomfort Level: 8
"People don't usually get colonics because they enjoy the experience—they do it because they love how they feel afterward."—Jill Simons, a colon hydrotherapist at All's Well That Ends Well in Portland, Oregon

The Opposition
Basically, all of Western medicine. Studies show potential side effects like cramping, nausea, and anal soreness, and no benefit beyond temporary constipation relief. Humans are full of good bacteria, including colon bacteria that create essential vitamins like K, B12, and riboflavin. Docs say they should stay put.

The Celebrity Endorsement
Woody Harrelson, Kim Kardashian, Bill Maher

The Real-World Endorsement
"I felt like a whole new person," says Darius Jackson, 37, a security consultant in Los Angeles whose coworker insisted he try it. "I had energy, and for the first time in years didn't have a bubble in my gut."

But Back to the Research . . .
"From a scientific perspective, there is no evidence that any kind of colon cleansing is beneficial."—Muhammad Mirza, M.D., a New York City internist who specializes in men's health

The Bottom Line
It's worthwhile for guys with severe bloating or constipation when proper diet, exercise, and hydration fail (which, let's be honest, shouldn't). Be warned: Certification can be obtained in just 100 hours of training, so get a rec from someone who has your back.

• • •