People frequently wonder what is the difference between a colonic and an enema.

First of all enemas are a lot cheaper because you give them to yourself; an enema bag usually costs about ten dollars, is available at any large drug store, and is indefinitely reusable. Colonics cost anywhere from 30 to 75 dollars a session.

Chiropractors and naturopaths who offer this service hire a colonic technician that may or may not be a skilled operator. It is a good idea to find a person who has a very agreeable and professional manner, who can make you feel at ease since relaxation is very important. It is also beneficial to have a colonic therapist who massages the abdomen and foot reflexes appropriately during the session.

Enemas and colonics can accomplish exactly the same beneficial work. But colonics accomplish more improvement in less time than enemas for several reasons. During a colonic from 30 to 50 gallons of water are flushed through the large intestines, usually in a repetitive series of fill-ups followed by flushing with a continuous flow of water. This efficiency cannot even be approached with an enema. But by repeating the enema three times in close succession a satisfactory cleanse can be achieved. Persisted with long enough, enemas will clean the colon every bit as well as a colonic machine can.

Enemas given at home take a lot less time than traveling to receive a colonics at someone's clinic, and can be done entirely at you own convenience--a great advantage when fasting because you can save your energy for internal healing. But colonics are more appropriate for some. There are fasters who are unable to give themselves an enema either because their arms are too short and their body is too long and they lack flexibility, or because of a physical handicap or they can't confront their colon, so they let someone else do it. Some don't have the motivation to give themselves a little discomfort but are comfortable with someone else doing it to them. Some very sick people are too weak to cleanse their own colon, so they should find someone to assist them with an at-home enema or have someone take them to a colonic therapist.

Few people these days have any idea how to properly give themselves an enema. The practice has been discredited by traditional medical doctors as slightly dangerous, perhaps addictive and a sign of psychological weirdness. Yet Northamericans on their civilized, low fiber, poorly combined diets suffer widely from constipation. One proof of this is the fact that chemical laxatives, with their own set of dangers and liabilities, occupy many feet of drug store shelf space and are widely advertised. Is the medical profession's disapproval of the enema related to the fact that once the initial purchase of an enema bag has been made there are no further expenses for laxatives? Or perhaps it might be that once a person discovers they can cure a headache, stop a cold dead in its tracks with an enema, they aren't visiting the M.D.s so often.

The enema has also been wrongly accused of causing a gradual loss of colon muscle tone, eventually preventing bowel movements without the stimulation of an enema, leading finally to flaccidity and enlargement of the lower bowel. This actually can happen; when it does occur it is the result of frequent administration of small amounts of water (fleet enemas) for the purpose of stimulating a normal bowel movement. The result is constant stretching of the rectum without sufficient fluid to enter the descending colon. A completely opposite, highly positive effect comes from properly administered enemas while cleansing.

The difference between helpful and potentially harmful enemas lies in the amount of water injected and the frequency of use. Using a cup or two of water to induce a bowel movement may eventually cause dependency, will not strengthen the colon and may after years of this practice, result in distention and enlargement of the rectum or sigmoid colon. However, a completely empty average-sized colon has the capacity of about a gallon of water. When increasingly larger enemas are administered until the colon is nearly emptied of fecal matter and the injection of close to a gallon of water is achieved, beneficial exercise and an increase in overall muscle tone are the results.

Correctly given, enemas (and especially colonics) serve as strengthening exercises for the colon. This long tubular muscle is repeatedly and completely filled with water, inducing it to vigorously exercise while evacuating itself multiple times. The result is a great increase in muscle tone, acceleration of peristalsis and eventually, after several dozens of repetitions, a considerable reduction of transit time. Well-done enemas work the colon somewhat less effectively and do not improve muscle tone quite as much as colonics.

Injecting an entire gallon of water with an enema bag is very impractical when a person is eating normally. But on a light cleansing diet or while fasting the amount of new material passing into the colon is small or negligible. During the first few days of fasting if two or three enemas are administered each day in immediate succession the colon is soon completely emptied of recently eaten food and it becomes progressively easier to introduce larger amounts of water. Within a few days of this regimen, injecting half a gallon or more of water is easy and painless.

Probably for psychological reasons, some peoples' colons allow water to be injected one time but then "freeze up" and resist successive enemas. For this reason better results are often obtained by having one enema, waiting a half hour, another enema, wait a half hour, and have a final enema.

A colonic machine in the hands of an expert operator can administer the equivalent of six or seven big enemas in less than one hour, and do this without undue discomfort or effort from the person receiving the colonic. However, the AMA has suppressed the use of colonics; they are illegal to administer in many states. Where colonics are legal, the chiropractors now consider this practice messy and not very profitable compared to manipulations. So it is not easy to find a skilled and willing colonic technician.

Anyone who plans to give themselves therapeutic enemas while fasting would be well advised to first seek out a colonic therapist and receive two or three colonics delivered one day apart while eating lightly and then immediately begin the fast. Three colonics given on three successive days of a light, raw food diet are sufficient to empty all recently eaten food even from a very constipated, distended and bloated colon, while acquainting a person with their own bowel. Having an empty colon is actually a pleasant and to most people a thoroughly novel experience. A few well-delivered colonics can quickly accustom a person to the sensations accompanying the enema and demonstrate the effect to be achieved by oneself with an enema bag, something not quickly discoverable any other way.