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I've been tired, bordering on logy, all week. I eat pretty well, and I do a bit of walking, but I was beginning to think more was needed. I scanned the bulletin board at Whole Foods -- detox programs, vitamin regimens, colon hydrotherapy... Rebecca Enders, an I-ACT (International Association for Colon Therapy) certified colon hydrotherapist at Inner Bliss (760-518-0979; www.innerbliss.com ) in Del Mar, told me, "Colon hydrotherapy is also known as a colonic. It is a procedure that involves introducing a warm, low pressure flow of purified water into the colon, in hopes of softening and loosening waste material so that it can be released."

"Naturally," explained Enders, "the human body is designed to consume things the way we find them in nature; things like fruits and vegetables, which have water content and high fiber. We can handle meat and refined foods in smaller doses, but for the most part, our digestive tract is designed for fruits and vegetables. Today, people eat mainly processed foods that have little water or fiber. Without the bulk created from water and fiber, the colon muscles are not triggered for peristalsis, the contractions that move waste material through the colon. Waste material that does not move through in a timely manner will rot and produce more toxins, and may even provide a breeding ground for bad bacteria and yeast." She won't draw any connections between built-up waste and colon cancer, but she does note that the two regions where she typically finds the most buildup "correspond to where 80 percent of colon cancer occurs."

In addition to the rotting waste material, "even if we are trying to be healthy by eating a salad, unless it's organic, the vegetables will have pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides on them. They are all toxins. Personal-care products, prescription and over-the-counter medications, cleaning products, and even the water we bathe in [which contains chlorine] all have toxins." These toxins build up in the system if they are not eliminated regularly, and could lead to health problems in the future.

Enders said her clients come to her reporting issues such as "headaches, bloating, constipation, gas, digestive disorders, skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne, low energy, and cloudy thinking. They even complain of food cravings, which could be due to poor absorption of nutrients."

A colon-hydrotherapy session starts out with getting the client to relax. "The first thing I do," said Enders, "is work pressure points along the legs that stimulate the colon. I also tune in to the body and see what it needs to relax. I have 15 different aromatherapy oils all with different applications. Lavender is proven to aid in relaxation and stress reduction. Orange oil has an uplifting property; I might use that if someone seems exhausted or a little down. I then do a massage around the temple, neck, and shoulders to aid in relaxation."

After the client is relaxed, it is time to start the colonic, which begins with the insertion of the disposable speculum. "The speculum is not very large -- about a half-inch in diameter. It goes in only two inches, and sits in the rectum. Two tubes are connected to the speculum. One is the waste tube, which is how all of the waste material leaves the colon during the session. The other is the water tube, which brings in a very low pressure flow of warm purified water. The water is triple-filtered: a particle filter to remove any debris; a carbon filter to take out chlorine, heavy metals, and minerals; and a UV light which kills off any microorganisms." (While we're on the subject of cleanliness: Enders noted that every patient receives a new set of tubing, and that the procedure is very sanitary, with no wetness or odor. "Everything goes out the waste tube directly into the plumbing.")

Because the water enters at a very low pressure, it can eventually flow around the entire six feet of the colon. The amount of water used varies from person to person. During a session, a client will have multiple fills and releases. The client is filled with water, and then the waste is released. This cycle is repeated four to ten times, depending on the length of each fill and release. The fills range from a cup of water to a couple quarts of water, depending on the client's comfort level and how much waste material is in the colon. When the client feels that they have had enough water, or if Enders sees the pressure gauge rise, it is time for the client to release. "As long as they are comfortable, they can keep taking water. If they start feeling pressure -- a sensation telling them they have to go to the bathroom -- I stop. To facilitate maximum release, Enders massages the abdominal area and works reflexology points during the session.

Clients often report "an immediate feeling of being much lighter in the abdominal area, and that their stomach is very flat." Also, alleviation of the aforementioned conditions. "And one of the greatest things is that clients who come in regularly tell me they don't get sick anymore. I haven't been sick for eight years -- not even a sniffle."

Single sessions of colon hydrotherapy cost $85 and last one hour. Buying multiple sessions in a package saves money: 3 for $240 , 6 for $460 , and 12 for $900 . How often you should be treated depends on the client, said Enders. "Everyone has a different diet and lifestyle, different health conditions, different patterns of elimination, and different health goals. Once I do the health intake at the beginning of the session and see how the client releases during the colonic, I can make a better assessment of how many sessions should be done and how frequently they should be done. My goal is for people to remember what it feels like to feel healthy and vibrant. I don't want this to be just a quick fix. I want it to be the starting point for people to change their diet and lifestyle."

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