Like a true millennial, 99.9% of my beauty experiments start on social media. It usually goes like this: I watch a friend or celebrity’s Snapchat story, become obsessed with whatever they’re trying and then proceed to book an appointment for said treatment — something my Bank of America account pays for later. Such was the case with a colonic. Lured by the promise of dewy prepubescent skin and a much-needed detox, I booked an appointment at La Casa Day Spa to let a complete stranger clean out my insides.
For the newbies: a colonic, or hydrotherapy, as it’s often more pleasantly called, is a treatment that helps eliminate waste from the body à la water pressure and a clear plastic tube that’s inserted right into your backside.
Why would anyone in their right mind sign up for such a thing? There are doctors who ask that very question. Dr. Sarah Diamond, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon (you may remember her from Leandra’s sugar post) said that though colonic hydrotherapy hasn’t been rigorously studied in controlled trials, there have been systematic reviews and meta analyses of the available evidence that suggest there is no health benefit to the practice. “There are also scores of case reports and case series that describe adverse events and dangerous side effects of colonics,” she said. “Bottom line: there is no role for colonics and in some circumstances they may cause harm.”
However, Dr. Bill Gael, a doctor who specializes in cosmetic dermatology and works out of La Casa Day Spa, believes that colonics are a useful tool in preventative care, “and may help to avoid afflictions and diseases.” He explained, “colonics help to remove waste that — without this removal — could lead to inflammatory conditions.”
Jane Goldberg, owner of La Casa Spa and a certified psychoanalyst, told me that colonics can help improve your mental health, too. “If waste material stays in the body longer than it should, it pollutes your liver, the main organ for detoxification, which makes the brain sluggish and under active.”
Despite Dr. Diamond’s cautioning, I was sold and booked my first appointment.
(Side note: please check with your primary care doctor before booking an appointment, if you chose to make one.)
It’s recommended to eat as light as possible the day before a colonic and check your modesty at the door upon arrival. Cher, my hydrotherapist, quickly put my nerves to rest. She assured me that I had nothing to worry about and that she’s been performing colonics for over 23 years.
After opening a new tube from the package (make sure this is done in front of you), Cher had me roll over to my side. The moment of truth. Before I could finish counting to three, she had successfully put the tube into my butt (this may seem obvious but that’s how the waste leaves your body) and told me to roll back over. No, it didn’t hurt. Yes, it was a little weird. But if you can survive a bikini wax, this is a piece of cake.
When I asked Cher about the whole “colonics give you amazing skin” thing she told me that most people, myself included, forget that the skin is the body’s largest eliminatory organ — it both defends and protects us. Toxins and waste are often eliminated from the body through sweat. Our skin is usually a good indicator of what’s going on inside your body.
She went on to tell me that our colon holds on to lots of debris and toxins that don’t always leave the body when we go to the bathroom. When the body fails to eliminate bacteria, yeast or pollutants, it looks for a way to get rid of that waste — and with thousands of pores, the skin is usually how the body gets rid of that gunk.
“The more you clean out the colon,” she said, “the more the other organs eliminate toxins, which takes the load off the skin and leaves it radiant and young-looking.” Radiant, young-looking skin sounded good to me.
The first thing I noticed after leaving the office (yup, just that easy… save for a tip that I should be cautious of “potential leaking”) was how incredibly light and healthy my body felt. It was as if I had only eaten salads and juices for the past week — the complete opposite of how I felt when I walked into La Casa’s door. I also had a mini endorphin high, kind of like finishing a great spin class.
And when I got home, just as Cher had promised, my skin was glowing. Not only did it look like I had just gotten a facial, but also like my pores had shrunk. Skeptical, I waited a few days to see just how long these results would last. I maintained that post-facial radiance in the days that followed.
Since my first appointment, I’ve visited Cher again. Getting a colonic certainly didn’t get rid of all my skin problems — I had a minor breakout a few days later — but it definitely helped jumpstart my summer glow. For the time being, I’ve decided to swap my regular facials for colonics since it’s pretty much a 2-for-1 deal: clean insides and the ultimate #nofilterselfie.
Dry, lifeless skin with big pores and congestion
Glowing skin that’s radiant and IG worthy
Now for the ultimate question: would you try it?
Feature illustration by Max Dower of Unfortunate Portrait.