Enema vs. Colonic vs. Laxative

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Difference between Enema, Colonic and Laxatives

In the quest for proper digestive health, many people routinely turn to various procedures and products, with enemas, colonics and the good old laxatives being some of the more common remedies. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of these methods? This comparison article aims to show you more.

Definition

An enema is a process in which liquids are introduced into the rectum and colon through the anus. The primary purpose of an enema is to cleanse the lower colon, the sigmoid and a portion of the descending colon.

A colonic or colonic hydrotherapy is a procedure by which waste matter and toxins are removed from the bowel. This procedure is intended to clean the entire colon.

A laxative is may come in the form of food or medication, and its primary function is to induce bowel movements by loosening the stool. Laxatives are often used as treatment for constipation. Laxatives also have the effect of hastening the elimination of undigested food matter from the large intestine and colon.

Process

Enemas involve the infusion of water into the colon in a single dose. The water remains in the lower part for a certain amount of time, after which the patient expels the water along with various waste matter. Enemas cause a bloated or cramped feeling in the abdomen, and this is what causes the expulsion process. Enemas may be self administered, and there are even disposable enema kits available in drugstores and online stores.

A colonic on the other hand involves multiple water infusions into the colon. The main difference between a colonic and an enema is that the waste matter exist the body through a tube in the colonic. The patient does not have to see or smell the waste matter during the entire procedure, although they may sit on the toilet as usual in order to expel any residual water and waste matter. Unlike an enema, a colonic would have to be administered by a trained professional using industry standard equipment.

Laxatives are the easiest of all to use and they can be self administered in oral or suppository form.

Risks

One of the major risks of enemas is the possibility of an electrolyte imbalance. This can result from repeated enemas and patients are also at risk for ruptures in the delicate membranes of the bowel, although these are rare in healthy adults.

A colonic may subject the patient to the risk of disruption in the balance between the bacteria and the naturally occurring chemicals in the bowel. In addition, the procedure may also disrupt the colon's ability to get rid of dead cells.

Excessive or improper use of laxatives may cause intestinal paralysis, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, and possibly even pancreatitis.

Similarities and Differences

Enema

  • Process in which liquids are introduced into the rectum and colon through the anus
  • Cleanses the lower colon, the sigmoid, and a portion of the descending colon

Colonic

  • A procedure by which waste matter and toxins are removed from the bowel
  • Intended to clean the entire colon

Laxative

  • May come in the form of food, medication or suppositories
  • Its primary function is to induce bowel movements by loosening the stool

Which method is used most often?
  • Enema
  • Colonic
  • Laxatives
 
 

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