Gut feeling

Colonic Room

Colonic irrigation often gets a bum deal, but the cleansing and detox therapy can genuinely make you feel good inside, as Paul Dale discovers

This may sound strange, but for as long as I can remember I have always wanted colonic irrigation. Colon cleansing, or colon hydrotherapy, uses water and/or herb enemas to remove accumulations of waste from the walls of the intestine. As a middle-aged man with a propensity for excess in all things, colonic irrigation (or CI) has always carried the promise of absolution, a laxative communion wafer for the holy nihilist, a sterilised forgiveness for the sins of the past. So it was with only a little trepidation that I entered the underground bunker of Nevo Health, a complementary health studio under the excellent Renroc café between Edinburgh’s Leith Walk and Easter Road. Owner and trained nurse Jane Ross immediately puts me at ease while giving a tour of the warm, clean and not particularly foreboding treatment rooms. With immaculate tiles, large pebbles and fronds of dry grass these could be the upmarket antechambers of any health centre or BUPA ward.

Jane explains that the treatment will take about 45 minutes. We will use a form of colonic hydrotherapy that uses gravity to run water down from a cistern into my intestine. In the final stage of the treatment herbs will be added to the water. She says it is common for CI first timers to need to stop the process and go to the toilet; this is normal. She tells me to undress, I can keep a T-shirt on but my bottom half must be naked, bar a towel.

Jane is an attractive young woman and her lilting scouse accent reminds me of many women I have lost my heart to over the years. I find myself thinking that this would be easier if Hattie Jacques at her vituperative Carry On best was beyond the door. As it is I will have to bare my insignificancies to someone whose professionalism and warmth makes me want to block book therapies in this calming space.

Slightly embarrassed by my wobbly pale body I get up on the bed and Jane begins talking me through every step. She enters the tube and water washes into me. It feels like someone blowing up a wet balloon across my abdomen. It’s strange but never unpleasant. She massages the stomach where she believes there are build ups of gas, and attempts to map out the descending and transverse colon for the fat ignoramus on the table. I dash to the loo but this feels natural. I finally settle into a sense of catharsis and detox as I get used to the odd sensations happening south, so I ask her how she gets over the embarrassment of it all. CI training involves constantly practising on one’s colleagues she explains, so embarrassment disappears quickly. We speak of the large ratio of men in their clientele, and she also points out that CI should never be used to right the wrongs we inflict on the body – it is not a cure all. I nod guiltily.

And then it is over. I feel lighter, perkier but not elementally different. Jane offers dietary advice about my mild wheat and dairy allergies and gives me some gluten free bread.

In the weeks that follow I find if I treat myself well, I feel in equilibrium with my digestion in a way I haven’t for years. But if I get drunk my body crucifies me. I feel like I have been recalibrated, had an oil change. This old banger may yet become a vintage classic.

Nevo Health, 91 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh, 0131 556 0432.

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