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How to... ...Brave colonic hydration; Matt Damon and Janet Jackson are said to be fans of colonic hydration - the gentle flushing of your colon with warm filtered water to expel nasties. Health benefits are meant to include increased energy and improvement of the symptoms of IBS. Naphtalia Loderick tried it out.

Why have a colonic? Colonic hydration/irrigation is said to help with constipation, or those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome.

But what first attracted me to having a colonic was the hope, ahead of a beach holiday, it may give me a flat stomach.

I'd dieted and I'd exercised, (recently losing a stone on the Dukan diet) but this was my final, determined effort to obtain that sought-after bikini body.

But I learned the treatment could do much more than help me shift those few stubborn pounds.

Who does it? I went to see Dr Arun Talwar, who counts model Imogen Thomas among his clients, at his clinic in Caerau, Cardiff.

He says that while it can help with weight loss, the treatment can also help with the much more serious condition of bowel cancer.

The 68-year-old started off as a GP in his home of Malawi, before moving into the complementary medicine field and specialising in colonic irrigation in 1988 in Wales, starting the clinic after a friend died of bowel cancer.

He was the first registered colonic irrigation specialist in Wales and is still one of a handful practising in this part of the country.

What happens in the consultation process? Talking about your digestive system, and having it cleansed, isn't easy - we are naturally squeamish.

But Dr Talwar talked me through it with sensitivity.

He said that over the years, waste that hasn't passed through the body properly can build up, leading to a feeling of being backed up.

That's why it's good to clean your colon on a regular basis, especially because the colon can hold between seven and nine pounds of stool.

He also said it can help with stress as once cleansed, patients feel better physically and mentally. In a well functioning body, food should pass through in between 14 and 24 hours.

But in the UK, Dr Talwar informed me, it's nearer to three of four days.

"It's no wonder people feel sluggish and have that backed-up feeling inside," he said.

"This treatment can help to get rid of stored faecal matter, gas mucus and toxins from the colon."

What does the treatment involve? It goes without saying that you'll be exposing your behind - but your modesty is protected as the rest of you is covered by a hospital gown.

You lie on a bed on your side, while a small plastic (disposable) tube is inserted a few centimetres into your bottom.

You then get to lie on your back for the remainder of the treatment, as the tube is connected to a water supply and warm water is introduced into your colon, and back out again.

Dr Talwar, a member of the Association and Register of Colonic Hydrotherapists (ARCH), gently massaged my stomach to get my system moving as I began to see my digestive system in action, thanks to a small mirror above the bed which showed me the waste leaving my body through the clear plastic tube.

It sounds gruesome, but witnessing years of waste leaving my body was strangely compelling.

Does it hurt? The tube being inserted doesn't hurt a bit, but there is some discomfort during the treatment.

For me, the pain was comparable to heavy period cramps.

During the 45-minute treatment, Dr Talwar even managed to make me laugh by pointing out the undigested food passing through the pipe - from tomato skins to bits of sweetcorn (yuck!) - and explaining how the colon works.

How do you feel afterwards? I felt relieved, it was good to know that my colon was probably the cleanest it's been since the day I was born.

It left me feeling less likely to splurge on takeaways and meals out in future - I wouldn't want to destroy all that good work.

I left with a set of friendly bacteria tablets to take which he said would aid my digestion in the next couple of days, as well as a set of brief exercises and a food guide to help my colon work better in future. And days later? I lost 3lb! Dr Talwar's record in 20 years is a patient who lost 13.5lb after just one treatment.

I was disappointed that my stomach wasn't noticeably flatter afterwards, but I definitely felt lighter.

It was hard to beat tempting treats while I was on holiday - I admit to splurging on ice-creams, and giving into chips on a couple of occasions.

But I stayed away from chocolate, which I normally crave.

So maybe that was the colonic effect.

And I weighed myself when I came back to the UK and my weight was the same as when I left.

* Colonic hydrotherapy at Dr Talwar's Clinic costs pounds 65 for the first visit, and pounds 55 for subsequent appointments. He recommends a follow-up six weeks afterwards, followed by a visit once every three months., 029 20403 197.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 7, 2012
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