Colonic Hydrotherapy – Centre of Excellence for Colorectal problems conclude “it is a safe technique” and “it appears to fill a gap in conventional treatments for colonic functional disorders.”
Back in 2002 at the Annual Conference of the Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists (“ARCH”) (yes, there is such a thing, and it is very well attended), a presentation was given by Mr. I G Webb and Mr. P J McDonald who are senior consultants at Northwick Park and St Marks Hospital, London which is recognised as a Centre of Excellence for Proctology (pertaining to the rectum and anus) and colorectal disease and surgery.
Having introduced themselves to the conference they proceeded to explain that they had carried out a “satisfaction survey” based on an internationally recognised methodology over quite a long period amongst their own patients. This had revealed the somewhat unexpected result that a high percentage reported that the barium enema which is given purely as a diagnostic aid actually provided more relief to their symptoms than any other element of their treatment.
Furthermore, they recognised that they could not help a significant proportion of their patients by surgical means or with traditional medical drug treatments. They have researched colonic hydrotherapy and found that no sound medically based study had been published anywhere in the world. Based on this and the results of their survey, they requested ARCH members to cooperate with them to collect data on colonic hydrotherapy so that they could publish a paper based on sound medical research principles on the effectiveness or otherwise of colonic hydrotherapy.
This announcement caused heated debate amongst ARCH Members; roughly half arguing that “we know it works because many of us have waiting lists and a high percentage repeat rate - if they publish a paper acknowledging that colonic hydrotherapy is an effective treatment for certain disorders it may be accepted as an NHS treatment which will damage our business.” The other half welcomed the interest of such eminent experts in the field and felt that the interests of effective treatment of colorectal disorders over-rides commercial considerations.
The St Marks team went into great detail on how they had arrived at the methodology for the research project which was based on a questionnaire to be completed by ARCH practitioners’ clients anonymously. They wound up asking anybody in the audience to put up their hand if they have had a colonic and were somewhat taken aback when every single person in the room put their hands up. They eventually agreed that as a part of the project they themselves would have a colonic treatment!
The result of the research project was published in “Colorectal Disease” in July 2004 (Volume 6 page 258 Authors N. J. Taffinder, E. Tan, I.G. Webb and P. J. McDonald), this being a specialist publication for Colorectal Consultants and is consequently not very widely read. The article is pretty dull reading and did not please ARCH members when it was headed “Retrograde commercial colonic hydrotherapy” and included a gripe that only about half of ARCH members had cooperated with the project, however they acknowledged that the reasons for this were probably based on valid concerns.
Their conclusion was “…that it is a safe technique with no patients reporting any adverse effects …a high proportion expressing a high level of satisfaction with the treatment”. Further “..colonic hydrotherapy appears to fill a gap in conventional treatments for colonic functional disorders.” “In the UK at least it appears to be performed by experienced and trained practitioners if they are registered with The Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists” (It being noted that about a third if the cooperating practitioners had a clinical background (doctor, nurse, etc.). “However it is not known how many are practising outside this umbrella.”
At the ARCH Annual Conference in 2005 Mr Peter McDonald (Head of the St Marks Proctology and Colorectal team) offered to give a short talk “The Potted History of Proctology” and to present the results of the research project to the ARCH Membership. He started his presentation by saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, you have succeeded where we have failed.” Using the standardised methodology the median satisfaction score for Colonic Hydrotherapy was nearly 80% compared to around 25% for Traditional medicine. You are 3 times better than we are and we think that that is possibly the highest satisfaction rating ever achieved with this methodology.
Liz O’Sullivan RGN RM Dip. Member Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapists