Whether or not you are privy to the luxuries of first class, it’s unlikely that there’s any escape from travel’s less desirable effects: dehydrated skin, water retention and bloating. I may turn left upon boarding, but so far as my digestive system is concerned I might as well be in the hold, with a stomach the size of a Louis Vuitton trunk. So, to whom should the jet-setter turn when movements come to an abrupt, sometimes four-day, standstill? The colonic hydrotherapist.
After three weeks of constant flying and with belly distended, I look no further than a visit to KX gym and colon-cleaner extraordinaire David Taylor.
Once inside the safety of KX in Chelsea, I divulge my colon woes. I explain that my lifestyle and alkaline-based, juice-heavy diet, which is also high in whey protein, has left me gassy and unable to… go. As I stumble on the ending of this sentence, David confirms my suspicions that whey protein is notorious for causing gas (he advises rice protein instead), and frequent flying is also a major aggravator of flatulence and constipation, because our organs are affected by fluctuations in atmospheric pressure.
David suggests that when I travel I should reduce my supplement intake (a plethora of vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants) as sometimes cabin air pressure and supplements can create more gas. I should turn instead to herbal remedies such as fennel and peppermint tea.
He then explains the theories behind having a colonic. In short, he claims that the longer food stays in the stomach, the more toxic it becomes. Have I ever smelt the remnants of my food blender even a day afterwards? Imagine that, heated up in an oven to 37°C, he says. The more incomplete “evacuations” one has, the larger the pile of debris that builds up. Not only will the treatment make you feel lighter, but it will also give you better mental clarity.
I’ve had colon hydrotherapy before, so I (somewhat) confidently assume my position, naked from the waist down but for a towel, lying on my left side in the foetal pose. David inserts a small, lubricated tube inside my bottom, which connects to a larger tube. Once the tube is secure, I am asked to turn over onto my back, with my knees bent (as if I am giving birth). It doesn’t hurt, but boy is it invasive – literally – and takes some getting used to.
To assist elimination of waste and gas pockets, David starts performing a gentle abdominal massage, which he continues throughout the treatment. I lie there as 10 litres of water are pumped into me, in three short bursts. I feel myself filling up. As he pumps the water, David asks every few minutes whether I feel full and/or uncomfortable. When I say yes, he allows the water to flush out, taking with it (hopefully) any lingering detritus.
Then I start to hear the bubbles. From where I am lying, I have a panoramic view of the tubes through which the contents of my colon is passing. Surprisingly, after 10 minutes, they are still empty save for a small amount of debris. The wave-like motion of the water flow mimics the colon’s peristalsis motion (the muscular contractions of the alimentary canal, which forces its contents towards the external opening), encouraging it to work more efficiently. David also changes the temperature of the water during the treatment to further help my digestive tract spring back into more energetic form.
On occasion, herbal infusions can be introduced into the process, and in my case this means a coffee enema. Unlike saline enemas, caffeine travels through the smooth muscle of the small intestine and into the liver, further accelerating the gastro-intestinal tract cleanse in its removal of toxins and bile.
I lie there with the water bubbling through me for a total of 45 minutes. Because the water acts as a stimulant to tell the bowel it is full, and the bowel muscle responds by contracting and eliminating both waste matter and the water, I basically feel like I need to go to the toilet the whole time.
I've had more than one embarrassing situation when it comes to taking out the tube, but today, thankfully, David removes the tube and I make it to the loo safely. I spend the next five minutes releasing.
Following the treatment, I am told to take active charcoal supplements every time I drink or eat more than my body is used to (a few days before and after big events, for example), plus when I am travelling. Charcoal can be found in most organic pharmacies, and it is known for its absorbing qualities, which help it bond with unwanted particles and toxins in the gut, thus making them easier to flush out. During periods when I am flying particularly often, he recommends I take chlorophyll, wild yam, motherwort and raspberry leaf for four to five weeks. They are known for their antispasmodic effects – in other words, they relax the large intestine, speed up the transit time of waste matter and help guard against intestinal colic.
For a final tip, David recommends I regularly take Lactobacillus acidophilus, a common probiotic, or “friendly bacterium” that lives in the small intestine, which helps to maintain the balance and health of the digestive system, plus ReHydrate – a special homeopathic remedy to be used on long hauls that will keep me rehydrated, help prevent constipation and reduce water retention.
He leaves me with an old phrase, used by James Joyce, as food for thought: “Wherever you be, let your wind go free, for I did not and it was the death of me.”
When I leave, at first I feel a little queasy, crampy and weak (similar to having had the runs) – but this passes in moments and within 10 minutes I have a spring in my step, and am peering down at a gloriously flat stomach.
The Bottom Line (literally!)
The benefits of colonic hydrotherapy polarise opinion. But for me, it has proved an effective way to reset my colon’s cellular memory after periods of sluggish inactivity.
The frequent flying is not going to stop any time soon, but thanks to regular colonics and enzyme therapy, the embarrassing gas and bloated tummy have eased. For frequent fliers such as myself, I recommend a session once a month – or three sets of three-weekly sessions every year.
David Taylor was the first man I have ever had perform a colonic. He was very professional and knowledgable, he kept me informed throughout the treatment, explaining what he was doing and why, and he checked to make sure I was OK the entire time. I would definitely go back to see him.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, therapies and accommodation.