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The Influence of Colonic Irrigation on Human Intestinal Microbiota

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

It has been documented that the intestinal tract is inhabited by more than 1012 bacterial cells

per gram of dry matter (Hayashi et al., 2002a; Langendijk et al., 1995; Suau et al., 1999), which

is comprised of an estimated 400 to 500 bacterial species (Moor & Holdeman, 1974). The

composition and activities of the indigenous intestinal microbiota are of paramount

importance in human immunity, nutrition, and pathological processes, and therefore, the

health of the individual (Van der Waaij et al., 1971). It is well established that the intestine is an

important site of local immunity, and recent reports have suggested that it is a major site of

extrathymic T-cell differentiation (Cerf-Bensussan et al., 1985; Guy-Grand et al., 1991; Iiai eta

al., 2002; Uchiyama-Tanaka, 2009). Numerous activated and quiescent lymphocytes are

produced within gut-associated lymphatic tissues (GALT), such as Peyer’s patches (Takahashi

et al., 2005). Thus, it has been speculated that people who suffer from constipation and who

harbor fecal residues in the intestine may have decreased local immune system function.

Colonic irrigations referred to as colonics are a type of colonic hydrotherapy performed

using an instrument in combination with abdominal massage, but without drugs or

mechanical pressure. I previously reported that colonic irrigation may induce lymphocyte

transmigration from GALT into the circulation, which may improve the functions of both

the colon and the immune system (Uchiyama-Tanaka, 2009). Colonic irrigation was developed

about 40 years ago, and no serious complications associated with its use have been reported.

However, the impact of this method, which use a large amount of water, on the intestinal

microbiota and serum electrolytes remains unknown. In this study, colonic irrigations were

performed 3 times for each of the 10 subjects with no history of malignant or inflammatory


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