Sheila Shea MA

Difficult Colonics

Difficult colonics is an issue that comes up from time to time in Colon Hydrotherapy. The difficulty can be from many perspectives and primarily from the point of view of the therapist and the client. I begin with an initial question about difficulty releasing waste from the intestines. That question opens the door to other challenging issues during colonics.

I make the analogy with the ‘sleeping dragon’ to give yet another insight into why difficulties might occur during the process of receiving colonics.

“Unleashing the forces of the dragon, unleashing the powers of the gut, opening what has been asleep for many years if not decades is potentiated in intestinal healing. The colonic and the person have the power to awaken that which has not been stirred, has not been touched, has not been opened, has been left uncomfortable, ignored, poisoned, drugged, isolated, and alone. The intestines are the seat of personal power and energy. Awakening and enlivening this center brings power back to the person. The dragon awakens and takes space.” Sheila Shea


Introduction – Definition – Assessment – Causes – Other Difficulties

Protocol – Conclusion – Case Study

What If The Client Is Unable To Release During The First Colonic?


Many people come in for the first time and expect the colonic to instantly release all waste from their large intestine or colon. When it doesn’t happen, some clients say, ‘Why should I come back if nothing came out the first time, I’m empty, it’s not really that effective.’ When nothing comes out, I have a more difficult case on my hands. The ability or inability to release is one of the ways I assess a colonic session.

The first job is to get the gut muscles to respond by creating what I call a ‘flow through’. ‘Flow through’ is the ability of the person to eliminate or have material flow through their alimentary tract from mouth to anus without restriction. I call it ‘awakening the sleeping dragon.’ Then other levels of work can begin such as cleansing the walls and balancing the flora.


A difficult first or sequential cleanse(s) can mean nothing comes out, very little comes out, or the person experiences pain or a deep sense of urgency when the ‘dragon begins to awaken.’


I have learned to ask more questions over the phone and use my health questionnaire to assess a potential case in which nothing might come out the first time or in which a release will be difficult.

The therapist has to be sure that their phone conversation and uptake form eliminate any contra-indicated conditions. Also, clients might come in the first time with a situation they are either unaware of or which has not been diagnosed that might prevent elimination. If I get a sense something more serious might be going on, I ask the client to see their primary physician for a check up to eliminate any organic or functional obstruction or pathology.


Dehydration is initial reason for a difficult first cleanse. I know I might be in for trouble when I find out the person is drinking one quart or less of fluid daily. The lack of fluid allows hardening of waste in the gut. Dehydration may also affect the quality of intestinal muscle tissue and it’s ability to expand and contract properly.

Constipation is another potential cause. I ask a client how long has it been since their last bowel movement and what their bowel movements have been like.

Another cause is what I call the peanut butter effect. Some low fiber diets and likely combined with insufficient fluids can create a very sticky and thick elimination that gets stuck in the intestines not to mention the speculum.

Other scenarios might involve exhaustion, abuse, hyperactivity, adrenalization, emotional upset, obesity, distended abdomens and legal or illegal drugs. Some of these situations are related to the emotional body.

Some individuals have habitual holding patterns in the muscles that might be due to emotional imbalances, inflammation and injury. Anything that causes someone to contract their muscles and not allow them to return to the relaxation state can create a holding pattern, a constriction, a chronic tension, a state of perpetual or alternating contraction, a spasm, or paralysis. It may occur anywhere along the GI canal.

Some diseases like Hirschsprung’s remove some of the intestinal nerve endings and hence the gut muscles do not work. Some results of bowel inflammation (which can be the result of gut flora imbalance) may be paralysis or impairment of the nerves hence the muscles. Some inflammation leaves fibrotic tissue that is not flexible. Other types of inflammation leave narrowing with the potential for obstruction. Pain and nausea may be signs of this.

Some individuals have had one or many abdominal area surgeries during their life. The surgeries create adhesions that in turn can restrict or constrict passage through the lumen or tunnel of the gut.

Other Difficulties

Another situation is the urgency some of the first timers feel. Nothing is coming out and suddenly their muscles start moving, the dragon awakens. I can feel their muscles expand under my hands; I can feel movement for the first time. At this point, some clients might say; they are going to let loose, or go all over the place, or they can’t hold it or they don’t know how to let it go. Some clients feel so overwhelmed by their thoughts of what ‘might’ happen that they hold back or hold in which is in opposition to the bodily movements that are occurring.

Some of the initial sessions with first timers are just the opposite. The muscles do not respond. The colonic is like CPR. The aim is to get the ‘heart’ going again or in this case, to get the intestinal muscles to start pumping or ‘peristalting’ as we say for the intestines. The aim is to get the gut muscles to expand and contract in a balanced rhythm like the heart. Breathing, massage, other subtle body therapies and the introduction of water into the large intestines aid in this process.

In both modes, the colon hydrotherapy is a rehabilitating and retraining of the gut muscles.

Pain and Discomfort
I plan to devote another paper to this subject. I am a classic case. When I received my first colonics after a lifetime of constipation, I felt tremendous discomfort. The colon hydrotherapy process over time desensitized my discomfort and allowed me to relax and receive and let go throughout the process. I got to know my ‘intestines’ so to speak and learned a more comfortable and functional way of relating to them. I plan to share case studies and show how clients change through the process of colon hydrotherapy.


Whenever I assess via phone that I may have a difficult first cleanse, I ask the person to prepare for the first session by; drinking a gallon of fluids daily, making fruits and vegetables 50% of their diet, taking an enema or laxative the day(s) or night(s) before. This is volunteering on their part, it is not required. I explain that it helps facilitate the colonic, removes some of the most hardened or sticky fecal matter, and allows them to have an easier and deeper cleansing. This is also going to be true of people who return. Hydration and preparation are key.

I use all the techniques I have to get the muscles working and all the coaching I know to direct to the client. The deep abdominal breath is extremely important. I ask them to draw breath into the area of the navel and pelvic floor slowly and easily with easy releases or exhales. I use a physical therapy massager on the abdomen, shoulders, ribs over spleen and liver, and on the oblique muscles. I have found those areas to be most effective to achieve releases.

A difficult cleanse on the first visit indicates the need to do a series of sessions closer together to awaken the gut muscles and get waste moving. A dozen sessions might be necessary to ‘awaken the dragon.’

I might treat the first inflows like an enema. I have the person get up off the table and use the bathroom toilet to eliminate. I ask them if they feel they can make it to the bathroom if urgency is the issue. Very often, the client asks to go to the bathroom and I honor their request. This is all part of the session and perfectly valid. While they are in the bathroom, I check if the speculum is blocked. The client sees if they can pass any hardened material and if they want, they can return to the table. Getting rid of the hardened material is like breaking the dam. Afterwards, the softer material can flow more easily.

Another technique I find works well is pumping the waste line rhythmically and continuously by hand while they breathe. Very often, reams of waste may come pouring out. The pumping has been essential in the process and has allowed many impacted, dehydrated or urgent cleansings to go well. I also pump the line when I think the client might have blocked the speculum. That can happen with hard and sticky feces.

I examine the speculum. It’s worth taking the speculum out if I suspect it is blocked so I can either clean it out or eliminate a blocked speculum as the reason why nothing is coming out. Discomfort escalates with the combination of a blocked speculum and peristaltic waves propelling material toward the rectum. Leakage might be a major result.

I try using different positions. Usually the client lies on their back to receive the colonic. However, I may ask the client to shift to their left and/or right side and alternate the various positions from side to back to side. Occasionally, I ask the client to do small crunches or pull-ups for their abdominal muscles. At other times, I do hip joint manipulations, moving the legs one at a time, toward the abdomen and then releasing it. The rotation of positions allows the intestines to assume positions that might be more beneficial for releasing.


This does not exhaust the possibility of tools and skills. Some therapists and clients use visualization techniques. Each person has his or her own specialty.

A client’s action toward their healing is integral to the colonic process. The client addresses important issues such as high fluid, fruits and vegetables, appropriate proteins, electrolytes and flora, exercise and therapy, rest and meditation. The client builds up in areas of insufficiency and calms areas of over activity or excess.

My biggest responsibility is the education of the clients; to provide them a context in which their inability to eliminate is occurring, to let them know why it might happen, to give them the tools for releasing, to set forth a plan of sessions that will allow them to gradually let go. If it were so easy to come out, I would not be in business. That’s the paradox. Most clients think they get hooked up and everything flows out. Not so. About 10-20% of the clients I see have a difficult first cleanse with little coming out and/or with some urgency.

Some individuals can have this happen occasionally during their series of sessions. Some have had travels, or surgeries, or fights with their family members, or overwork, or poor diet or little or no exercise or pain medication or antibiotics. Some have chronically poor elimination with a tortuous or twisted, elongated or expanded intestines or past injury. Each time is a challenge. The more the client prepares, the better the session goes. As a rule of thumb, the client’s elimination improves as they continue to progress through their series.

Case Study

I had one client and friend for many years. She developed cancer of the ovaries that went into remission. A few years later, the cancer returned, this time in the lungs and lymph. She was also taking chemo, was in great pain and felt a blockage or large impaction inhibiting her elimination. She asked if I would give her a colonic. It was a slow and painful process and she kept saying she felt something large, a large impaction in her lower descending area. Finally, after a few inflows, some massage, and enough pain on her part with minor releases, she asked to sit on the toilet. When she returned to the room, she said she passed a piece of fecal material nearly 2 feet in length and 3 inches in diameter and felt greatly relieved. I finally lost my dear friend to cancer May 10, 2000.

To Contact Me

If you have any questions about ‘awakening your dragon’, or if you wish to set up an appointment, please call me at 520-325-9686. The ‘dragon’ is the symbol for developing personal power and the intestines are the site of that power.