From colonic therapy to raw rood restaurants
Having a tube inserted in your bottom so a steady flow of water cleanses the inner recesses of your colon, while a pretty therapist massages your stomach and points to a mirror on the wall, smiles and says, “Look, pooh pooh coming out,” is a surreal experience that’s grounded in a more earthy reality: our bodies’ plumbing systems are cesspits of accumulated toxins.
Getting rid of these toxins can be achieved by three different means, says Dr. Niyada Tharncharoen from Balanze by HydroHealth—through breathing exercises such as pranayama, through sweating them out in a sauna, and through colonics (also known as colon hydrotherapy). The latter two are included in the Four-Hour Detox Package at this impeccably decorated, state-of-the-art facility that exudes the subdued grandeur of a five-star spa in a classy hotel.
Guests must first fill out a form asking about any physical or mental conditions that might be troubling them—from fatigue to depression—and list any recent injuries or operations, and any previous experiences with colonics. Once the form has been filled in a therapist will take your blood pressure and weigh you before the consultation with one of the center’s three doctors.
Dr. Niyada proves to be both an excellent consultant and a fascinating conversationalist, as we discuss everything from the chemicals found in seafood to the millennia-spanning treatment of detoxification that goes at least as far back to the Indian system known as Ayurveda, which is some 5,000 years old. She believes that “lifestyle, exercise and diet” are the building blocks of good health, but doing a colonics session every few months can hit the reset button for the body’s lymphatic system, which helps to drain toxins and waste products, just as it serves double and triple duty in service to both the immune and circulatory systems.
Part one of the program is a two-hour massage. This strain of massage borrows from the more gentle Swedish school with a few sweeping flourishes taken from the traditional Thai discipline, with a few pokes here and there to prod the lymphatic system into discharging some of its toxic cargo. The massage is a precursor to the colonics.
Balanze is the only such facility in Thailand which has its own reverse osmosis water treatment plant. Imported from the US, this expensive apparatus utilizes five different purification processes to ensure that the water is as pure as that used in top hospitals for kidney dialysis. The elaborate system of tubes and pumps is hidden behind a sliding screen. Ask the therapist if you can sneak a peek.
Without going into the scatological details too deeply, let’s just say your colon puts up with a lot crap. Because your bowel movements are regular is no guarantee that your plumbing could not be running more efficiently and taking less of a toll on the rest of your body.
As someone who has spent a whole week at the Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort on Koh Samui doing a detox program, which included three colonics, and has also tried a few other one-off treatments at different centers, I don’t find it to be an unpleasant experience. After you insert the tube about an inch and a half into your anus while sitting atop a contraption that is like something out of a gynecologist’s office, the therapist comes to check that the tube is secure and turns on the water. You can keep yourself covered with a smock and not feel even the slightest tic of nervousness or embarrassment.
As the water swirls around your entrails, yes, there are fleeting moments of discomfort, but for most of the 40 minutes it’s smooth sailing in a fully sanitized and odorless sanctum. The therapist will come to check up on you regularly, and after 15 or 20 minutes rubs your abdomen to aid the waste process.
All the while, you can read a magazine, play Candy Crush, or post on Facebook as the poisons of urban life are purged from your system leaving a wealth of positive effects in their wake.
NOTE: From now until Dec. 31st, 2017, Balanze by HydroHealth is offering Bangkok 101 readers a special 10% discount on select treatments. Call 02 250 7800 for more details.
If you’re in search of a more mid-range facility offering colonics in Bangkok give the Rasayana Retreat a whirl. Tucked away in a quiet soi off Sukhumvit Soi 39, this center has a wonderfully tranquil air and relaxed vibe. Entering the retreat is like leaving Bangkok—it’s an oasis of calm in a desert of racket and sun-blasted concrete.
In business for more than 10 years, and having acquired a long list of loyal regulars, Rasayana—the name is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning “rejuvenation”—also serves as a community center for the good-health set, featuring regular workshops on everything from cooking “raw food” to self-empowerment and yoga.
The Half-Day Detox Package, priced at a reasonable B5,650, includes a one-hour lymphatic massage, a stint in the far-infra-red sauna, colon hydrotherapy, and a healthy meal at the end.
The heavyset and weight-conscious will be pleased to learn that 30 to 40 minutes in the sauna can make you shed some 600 calories. Another ancient practice, the sauna is the drip-bleed approach to detox, as if your body were shedding tears of relief as all the built-up poisons seep through the skin.
The fulfilling finale of the program at Rasayana Retreat is the drink and meal in the Raw Food Café. It was news to me that “raw” or “living” are interchangeable terms when related to food that has been cooked at less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit (43°C), so that valuable nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are not burned off in the cooking process.
The varied menu of dishes on offer, from soups and salads to pastas and a mushroom burger or shitake sandwich, means that the Raw Food Café has developed a healthy following of gourmands. While writing and researching this story I stumbled across the latest social media photo trend: “ribcage bragging”, where young women show off their ribs. It’s another reminder that in our vain quest for physical attractiveness, we tend to focus more and more on our exteriors and less and less on the inner workings of our bodies.
Ironically, as I learned from the experts at both Balanze and Rasayana Retreat, the outer façade and inner body are inextricably intertwined. So when you detoxify the results go well beneath the skin while also leaving a healthy glow on your face and in your eyes. But none of your Facebook friends and Instagram fans need to know the real story lurking behind your youthful radiance.