Introduction: Colonic Irrigation Board
I realize that colonic irrigation is still a bit controversial, and not everyone is ready to accept information on the subject. But I personally have found it helpful, as have other people I know, so this is offered for those who have an interest. The target audience, put humorously, would be health nuts with carpentry skills. Colonic cleansing boards and kits are available commercially of course, but for those who have the skillz, DIY is an option.
First let me say that I am not a medical professional. The information offered here is not medical advice; it is provided in the hope, but without the guarantee, that it may be useful. Your mileage, as they say in the automobile commercials, may vary. You are encouraged to take responsibility for your own well-being. Do do due diligence, but beware of “doo doo”. Worthy research on the subject should turn up quite an array of beliefs, benefits, truths, half-truths, and lies (that's the doo doo). You can decide what is right for you.
As you may know, health and personal hygiene practices have been, are, and will probably continue to be subject to the vagaries of human opinion. Take bathing, for example. During the time of the Roman Empire bathing was popular, and most Romans took a daily bath. But during the Middle Ages, in Western culture at least, bathing was discouraged. The face, ears, neck might be washed, as could hands and feet, but bathing the entire body was considered rude, unnecessary, and dangerous. Quite a far cry from those health-conscious Romans! Side note: I read that Indiana still has a law prohibiting bathing during the winter. As I am writing this in February, 2011, I am pretty sure that I have some friends who broke this law, today.
Around the time of the Renaissance the pendulum of opinion started to swing back the other way. By the mid 17th century, prosperous Western people were taking a full bath once a year, whether they needed it or not. Guess what? They always did. Side note: I read that Kentucky still has a law that requires Kentuckians to take at least one bath a year, minimum. I don't know anyone who is breaking this law.
In the 1800s, germ theory became widely accepted, and people were encouraged, in the interests of health, to bathe more. By now most of us take a bath or shower more or less daily. So currently the idea of an external bath is pretty well accepted. The idea of an internal bath, though, is not so popular. In fact some folks consider an internal bath rude, unnecessary, and even dangerous. Sound familiar?
Nevertheless down through the ages, certain people have practiced, and even advocated, colon cleansing. Here are some of the better-known: Cleopatra, famed Egyptian queen; Dr. Harvey Kellogg, developer of Kellogg's Corn Flakes; film star Mae West; John Lennon; Madame Chiang Kai Shek; Princess Diana; and Janet Jackson. Madame Chiang lived to be 105, so she must have been doing a lot of things right. Regular colon cleansing was one of them.
So what follows is one version for the design, construction, and directions for use of a colonic irrigation kit. I look forward to seeing others' suggestions and improvements.
Step 1: List of Materials & Tools
Lists are in descending order of necessity and usefulness. That is, the higher an item is in its list, the more necessary it is. Roughly speaking of course. The PDF contains a full scale template for the butt blocks, plus some other diagrams.Materials: Wood
board or water-resistant plywood: 1 ea. ¾” x 16” x 46”
butt blocks: 1 ea. 2 x 4 x 1'
legs (optional) 2 ea. 2 x 2 x 3’
leg gusset (optional) plywood 1 ea. 3/16” x 6” x 16”
1 ea. 5 gallon (20 liter)
1 ea. 6 quart (6 liter) plastic
flexible plastic tubing (silicone tubing is best): 5/16” o.d. x 10’
& tubing fittings of appropriate size:
1 ea. tubing clamp
3 ea. 90° plastic elbows
1 ea. brass T-block
1 ea. barbed connector for brass T-block
1 ea. grommet for elbow entry in splash guard (optional)
Rigid plastic tubing 1/4” (0.63 cm) o.d. x 9” (23 cm) (If you want more than one nozzle, allow 9 inches per nozzle.)Consumables
Paint (gloss latex, or oil enamel, or lacquer, or shellac, or spray enamel, or basically any paint that is waterproof after it dries)
Glue: epoxy for nozzle tips
Caulk (for fixed splash guard, if chosen)
Automotive body putty, & catalyst
Super glue, 2 drops
Paper (optional, for tracing curves)
Cardboard (optional, for layout)
Screws (optional, if you choose the fixed splash guard & butt blocks)
1 pair lag studs, washers, nuts, and wing nuts (optional, if you choose removable splash guard and butt blocks)
1 pair rubber bumper pads (optional, for toilet bowl standoffs on underside of board)
1 pair folding-leg hardware (for optional folding legs)
1 pair rubber leg tips (for optional folding legs)
1 ea. foam pad (optional; a couple kids’ room floor tiles work well.)
Drill & bits
Jig saw (formerly called saber saw)
Angle grinder (optional)
Fine felt-tip marker
Paint brush and/or roller (unless you use spray paint only)
Pipe cleaner (to remove swarf from nozzle)
Screw driver (required if using screws)
Tin snips (maybe)
Chalk or ink line (optional)
Flexible curve (optional, for layout)
Calipers (optional, for measuring splash bucket)
Wood rasp(s) (maybe)
Step 2: Board
We’ll start with the bigger parts: board, splash guard, and butt blocks, with mention of optional folding legs. Then we'll work down to the finer items: tubing, fittings, and nozzle.
As with most projects, there are lots of options. In addition to the folding leg option, there is a choice of either fixed or knock-down splash guard. We'll show both. For a confined space where storage is at a premium, such as a small apartment or boat, the knock-down option allows for flat board storage; the splash guard can be stashed separately with butt blocks inside. Folding legs are not really necessary in most home environments, but they are convenient and eliminate the need for a separate chair or stool to support the head end of the board.
Let's start with the board itself. A good piece of plywood or unfinished lumber three quarters of an inch thick (nominal 1-by- ) [about 2 cm] will be strong enough for regular-sized adults. Measure and cut a piece 16" (40 cm) wide and 46" (117 cm) long. If you are dealing with a particularly restricted space, or odd geometry, you can make a cardboard mockup first, just to make sure that your board will fit in your space (see picture). If you like, you can round the corners off. I traced a bowl to get rounded corners. We'll come back to the board later. For now, go on to Splash Guard.
Step 3: Splash Guard
For the splash guard, use a 6 quart (6 liter) plastic bucket. A fine-point felt-tip marker works well to lay out the cuts. A jigsaw (formerly called saber saw) works great for cutting a plastic bucket. Tin snips work too, but that plastic is tough; a jigsaw is better.
Turn the bucket upside down.
Mark a straight line right through the center and cut across the bottom of the bucket.
For the sides of the bucket, don't line the cuts up with the bottom cut. Leave an extra 5/8 inch (1.6 cm) tab on each side. So for the sidewalls, you end up with slightly more than half a bucket. Each tab will fit into its groove in the butt block.
Mark a vertical line on each side down to the reinforcing ring, being sure to allow for the tabs. Make the cuts, but do not cut through the reinforcing ring at the lip of the bucket.
That's all for right now. We will deal with the relief notches in a subsequent step.
Step 4: Board, Again
Now you can lay out and cut the hole in the board. The hole is a half circle, slightly enlarged.
To determine the size of this semi-circle, measure the splash guard bucket; get the outside diameter right next to the reinforcing ring. Most buckets taper, and the dimension next to the ring will be slightly larger than that of the bottom of the bucket.
Lay out a half-circle on the board, leaving equal margins at the foot and on both sides. (Unless you are dealing with special geometry of course, in which case, make adjustments. The model pictured using the cardboard cutout had to accommodate a high-tech toilet seat at a particular angle.)
I used a compass for the half-circle, then added a convex curve to it.
The piece of brown paper in the picture is a template for the sluiceway (covered in a later step) and the curve at the bottom will mark the expansion of the half-circle toward the head of the board. Folding and cutting the paper makes for symmetrical curves.
Bore a starter hole big enough to accommodate the jigsaw blade. Make the hole just inside the marked semi-circle and use the jigsaw to make the cut.
Step 5: Splash Guard, Again
Now you can insert the splash guard into the hole. Mark the sidewalls for the cuts to relieve the tabs where they contact the board.
Remove the splash guard from the board and make the relief cuts. This frees up the tabs.
Put a mark on the outside of the splash guard positioned 2 inches up from the board and in the center of the rear wall. Drill this to receive one of the elbow fittings for the tubing.
I bought a rubber grommet of the correct size at the O-ring store (I kid you not), but if your neighborhood does not happen to be blessed with an O-ring store, you could probably find them mail order, or you can simply caulk an elbow in place. Make the hole a snug fit and silicone caulk should work well for this.
Step 6: Butt Blocks
Measure the height of the splash guard from the board, and lay out the butt blocks on a piece of 2 x 4 or other piece of wood. Before you cut the S-curve (ogee curve) with a jigsaw, cut the tab grooves with a circular saw; if you are using a circular hand saw, cutting these groove cuts is easier and safer when you still have a length of 2 x 4 to hold onto. Or you could use a hand saw, preferably a rip saw, if you have one. Note that the grooves are at a slight angle to accommodate the taper of the bucket. Be careful to get the angles going the right directions! The left and right butt blocks are mirror images of each other.
If you use a symmetrical S-curve, one cut will do for both blocks. Mark and cut the butt blocks. The curved sides can be rounded off using a shaper, or wood rasps or an angle grinder.
Put the splash guard in place in the board and hold each butt block in position as it engages its tab. Mark the board where each butt block sits. This will help to lay out the sluiceway as well as butt block attachments.
Step 7: Sluiceway
The sluiceway is a gentle valley in the middle of the board that helps keep everything flowing in the right direction: toward the toilet.
Lay out and mark an area on the board between the butt blocks. See Step 4 for a paper template idea. Don't cut into the butt block positions. Adjust a circular power handsaw for a depth of cut that leaves a quarter inch of board, i.e., for a 3/4 inch board, adjust for a 1/2 inch cut. Make radial cuts, as shown, in the area of the sluiceway.
Finish off with a hammer and chisel, or you can pretty much sweep all the waste out with repeated cuts of the circular saw. Or you can smooth out the depression with an angle grinder if you have an angled flap wheel.
Fill, strengthen, and even out the sluiceway with automotive body filler. I did a couple coats of body filler—the first gets the general shape; the second fairs out any remaining irregularities. Then sand it smooth, just like auto body repair.
Step 8: Splash Guard/Butt Blocks, Fixed
For fixed splash guard and butt blocks, insert the guard and turn the board, with guard, upside down. Drill and screw the reinforcing ring to the board. Brass screws, though more expensive, make for a quality build that won’t rust.
Seat a butt block in place with its tab engaged. This goes better with a person helping—one set of hands above the board, one set below. From the top, that is the bottom-side of the board, drill and screw the butt block into place. Two screws per block are good–one on either side of the reinforcing ring. Repeat with second block.
Step 9: Splash Guard/Butt Blocks, Removable
For removable splash guard and butt blocks, the splash guard is held in place by its flexible tabs, and each butt block is secured by a lag stud and wing nut.
To position the lag stud holes, insert the splash guard in the board upside down, with the reinforcing ring on the same side of the board as the sluiceway. Mark the location of the ring as it crosses the butt block positions. The lag studs are not centered in the butt blocks (I made this error; maybe you won't have to); each lag stud must be positioned outside the ring, but still within the butt block contact area that you marked earlier, and there needs to be enough room between the ring and the stud when it protrudes from the bottom of the board to allow for a washer and wing nut. Also, given the shape of the butt block, the lag stud cannot be too close to the S-curve. This leaves just about one place per side, with little margin for error. Mark the locations for the lag studs on the top of the board.
A good way to transfer each mark accurately to its butt block is to prick the mark with an awl, making a hole about the diameter of a pencil lead in the top of the board. Break the graphite tip off a pencil and superglue it in the hole so that the tip sticks up. Then with the splash guard back in place right-side up, engage each butt block with its tab and press it down onto that bit of graphite. This makes a mark on the bottom of the butt block. Punch the center at the mark in the bottom of the butt block, select a drill bit slightly smaller than the lag screw threads, and drill each block as straight (perpendicular to the mating surface) as possible, being careful not to drill so deeply that the bit comes out of the S-curve face. Install each lag stud into its butt block by putting two nuts on the stud section, snugging them together, and turning the lag screw into the block. Remove the nuts.
Select a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the stud. Using the glued-in graphite bits as targets, punch and drill the two holes in the board, again as straight as possible, this time a tad oversize to receive the studs.
Step 10: Optional Folding Legs
Legs are not required, but can be a nice convenience. Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl, and cut legs to match (less the height of the leg tips if used, and plus the height of rubber board bumpers, if used) so that the board will lie level.
The legs are 2 x 2 stock, and I attached them with the folding leg hardware shown in some of the pictures. The hardware is clever; it snaps open and snaps closed, with a spring latch that holds in either position. Cost was around US$16 for the pair. The plywood gusset keeps the legs stable. No racking.
Step 11: Paint
Sand the wooden parts. Hit the low spots with wood filler before sanding if you want a smooth job. Follow with any waterproof paint: latex- or oil- or epoxy-based enamel, lacquer, or shellac. Brush, roll, or spray it on. A good paint job protects the wood and makes the finished article look good.
The white unit in the pictures was made from board that was factory faced on two sides with a hard semi-gloss white finish. All I had to do was fill, sand and paint the edges and the sluiceway, then strip off the protective paper.
For fixed splash guard/butt blocks, caulk the seams between the splash guard and the wood. This keeps moisture from creeping into the seams and making the wood swell.
Bumper pads may be attached to the under side of the board where it will rest on the toilet rim. Fine-grain foam or rubber pads are available with peel-off adhesive. Try a test fit on the toilet, mark, and then stick bumpers in place.
Step 12: Bucket Hook (optional)
The bottom of the water bucket needs to be elevated from 1.5 to 4 feet (45 to 120 cm) above the level of the board when in use. There are various ways to do this. You can wheel in a stack of hampers. Or take advantage of a nearby shelf, if it is big and strong enough.
Do note that the water in a full 5-gallon bucket weighs around 42 pounds (19 kg). Plus there is the weight of the bucket. So it pays to ensure the bucket is stable. You don’t want it falling on anyone.
Shown in the picture is a wall-mounted hook. The idea of a firmly-mounted wall hook may sound like it would make a bathroom look too hospitular (What is the hospital adjective anyway? Maybe I should say clinical.), but in reality it is less obtrusive than you might think, especially if there is nothing hanging on it. It would blend in even more if it were painted the same color as the wall.
For a hook type setup, it helps to put an extra bend, a ripple, in the very middle of the bucket bail so that the bucket hangs well centered. You can sort of see this in the second picture. It does not have to be huge; just a dent up will do the job.
Step 13: Tubing
The tubing is easy. About 3/8 inch outside diameter (o.d.) flexible silicone tubing works well. I mixed tubing types, and that proved to be a mixed blessing. The stiffer plastic is cheaper, but then I had to put in a section of silicone for the hose clamp. Next time I make one of these, I’ll just get all silicone tubing. It is very durable. I don’t know why I was in such a cheap mood the day I bought different kinds of tubing. Get about ten feet. Clear is good; you can see when the water runs out.
Also you will need some tubing fittings. Get 3 each 90 degree elbows: two to negotiate the lip of the bucket and one for the grommet connection through the splash guard. Get a hose clamp, and then something with some weight to it that will hold one end of the tubing down in the bottom of the water bucket. I used a brass T-block with a barbed fitting. It’s chunky enough to make a decent weight.
Attach the weight to one end of the tubing and put it in the water bucket. Cut the tubing so that an inserted elbow will just see over the top of the bucket rim. Cut a small section of tube (about 1 ¼ inches (3 cm) long) and fit it to the horizontal arm of the elbow. Insert another elbow in the free end and point the open end down. Attach the remainder of the tubing to the free end of that elbow. Slide the hose clamp onto the tubing and position it so that it is handy for a person lying on the board.
The end of the tubing will attach to the elbow that is fixed in the splash guard.
Step 14: Nozzle
Now for the nozzle(s). In my opinion, the nozzle should be clean and dry between uses, but sterilization is unnecessary. Unless, maybe, if you are offering a public colonic service. For boards that are used by more than one person, some people prefer to have a separate, assigned nozzle for each person.
For each nozzle, cut 9 inches (22 cm) of rigid 1/4 inch (6.35mm) o.d. plastic tube. Round off the ends somewhat with sandpaper or a grinding wheel.
Mix up some epoxy and dip one end in to make a smooth blob. Let harden.
Bore holes. Use a small bit (around 1/16th inch, 1.6 mm) and drill four times perpendicular to the tube’s axis, for a total of eight holes through the tube wall. Place the first hole just inside the inner end of the epoxy blob. That way later on there will be no hard-to-clean cul-de-sac. Drill all the way through both walls. Don’t go too fast; sometimes rigid tubing can be a bit brittle. When the holes are done, take a slightly larger bit between thumb and fingers and countersink the edges of the holes. This refinement hardly shows, but it makes the nozzle more comfortable when in use. After drilling and countersinking, swarf can be removed by running a pipe cleaner in and out both the length of the tube and also the little side holes.
The nozzle is attached to the inner end of the splash guard elbow with a short length (2 inches (5 cm) or so) of flexible silicone or rubber tubing. If all works well, a piece of the same tubing will fit. Otherwise you may need a bit of a different size tubing, or thicker walled tubing, to make the connection. For adult use, the end of the nozzle should extend about 4 ½ inches (11.5 cm) beyond the upright parts of the butt blocks.
This completes manufacture and assembly.
Step 15: Directions for Use
Congratulations on the completion of your Colon Cleansing Board! When you are ready for a colonic irrigation, follow these instructions:
Lift the toilet lid and seat, and put the board in place with the business end resting on the toilet bowl. The head end of the board should be steady and well-supported. It is okay if head end of the board is level with or slightly higher than the toilet end. It is NOT okay if the head end is lower than the toilet end. If it is, prop the head end up till it is at least on a level. This is more comfortable, and if water gets on the board it will flow in the right direction.
Arrange whatever you like in the way of music, incense, or gentle fan. A pad such as a yoga mat or a couple of foam floor tiles can make lying on the board more comfortable, especially for thin people, but we suggest something that is waterproof and easy to wash up. A small pillow for the head is good too. The pillow does not need to be waterproof. You may want to add a blanket or large towel if the air is cold.
Insert the nozzle into the coupling tube inside the splash guard. The tip of the nozzle should extend about 4.5 inches (11 cm) beyond the butt blocks.
Place the water bucket in an elevated position so that the water will flow into the body. The bottom of the water bucket should be around 2 feet (60 cm) above the board, but anywhere from 1 to 4 feet (30~122 cm) will work okay. This does not mean that the bucket needs to be directly over the board, just that it needs to be higher than the board. Make sure that the bucket is secure and stable. Five gallons (19 liters) of water weighs about 42 lb (19 kg, or 3.3 stone), and you do NOT want that falling down, especially not on top of you.
Add bicarbonate of soda–this is regular baking soda, NOT baking powder–and table salt to the water bucket. For each gallon (3.78 liters) of water, add one heaping teaspoon (6 ml) of soda, and one level teaspoon (5 ml) of salt. So for a five gallon (19 liter) bucket, that is 5 heaping teaspoons (30 ml) of soda, and 5 level teaspoons (25 ml) of regular table salt. This will make a slightly antiseptic, osmotically balanced cleansing solution.
Fill the water bucket with clean, lukewarm water. Water should be body temperature. Put your hand in and estimate. Be sure to dissolve the soda and salt thoroughly. Put the soda and salt into the bucket before turning on the water. That way the warm water dissolves the soda and salt as it swirls in.
Do whatever you do to set up a siphon. One method is to make sure the tubing clamp is open, then feed the tube in weight first, followed by the length till it fills with water. When it is full of water with no bubbles, clamp it off, and, leaving the weight in the bucket, snake the other end down and hook it up to the board/nozzle. Release the clamp for a second to make sure the siphon is working. You don't want to get down on the board with the nozzle in place only to find that the siphon is on strike.
Remove clothing and lube the nozzle and anus with KY jelly or similar (Vaseline would probably work). Lie on your back with your knees up, ease yourself into place, and when comfortable, release the clamp. Control anal sphincter to expel water and feces as needed. The nozzle is small enough that clean water can be flowing in at the same as dirty water is gushing out. There is no need to flush the toilet during the cleanse; wastes empty down the drain automatically but without the usual flushing sound.
If you get uncomfortable, shut the clamp for a minute or two, relax, and expel. Then release the clamp again. The water solution flows in and out, in and out, many times in the course of one colonic irrigation. As it flows out, it takes crap with it.
You can massage your abdomen gently to help the cleansing process. In the course of half an hour, start massage at the lower left quadrant just inside the left hip bone, and work up the left side, across just below the rib cage, and down the right side to the appendix area (lower right quadrant), as you imagine the front line of flushing progresses.
It takes around 40 minutes to go through 5 gallons of water—or longer if you take a lot of relaxation breaks.
When the entire five gallons is used, you should see bubbles go through the tubing; when you do, get up, clean up, and flush the toilet. Clean the equipment; take a shower. Flush the nozzle with water, hang the tubing so that the water runs out of it, and store with the clamp OPEN. Don't want to put a crimp in the tubing. You may experience increased urination just after the cleanse. Might have to do another bowel movement too. Whatever.
You may feel 'hungry' the day after a colonic, but it is suggested that you eat only moderately. Including some yogurt is a good choice; it replenishes healthy intestinal bacteria. As you gradually resume eating, it is a great time to make any diet improvements that you may have been thinking about. Side note: for those interested in fasting, a colonic irrigation gets a fast off to a good start.
After a colonic, things go quiet for a day or few on the bowel movement front, then (if you are eating) normal bowel movements will resume.
One colonic every three months is a good average. If you get enthusiastic, you might consider once a month as a maximum, though it is true that some people advise more often. Extreme cleansing may well be indicated in cases of extreme disease, but should probably be undertaken, at least at first, under the supervision of an experienced colon-health practitioner.
Here's to joyful good health!