(Originally printed in OC WEEKLY, Thursday, May 18, 2006)
Jeannie Martin is a colon hydrotherapist at Body Health in Irvine.
Is this job as gross as it sounds?
Well, my husband always says it takes a special kind of person to do this. You can’t be queasy. It’s not gross for me. It’s a job. It’s easy. We use a tube for the colonic, everything goes out through the tube and it’s all contained in there, so there’s no smell. If I open my wrist and see a lot of blood—like when I was opening a door one time, and the wood was splintered and I got caught on it—that’s gross to me. Or like I cut my finger recently, and all the guts came out, and I felt a little faint seeing that. But with this job, no, not at all. I always say that I’m not seeing anything I don’t see every time I go to the bathroom, y’know? I see it all the time, so how could that be gross to me? A lot of times people are really nervous when they come in here, they don’t want to see what comes out. But then once we get started they look behind them, at all the stuff flowing out through the tube, all the junk that was impacted and is flowing out now, and they’re like, “Ooh, neat!”
I’ve heard urban legends about people having this done, and it flushes out old doll shoes and pennies they ate when they were kids. Is that possible, and have you seen it?
I’ve never seen anything like that, so I don’t know. But I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff.
Like worms. Really big roundworms, tapeworms. I’ve got a big one on the counter in front of me right now. He’s in a jar.
How big is it?
Well, he’s all coiled up, you know. It’s hard to say.
You can approximate.
Hmm. He’s only about four inches, actually. He’s not that big.
That sounds big enough.
They come in all different lengths. I’ve seen, like, a foot-long worm.
Are they ever alive?
Well, we don’t normally see worms from just the colonic; that’s more something that happens from a cleansing. So when they come out from that, they’re already dead.
Yeah, people do things to cleanse their system—like they’ll fast, or use herbal products to get rid of parasites. Wormwood is good for that. And if they do that, we can see some worms.
Your profession is very controversial with mainstream doctors, and some of them even say it’s dangerous to get a colonic, that the colon could rupture. What do you say to that?
Well, you read things online where they make it sound like we pump in 20 gallons of water all at once. We only pump in 15 gallons of water, and it’s not all at the same time. We really take our time, and we’re very careful.
So you’ve never had an emergency?
Never. I’ve never known anybody who did.
What sort of safety precautions do you use? Do you wear a mask? Do you have immunizations?
There’s no need for the mask, because, like I said, it’s all going through the tube. And there are no immunizations. But we do wear the gloves. Everything is disposable. It’s all very sanitary.
What inspired you to get into this profession?
Most of the people who get into this had some kind of health problems that led them to seek it out. That’s what happened to me. I was working in the garment industry, and I had a lot of toxins in my system. I had bronchitis, sinus problems, a lot of skin irritations. My parents learned about colonic hydrotherapy in 1958, from Victor Irons, one of the pioneers in the field, so I knew about this growing up. But my own health problems inspired me to pursue it. Obviously, I’m glad I did.
You had colonics growing up?
No, we didn’t need it then, but our parents really watched our diets. We couldn’t have white flour, white sugar or preservatives. Of course, we’d sneak off and eat junk food with our friends, you know.
Do you come right out and tell strangers what you do for a living, or do you use some sort of euphemism?
I don’t come right out and say, but my husband does. [Laughs.] Whenever he’s talking to somebody and they say they’re having some kind of stomach problem, he’ll say, “You’re talking to the right person! You should talk to my wife.” I don’t just spring it on people. Like if we’re at a wedding and people ask what I do for a living, I’ll just laugh and say, “Well, we’ll talk about it after dinner.” And then, of course, all through dinner, they’re dying to know.
How do people react?
Actually, they’re really eager to talk about it. Nobody ever talks about this stuff, you know, so everybody has a lot of questions. I went on a retreat a while ago. We were driving up to the mountains, and the woman next to me asked what I did. I told her, and then for the next few hours, that was all anybody wanted to talk about. They had a million questions. A lot of women I talk to, they go to the bathroom like once a week. Some of them, it’s once a month! There’s way too much constipation out there. People are dying to talk about it.