The large intestine is part of the alimentary tract extending from the ileocecal valve to the anus. It is approximately five to five and one half feet long and has an average diameter of two and a half inches. The large intestine can be divided into six regions: cecum, ascending, transverse, descending, sigmoid colon, and rectum. The cecum is a blind pouch which receives chyme from the ileum through the ileocecal valve.
It has the largest diameter, 3 to 3.5 inches, of the large intestine and is the least motile. A small wormlike tube, the vermiform appendix, is attached to the cecum. Inflammation of this structure is referred to as appendicitis.
The sigmoid colon empties into the last part of the large intestine, the rectum. Three semilunar valves, Valves of Houston, are present in the mucosal layer of the rectum which slows fecal movement through this region. It is not designed to serve as a reservoir. It is normally empty unless defecation is occurring. Generally, the descending and sigmoid colon evacuate at the same time. The last two to three inches of the rectum is referred to as the anal canal. Its lining is squamous epithelium. Several blood vessels are present in this region and their inflammation is known as hemorrhoids.
Most of the digestion and absorption is complete by the chyme reaches the cecum. The major function of the large intestine is the formation and elimination of feces. Feces consist of undigested food residues, intestinal epithelium, mucus, bacteria, toxins, and a large amount of water.
Colon bacteria ferment starches, releasing hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane gases, and convert any undigested protein into amino acids. These products are then converted into indoles and hydrogen sulfide which give the feces its odor. Bilirubin, which entered the intestine in the bile, is broken down into other pigments by bacteria and is responsible for the normal coloration of feces. Light, clay colored stools indicate biliary deficiency or blockage. The amount, composition, color and odor of feces depends on the food ingested. A diet consisting of many vegetables will produce a large amount of feces, generally dark yellow. A high protein diet will produce a small amount of very dark feces. In a mixed diet the bulk will vary but the feces should generally be brown. Very black stools indicate upper intestinal pathology.
Bacteria are also involved in the production of several important vitamins which are absorbed by the large intestine and stored in the liver (K and B vitamins). Besides vitamins, the colon absorbs large amounts of water (cecum and ascending colon). Toxins of bacterial metabolism (indol, skatol, cresol, phenol and others) are not prevented from entering the circulatory system and are treated by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Hydrogen and methane gasses absorbed in the colon are excreted through the lungs. Thus, a very foul breath is often a symptom of a stagnant and fermenting colon. Besides lubrication, mucus is secreted by the large bowel in an effort to mechanically prevent the entrance of toxins into the blood.
Colon hydrotherapy directly targets the toxins, fecal matter, harmful gasses, and can complete a colon cleansing in 45 minutes.