Expert Talk: Gil Jacobs, colon hydrotherapist
Let's talk shit!
Hello! For this month’s Expert Talk, I interviewed Gil Jacobs, a NYC-based colon hydrotherapist. Gil has more than 30 years of experience in the holistic health space and has worked with thousands of clients. He’s also the best-kept secret in wellness.
Gil’s health philosophy is centered on cleansing the body of accumulated waste through gravity colonics and a whole-food, plant-based diet. I asked all the things you might want to ask a colon expert. Let’s dive in.
Note: This interview was cut down and edited for efficiency and clarity. As a Staten Island native, Gil has a way with explanations and words— I hope his charm and eccentric personality come through. I might release the unabridged version of this interview in the future.
1 - How did you get into colonics and health/wellness?
At a point in my life, I hit an emotional wall— the woman I was very into told me unexpectedly that she was marrying someone else. It was a great existential moment; it wasn’t even heartbreak, it was this existential, Camusian moment of, ah fuck it, this all sucks. So I got hydrochloric acid from a friend of mine, this guy who taught chemistry, and I told him I was using it in some experiment or something, and I drank it. It’s a poison. I immediately started puking up my guts, coming out like stewed tomatoes, and realized, oh fuck, I don’t want to die, this isn’t good.
So I went to a hospital where they kept me alive, which is what medical people are great at— unnatural circumstances, they can kick ass. So they gave me all these meds that kept me alive, but over the course of the next couple of months, my body started to whittle away. I turned green, my hair fell out, my left kidney totally stopped working, the weight was falling off me, my teeth started to rot; it was awful. That went on for 8-10 months. I was in and out of hospitals, down to 108 pounds. I was impotent as a mule. They were telling me my left kidney would have to come out. It was a shit show.
That was the era, those initial months, when I first learned about this. Someone came to visit me in the hospital and gave me a health book. I said, let me look into this alternative health because, at that point, I could tell the medical people were doing me no good. So I went into a health food store in Staten Island and saw this purple book. I thought, what the fuck is this book? There’s this crazy looking guy on the cover, and it was called The Mucusless Diet Healing System. I read that version of it, and it clicked, because at that time I was never peeing and never shitting— I was awful! So, off I went. I changed my diet and was juicing like crazy. I looked up colonics in the yellow pages— which, at that time, was all there was, there was no internet, you looked in the yellows. There was one colonic place back in ‘83, on 120 E 34th St. I connected to it pretty quickly, read all the literature, and then off I went.
The reason I’m good at this, and the reason people come here, whether they know it or not, is because there’s no agenda. I didn’t get into this as a business plan, I didn’t get into this because I’m interested in wellness and was looking for a career. It was none of that. All the stuff I do now is the reason I’m not dead. That’s why I do this work. All I’m doing now is simply the passing on of what I learned. William Faulkner, the great novelist, said that humans are not here to endure, they’re here to prevail. I didn’t just keep myself alive, but at this age now, I kinda… kick ass. So I got past the just not-dead space, into a very effective physical space.
2 - Research is showing that more and more systems in the body are affected by the colon. You’ve been saying this for decades. Why is the colon so important?
The colon, basically, is a sewer system. If waste matter gets stuck in the sewer, what ends up happening is the blood picks it up and becomes poisoned, so to speak. We all know the term leaky gut. What people don’t realize is most sickness is leaky gut. It means that the colon is so full that the matter is permeating into the other organs, and gets into the blood. Once the blood is “poisoned” by that matter and the pH goes low, the rest of the organs get ravaged by the poisoned blood.
One thing we hear all the time from women with ovarian pains is they get x-rays taken, and their gynecologist says to them, “My goodness! Your cecum,” which is the bottom right part of the colon, “is enveloping your right ovary. Your colon is eating up your ovary.” I’ve heard this from so many people, their doctors telling them that after reading x-rays. Why? Because the right corner of the colon is so full, it widens and widens and swallows the ovary. Now, let’s say it’s full under the left ribcage. It widens and widens and swallows the pancreas and spleen. It’s a sponge. The matter leaves. When it starts seeping into the other organs, the next thing you know is you have a spot on your lung, you have a spot on your liver, etc. That’s ten years ago’s unpassed waste.
The following has never existed: this guy has a really fucked up colon, but the rest of him is in pretty good shape. No such thing. There’s also no one with a good colon and a sickness some place else, it doesn’t exist. So it’s impossible for the body to have any level of health if the intestines are in bad shape. Now, that doesn’t mean people can’t be asymptomatic. Someone can have matter churning around in there for years before it becomes symptomatic.
3 - How do we know our digestive system is functioning properly and eliminating well? What constitutes good bowel health?
There are different ways one can tell. One way is you watch how many bowel movements you have a day. And remember, proper bowel movements are not the runs. Now, this gets a little graphic, but it’s very important in the colonic business. You know you’re having a good bowel movement by the expansion of your anus, as funny as that sounds. As you sit down, if you feel like matter is shooting through a tiny whole, the width of a pencil, no matter how much leaves your body—that’s no good, that means something’s off. Your butt should expand, like a guppy mouth. It should get wider, and you should feel the movement come out quickly, but not frenetically. It shouldn’t go all over the place. It should come out with a speed, but kind of like a kid on a sliding pond.
Now, the other way is at any point in time, other than after a meal, if you can’t pull your belly in to create a concave midsection— in other words, you do like a yogic suck-in-the-tummy— if you don’t see a big cavern between the the two pelvic bones and the bottom ribs, then your colon’s holding. This is something you see with protein people. You look at magazine covers, I see it all the time, where they got the workout girls in bikinis. You look at the midsection, and it isn’t sticking out, but when you look closely, you can see it’s flat and hard. If you can’t pull your midsection in and create a concave space, if it moves a tiny bit and it’s like a washboard, you have a full colon. Just check in and see, say, hey, can my intestines pull up? If they can, then we’re okay, but if they can’t budge, then that’s an intestine that needs cleansing.
When our elimination is good, we should feel buoyant, light, bouncy. The energy should be high and the mood should be good. If you sense you can’t take deep breaths, or that belly is always a bit protruding, or that your movements are runny, watery, and full of air, those are bad signs. The colon’s attempting to cleanse, but it’s not really happening. If you finish a bowel movement and get up two minutes later and feel like it’s not done, not a good sign. It should feel complete and boomf, boomf, boomf.
You should have one bowel movement for every meal, minimum. It’s never okay to eat and not have a movement. Some people say once or twice a week is normal— that’s nonsense, it’s deadly.
4 - Why do people get colonics? Isn’t the colon able to handle waste by itself?
You don’t develop a short memory in the colonic business. What that means is, if you get into this at 30 or 25, you get into hygienic, good eating, right? You have to ask yourself, what did I do dietetically from birth to 21? You think of the Pop-Tarts, the Captain Crunch, the cheeseburgers, the Hot Pockets, the TV dinners, all the sandwiches, all the blintzes, all the bialys, all the shit— the drugs when you were in college, the alcohol, the fast food, the ramen, the pasta, all that great stuff— the residue of all that is stuck in your body, and ailments come from the buildup of that residue. When you get into the health scene in your 30’s, your colon is walking around without twelve or thirteen pounds of putrefied shit. You expect it to function naturally when you start eating well? Let me know how that goes— not too good.
5 - What are foods that support good bowel health?
It depends where you are. If you’re a person, say, with colitis or Crohn’s disease, or if you’re chronically constipated, and you asked me that question, that’s a different answer than a 25-year-old athlete who’s in great shape but never paid attention to diet.
So, coming up the food chain: if somebody’s starting out, really good foods for bowel movements are cooked beets. We don’t want to do too much raw food with a person who has a bad digestive tract because that’s like putting a 5-year-old kid on a unicycle— it’s too quick. We look at foods like cooked beets, sautéed escarole, broccoli rabe, and spaghetti squash is a very laxative food. For beginners, a really good one is Wasa crackers. They’re little crunchy rye crackers that are fabulous for the bowel. You give them to people with sluggish bowels and the fiber of the grain works them silly.
For raw food, you’d have to be careful, as people get healthier, a really great flush-the-bowel food, especially at the beginning: grate a bunch of carrots, mince a bunch of cabbage really fine, you can throw in some garlic, and you just do that with olive oil and a smidgen of tamari. It's called the Broom Salad. You can garnish it with some cucumbers, some little bits of bell pepper if you wish, things like that, but if you make the base minced up cabbage and grated carrots, that’ll clean a bowel silly. Green leaves for a beginner, while they can be included because they cleanse, don't move through too well in a clogged colon. Chopped up celery is good.
Now, if you’re a healthy person with good bowels, you jump into green leaves, sprouts. The most laxative fruit, by far, in the winter, are grapefruits. Grapefruits are the bomb. The fiber and bromelain, they just blow through. Once you get to the summer, I believe mangos and pineapples go through the body fab. Persimmons— one of the all-time greats; they just move through the body. In terms of veggies, all steamed green leaves are good for beginners or moderate people. For healthy people, people really in shape, you’ll see sprouts move through like crazy.
Juices are fab. Now, if you have a really locked up intestine, and this saved me back in the day— carrot spinach juice. 10 oz carrots, 6 oz spinach. You do enough of that, three pints a day, and that will move through and open you up silly. As you get really clean, the high levels of the oxalic acid in the spinach bother the bowel— it’s too aggressive. But, when you’re flushing through, breaking in, we love carrot spinach juice. That’s a biggie.
6 - You’ve been helping people with their health for decades. What transformations do you see from diet changes and cleansing work?
You have to understand the dynamics. When you empty the colon, everything else empties— the cells dump in organic order. Once you clean the bowel, then the small intestine goes, then the stomach goes, and there’s this whole triage; it’s like knocking a domino. You clean the base, which is the colon, and all of a sudden, like snowflakes, all of the other organs start dumping their “poison” into the now clean colon. This is how you improve the health of the organs and overall health.
We’ve seen it happen countless times—ovarian problems, migraines, and— my favorite— sterility. Clean bodies perform human functions, toxic bodies don’t. The more you clean the bowel, the more the organs dump. That's how you get rid of acne; that’s how you get rid of a lot of things.
7 - What long-term benefits have you seen from the lifestyle and diet you promote (juicing, colonics, and a whole-food, plant-based diet)?
I think the biggest thing is your mood. It takes a lot for me to get into a depressed, melancholic state. You’re constantly in a functional mood because when the cells are clean, you have no choice. I remember before being into this, when something traumatic happens in your life, this dread comes where you feel like you can puke, you feel like you’re ill. The slightest thing gets you stressed, the slightest thing gets you depressed— that doesn’t happen to me. You keep in this fun, happy, engaging space.
That’s a huge plus because you don't spend your whole life thinking about you. I don’t sit around thinking, I have to do this, I have to do that— you can be present for the person you’re speaking to. I honestly believe that if you get into cleansing, it makes you the best possible you that nature gave. Whatever your potential is, you can tap into it in clean cells.
Also, there’s the independence from medicine. Like I’m 65, I’m supposed to get a colonoscopy every two years, I haven’t had any since I was dying in my 20’s. I don’t go for stress tests; I haven't taken medication for illness, even an aspirin, in 37 years. I don’t worry because this gives you a power and a freedom. You don’t expect yourself to break down with time. You know, you think about a normal 70-year-old person who’s waiting for themselves to break down; they’re just praying for a slow breakdown. When you’re into this, you don’t even think about the breakdown.
And then there’s things like muscle tone and strength. I still do workouts I did when I was in my 30’s. You don’t feel yourself coming down the bell curve. It keeps your mind clear, the ability to think and to process.
So, I think all of that, and just the ability to be the best possible you— to give a fuck about the people you’re with and not be so obsessed with self because you’re not afraid of anything. You know you’re in a good space.
Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Any application of information is at the reader’s discretion and sole risk. You should speak to your doctor before making lifestyle changes or starting a new diet/exercise/wellness program.