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Down the Chute 

California Medical Board shuts down Santa Rosa colonic studio

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Every Body's questions to the Medical Board have as of yet gone unanswered.

"The Medical Board would not be able to comment on any investigation, as investigations are confidential," writes Medical Board chief of legislation Jennifer Simoes in an email, denying a request for a telephone interview.

Via email, Simoes restated the attorney general's 2002 ruling about colonic hydrotherapy: "The opinion says that colonic hydrotherapy constitutes 'treatment' for the purposes of the medical practice act and must be performed by a licensed physician or under the direction of a licensed physician. If an individual is performing colonic hydrotherapy and is not a licensed physician or under the direction of a licensed physician, this would constitute practicing medicine without a license, and may result in criminal action."

If it were still online, Every Body's website would show about two dozen testimonials from medical professionals across the spectrum praising Baird and Barlow's practice. Justin Hoffman, a certified naturopathic medical doctor at Truhealth medical clinic in Santa Rosa, said he isn't surprised to see an investigation take place. "I know it happens all the time," he says. "The Medical Board in California generally operates under the assumption that if somebody is practicing medicine without a license they investigate it."

He declined to comment on Every Body's pending case, though he referred to Baird and Barlow as "dear friends." When asked if they have a good reputation in the profession, he replied, "I would definitely say that yes."

Every Body's office is tidy, the hydrotherapy machine well maintained and the proprietors are courteous and professional, according to several reviews and client testimonials on the now-offline website.

Reputation does not count in legal opinion, however. In the state attorney general's 2002 ruling overriding SB 577's clause, colonic hydrotherapy was defined as medical practice. It reads: "The condition of the walls of the large intestine are changed by undergoing the procedure. The purpose of colon hydrotherapy is, at a minimum, to change the client's physical condition so that the client will be healthier than before the procedure is performed."

The decision goes on to suggest that even by determining if colonic hydrotherapy would be beneficial to a given person, practitioners are thereby diagnosing a client, which is considered practicing medicine.

Simoes reiterated the board's position: "The Medical Board rigorously enforces all laws in the Medical Practice Act and other laws pertaining to physicians and surgeons."

Baird says that this could cause reverberations not only among other colonic hydrotherapy practitioners, but throughout the alternative medical field to practices like acupuncture or massage.

"The fact that [the investigator] included section 3640 of the business and professions code [regarding practices other than just colonic hydrotherapy] in his supporting documentation is what has caused many different attorneys to have the opinion that they are setting us up to set a new precedent not only for colon therapy but for other alternative health practices," says Baird.

"They're not trying to get rid of colonic hydrotherapy as a practice, they're just trying to own it."

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