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I’ve covered the topic of drinking coffee, and if it’s healthy or not, in this post, but there’s actually another way to benefit from everyone’s favorite morning beverage. Coffee enemas may sound scary and unsanitary, but there is some evidence that they are beneficial for many health issues. Here I cover what’s up with coffee enemas, the potential risks, and how we can benefit from consuming coffee… from the other end!
How This Interesting Practice Came to Be
Enemas have been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians detailed the protocol on ancient sheets of papyrus. (Imagine your job description being “nery phuyt”… or anus shepherd!) Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, also strongly encouraged them. There are even mentions of enemas on the Dead Sea scrolls as a way to purify the body and soul.
Using coffee became a more widely popular practice starting in World War I. They were reportedly used for pain reduction during the war when meds were scarce. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy even considered them as standard health care treatment until 1972.
Most recently, proponents of alternative medicine (from Goop to holistic psychologists) are turning their attention back to coffee enemas as a means of detoxification.
What Is a Coffee Enema?
Yes, it really is what it sounds like!
Coffee flows into the colon via the rectum and is then expelled in a bowel movement a few minutes later. The caffeine and antioxidants in the coffee have a highly effective, yet very safe, detoxing effect on the body that is hard to replicate with other methods.
Proven Benefits of Coffee Enemas
Sounds crazy, but coffee applied to your… ahem… underside can do all this:
The number one reason people use this type of enema is for detoxifying the liver. Herbs like milk thistle are helpful at clearing toxins from the liver. However, these released toxins can be reabsorbed in the colon if the gut microbiome is impaired in any way.
When a coffee enema is used, a special pathway of veins carries waste straight from the colon to the liver to be processed. The liver is then triggered to release bile to flush the toxins out and back into the colon. The water from the enema softens the stool, and provides a clear pathway for the toxins to exit. This process lessens the toxic load the liver deals with and frees it to cleanse the blood and eliminate toxins in other body systems. Since toxicity plays a huge role in so many issues with the body, this process can be a powerful healing tool.
Improve Gallbladder Function
As mentioned above, liver function is closely tied to the gallbladder. When bile isn’t flowing properly, biliary ducts can become inflamed and blocked, leading to gallbladder attacks and, eventually, removal of the tiny organ. Toxins also recirculate through the body as they continue to build up in the bile, instead of being eliminated. Coffee enemas stimulate the liver to release more bile. Not only does this flush toxins from the body, but it may release gallstones and keeps the bile from stagnating.
Most of us have little hitchhikers stowed away in our gut and don’t even realize it. Little pockets in the colon, called diverticuli, are the perfect hiding places for these parasites.
Coffee enemas help to flush out impacted fecal matter and debris, rooting out parasites from their hiding spots. Coffee, not just flushing with liquid in general, may weaken and harm the parasites.
Candida occurs naturally in the body. However stress, diets high in sugar, or antibiotics can cause it to grow out of control. Enemas work to restore balance to the digestive tract by eliminating harmful organisms, like excess candida. This clears the way for healthy probiotics in the gut to do their job. (However, it won’t be enough to restore gut balance if a problematic diet and lifestyle are unchanged.)
Mold spores in the air, and the microscopic mycotoxins they produce, can devastate the body’s health. Mycotoxins, from toxic mold, have been linked to certain cancers, organ failure, and other serious issues.
A major issue with mold toxicity is that the mycotoxins continue to accumulate in the bile. The toxins are constantly reabsorbed into the body, instead of eliminated. This stimulates bile flow, get it through the colon and out of the body to help flush these toxins. It’s helpful for those with debilitating illness due to mold, or anyone who’s had minimal exposure.
Cancer occurs when the body is under too much oxidative stress and toxic load. Coffee enemas are a requirement in the Gerson cancer therapy. This therapy began in the 1920s with Dr. Max Gerson seeking a cure for his migraines. Over the years, followers of Gerson have adapted his therapy to a three-pronged approach to help with cancer: a vegetarian diet, ingestion of supplements, and enemas. The antioxidants in coffee enemas support healthy cellular function, and eliminate toxins which put stress on the body.
Cancer is a complex thing and must be addressed at multiple levels though, not just with coffee enemas. Cancer Research UK warns that more research is needed before substantiating claims that Gerson cancer therapy is effective. All cancer therapies should be guided by a doctor’s advice.
Better Gut Health
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride also recommends coffee enemas as part of the gut-healing GAPS protocol. The process flushes out bacteria, parasites, and fungus that impede gut healing. It also speeds up the detox and healing process needed for whole body wellness.
Lessen Die-Off Reactions
When the body releases toxins, it can overwhelm the system and we experience unpleasant die-off reactions. These can range from emotional issues (like irritability) to physical ones (like headaches and nausea). A coffee enema helps to quickly eliminate the released toxins from the body, to reduce or erase the die-off reactions, as part of a comprehensive cleansing protocol.
Our livers process hormones and waste in the body. When the liver becomes overburdened from all of the toxins in our diet and environment, the body tries to eliminate through a different route.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it picks up the slack for an overtaxed liver. Hives, psoriasis, eczema, rashes and itchy skin can all be caused by toxin excretion through the skin. A coffee enema clears the way for the liver to function properly, eliminating many skin issues.
Enema Concerns & Risks
Having looked at the benefits, we should also weigh the risks. According to a 2013 pharmacokinetic study, there are potentially negative side effects to consider when administering a coffee enema.
Forewarned is forearmed… possible situations to avoid are rectal burn, proctocolitis, and electrolyte imbalance.
To prevent rectal burn, coffee should be at room temperature before it is administered. Test the coffee like you would formula to see if it’s too hot.
The Mayo Clinic defines proctocolitis as the inflammation of the rectum’s lining. There was one case, in Korea, in which a coffee enema resulted in proctocolitis. The patient recovered through the use of antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and bowel rest.
Sadly, there have been two documented deaths associated with daily coffee enemas. These were the result of severe electrolyte imbalance. Because coffee enemas help remove toxic metals, they can also strip some nutrient minerals from your body. To stay safe, consult with a health practitioner before you begin the regimen. You may also want to check out this recipe for a natural electrolyte sports drink.
Who Should Not Use Coffee Enemas?
Even though coffee enemas are gentle and beneficial, there are a few groups who advised against them. Pregnant moms and children younger than five can use other enemas, like salt water, but are advised against coffee enemas. Breastfeeding moms may want to exercise caution here, too.
Those with severe bowel dysfunction, like Crohn’s disease, should take special precautions with coffee enemas. Similarly, those with hypertension, ulcerative colitis, renal/heart/respiratory failure, and those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy should exercise caution and consult with a health practitioner before beginning a regime of coffee enemas. As always, consult with your doctor to determine if coffee enemas should be an option for you.
This depends on the issue being addressed. Almost everyone can benefit from a coffee enema once in a while. For those with acute toxicity, like cancer patients, or those experiencing gallbladder attacks, coffee enemas can be done four times a day. This helps to quickly eliminate the toxins that may be causing the issue.
For those on a detox protocol, once a day is usually sufficient. Many people continue coffee enemas long term, transitioning to once a week or as needed for maintenance. It’s best to do an enema after a bowel movement and not right after eating. A full stomach and colon aren’t just uncomfortable, but impede the process.
Ask your doctor for specific advice (or use mine!) if you are wondering whether enemas are right for you and how often to use them.
How to Do a Coffee Enema
Two sources I found helpful in learning how to do this type of enema are:
I’ve tried this process several times, often in conjunction with a water fast, and notice some of the benefits listed above. Specifically, it has helped me with digestion and clearer skin.
Could you benefit from a coffee enema? Is it something you’re willing to try or have already done? Let me know about your experience!
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.