As a child, I remember my mother always insisted that she could not remain “regular” unless she had a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I didn’t think much about this habit of hers until later in life, when I read about coffee enemas and realized that the principle was the same: there’s something about coffee that can stimulate the bowels.
Enemas typically involve inserting water or water with a mild soap into the rectum to help resolve constipation, but other fluids or substances mixed with water can be used, such as cooled herbal tea, probiotics, mineral oil, and apple cider vinegar. Beyond constipation, enemas are frequently beneficial for treating hemorrhoids, headache, indigestion, skin problems, and as a liver detox.
What are coffee enemas?
Although enemas have been used since ancient times, coffee enemas are a more recent development. In the late 1800s, coffee enemas were used postsurgery to accelerate healing or fight accidental poisonings. An article appearing in the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine in 1982 noted that when it came to cancer treatment trends, a “preoccupation with ‘detoxification’ and ‘purification’ has led to the advocacy of coffee and other enemas to cleanse the bowel of toxins.” This was decades after the Gerson Institute began using coffee enemas to treat people with cancer, a practice that is still followed today.
In fact, coffee enemas are considered to be an essential part of the therapy program touted by the Gerson Institute. According to the Institute, research has shown that when coffee is given as an enema, it boosts the activity of glutathione S-transferase by 600 to 700 percent, promoting detoxification of the liver.
Individuals who follow Gerson Therapy are supposed to hold a coffee enema for 12 to 15 minutes, which allows the body’s entire blood supply to circulate through the organ four to five times. With each pass-through, the blood picks up toxins, including parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens, which are then eliminated through the intestinal tract once the coffee is released.
Among other reported health benefits of a coffee enema are:
- Improved digestion. This may be associated with the presence of cafestol palmitate, a compound in coffee that can stimulate glutathione S-transferase, an enzyme that helps release bile from the liver, which in turn breaks down food and improves digestion.
- Better peristalsis. These natural contractions of the bowel help move material from the bowels, which reduces the risk of constipation and promotes a healthy intestinal tract.
- Relief from insomnia and cognitive issues. Suzy Cohen, America’s Pharmacist, notes that coffee enemas can help relieve insomnia and cognitive problems as well as fatigue.
If you are considering a coffee enema, here are a few caveats:
- Talk to a knowledgeable health professional before undertaking a coffee enema to be sure you don’t have any health issues that could cause adverse effects reactions. For example, you should not do coffee enemas if you have colitis, Crohn’s disease, or diverticulitis. People who are fast metabolizers who have low copper levels may experience a significant decline in copper, calcium, and magnesium.
- Since coffee enemas can remove essential nutrients, anyone with mineral deficiencies could experience worsening levels.
- Enemas that are not administered properly can cause rectal bleeding and injury. Be sure you fully understand how to perform a coffee enema.
- Coffee enemas that are repeated too often can cause a significant loss of electrolytes and/or diarrhea as well as infections and pain.
- For information on how to properly perform a coffee enema (after talking with your doctor, of course) look here, courtesy of Dr. Josh Axe.
Image via Trophygeek
Cohen S. Coffee enema benefits for you
Gerson Institute. Scientific basis of coffee enemas
Shils ME, Hermann MG. Unproved dietary claims in the treatment of patients with cancer. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 1982 Apr; 58(3): 323-40