You might consider yourself a true “coffee lover” who knows all the coffee nutrition facts, but would you be willing to try an unconventional way of using coffee to improve your health? While drinking coffee has its well-documented benefits, that’s not the only way to reap the rewards of this antioxidant-packed beverage. While it might sound strange to inject the caffeinated liquid directly into your colon, research shows that coffee enemas are an effective way to to clean out the lower intestines and improve your health.
Coffee enemas are known to help flush out bacteria, heavy metals, fungus and yeast (like those responsible for candida symptoms, for example) from the digestive tract, including the liver and colon, while also lowering inflammation — therefore helping people restore bowel function, increase their energy levels and heal from disorders that have caused them trouble for years.
Before you start thinking that this sounds completely crazy, consider the fact that various types of natural detoxification treatments, including enemas, have been used for thousands of years to help restore digestive function and general health. Some were even mentioned in ancient historical scripts like The Dead Sea Scrolls that described how Jesus used ordinary ingredients and materials, like food and water, to help heal illnesses. (1)
Various types of natural enemas, even fecal transplants or other ways of unconventionally restoring gut health, are growing in popularity as more people realize that laxatives and prescriptions fail to address the underlying cause of digestive disorders.
While still not exactly a mainstream way to fight illness, coffee enemas are nothing new. They’ve been around since the late 1800s and were used at the time to help speed up healing following surgeries or to combat cases of accidental poisoning. First made famous by the Gerson Institute in the 1950s, when it began using coffee enemas as a key to treating cancer patients, others are now turning to this procedure for various ailments that don’t respond well to traditional treatments or prescription medications.
Today, doctors of functional and alternative medicines use coffee enemas as part of natural treatment protocols for fighting cancer, parasites, overdoses, constipation, liver dysfunction, candida virus, IBS and other digestive disorders.
How a Coffee Enema Works
How do coffee enemas work? According to the Gerson Institute, they have the primary purpose of “removing toxins accumulated in the liver and removing free radicals from the bloodstream.” (2) And it’s not just the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for the benefits of coffee enemas; in fact, studies show that bioavailability of caffeine obtained from coffee enemas is about 3.5 times less than those obtained drinking coffee orally. (3)
It’s well known that coffee beans naturally contain antioxidants and beneficial compounds, including cafestol palmitate, kahweol, theobromine, theophylline in addition to caffeine, that have positive effects on inflammation levels, including within the digestive system. (4)
When ingested, compounds within coffee either from drinking it or from inserting coffee directly into the colon act like a cathartic that causes the colon muscles to contract. This helps move along stool through the digestive tract, resolving cases of constipation and making it easier to go to the bathroom.
As you’re probably aware, regular bowel movements are beneficial for carrying waste and toxins (like heavy metals or excess fatty acids) out of the body. Research has shown, then, during a coffee enema caffeine and other compounds travel via the hemorrhoidal vein to the liver. Coffee opens up blood vessels, relaxes smooth muscles that help with bowel movements and improves circulation. Once it makes its way to the liver, coffee is also believed to help open up bile ducts and increase production of bile that’s needed for proper digestion and excretion. (5)
Researchers from the University of Minnesota also demonstrated that coffee enema benefits might include being able to help stimulate the production of a beneficial enzyme created in the liver called glutathione S-transferase, which acts like a antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and natural blood cleanser. (6) Some evidence shows that coffee enemas can help with:
- repairing digestive tissue
- cleansing the liver
- improving blood circulation
- increasing immunity
- helping with cellular regeneration
- relieving digestive issues, such as frequent constipation, bloating, cramping and nausea
- improving gut health
- improving low energy levels and moods (such as fighting signs of depression)
Benefits of a Coffee Enema
1. Increases Antioxidant Activity
Coffee enemas are believed to increase production of glutathione S-transferase above normal levels. As functional medicine practitioner and pharmacist Suzy Cohen points out, people pay good money for glutathione in supplement form, so having the ability to produce more on your own is pretty valuable! (7)
What makes this enzyme so powerful is its ability to scavenge free radicals within the digestive tract that contribute to bodywide inflammation, poor gut health, liver disease and cellular damage. Once free radicals are neutralized, bile that is produced from the liver and gallbladder carries these substances out of the body through bowel movements.
2. Used to Fight Cancer
Max Gerson, M.D., author of “A Cancer Therapy,” which was published in 1958, has successfully used coffee enemas in thousands of cancer patients. (8) Dr. Gerson made coffee enemas famous as a natural cancer treatment when he pioneered the use of a special anti-inflammatory diet combined with nutritional supplements and daily enemas for speeding up detoxification.
According to the National Cancer Institute, an organic vegetarian diet plus pancreatic enzymes and coffee enemas were the main features of the Gerson Therapy that intended to build up the immune system of cancer patients and restore electrolyte balance (such as levels of potassium in cells). (9) Many of his patients were able to stop their pain medications and help restore liver function and tissue repair by performing sometimes up to six coffee enemas per day.
3. Improves Detoxification
Acting similarly to “a form of dialysis of the blood,” coffee enemas help remove unwanted materials from the gut wall and bloodstream. Dialysis is considered a forced or artificial method to enhance detoxification, and that’s exactly what coffee edemas do since they help the body expel waste materials. The primarily role of the enema is to mechanically wash out the colon, removing potentially harmful parasites, bacteria, yeast and heavy metals that contribute to inflammation and therefore disease.
There’s some evidence that coffee acts like a natural “astringent,” since it helps the top layer of skin or mucous membranes within the digestive tract peel off and rejuvenate (similarly to how astringents used on skin help with cell turnover). Some researchers believe that the top layer of mucous within the gut lining might hold a high level of toxins, and therefore, helping the body shed this lining speeds up the cleansing process.
Aside from the coffee itself, there’s also therapeutic effects of the water used in coffee enemas. Water therapy, known as hydrotherapy, helps the body heal by flushing the colon and rectum while also speeding up transit time of stool. (10)
4. Relieves Constipation
Constipation is one of the most common problems for adults, which is why laxatives are one of the most widely purchased over-the-counter medicines there is. If you’re one of millions of adults who struggle to poop regularly, you’ll be happy to know that coffee enemas provide natural constipation relief in several ways. First off, the increase in water that is inserted into the colon helps stimulate peristalsis in the gut, while a portion of the water also helps increase bile production.
The mechanical effects of the enema cause the colon to become more active and facilitate the emptying of stool and removing of impacted feces, toxins and food residues that can cause constipation. Coffee might also help clean out diverticuli in the colon, which are slight openings in the colon wall that can cause left-behind food particles or bacterial organisms to become trapped.
People usually experience the best results from coffee enemas when they also drink plenty of water and improve their diets, such as cutting out inflammatory foods like sugar, white refined flour and hydrogenated fats that can slow down digestion.
How to Perform a Coffee Enema
The good news is that coffee enemas can be assembled and performed easily and inexpensively at home in the comfort of your own bathroom (or wherever you choose). To perform a coffee enema at home, you need to purchase an enema kit along with fresh coffee beans. Enema kits can be found in certain health food or drug stores, and definitely online. There are several types available, from simpler versions that are sometimes called “traveler’s kits” to plastic bucket types that use gravity to help the enema work better. No matter the type you use, look for one that has a tube and nozzle attached to either a bucket or bag that hangs above you when you lie down.
After choosing a enema kit, you need to purchase coffee beans. You want to purchase only certified organic coffee and regular (not decaf) beans that are free from all chemical sprays — this is important considering the quality of the coffee determines how effective the detoxification process will be. The last thing you want to do is directly insert chemicals into your digestive tract if you already deal with inflammation and dysfunction! Most people recommend keeping your coffee beans in the freezer until you’re ready to perform the enema so they retain the most antioxidants.
As with all enemas, it’s best to do one immediately after having a bowel movement if possible, which makes it more comfortable, effective and easier to retain for longer. You can also do an enema even if you haven’t recently had a bowel movement (for example, if you’re constipated), but many people like to perform enemas in the morning directly after going to the bathroom.
It’s recommended to do an enema about once weekly or up to once daily if you’re healing from a digestive disorder. In fact, in some cases very ill patients (for example, people healing from cancer) have used coffee enemas multiple times per day. If you choose to do coffee enemas frequently, you might want to consider buying a reusable enema kit and cleaning the nozzle with a natural detergent to save money.
Once you have your materials prepared, here is a step-by-step guide to follow in order to perform a coffee enema safely:
- To make one enema, use a small pot on your stove top to combine coffee beans with filtered water. Filtered water is highly recommended by most experts and might offer fewer risks than tap water (which contain traces of minerals or chemicals). Add 2 tablespoons of organic coffee beans to your pot along with 3 cups of filtered water. Then bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool down to a little warmer than room temperature once it’s boiled for about 15 minutes. Strain the coffee beans from the mixture so you have one uniform liquid free from particles.
- You’re now ready to perform your enema, so choose a location that’s comfortable where you can lie down for about 15 minutes, such as the the bathroom floor with some towels. Most people like to be close to a toilet and keep extra towels on hand to clean up if need be. Wherever you choose to be, take your enema kit and place the bucket or bag at least 1 meter above you and the ground. So if you’re lying on the floor, you might try hanging the bucket or bag on a towel rack, shower rail, etc. This helps gravity push the coffee liquid down faster so it’s better able to enter your digestive tract and do its job.
- Pour your coffee liquid into the enema bag or bucket and hold the tube and nozzle shut. Locate the lever on the tube and nozzle that helps you stop and start the flow of the enema. Before beginning, make sure the valve is shut so no liquid escapes. Use a lubricant such as coconut oil to coat the tip of the enema nozzle, which will make it easier to insert into your rectum without being uncomfortable. Lay down on your right side in fetal position and insert the nozzle into your rectum, aiming for it to be about 1 inch inside.
- Use the valve that helps you to start the flow of coffee and keep the liquid slowly entering your rectum through the nozzle until the bag or bucket is emptied. Take your time and squeeze in so the liquid doesn’t escape as much as possible. Sit however you are most comfortable that helps you keep the coffee inside of you for about 12 to 15 minutes — 15 minutes is the max time that you need to effectively cleanse your system, so at this point you can stop holding in and can go to the bathroom.
Risks and Potential Side Effects of a Coffee Enema
The Institute of Digestive Disease and Nutrition at the University of Korea has studied the effects of coffee enemas in various patients and reports that people using coffee enemas don’t usually experience any complications or side effects. (11) Coffee enemas are considered a safe and feasible option for treating digestive dysfunction, and there were no clinically significant adverse events related to coffee enemas demonstrated at this time.
If you’ve experienced complications from using enemas in the past, it’s best to talk to a doctor before trying to perform a coffee enema on your own. The first time you try a coffee enema it’s a good idea to do so under supervision or with guidance of a medical professional, although some people feel comfortable jumping right into the process. Coffee enemas aren’t usually recommended for pregnant women or children since they can be sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Still, all enemas come with certain side effects, including tears in the colon and dehydration or electrolyte imbalances if they’re over-performed. One way to make the process more comfortable is to always use a lubricant, go very slowly and to follow directions very carefully. Make sure you avoid burns and irritation by cooling the coffee liquid enough and straining it well.
If you’ve experienced hemorrhoids or tears in the past, you might find inserting the nozzle painful and should not force the procedure. You also don’t want to perform more than one enema weekly until you monitor your reactions and make sure you aren’t experiencing any signs of dehydration, such as dizziness, muscle cramps or weakness, due to increased bowel movements. Drink plenty of water when using enemas to help flush your system.
- Healing Aia Holistic Wellness: http://www.healingaia.com/blog-resources/nutritional-balancing/five-elements-of-nutritional-balancing/detox-protocols/coffee-enemas/
- Gerson Institute: https://gerson.org/pdfs/How_Coffee_Enemas_Work.pdf
- ISRN Pharmacology, March 2013, “Pharmacokinetics of Caffeine following a Single Administration of Coffee Enema versus Oral Coffee Consumption in Healthy Male Subjects”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603218/
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, April 2011, “Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21432699
- Clinical Nutrition Research, July 2014, “Coffee enema for preparation for small bowel video capsule endoscopy: a pilot study”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25136541
- Journal of Cancer Research, April 1982, “Isolation and Identification of Kahweol Palmitate and Cafestol Palmitate as Active Constituents of Green Coffee Beans That Enhance Glutathione S-Transferase Activity in the Mouse”: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/42/4/1193
- Science-Based Medicine, “Ask the (Science-Based) Pharmacist: What are the benefits of coffee enemas?”: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ask-the-science-based-pharmacist-what-are-the-benefits-of-coffee-enemas/
- A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and the Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy: http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Therapy-Results-Fifty-Advanced/dp/0961152621
- National Cancer Institute, Gerson Therapy: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/gerson-pdq
- North American Journal of Medical Sciences, May 2014, “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/
- Clinical Nutrition Research, July 2014, “Coffee enema for preparation for small bowel video capsule endoscopy: a pilot study”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25136541
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