I see a naturopathic doctor for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. She recommended coffee enemas. Suzy, I’m a faithful reader, do you think this is safe?
–V.A., Seattle, Washington
Answer: Yes. Coffee enemas are used by holistic physicians for all sorts of conditions, even as part of a bigger anti-cancer protocol. Lots of people use coffee enemas to help with constipation, fatigue and liver detoxification concerns. I know this sounds bizarre because you prefer to taste your coffee, not insert it rectally! Agreed. You may be hearing about coffee enemas today, but they are nothing new and complications from coffee enemas are highly unusual. Hey, I just thought of a new franchise concept called Starbutts… entrance in the rear.
How Will You Benefit from Coffee Enemas
* Removal of Toxins: There are enzymes in coffee known as “palmitates” and these help your liver carry away toxins in your bile acid. It happens because the bile ducts are dilated.
* Constipation is Relieved: Peristalsis occurs. This happens because the lower part of your colon is flooded.
* Improved digestion
- Improved sleep
- Your small intestine is alkalinized
* Your colon wall is cleaned out, removing putrefied globules of food which otherwise generate toxic compounds in your body.
- Bile flow is stimulated, this helps you remove toxins from the large intestine, so they can’t be absorbed back in your body.
Coffee Enemas Have Been Around A Long Time
Seriously, coffee enemas may help relieve constipation, insomnia and cognitive problems; they may eliminate (or control) parasites, candida and other pathogens (without disrupting intestinal flora). Coffee enemas are frequently used in natural cancer protocols such as the Gerson Therapy (www.gerson.org). While some clinicians claim actual “cures” using coffee enemas, the studies are mixed and the therapy raises eyebrows among conventional clinicians. It is definitely not something that I think will cure advanced cancer when used in isolation, however, I do think it could be helpful when used as an adjunct, along with a healthy diet, juicing, enzymes and other therapies, nutritional protocols, herbs and/or medications, possibly surgery, etc. You can certainly ask your oncologist about this if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment. My point is that doing JUST occasional coffee enemas is not a cure for cancer no matter what you read on the Internet. It takes more than that, please be sensible. The topic of cancer is way to broad for the focus of my column today, which is strictly about coffee enemas and their use as a tool… primarily for detoxification purposes.
I think it is interesting that coffee enemas were outlined as a treatment in the revered “Merck Manual,” a thick book that physicians used as their primary reference for decades, until the mid 1970‘s.
It’s not the enema as much as it is the coffee that helps. Please realize that you are exposed to a barrage of toxic compounds in your life, you can easily become overloaded, from diet alone, and add in environmental pollutants, air pollution, electromagentic pollution, estrogenic compounds in your personal care products, plasticizers, xenobiotic compounds and so forth. Some of you cannot detoxify as well as others. Coffee enemas are supposed to help a person make glutathione, an antioxidant and that sends poisons packing. More on that momentarily.
The Way Coffee Enemas Work
Coffee enemas can be done at home inexpensively. You just need a comfortable spot on the floor of your bathroom, or bathtub. As the coffee is retained in your bowel, the fluid goes through your intestinal wall, through the portal vein to your liver. The stimulating effects and healing compounds of coffee jumpstart your liver and gallbladder. Bile flows. There are compounds in coffee like kahweol and cafestol which spark production of glutathione, and that is a strong cleansing compound in your body, one that consumers pay good money for when they buy glutathione as a dietary supplement, or get IV injections of it. To make more glutathione naturally (by using a coffee enema) is awesome. Now, if you do some research on the Internet, you will see that some studies have found no benefit in terms of serum glutathione production, but others have. It’s not a 100 percent given, just depends what study you want to align with.
After you get over the initial discomfort and awkwardness (and the idea of it), these enemas may allow for relaxation, a better mood, more energy, refreshing sleep and greater mental clarity. If you do too many enemas per week, you may experience electrolyte imbalances. Restoring your electrolytes is crucial, as coffee is a potent drug mugger of minerals. While the controversial cancer specialist Dr. Max Gerson suggested up to 6 per day, I think that is way too much for the average person and do not recommend this. In fact, I don’t recommend you do these unless your physician tells you it’s alright, remember I am not advising you, just educating you about options. Discuss everything with your clinician(s). Now, with that said, doing a coffee enema weekly (even daily for awhile) is probably okay for most, but again, please always follow your doctor’s recommendation.
How to Make a Coffee Enema
The recipe for a coffee enema is usually different than the beverage. The type of coffee you choose is rather important. Oh, this reminds me, some people don’t even use coffee in their enema, they use green tea, wheat grass or chamomile tea in their enema but coffee is said to work better, primarily because of the caffeine content. A friend who is sensitive to the effects of caffeine (she gets jittery) asked me if decaffeinated coffee will work as well. My answer is no, probably not, and there are supposed toxins that go into decaf coffee so you don’t want to introduce those into your system. My recommendation would be to use caffeinated coffee, organic of course, and dilute the recipe so that it wasn’t too strong. The other thing you can do is retain it for a shorter period of time (for example, 3 to 6 minutes, instead of 12 to 15 minutes). Just so you know, the typical retention time is 12 to 15 minutes. I’ll explain that shortly in the “FAQ” section below.
Coffee Enemas and Detoxification
I mentioned earlier that some people cannot detoxify properly and that coffee enemas can help you. That may be due to a methylation snp (pronounced “snip”) and it means that genetically-speaking you have trouble converting folate (a natural B vitamin) from your diet to glutathione, a strong antioxidant that helps you convert poisons into non-toxic compounds which you can eliminate safely. Doing coffee enemas routinely (even once per week) help people with methylation snps by sparking production of glutathione by their own liver cells. This is a good time to tell you that you don’t need a methylation snp (which is a genetic concern) to become deficient in glutathione. Other ways to become deficient include:
1) Drinking alcohol because it uses up your glutathione stores (the more “buzzed” or drunk you get, the more glutathione is depleted).
2) Taking a drug mugger of glutathione, one of the most common is acetaminophen. Other drug muggers include statin cholesterol drugs. I wrote an entire chapter on the medications which use up your glutathione stores, it’s in my book, Drug Muggers,
3) Liver disease of any sort
4) History of alcohol consumption
5) Crohn’s, IBS or Celiac
6) Diet high in sugar
7) Candida or yeast overgrowth
8) Use of antibiotics chronically
9) Cigarette smoking depletes glutathione
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This section is devoted to answering some of the questions that I received after my original column printed in newspapers nationwide. I’ve picked the most common ones to answer here.
Question: Is a coffee enema the same as a saline enema (sold at pharmacies) like Fleets?
Answer: No. While both enemas will help with constipation, the effects of a coffee enema are different due to the presence of caffeine in the coffee. Saline enemas do not serve any purpose for liver detoxification.
Question: Coffee enemas make my legs cramp. Why is that?
Answer: Coffee is a drug mugger of minerals, in other words it acts like a drug and robs the body of essential nutrients. It’s not normally a strong depletion but it can certainly happen. This is why I recommend minerals if you are going to do coffee enemas routinely (or if you notice muscle spasms, leg cramps, minor/occasional cardiac skipped beats, fatigue… signs of dehydration and mineral depletion)… Restore your electrolytes with E-lyte Balanced Electrolyte Concentrate by BodyBio or with Re-lyte Electrolyte Capsules by Redmond. I don’t suggest Gatorade because of the additives and sugar and/or food coloring.
Question: What if I’m allergic to coffee?
Answer: Don’t do it. Try something you are not allergic to, such as green tea. That said, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you will want to avoid green tea as well. You could try an herbal tea like chamomile, or you can do plain water. The plain warm pure (filtered) water enema is just for constipation, it does nothing to help with liver detoxification.
Question: Will it keep me awake? I already have insomnia.
Answer: Most people find coffee enemas mildly and pleasantly stimulating, so yes, this is possible for some people. It really depends on your individual reaction because during my research I learned that many people with insomnia actually slept better within a couple of weeks of doing them routinely (every day, or other day). I’ve read where it helped with sleep the first time, but then caused stimulation the next few nights. I can’t guess as to how you will react. Use your intuitive hunch. If you want to do a coffee enema, and it’s your first time I would definitely do it in the morning, or around lunch time.
Question: When is the best time to do a coffee enema?
Answer: Usually after you have cleared your bowels because it’s easier to get the tubing in there. Most people say they like to get up in the morning, go number two (defecate) and then do the coffee enema. This is not a hard and fast rule. Some people say that the enema helps them clear their bowels because they are not able to do so naturally. For example, they may take in a little bit of the fluid, and this triggers the urge to go, at which point, you de-tube yourself, go to the bathroom, and then re-tube yourself and continue (the goal is to retain most of the fluid for 12 to 15 minutes).
Question: Why is the fluid flowing into me so fast, causing discomfort?
Answer: More than likely the enema bag or bucket is hanging too high up. Don’t hang it on the shower head, it will flow like crazy. Try hanging it on a door handle, or at the highest level… the towel rack. It should be approximately 2 to 4 feet above you, no more.
Question: How hot should the fluid be?
Answer: It should be slightly warmer than room temperature. You do not want to burn yourself. You can just stick your finger in the coffee fluid to test it, and if it’s not comfortable on your finger, it won’t be going into your bum! Some people find room temperature to be comfortable as well, but this is personal; I’ve read that the temperature is most comfortable slightly above room temperature. If you just made fresh coffee, and it’s still too hot, it’s alright to stick it in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit to cool it rapidly.
Question: Can I make the coffee in advance?
Answer: Yes, you can make a batch of coffee and keep it sealed in a glass jar or closed pitcher for about a week, just warm it up on the stove each time. See question above for temperature information.
Question: How should I be positioned?
Answer: Most people lay on their right side (not left), and some lay on their back. It’s okay to rub your tummy if you want, very gently, no pushing. You don’t have to do this, some people just find that soothing.
Question: How long should I retain the fluid?
Answer: Every 3 minutes, your liver filters all of the blood in your body. Isn’t that amazing?! So think in terms of 3 minute cycles. If you can retain it only for 3 minutes the first time, that’s alright. Ideally, you should work up to the point where you can retain it for about 12 to 15 minutes. That way, your liver will have cycled your body’s blood 4 to 5 times with the coffee fluid present. Remember, the coffee enema may be in your bottom, but the fluid goes right through your portal vein to your liver and stimulates bile flow. That is it’s mechanism of action, to go to your liver (via your rectum) and get toxins out of you.
Question: It hurts when I insert the enema tube tip, what can I do?
Answer: Lubricate the tip, but not with any petrolatum-derived products. You don’t want to put that into your body. Using a natural lube, you can try anything from organic olive oil, coconut oil, or a sexual lubricant that is water-based and “clean.” One that I know if is “Almost Naked Personal Lubricant” by the makers Good Clean Love. (The ingredients in that one are Organic Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice, Xanthan Gum, Agar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor). In fact, some of you may be looking for a sensual lubricant for intimacy purposes, so I’ll give you their website here: http://www.goodcleanlove.com Help for a lackluster sex life is in another column, right now we are talking about enemas so I am going to get back to the other end!
Question: How do you clean the enema kit and tubing when done?
Answer: Run 3 % hydrogen peroxide through the bucket and tubing. It’s cheap and easy and sanitizes it well. Some people suggest a gentle soap like Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. Click Here: http://www.drbronner.com (this brand is sold at many health food stores and Whole Foods)
Question: How long does it take?
Answer: From start to finish, including the time it takes to heat up the coffee you made earlier that week, and finish cleaning the enema equipment, I would say about 45 minutes to an hour. But once you get going with it, you can get it done in about 30 minutes perhaps.
Question: Will the effects of the caffeine work as long as it does if I drink the coffee?
Answer: No, according to a study published in the March 2013 issue of Pharmacology, the pharmacokinetics are quite different. Researchers gave 11 participants (healthy ones) either 180 ml of ready-to-drink coffee beverage or 500 ml coffee enema for retention. Blood samples were collected immediately before, and at specific time points afterwards, until 12 hours after coffee administration. The conclusion was as follows: Bioavailability of caffeine obtained by enemas is much lower than drinking it. It’s about 3.5 times significantly less than oral consumption.
Question: Should I buy ground up coffee beans, or grind them myself?
Answer: It is better to grind them yourself when you’re ready, because it’s fresher and there are more healing compounds in the fresh sort… but if you can’t buy a grinder (or it’s simply too much effort with your current health condition) then go ahead and buy the ground.
Always choose what is most comfortable to you. I am just offering guidance for newbies, based upon my own research. Obviously, you will need an enema kit. I looked on Amazon and found a high-quality kit made by “Pure Life Enema” and had excellent reviews (thus, a very high rating). It comes with two different tips for insertion, guaranteeing comfort. It includes a stainless steel bucket which I think is better than rubber or plastic. I bought this kit to closely examine it and check customer service, etc. I never like to recommend anything to you without first looking at it myself. It is awesome, looks very easy to use, and it met with my approval. You can certainly shop for enemas anywhere you want, or buy your own at many pharmacies, or another online retailer. Here’s the one I like, it’s about $50.00 USD: http://www.purelifeenema.com/2-2-qt-enema-kit-with-clear-pvc-food-grade-tubing/
And here’s the link on Amazon for this particular product: http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Enema-Bucket-Deluxe-Kit/dp/B005V09AOG/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373077672&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=purelifeenema
Recipe for Coffee Enema
There are many recipes on the Internet. The concentration of coffee fluid differs greatly.
I found this recipe at the same site “Pure Life Enema” that sells the comfy equipment (I do not know them, or work for them): http://www.purelifeenema.com/coffee-enema-recipe/
I also like their coffee, it is organic, however you can use any organic light roast coffee you want: http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Roasted-Substances-Powerful-Detoxifying/dp/B00547VAX0/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1373077706&sr=8-8&keywords=enema+kit (Please don’t use any of those brand name well-known coffees that are not organic, they are laden with chemicals, artificial flavors, and grown with pesticides. That is the last thing you want to introduce to your system if you are are trying to detoxify). Speaking of, you do not want to use tap water for the same reason. You want pure, filtered water, or “spring” water, something clean and free of bacteria and chemicals commonly found in tap water.
Okay, here is the recipe to make the coffee.
I will cut and paste their recipe here, but do visit their site for information:
1. Add 4 cups of distilled or purified water into a 4 Quart Pot.
Do not use an aluminum pot.
2. Next, add 3 tablespoons of PureLife Organic Air Roasted Enema Coffee, fine grind, into the pot of water and stir it in.
3. Place on stove and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
4. Next, turn the water down to a very low simmer and simmer for another 12 to 15 minutes.
5. Remove from stove and let the coffee solution cool to lukewarm or body temperature. To speed up the cooling time, you may put the pot in to the freezer for a few minutes.
Note* If you notice the simmering removed too much liquid, you may add some more purified water to bring the solution level up.
6. Next, take your enema bucket and tubing and make sure the white clamp on the tubing is shut tightly.
7. Place a very fine mesh 304 stainless steel strainer over the bucket and pour your cooled enema solution into the enema bucket. Do not use paper coffee filters, as the paper filaments can get into the solution.
Note* if you purchased a black check flow valve you may want to remove it from tubing, as coffee grounds can clog up the valve and block enema flow. But if you are able to keep coffee grounds out, then you may be able to use the valve.
8. Fill the bucket up to 1 quart at least. One (1) Quart of solution provides at least enough liquid for 1 enema.
Note: You can go to youtube and watch videos of people making their coffee for an enema. Be warned the recipe differs significantly, use your best judgement when making yours.
Cautions and Warnings
The most obvious is a rectal burn, so again, I advice you to be careful and check the temperature. Do not use coffee fluid that is too hot. Other than that, coffee enemas are relatively safe, certainly safer than medications which interact with foods and other drugs… and have side effects that are often uncomfortable.
In my research, I could find one case of “polymicrobial enteric septicemia” from a coffee enema which occurred in a patient with breast cancer. That’s one case, remember, millions of people do this all over the world, every day!
My next warning is very basic, and it’s only because coffee is a complex mixture of chemicals including chlorogenic acid, cafestol, kahweol, caffeine, theophylline and theobromine among others. Theophylline is sold as a prescription medication in doses exponentially higher than that which occurs in natural coffee. It’s used as an asthma drug. Will coffee enemas cure asthma then? No, I don’t think so, but of course, it aids in detoxification so asthmatics may want to consider it (ask your doctor please). My point is that coffee has a bunch of chemicals, and some people are just plain sensitive to the ingredients. I don’t know how you will react, so I advise that you consider my comments, as it means the possibility of another extremely rare condition called “acute proctocolitis” which has been reported twice, in Korea.
For some of you, who are chronically ill and juggling a serious protocol, I understand that the prospect of doing enemas can be overwhelming. But if you’re one of these people who has trouble with various health concerns, and your always tired and your symptoms seem to never end, I think these are worth a try. For long-term users, it’s a good idea to buy a stash of colon tips so you are not constantly using the same one. Even though you clean it with peroxide each time, you still need to replace these things. If you have cancer, and your naturopath, osteopath, medical doctor or other practitioner has suggested these to you, then definitely consider it! These types of doctors (as well as Functional Medicine practitioners such as myself www.fxmed.com) are known for the ability to think outside the pill. On the subject of cancer, ask and research the topic of castor oil packs. I wrote about those here, click here. http://www.dearpharmacist.com/2009/12/02/castor-oil-is-a-comfy-alternative-to-pain-meds/
Do not let any of this information delay you seeking proper medical attention. Do not continue with coffee enemas if you have a reaction. Always ask your practitioner about changing your treatment protocol, or adding new supplements, herbs or treatments (including enemas). You can also ask about a colonic, administered by a professional therapist. That is the subject of a future column. In closing today, I want to remind you my columns and information are intended to educate and entertain, none of this is medical advice and I am not a doctor. I wish you well on your healing journey. If you come across anything relevant to today’s article, and you’d like to share with me (or have comments) feel free to contact me. (Just click on the contact button above). Be well my friend 🙂
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