A coffee enema is a type of colon cleanse used in alternative medicine. During the procedure, a mixture of brewed, caffeinated coffee and water is inserted into the colon through the rectum.
Coffee enemas may have originated from German physicians searching for a cancer treatment in the early 1900s. But it was the Gerson therapy that helped put the procedure on the map.
Max Gerson was a German-American doctor who believed you could detox the body and give it the nutrients it needs to heal itself using an organic plant-based diet, raw juices, and coffee enemas. His rigorous program became known as the Gerson therapy.
Coffee enemas are thought to stimulate bile flow and the production of glutathione, a detoxifying antioxidant. Sounds promising, right? However, don’t run to the drugstore for an enema bag just yet. There are some things you should know before trying a coffee enema.
What are the potential benefits of a coffee enema?
It may help:
- relieve constipation
- boost immunity
- increase energy
For many people, the immediate benefit of a coffee enema is having multiple bowel movements that help purge the colon. If you’re experiencing constipation, a coffee enema may bring relief. Coffee enema supporters claim the procedure provides these additional benefits:
- boosts immunity
- increase energy
- stops yeast overgrowth
- treats autoimmune diseases
- removes parasites from the digestive tract
- removes heavy metals from the body
- treats depression
- treats cancer
What the research says
There’s no scientific evidence that proves or disproves that coffee enemas are helpful to treat any medical condition. Evidence for or against the use of coffee enemas is mostly anecdotal. In mainstream medicine, colon cleansing is considered unnecessary because your body’s digestive system is capable of getting rid of waste, toxins, and bacteria on its own.
The theory that colon waste is toxic to your body is known as autointoxication. According to a 2014 article published in The Journal of Lancaster General Hospital, there isn’t any evidence to support this theory.
Who should consider getting a coffee enema?
There aren’t any official medical guidelines about who should get a coffee enema. Coffee enemas may be used as an alternative to stimulant laxatives to cleanse the bowel for a video capsule endoscopy. However, more study is needed before coffee enemas are routinely recommended for bowel prep.
This process may be harmful. Three deaths potentially related to coffee enemas have been recorded in medical literature. Coffee enemas may cause serious side effects, such as rectal burns. There’s some evidence to suggest that coffee enemas may be harmful. According to the National Cancer Institute, three deaths reported in literature appear to be related to coffee enemas. One may have occurred due to bacterial infection, although this couldn’t be confirmed. Two other deaths occurred due to electrolyte imbalance. Coffee enemas may be a problem if you’re sensitive to caffeine or if you take medications that interact with caffeine.
Colon cleansing may also cause:
- rectal burns
- bowel perforation
- infection caused by improperly sterilized equipment