A morning cup of coffee (or two) is a must for many of us. Not only does the caffeine help start your day, but it also has the benefit of causing you to clean out your bowels. With that in mind, some people use coffee enemas to relieve constipation, prepare for a medical procedure like an endoscopy, or to remove toxins.

This alternative medicine technique is a form of colon cleansing, and using coffee goes back almost a century when the still-popular Gerson Therapy was developed in the 1930s. According to the Gerson Institute, the therapy is a natural treatment that uses an organic, plant-based diet combine with raw juices, and coffee enemas to activate the body's ability to heal itself.

What is a Coffee Enema?

enema bag

Medical News Today describes the coffee enema as "a practice that involves inserting liquid into the rectum to relieve constipation for a procedure to look at the bowel." Coffee is said to have unique benefits in an enema --- as opposed to using water or mineral oil --- because of the compound called cafestol palmitate. According to doctors at the University of Minnesota, this compound stimulates the activity of the glutathione S-transferase enzyme, and that opens up the bile duct in the liver. This improves digestion because it helps to release more bile from the liver that breaks down food components.

And, it is thought that the caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine in coffee will widen blood vessels and the bile duct, boosting the flow of bile.

During the actual procedure, you will hold the liquid in your colon for about 12 to 15 minutes while your blood supply passes through the liver 4 to 5 times. That blood will carry poisons it picks up from tissues, and the enema acts as a type of dialysis for the blood on the gut wall.

The actual procedure starts by brewing two tablespoons of coffee in one liter (33 ounces) of distilled water. After giving it time to cool to room temperature, take the coffee mixture to a place where you can lie down on your side. It's smart to stay close to the bathroom because you could have a sudden urge to go. Using an enema system (easily purchased online or at a drugstore) that has a bottle and tubing, insert the tubing into the rectum and instill the liter of coffee mixture and hold it for 15 minutes.

What Are the Benefits of a Coffee Enema?

man with stomach pain

There is not a lot of research about coffee enemas, but in addition to relieving constipation, the Gerson Institute claims that a coffee enema removes toxins that we accumulate in our liver, and it rids the bloodstream of free radicals. Gerson also claims other benefits like enhanced tissue health, improved blood circulation, increased cell energy production, better immunity and tissue repair, and cellular regeneration.

A coffee enema can also help with pain relief, nausea, depression, and nervous tension.

People are also using coffee enemas as a natural treatment to boost their immune system in an attempt to heal degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

Cancer patients who use Gerson Therapy take as many as five coffee enemas each day to detoxify their body's tissues and blood, but that goes along with the program's food, juices, and medication.

What Are You Doing To Your Body?

woman with coffee

Coffee enemas load your body with caffeine and depending on how much your rectum absorbs during the procedure (compared to a similar amount in the stomach and small intestine via drinking the same amount of coffee), you could be consuming the caffeine equivalent of about eight cans of Red Bull during one session.

On a shocking episode of My Strange Addiction, a Florida couple, Mike and Trina, talked about their addiction to coffee enemas, and they each did the procedure to themselves without medical supervision as much as four times a day. Trina said that she loved how they make her feel, calling it euphoric, and also claimed they helped her stomach and digestive problems. But, if you are loading yourself up with that much caffeine on a regular basis, it is possible to end up in the emergency room.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Large amounts of caffeine can cause adverse effects such as insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat, and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care."

When you ingest caffeine, it is a cathartic that causes your colon to contract, but when you inject into the colon, it can cause irritation. And, if you are using warm coffee, it can cause internal burns.

Speaking Out Against Coffee Enemas

doctor and a patient

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), multiple health boards, and a number of physicians have spoken out against the use of every type of colon cleanse, not just coffee enemas. When you fill your colon in that way, there is a chance it will literally pop, and in some rare cases, coffee enemas have caused procto-colitis with ulcers or death.

Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Medical Center, says that she would never recommend coffee enemas because there is a downside and no upside. She also says that claims of improved health are false.

"They claim it's a way of detoxifying and might even be an alternative to cancer treatment," Dr. Rajapaksa said. "There is definitely no evidence, and I would hate for someone to forego [proven medical] treatment. The bottom line is there is not any beneficial effect, and there is some risk associated with any enema and, in particular, using coffee."

She added that whenever you insert something into your rectum, there is always the danger of causing a tear. And if you overuse enemas, it can lead to dehydration and a decrease in bowel function.

Does It Really Work?

There is really no actual scientific evidence that has concluded coffee enemas can successfully treat any medical condition. However, there are none that disprove their use, either. Most medical professionals consider colon cleansing to be unnecessary because your body gets rid of waste and toxins all on its own.

But, if you want to try it, remember there are just as many possible side effects as there are possible benefits, and you are taking a risk.

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