When people ask me how I take my coffee, they’re usually not prepared for the answer.
That’s right. We’re talking about coffee enemas.
Having been around since at least 1500 BC, coffee enemas carry a very intense and powerful reputation when it comes to detoxifying the liver. However, because many find the idea of an enema (and its delivery system) a little intimidating, there isn’t much chatter about them or their benefits unless you’re a part of deep wellness.
As an enematic (barely a word) proselytizer, I sat down with my very own Naturopathic Medical Doctor, Dr. Sara Koorjee, who runs her own practice in Santa Monica, California, to get all the answers for the coffee-curious.
Coffee Enemas 101 With A Naturopathic Doctor
Q: first, WHAT IS A COFFEE ENEMA?
DR. K: A coffee enema is the sending in of coffee (not too hot) into the rectum to stimulate the liver to release toxins and upregulate our antioxidant systems in order to increase our body’s ability to process toxins.
Q: HOW HAVE COFFEE ENEMAS BEEN USED IN THE PAST?
DR. K: As far as I know, coffee enemas came about around the first world war when many soldiers were in pain due to injuries, and there was a shortage of morphine. There was a lot of coffee for the doctors and surgeons to pull long shifts. So the story goes, the nurses felt that since the coffee helped the doctors so much, it may help the wounded soldiers as well (coffee was added to water enemas that were given often for constipation due to pain medication). The soldiers reported their pain decreased significantly.
After the war, and due to the surprising and beneficial effects of the coffee enemas, two German scientists started studying coffee enemas’ effects on the body. Since then, other scientists and doctors have been interested in the use of coffee enemas. One of the most well-known doctors is Dr. Max Gerson, MD, who developed the Gerson Therapy for oncology patients, which includes coffee enemas.
This is controversial since the US highly regulates what can be considered oncology treatment.
Q: WHAT KIND OF CONDITIONS DO COFFEE ENEMAS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO HELP AND/OR TREAT?
DR. K: The main conditions that coffee enemas treat are pain and any symptoms or conditions arising from an accumulation of toxins in the body. This list is long because toxins can cause inflammation, create imbalances in our immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, and ultimately create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage our cells if there is too much accumulation over a period of time.
Q: WHAT’S CAUSING THIS TOXIC LOAD?
DR. K: Toxins are a problem for many of us as the number of new chemicals our body is exposed to on a daily basis is tremendous. In the last few hundred years, life has changed for humans. The most common cause of death has changed from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases. Human health is most threatened currently by chronic disease such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, etc.
A big factor in this is the massive amount of new (foreign to our immune system) synthetic chemicals that have been introduced into our environment and therefore our body. Many of these chemicals are not biodegradable. Over hundreds of thousands of xenobiotics have been released into the environment. What bothers me most is that less than 5% of those chemicals have been tested for safety or how they interact with one another within our bodies.
Back in the 1970s, the EPA wanted to understand if xenobiotics were present in human fat cells. The results showed that five highly toxic chemicals—two known carcinogens, benzene and dioxins—were found in 100% of all samples. Currently between 15-500 synthetic chemicals can be found in the body fat of every single living human.
This being said, I think we could all use a little coffee enema.
(Chemical testing reference from NYT. Coffee enema research for increasing antioxidant systems: Lechner P. The role of a modified Gerson therapy in the treatment of cancer. Pers. Comm. Lechner to Hildenbrand; August 1987. In: Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. Unconventional Cancer Treatments. Washington, DC: Office of Technology Assessment; 1990. Publication No. OTA-H-405.)
Q: WHY SHOULD SOMEONE CONSIDER A COFFEE ENEMA OVER A REGULAR SALINE ENEMA?
DR. K: Regular saline enemas are helpful for constipation because they hydrate the bowel and allow the contents to move out of the body. But coffee enemas are not for relieving constipation. Instead, they are used mostly for detoxification purposes since the palmitic acid in coffee (lightly roasted coffee has much higher amounts) stimulates the increased production of GST (glutathione-S-transferase), which is a major help in liver detoxification.
So, if one is in need of detoxification, then a coffee enema is the way to go!
Q: WHAT ARE THE 4 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE DOING A COFFEE ENEMA?
01 | Make sure you take electrolytes the days you do enemas. For every enema you do in a day, take 3 servings of electrolytes. I opt for an electrolyte powder that is free of sugar or artificial ingredients.
02 | The quality of the coffee is very important. It needs to be free of toxins and also lightly roasted. I am not talking about instant coffee.
03 | I would recommend Pure Life Enema as a resource for buying an enema kit and coffee. They are excellent, have high-quality coffee, and make it easy with a full kit you can buy with step-by-step instructions.
04 | Usually people report feeling improved energy and clarity in the following days after an enema. If you feel worse this means there are too many toxins, and you need to start more gently before heading into coffee enemas on your own.
Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER DOING ONE?
DR. K: This is a tough question. If doing them on your own, I would start with one per month and work up to one per week. If all goes well and you become a coffee enema expert, then you could do them more frequently depending on your health status and goals.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR ENEMA PRACTICE?
DR. K: Some of my favorite tips are:
CASTOR OIL PACKS | Adding castor oil packs over your liver on a daily basis to improve detoxification in the liver and better bile flow from gallbladder. I love castor oil packs. You can check out Queen of Thrones’ information on them, what they help with, and how to do them.
FIBER | I recommend improving fiber consumption through your diet on a daily basis. Something easy to add into the diet is 2 tablespoons of ground chia or flax daily to help bind to toxins in the GI tract so they can be easily eliminated. If you are really motivated, check out seed cycling, which supports detoxification and your menstrual cycle.
MICRONUTRIENTS | Having enough micronutrients is an integral part of supporting the detoxification pathways that will be stimulated during an enema. If you don’t know your micronutrient status, I recommend checking this with a blood test that looks at intracellular and extracellular micronutrient levels.
CHLOROPHYLL | Consuming chlorophyll 30 minutes before a coffee enema helps make the enema more effective as well as bind to toxins. I love Genestra’s Liquid Chlorophyll.
COCONUT OIL | Proper lubrication is essential while doing an enema. You want to avoid any friction or damage to the anal tissues, so if it hurts while you’re inserting your tube, or feels difficult in any way, stop and apply more lubrication. If you don’t have access to a specific lube, coconut oil works as a great alternative. A little goes a long way!
INFRARED SAUNA | Infrared is a powerful tool for jumpstarting detoxification and pulling toxins of all kinds out of our tissues. Doing an infrared sauna session before an enema provides an even stronger detox while also helping to expel any toxins that have been released. This can improve any die-off reactions, which is especially beneficial if you’re dealing with more chronic issues or have a sluggish phase 2 of detoxification.
EASY-TO-DIGEST MEALS | On the days that you perform a coffee enema, stick to clean, simple meals like soups and broths, or one of my personal Ayurvedic favorites, kitchari. Waiting an hour or two before eating post-enema is good practice to let your digestive system rest.
Q: WHO SHOULD CONSIDER A COFFEE ENEMA? MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHO SHOULDN’T?
DR. K: Almost everyone should consider a coffee enema (except for the reasons listed below)!
Don’t consider doing a coffee enema if you have…
+ An autoimmune disease relating to the colon (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. For these people, I recommend working with a doctor who can guide you to better GI and immune health through other means.
+ Acute inflammation in the bowels or rectum, intestinal blockage, frail or compromised health.
+ High levels of toxin exposure. Work with a trained physician on gently detoxifying the body first.
It is important to first open all exit routes for toxins to leave the body before increasing detoxification within the body/liver (via coffee enema).
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.