Water enemas side effects

Contents

What Is an Enema and Should You Use One?

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Depending on your enthusiasm for detoxing, you may have tried adopting a clean beauty regimen, phasing out friends, or eliminating sugar from your diet. But even if you’ve committed to an Ed Sheeran–level phone fast, you might still find one detox method extreme: giving yourself enemas on the reg.

Lately, there’s been buzz around using enemas to detox, but the practice is nothing new; enemas have been around for hundreds of years. The tool is used to inject fluid (usually clean water) into the bowels through the rectum to encourage BMs. You can buy them OTC to treat constipation, and doctors sometimes use them to prepare for treatment of other health issues (clearing the bowels before a procedure or X-ray).

Are enemas safe?

While enemas pose some risks, they are generally safe to use at home for occasional constipation, says David Novick, M.D., gastroenterologist and author of A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Gut Health. “There is a very slight risk of either injuring the anal canal or the rectum and a very minute risk of causing a perforation of the rectum,” Dr. Novick says. Enemas can also cause an electrolyte imbalance, he says. “Those reservations aside, for most people using common sense and using them infrequently, I think are safe.” For the record, though, using an oral laxative cuts out those risks, and tends to be just as effective, according to Dr. Novick. (FYI, here’s how often you should be pooping.)

How often can you use an enema?

Don’t pick up a value pack just yet. While enemas aren’t too risky, using them for a regular detox isn’t necessary and could backfire. “I don’t normally recommend regular colon cleansing or routine home enema use,” Dr. Novick says. “The colon is designed to store a large amount of stool. That’s what it’s supposed to do, so for most people, I’m not convinced that cleaning it out offers any benefit.” In other words, your colon self-cleans every time you poop. (That’s why you shouldn’t waste your time with getting regular colonics to detox either.) By going overboard with cleansing your colon, you could end up getting rid of the good bacteria in your colon, Dr. Novick adds. If you’re over 50, you should be getting regular colonoscopies-otherwise, you’re fine to just let your colon do its thing.

Another reason not to make enemas part of your regular routine: Using them too often can make your bowels become dependent on the extra assistance. You could end up making yourself constipated in the long run. Using enemas or other laxatives all the time can “lead to a loss of normal function” of the bowels, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. Bottom line: While using an enema at home infrequently for constipation is low-risk, don’t make them a habit.

  • By Renee Cherry @reneejcherry

Enemas

Enemas have been popular for a long, long time. It makes sense that enemas were used historically; when individuals couldn’t take medicine by mouth, and before intravenous medication was common, there was only one route of administration left available! As humans paid more attention to cleaning themselves, it seemed logical to think that the place where waste left the body might require internal cleaning. However, today, there is controversy around enemas. Some celebrities, most of whom are not medical experts, claim that enemas are a cure-all with detoxifying and cleansing superpowers, but physicians are speaking out against the harms of certain popular enemas. In this article, we’ll discuss the truth about enemas, and go over some of the useful applications, as well as the more dangerous ones.

History of Enemas

An enema is a procedure that involves injecting a liquid, or occasionally a gas, into the rectum via the anus to either administer medication or flush out colon contents. Colonic irrigation (often shortened to ‘a colonic’) is a similar procedure that involves administering a continual flow of liquid for minutes to hours to clear out the colon completely rather than the single injection of enema fluid.

Humans have been using enemas for thousands of years. The oldest record of enema use comes from Egypt, mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, a document written more than 3,500 years ago. Throughout time, people have had many reasons for using enemas, such as for providing nourishment to those unable to eat, ingesting intoxicants, torture, ritualistic or religious cleansing, sexual activity, and attempting to remedy various digestive ailments.

Medical Uses of Enemas

Sometimes an enema is the best tool in a physician’s arsenal to treat or diagnose various gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. In this section, we will outline common and effective uses of the enema.

Delivering Medication

One of the most common medical uses of the enema is to administer medication directly to the source. Individuals with ulcerative colitis experience inflammation only in the rectum and large intestine. The gastrointestinal tract can digest or degrade medications orally consumed during its journey through the stomach and small intestine. For this reason, some medications for ulcerative colitis, such as 5-ASAs and corticosteroids, are available in enema form to deliver the medication directly to the inflamed area for more effective treatment.

Constipation Relief

Enemas can be useful for those with severe constipation. When other treatments, such as dietary intervention, fibre supplements, or laxatives are ineffective, enemas containing salt solutions can help initiate a bowel movement. However, this method isn’t recommended for frequent use, and should only be done in cases where nothing else works, and when your physician gives you the okay, as there are more health risks with enemas than there are with standard constipation treatments.

Bowel Emptying

Your physician might recommend using an enema before a procedure or surgery that requires an empty intestine, such as colonoscopy. However, it is more likely that they will give you an oral preparation that clears out the colon than recommend an enema.

Diagnostic Tests

If your physician wants to see the outline of your large intestine for diagnostic purposes, they might use a barium enema. This involves administration of a solution containing barium, followed by a series of X-rays. The barium coats the intestinal walls and allows the shape of your digestive tract to show up in X-rays.

Blowing Smoke Up Your…

A strange type of enema found throughout Europe, especially London, in the 18th century involved blowing tobacco smoke into the anus of individuals who had drowned. Physicians at the time believed that this procedure would help resuscitate these individuals, and it was a regular occurrence along the River Thames. The theory behind this procedure was that the tobacco smoke would irritate the bowels, which would cause the stomach to contract so strongly that it would force the lungs to cough. As explained by one physician from the time, “for the heat and sharpness of the tobacco smoke irritate so much the bowels, as to cause a violent contraction of the belly, which forces out of the breast the air contained in it.”3

Note: this is not a valid resuscitation method!

Myths about Enemas

Enemas Detoxify

Many proponents of home enemas claim that the main reason to perform enemas is to detoxify the intestinal tract, liver, and/or gallbladder. You might also hear claims that at any given time, a large amount of waste stays in your colon. However, this isn’t true, unless you are very constipated. Even then, whenever you have a bowel movement, it pushes things out roughly in the order it went in. Any waste that you eliminate during an enema is from recent meals and would have been eliminated during normal bowel movements in due time.

Enemas Are Safe

While enemas can be a useful tool in medicine, giving yourself enemas at home can have many complications. An incorrectly administered enema can damage tissue in your rectum/colon, cause bowel perforation and, if the device is not sterile, infections.1 Long-term, regular use of enemas can cause electrolyte imbalances. Temporary side effects of enemas can include bloating and cramping.

Enemas can also affect the balance of microbiota in your gut. Many proponents of using home enemas to ‘detoxify’ often cite this as a good effect, saying it helps flush out harmful bacteria. However, enemas also negatively affect the good bacteria in the gut (probiotics), which can damage the microbiota balance and cause digestive symptoms.

Coffee Enemas Are Beneficial

Coffee enemas first became popular in the 1920s, when a German scientist, Max Gerson, claimed that coffee enemas were more effective than standard saline enemas, because the coffee would be absorbed rectally, and could help stimulate the liver. Supposedly, this would detoxify the body and could even help cure cancer. However, it is important to note that in the past century, no researchers have published any quality studies showing that coffee enemas can improve health, and the scientific community continues to discredit Gerson’s unfounded ideas.2

Coffee can offer health benefits – such as antioxidants – when you drink it, but there is no advantage to taking coffee rectally. In fact, it comes with the risk of normal enema complications, and the potential for rectal burns if the coffee is too warm. It is also possible to take in too much caffeine, if you are using larger amounts of coffee than you would normally drink. If you want to enjoy coffee, it is best to enjoy drinking it in moderation.

Conclusion

While enemas definitely have their uses, there aren’t many situations where they are necessary. We have safer methods of medication administration, and we know that using enemas regularly doesn’t help detoxify or cleanse your colon. If your physician does recommend you use an enema for any reason, make sure to follow their instructions carefully to avoid unpleasant side effects and injuries.

Shepherd of the Royal Anus

In Ancient Egypt, a wide range of physicians would attend to their Pharaoh, with each one attending to a different body part. One such position, the Shepherd of the Royal Anus (neru pehut), had the primary duty of providing the Pharaoh with regular enemas, either to administer medicines or to clean out the colon.4

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 206 – 2018

Historically called clyster, an enema is a procedure that has been utilized for centuries. This procedure has been used for a variety of reasons such as constipation, bowel disorders, and colon cleansing.

Today, an enema is performed in a medical setting or even at home. Keep reading to learn about the different types, uses, and clinically proven benefits of this procedure.

What Is an Enema?

An enema is a procedure in which liquid is injected through the rectum, expelling its contents into the lower bowel.

This procedure has been used for centuries in different forms. Although the apparatus has changed throughout the years, the basic principles of how and why it is used remain the same.

What are Enemas Used For?

Some people may feel uncomfortable by the thought of an enema. However, it may be effective in restoring digestive function and other health problems. Its most common uses and benefits include:

  • Bowel stimulant (constipation treatment)
  • Colon cleansing (hygiene and colonoscopy preparation)
  • X-ray imaging (preparation)
  • Medication administration
  • Bowel hygiene

However, milder treatments (such as stool softeners, bulk-forming laxatives, drinking solutions, and suppositories) are preferred whenever possible. Because enemas may cause serious side effects such as kidney problems, rectal bleeding, and dehydration if improperly used, it’s important to use them only as directed by a conventional doctor.

You may find information online about certain types of enemas (e.g., coffee enema) having antioxidant effects and treating cancer, but this is not supported by scientific research .

The rest of this article will give you a guideline on the different types of enema, as well its associated uses and side effects.

Types of Enema

Cleansing Enema

A cleansing enema is used to cleanse the bowels and digestive organs.

The 3 main types of cleansing enemas include:

  • Large volume cleansing enema (500 to 1000 mL): Enema solution (differs depending on the purpose of enema) cleanses the colon and most of the large intestine. This type of enema may cause damage to the external tissue of your bowels .
  • Small volume cleansing enema (50 to 200 mL): For younger users or elderly patients who may have more sensitive external tissue in their bowels. This rarely causes complications in children .
  • Packaged pre-disposable enema: These are enemas designed for use at home for users who can do it themselves. These single-use packages come with sodium phosphate solutions. The largest side effects of these are water and electrolyte imbalances, which can be dangerous for the elderly .

Retention Enema

A retention enema is when a specific solution is released into the bowel to be absorbed. This is held in for varying periods of time without expulsion of any of the solution. Even though it may be quite uncomfortable, holding it in allows time for the colon to absorb most of the solution (e.g. medication administration).

Coffee Enema

There is some circulation of information that reports that coffee enemas can treat cancer and have antioxidant effects. These both have been disproven in scientific research, so you must be wary when hearing about such uses of coffee enemas .

Proponents of coffee enemas also claim that they improve digestion by stimulating the release of bile, although this effect has only been observed in people drinking coffee .

In a pilot study of 34 patients (who needed an endoscopy), those treated with a coffee enema had better imaging results .

Importantly, coffee enemas may cause serious health complications, especially if used without medical supervision. In addition to those common to other types of enemas (such as digestive issues from bowel stretching, infections from improperly sterilized kits, and electrolyte imbalances), coffee enemas may cause burns (if the coffee is still hot) and irritation (from coffee’s compounds) in the bowels. Two women even died due to severe electrolyte imbalance from frequent coffee enema use .

Salt Water Fleet Enema

Fleet enemas are primarily used for the preparation of a colonoscopy and for constipation. The bowel-cleansing solution of sodium phosphate or sodium chloride mixed with water stimulates bowel movements within minutes of the enema. It is more effective in bowel cleansing for colonoscopy preparation than its oral equivalent, with both having similar side effects (dehydration and electrolyte imbalance) .

Barium Enema

A barium enema is an X-ray imaging preparation that physicians use to examine and evaluate the lower intestinal tract. The barium solution used helps provide more clear and accurate imaging results. If proper equipment and careful techniques are used by your medical caregiver during this procedure, complications are very rare .

Mineral Oil Enema

Mineral oil enemas are used to treat constipation and to clean out the intestines and digestive organs. For older adults, this type of enema is recommended over fleet enemas. Its use with fleet enema has also been reported to help remove large tar burns .

Mechanism of Action

The general mechanism of enemas causes increased pressure and potential irritation of the external tissue in your bowels and anus. Although this may cause harmful effects, enemas are proven to be safe if used correctly .

Phosphate Enema

Phosphate enemas (one type of fleet enema) cause stimulation of the external tissue in the bowels. This solution is more concentrated than the layer below the external tissue (hypertonic solution), resulting in the movement of water outside the tissue. This causes pressure changes that ultimately help bowel movements .

Salt Water, Tap Water, and Soap Suds Enema

These types of enema solutions also increase pressure in the bowels, promoting evacuation. When used in small volumes, these enemas are less irritating than phosphate enemas .

Commonly composed of glycerin, this enema causes water movements (osmosis) within the bowels that promote defecation .

How to Use an Enema

1) Relieving Constipation

The normal amount of time between bowel movements differs from person to person. Many individuals have constipation, which causes increasingly uncomfortable symptoms the longer it remains untreated. Constipation becomes more prevalent as individuals grow older, and negatively impacts the quality of life .

Enemas are an effective procedure to treat constipation. Although the most common treatments are laxatives, enemas may be just as useful. A variety of enema treatments are available, and each of them has characteristics that help in specific cases .

Once the enema solution is administered through the anus, it is held there to allow time for the solution to get absorbed and mix with the stool. This softens the stool, and voluntary evacuation of the solution after a few minutes normally results in immediate relief .

In an observational study on over 500 children with constipation treated with an enema of small volume soap suds, more than 80% showed positive results without any complications. In an additional study on 79 children with constipation, salt water enema treatment resulted in 62% of the children reporting relief .

In another study, over 200 people with constipation were treated with only a milk and molasses enema in the emergency department. Bowel evacuation was successful in 88% of these patients, including 82% of those who had failed to respond to other treatments .

2) Cleansing the Colon

Colon cleansing has become increasingly important with the expansion of colon screening. The cleaning is required to ensure that certain aspects of colon screening are not missed due to poor visualization .

In one clinical trial, 1,200 patients scheduled for barium x-ray imaging were given an enema for colon cleansing. Given a combination of laxatives and water purge, 52% to 80% of their colons were clean. When an additional tap water enema was given an hour before a colon examination, 96% of the colons were clean of fecal matter .

In an observational study, a group of 123 patients who also required a barium X-ray were given cleansing enemas to clean their colon. Patients who completed more rounds of enema had significantly less fecal matter present in their bowels .

The average person has a variety of bacteria and fecal matter buildup in the colon. Although this may only result in no or slight complications such as bloating, some people believe this can lead to more serious problems such as chronic diseases.

Although there is a widespread practice of colonic cleansing among some natural health practitioners, there is no evidence to support its use to improve and promote health .

3) Helping Diagnose Colon Disease

A double-contrast barium enema is a useful technique utilized by health professionals to get x-ray visualizations of the colon and rectum. A high-quality examination can be completed in most patients, which makes it a powerful tool for the recognition and diagnosis of any underlying problems in the colon and rectum .

This type of enema is less invasive than a colonoscopy, which would be the alternative visualization technique. If a barium enema is completed after a colonoscopy, it allows for complete colonic evaluation and diagnosis .

In one study, 190 patients with a neoplastic disorder referred for a double-contrast barium enema by a physician were given a colonoscopy. The researchers found that enema may give false positives while colonoscopy may have technical difficulties. They concluded that both techniques are beneficial for visualization, with each having its own drawbacks .

In an observational study, over 100 people who had just received an incomplete colonoscopy subsequently received a barium enema. The barium enema revealed the entire colon of 94% of the patients. Additionally, this technique allowed the detection of abnormalities not found in the colonoscopy in 14 patients .

Barium enema visualization is best used to detect bulges in the wall of the large intestines (diverticular disease). However, there are superior techniques than a barium enema to detect polyps and inflammatory bowel disease. The optimal method to detect complications is to use a combination of visualization techniques (barium enema, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy) .

4) Drug Administration

Enemas can be used to administer drugs through the rectum. This method of drug administration may be useful when the right solution is used. They can be designed specifically for full-body administration (systemic) of the drug, or just for the adjacent tissue (local). An additional advantage is being able to maximize local drug concentrations in the colon .

Two of the most commonly used types of enemas for drug administration are sucralfate enemas and vancomycin enemas. Sucralfate is frequently used to treat gut diseases, while vancomycin is an antibiotic .

In one observational study, 22 people with inflamed colons were given sucralfate enemas twice a day for 3 weeks. Afterward, 19 of the 22 patients demonstrated clinical improvements. In another study, 6 people with rectal ulcers were given sucralfate retention enemas for 6 weeks. Four of the patients had complete relief of symptoms, while the other 2 experienced marked improvements .

A retrospective chart review of 47 people with severe colon infections (Clostridium difficile colitis) was treated with a colonic vancomycin enema. Seventy percent responded with full recovery and thus did not require surgery .

Side Effects

There are a variety of different side effects associated with different types of enemas. Because some of them can be dangerous, it’s important to use enemas only as directed by a reputable practitioner and immediately report any unwanted effects caused by their use.

The most common side effects include:

  • Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration
  • Bowel damage
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Sepsis
  • Kidney damage
  • Increased chance of HIV for MSM

Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration is the most common side effect associated with phosphate enemas. One trial in adults found severe electrolyte shifts in the blood following phosphate enemas. A 90-year old patient given enemas to treat constipation showed severe signs of dehydration .

It is critical that a patient using phosphate enemas promptly evacuates, because electrolyte disturbances (hyperphosphatemia) may be life-threatening .

Cleansing enemas can perforate and damage the bowels. In a clinical trial on 24 healthy volunteers, those using soap sud and tap water solution enemas damaged the outer skin layers of their bowels. Perforation, electrolyte imbalances (hyperphosphatemia), and sepsis may cause death in up to 4% of the cases (especially in the elderly) .

There is a case of a 72-year old patient who got a colonic perforation during a barium enema due to an excess of barium being used. Damage and perforation of the bowels are preventable but not rare .

Cases of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms) have resulted from the use of different enemas. Out of 58 patients over 60 years old, 40% developed new arrhythmias during a barium enema. Additionally, non-hazardous heart arrhythmia is possible during small-bowel enemas in elderly patients.

There have been incidents of sepsis (systemic infection) in small infants as a result of contrast enemas. In an observational study of 160 premature babies who received contrast enemas during intensive care, 21 were reported to have clinical sepsis .

Kidney failure is prevalent among elderly people who undergo fleet enemas. Eleven elderly patients received fleet enemas for constipation. Kidney failure was found in all the patients after the enema, 5 of whom died as a result .

Studies have associated HIV incidence and recent enema use. In one report, over 95% of HIV-positive MSM in their sample used an enema before anal sex and 45.8% used an enema afterward .

Interactions

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out how enemas might interact with something else you are taking.

Given the effect of fleet enemas on the kidneys, electrolytes, and bowels, there may be some interactions with other drugs you are taking .

Most painkillers (i.e., ibuprofen) put a strain on the kidneys as well. If you are taking painkillers in conjunction with performing fleet enemas, it is recommended to consult your doctor to make sure it is safe to do so, as they both can cause kidney damage .

Additionally, since enemas stimulate bowel movements, most drugs taken orally may not be digested as effectively as they would normally. A change in the rate of stomach emptying alters the absorption amount of orally ingested drugs. Faster digestion may cause less drug absorption, making the drug less effective .

Laxatives should not be taken while performing enemas, as they may result in extreme discomfort and possible damage to the bowels.

Limitations and Caveats

Although a great deal of clinical research has been conducted on the use of different types of enemas, there are still drawbacks. Most of the clinical data and published papers come from before 2000, and updated research has not been conducted with new experimental designs. Additionally, aside from the barium contrast enema, many lingering questions in the medical community remain on whether or not enemas are fully effective and safe.

User Experiences

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of enema users who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfDecode. SelfDecode does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfDecode. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

One user suffered from eight years of IBS. Already taking co-codamol every day for the last 3 years, the user tried a salt water enema in desperation after watching a YouTube video. The user reported now only occasionally taking co-codamol, and using a fleet enema 2 or 3 times a week, which provided him with immense relief.

Another user used a fleet enema in preparation for a sigmoidoscopy. The user reported it was extremely painful, made them sick to their stomach for hours, and caused them to suffer from chills, shakes, increased heart rate and cramping even after bowel emptying.

An 18-year-old with chronic constipation shared a more mixed review. The user found out about fleet enemas and decided to give it a chance since it was very affordable. Although he found it to be extremely uncomfortable, it worked within minutes and cleaned out his whole colon. The user reported to be very sore and shaky, but finds it much more bearable than the constipation, cramping, and bloating previously experienced.

What better way is there to start off Friday than to talk about poop. If you’re not interested in talking number 2, I suggest you don’t read any further….

…unless you’re really intrigued with why I would post about anything like this! I’ve never been shy when it comes to talking bathroom talk. Let’s just say it was a “poopy” habit I picked up from my mom’s side of the family. But, hey, admit it…everyone poops. You remember the book, right?

Let me preface all of this in saying that I have zero training, I’m not a doctor/nutritionist/health professional in any way, shape or form and anything I list from here on out is just my own *personal* experience so take from it what you will.

So, why am I posting a blog at, like, 6:30 in the morning when I haven’t posted in so long? Well, we’ve been busy. And, I started this new thing where I get up super early in the AM to dry brush, oil pull, workout, and meal prep…but, this week has been the only week in which it happened all five days. Go me! My internal clock, however, is waking me up at like 4:30 now so I have a lot of down time…

Anyways….I’ve been alluding to the enema talk for some time now. I have been doing it weekly for about three months now, and I don’t do it anymore than once a week. When it comes to enemas and colonics (which is different, btw and I won’t talk about that here), there are definitely different camps that people generally fall into. There are those who believe enemas are the end-all-be-all to superb health and should be done daily, if not MORE THAN ONCE a day. Next, there are people who think it is a crock of poo. Then, there are others who believe it should be done every once in a while to help clear out waste that is compacted or just not moving quickly enough from the body’s system. There are various other takes on enemas, but I happen to fall into the last camp.

Including enemas into my weekly routine has helped me feel less bloated, regular, and “lighter.” Here are some of the other benefits that come along with regularly scheduled enemas:

  • Liver cleansing
  • Relieving constipation
  • Promoting regularity and actually STRENGTHENING the muscles
  • Detox for the skin
  • Relieving headaches
  • Uplifting mood (get the “bad” out, right?)
  • …and a bunch of other things that you can find in others’ testimonials

Enemas can help eliminate waste you’re moving from your system when you’re doing a juice cleanse which makes total sense to me now. I would sometimes get headaches while juicing, and I come to find that many TCM practitioners say that a headache is sh*t on the brain. Waste is not being removed quickly enough and release toxins into your system. So, the last time I had a headache I did an enema and felt SO much better after! Vice grip, gone.

So, how do you do enemas? Believe me, I was SUPER nervous at first that I was going to do something wrong and, like, wreck my insides. But, it’s really quite easy. And! Get yourself all relaxed and have a long, salt soak bath before or after. Make it a pampering thing. And, if you’re still REALLY unsure, you can find images online or Youtube videos of people doing it. For real, you can find this. Here’s an 11-Step guide taken from the Organic Authority on how to safely perform an enema:

  1. Purchase an enema bag. This Cara Fountain Syringe enema kit is perfect for regular use. It costs only $12.31. Prior to administering the enema, read all instructions in the enema kit package so you understand how to put together the enema bag and tubes.
  2. Make sure it is done first thing in the morning, after a natural bowel movement if possible. You should have nothing in you stomach or should be hours away from your last meal, otherwise the process will be uncomfortable and not as effective.
  3. Assemble a couple of large, old towels, one quart of filtered water at room temperature and coconut oil for lubrication.
  4. Find a place in your largest bathroom or near the bathroom where you can hang the enema bag about 2-3 feet above the floor and where you can comfortably lie on the ground. It is important to be near a toilet in case you have to eliminate immediately.
  5. Fold towels on the bathroom floor, with the enema bag hanging above your feet. Lubricate your bum and the first few centimeters of the insertion tip on the enema tube with the coconut oil.
  6. Pour water into the enema bag and seal the bag before hanging it up. Let the water pour out of the tube and once it comes out steadily, clamp the tube tightly so the water no longer flows. It is important there are no air pockets in the tube.
  7. Lie on your back or on your left side on the towel. Draw your knees to your chest and insert the nozzle about 3 inches into the anus. Stop if you feel resistance.
  8. Once comfortable, release the clamp to allow the flow of water. Keep your hand on the clamp so you can control the speed of the water as it enters your body. Let the water slowly enter and try to relax your anus and midsection. Breathe deeply and pay attention to your body’s reaction. If you begin to feel cramping, slow or completely stop the water flow.
  9. After your have taken as much water as you can hold, try to sit with it for as long as possible – 2-3 minutes – and then remove the nozzle and sit on the toilet to release.
  10. Repeat as many times as necessary for the next 30-45 minutes, or until you are satisfied with the results.
  11. Afterwards, take a probiotic to replenish your colon with healthy bacteria. Avoid repeating an enema too often, or else your body could become too dependent on it to have a bowel movement. Enema benefits are incredible, but going overboard can put your health at risk. Talk with your doctor for more support in your use of enemas to improve your digestive health.

I happen to believe an enema can benefit you at any time of day. I believe later in the day you’re going to eliminate more than once (ie. you’re laying there, get up to go, more water, go again, etc.). When I first started I thought I needed to finish the whole bag, but it’s really all about what you’re feeling comfortable with. When I’m lying there, I like to rub my stomach in a circular motion and this also promotes the releasing of toxins. I got my bag and numerous tubes on Amazon for really cheap, but it is advised to get a metal bucket designed for enemas as to avoid using plastic.

There are numerous “detox” enemas like the coffee enema, but I haven’t tried any of these just yet. I use distilled water at room temperature and that’s as far as I’ve dipped my toe into this venture.

Enemas can be done safely, but there are those out there who believe that are totally unnecessary and can harm you if done too often. If you’re thinking about adding enemas to your routine, do research online and grab some holistic health books. This may be just what you need to feel lighter and less bloated….or, you may think it’s one big load of sh*t.

Hoping your holidays are warm and loving. Stay safe out there 🙂

As a child, I remember my mother always insisted that she could not remain “regular” unless she had a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I didn’t think much about this habit of hers until later in life, when I read about coffee enemas and realized that the principle was the same: there’s something about coffee that can stimulate the bowels.

Enemas typically involve inserting water or water with a mild soap into the rectum to help resolve constipation, but other fluids or substances mixed with water can be used, such as cooled herbal tea, probiotics, mineral oil, and apple cider vinegar. Beyond constipation, enemas are frequently beneficial for treating hemorrhoids, headache, indigestion, skin problems, and as a liver detox.

What are coffee enemas?

Although enemas have been used since ancient times, coffee enemas are a more recent development. In the late 1800s, coffee enemas were used postsurgery to accelerate healing or fight accidental poisonings. An article appearing in the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine in 1982 noted that when it came to cancer treatment trends, a “preoccupation with ‘detoxification’ and ‘purification’ has led to the advocacy of coffee and other enemas to cleanse the bowel of toxins.” This was decades after the Gerson Institute began using coffee enemas to treat people with cancer, a practice that is still followed today.

Read about how to enema

In fact, coffee enemas are considered to be an essential part of the therapy program touted by the Gerson Institute. According to the Institute, research has shown that when coffee is given as an enema, it boosts the activity of glutathione S-transferase by 600 to 700 percent, promoting detoxification of the liver.

Individuals who follow Gerson Therapy are supposed to hold a coffee enema for 12 to 15 minutes, which allows the body’s entire blood supply to circulate through the organ four to five times. With each pass-through, the blood picks up toxins, including parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens, which are then eliminated through the intestinal tract once the coffee is released.

Read about the importance of a healthy liver

Among other reported health benefits of a coffee enema are:

  • Improved digestion. This may be associated with the presence of cafestol palmitate, a compound in coffee that can stimulate glutathione S-transferase, an enzyme that helps release bile from the liver, which in turn breaks down food and improves digestion.
  • Better peristalsis. These natural contractions of the bowel help move material from the bowels, which reduces the risk of constipation and promotes a healthy intestinal tract.
  • Relief from insomnia and cognitive issues. Suzy Cohen, America’s Pharmacist, notes that coffee enemas can help relieve insomnia and cognitive problems as well as fatigue.

Caveats

If you are considering a coffee enema, here are a few caveats:

  • Talk to a knowledgeable health professional before undertaking a coffee enema to be sure you don’t have any health issues that could cause adverse effects reactions. For example, you should not do coffee enemas if you have colitis, Crohn’s disease, or diverticulitis. People who are fast metabolizers who have low copper levels may experience a significant decline in copper, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Since coffee enemas can remove essential nutrients, anyone with mineral deficiencies could experience worsening levels.
  • Enemas that are not administered properly can cause rectal bleeding and injury. Be sure you fully understand how to perform a coffee enema.
  • Coffee enemas that are repeated too often can cause a significant loss of electrolytes and/or diarrhea as well as infections and pain.
  • For information on how to properly perform a coffee enema (after talking with your doctor, of course) look here, courtesy of Dr. Josh Axe.

Image via Trophygeek

Axe J. Fight cancer and detoxify with a coffee enema

Cohen S. Coffee enema benefits for you

Gerson Institute. Scientific basis of coffee enemas

Shils ME, Hermann MG. Unproved dietary claims in the treatment of patients with cancer. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 1982 Apr; 58(3): 323-40

Leave a Comment Related Topics: Probiotics

Enemas in labor

Enemas used to be common protocol for hospital births. Recently however, enemas have thankfully become a choice, and are no longer standard procedure. While most hospitals have let go of standard enemas in labor, not all have. Keep in mind that procedures during labor are your choice. Even if your midwife, doctor, or nurse wants you to have an enema, you don’t have to comply. There are pros and cons on both sides. Enema pros: May help to speed up labor – having a bowel movement usually boosts sluggish contractions. May make you feel more comfortable. If you feel constipated when labor starts, a warm water enema can help. If you feel worried that you might poop a little while you’re pushing your baby out, an enema can help ease some of those worries. However, even with an enema you may still poop a little during the birth process – it’s totally common and no big deal. Trust me, once you’re in the pushing stage, you’re tired, contractions are ultra intense, and it feels like half the world has seen you sans pants, you’re seriously not going to care about a little poop – and neither will your birth attendants. Enema cons: Can make you feel very uncomfortable. Labor should be as relaxed as labor can be, and someone saying, “HEY let’s give you an enema” may not be your idea of a good time. Enemas can be painful for some women. Old research doesn’t stand up. Some old school prenatal providers believed that enemas decreased risk of infection. In theory, poop was the culprit. As in poop during labor and birth may harm your baby. This theory doesn’t stand up today. Current research shows that risk to your baby due to fecal matter is slim. Some research notes that an enema may even increase risks of infection – although it’s not conclusive. The bottom line (no pun intended): If you want an enema, have one. You can do one at home before heading to the hospital or birthing center or you can ask for one once you arrive. If you don’t want an enema, don’t have one. In most cases, bowel movements and even diarrhea are common during beginning labor, so an enema is a moot point. Thus far, research is on the fence. Enemas aren’t deemed “good” or “bad” just a matter of preference. Now do you know your preference? Enemas (yes or no) are something to consider working into your birth plan, so give it some thought.

Fair Warning: If you’ve gotten through life up to this point without learning what an enema is, do not read this while eating.

The basic concept of an enema is simple: force some liquid (water or other liquids) up through the anus into the colon. This softens any stools in the colon and triggers the normal muscle contractions that expel feces from the colon. Basically it’s a way of cleaning out the colon really, really well. Usually people use a syringe with a blunted tip to push the liquid in, or they use an enema bag that hangs up above the body and uses the force of gravity.

You wouldn’t think this would be the quack therapy of choice for people trying to make a quick buck off desperate cancer patients, but enemas are the subject of a baffling amount of nonsense and snake oil, especially once you move past ordinary water and get into the exotic stuff like coffee. The idea of “cleansing” the colon must feed into some kind of primal human anxiety or something, because we’ve certainly invented a lot of weird nonsense on that theme.

But even they’ve been abused in the name of “detoxification” and curing everything from AIDS to cancer, enemas do have legitimate uses supported by actual research, and for people with constipation, they can be a valuable tool. Here’s a look.

Enemas and the Problem of Quack Medicine

Before actually getting into the potential benefits of enemas, it’s time to stop and dispel a few myths about “colon cleansing.” Whatever enemas might do, they don’t “cleanse” “toxins” from the colon, and they definitely don’t cure cancer or make you immortal by doing that or anything else.

“Colon cleansing” is a particular branch of alternative medicine that advocates regular enemas as a way to cleanse the colon of “toxins.” This can seem very persuasive: it feels kind of logical that the colon would be full of gunk, especially if you eat a lousy diet. Taking an enema does tend to result in very dramatic amounts of waste, and it’s just uncomfortable enough to feel like it’s really doing something important.

Reality check:

  • Having germs in the colon is not a problem. Most of your fecal matter is dead bacteria. Bacteria are supposed to be in the colon.
  • If you eat a lousy diet, the majority of the damage will be done long before the food reaches your colon, and “cleansing” the colon will have a very minimal benefit. Most nutrient absorption takes place earlier in the digestive process, so you’re not preventing your body from absorbing something dangerous by “flushing” it out. Meat doesn’t “rot for 5 years in the colon” and neither does anything else.

There’s no evidence at all that “flushing” or “cleansing” the colon has any benefit for healthy people beyond your body’s built-in methods of waste disposal.

And in fact, colon cleansing can be dangerous, especially if you use something other than water. Coffee enemas are the most notorious: do you know what it feels like to burn the inside of your rectum? Because with a coffee enema, you could find out! Or perhaps you’d like a lovely case of proctocolitis, painful inflammation of the colon and the rectum. People have died from this stuff, so why does anyone do it?

The claim for coffee enemas is that they “stimulate” the liver or help you “detoxify” more quickly. It’s true that the liver is the major organ of detox in the body, and it’s true that a good diet can help the liver do its job, but “a good diet” as far as your liver is concerned means “healthy fats and minimal fructose going into your mouth,” not “room-temperature coffee going up your anus.” (Read more about Paleo for liver health here.) There’s no scientific evidence that coffee enemas do anything to speed or assist detoxification.

Coffee enemas might make you feel good, because they do contain caffeine. This study found that a coffee enema raised blood caffeine levels, not as much as a cup of coffee, but enough to be notable. Caffeine is a stimulant, an appetite suppressant, and a mood booster. But you know how else you can get those effects? Drinking a cup of coffee. There’s no benefit to putting it up the other end.

The title of this study says it best: the theory of colon cleansing is “a triumph of ignorance over science.”

So What do Enemas Actually Do?

That was the quack takedown. But remember from above that enemas do actually have their uses! It’s just that their uses have nothing to do with “cleansing” “toxins” from the colon, curing cancer, curing HIV, curing obesity, or anything else.

What enemas can do is offer reasonably safe (provided you’re using plain water and not coffee) and effective occasional symptom relief for constipation. Even in people who eat well, chronic stress and other lifestyle factors can cause constipation, and occasional stressors like traveling just make it worse. And constipation can easily become a vicious cycle where hard, dry stools make it painful to defecate, which makes all the muscles in the area tense up, which adds to the constipation. Enemas can soften stools and induce bowel contractions – basically, they break that vicious cycle.

Enemas are very effective at inducing a bowel movement, so they’re a good tool for occasional relief, especially for functional constipation (constipation with no apparent reason – there’s no physical problem, but the person is still constipated). A long-term study found that 34% of patients with functional constipation got relief just by using enemas. That doesn’t sound great, but this kind of constipation is so widespread and so tricky to treat that 34% is nothing to sneeze at!

Enemas can be especially helpful for people with slow-transit constipation or people with constipation caused by nerve damage (e.g. diabetic constipation). Some research actually suggests that using an enema can increase transit time throughout the entire colon.

Magnesium supplements are also a gentler alternative to enemas and help relieve chronic constipation. Magnesium is a better choice for long-term use.

Of course, this is all assuming that you’ve already tried less invasive things like eating more fat, eating more fiber, drinking more water, and getting regular exercise. Obviously, that stuff comes first (for one thing, it’s much easier and less unpleasant than taking an enema). But for occasional times when other remedies just aren’t cutting it, an enema can help break the vicious cycle and put you on the road back to normal bowel movements under your own steam.

On the other hand, there are reasons why some people shouldn’t take enemas – Inflammatory Bowel Disease is one of them, and so are some heart conditions. If you have a serious disease, see your doctor before trying an enema. Taking enemas on a regular basis can cause electrolyte imbalances – if you have a problem so severe that you need enemas constantly, go to a doctor.

Another potential problem is damage to the gut biome, but here it’s hard to say exactly what’s going on. Some studies have looked at the effect of laxatives and orally-ingested cleansing agents on the gut biome, but there’s not much there for enemas.

Summing it Up

If you want a reasonably safe and quite effective treatment for occasional constipation, an enema might be a good solution for you. They’re very cheap, they’re safe to administer at home as long as you stick with water, and they generally do work. There’s some discomfort and cramping involved, but water enemas usually don’t have serious side effects.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a way to “detoxify” your colon…stop. The human body does detoxify itself, but that mostly happens in the liver. There are ways to support that with diet, but they involve eating healthy fats and avoiding excess fructose, not taking coffee enemas. Coffee enemas can be very dangerous and there’s no real evidence proving that they have any health benefits to justify the risks.

TBH, there’s not much about getting an enema that sounds fun: Enemas involve pumping water or other substances through the rectum and into the large intestine in order to flush out poop.

Still, plenty of so-called “detox” programs recommend at-home enemas as a way to clear out toxins in the body and decrease bloat.

But is that really a good idea?

What Is An Enema?

In medical settings, enemas are sometimes prescribed before a colonoscopy to clear the inside of the colon so that doctors can perform an exam.

They’re also occasionally used in people with severe constipation, says Chicago emergency department doctor Howard Mell, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

“The body knows how to take pretty good care of detoxifying itself on its own.”

“Sometimes they’re used when people have had surgeries and have a reaction to medication—pain medications and anesthetics are the two usual culprits—and become temporarily constipated,” says Mell. “We use enemas to get the body back to its natural process. But it shouldn’t be used as a daily or weekly regimen, only in unusual circumstances when severe constipation occurs.”

Should You Get An Enema?

Truth is, healthy people don’t really need enemas. But Mell says he gets why people think they might help. “Poop is smelly and has a lot of bacteria and they think, ‘If I can get that poop out, it will make me better,'” says Mell. “But in reality, humans have evolved over millions of years and the body knows how to take pretty good care of detoxifying itself on its own.”

Enemas can carry health risks, too, says Mell. He’s seen patients in the ER who have tried at-home enemas and have burned their colon from heat or caused severe irritation from chemicals and other ingredients (some people swear by enemas containing coffee, herbs, or soap).

You can even perforate the lining of your large intestine doing a colon cleanse, he explains. “If you do have a big mass sitting there, you can do damage. I’ve seen bowels actually rupture when a mass is present,” Mell says, noting that older people with thinning colons are more at risk.

Colon cleanses can also cause bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and dehydration, according to the Mayo Clinic—the opposite outcome you’d expect if you’re pumping water or other liquids into the colon. It can lead to changes in your electrolytes, too, which can be dangerous if you have kidney or heart disease or other health problems.

Still tempted? Talk to your doctor first. As embarrassing as it is to talk about poop with your M.D., it’s better than ending up in the ER after an enema-gone-wrong.


I’m a big fan of organic and natural solutions to keep you healthy. While a raw diet is important too, additional methods of getting rid of any toxins in your system so that organs can function efficiently is right up there also.

I had heard about the benefits of enemas, even celebrities have started using them. When I decided to try coffee enema’s to help heal my candida, the results were amazing. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my stomach and was surprised that I felt the bloat disappearing, my healing process was expediated, and I felt more energetic.

What is an Enema?

If you’re not sure exactly what an enema is, it’s a process where filtered water is introduced in the rectum through a pipe to soften and expel toxins or accumulated waste from the colon. The colon plays an important part in digestion, and extracting all the nutrients you need from your diet to keep you healthy. The colon also removes water from the digested food to form faeces or stool.

While there are several types of enemas, I chose coffee enemas as they are known to be one of the most effective in getting rid of toxins, especially as there are particular compounds in the coffee when introduced to the liver via the portal vein stimulate the liver to produce glutathione, the master detoxifier, and bind toxins released from the liver and then they are excreted out after holding the enema solution for 15 minutes.

I believe the liver always needs additional detox help, due to stress, modern lifestyle, diet, pathogens, bad bacteria, fungi overgrowth, the liver is easily overburdened, and needs a little help removing toxins and waste.

Benefits of Doing Enemas at Home

One of the advantages of an enema is that it’s a safe and natural process you can perform in the privacy of your home. After your first couple of enemas, you’ll be able to perform the procedure with practiced ease.

Here are some of the health benefits you will experience when performing an enema at home:

Benefit #1: Improves circulation, boosts energy and provides insomnia relief

When toxins are released from your body, less energy is required to force waste out of the intestines. With improved blood circulation, you’ll feel more energetic and enjoy restful sleep.

Benefit #2: Improves concentration

When toxins build up in your colon, your body does not get the nutrients required to function efficiently. An enema colon cleanse allows the nutrients from your raw vegetable meals to be absorbed efficiently, resulting in better focus, alertness and an improvement in overall health.

Benefit #3: Provides the perfect start to a weight loss program

An average human colon can hold about eight meals before the process of digestion begins. An enema colon cleanse can clear the intestinal tract of waste matter quickly, which can kick-starts metabolism, reduce bloating and toxins, and allow for easy weight loss.

Benefit #4: Lowers the risk of colon cancer

The toxins which accumulate in the body through food, drink and skin absorption are processed by the liver and gastrointestinal system. If these toxins aren’t eliminated out of the body they stagnate and can result in polyps, cysts and cancerous growth in the colon. An enema detox is a fast acting cleanse and gets rid of harmful toxins before they can cause serious damage to the body.

Regular use also reshapes the colon which improves waste movement. This reduces the likelihood of faeces being held up and becoming toxic at a later stage.

An important note: Enemas cleanse the lower half of the colon. Colonics provide a full colon cleanse that targets the entire area. So I recommend using enemas weekly at home and booking a colonic monthly with your local colonic hydrotherapist.

Benefit #5: Improves fertility

A colon which is clogged from years of toxic waste exerts pressure on the uterus and causes strain on the surrounding reproductive organs. Excessive amounts of fat in the body make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.

Enema colon cleansing along with fibre-rich food choices, reduces fat levels in the body. Colon cleansing rids the body of chemicals and toxins which interfere with pregnancy. Several naturopaths recommend both partners undertake enema colon cleansing to facilitate pregnancy.

Benefit #6: Clears Your Skin

One of the functions of your skin is to eliminate waste from your body. If the kidneys or liver aren’t functioning well, the skin has to work extra hard to get rid of the toxins. That’s when you find surface eruptions on the skin which are a sign of toxins which are being released.

By cleaning the colon, an enema detox reduces the strain placed on the kidneys, liver, lungs and skin in expelling toxins. With toxins being expelled through the right organs it is most likely the skin will clear up after a few weeks.

Benefit #7: Strengthens Your Immune System

Removing toxic waste material and hardened residue from your colon will rejuvenate immune tissues residing in your intestines. If you have a weak immune system, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a health practitioner.

So, there you have it. Reasons enough for you to add enemas to your healthy body routine. If you’re the type who travels frequently, you can also carry a Disposable Enema Kit, which is lightweight and easily fits into a bag. Along with raw food diet, get into the habit of a regular enema. You’ll feel healthy, energetic and keep diseases away!

Let me know your thoughts, would you try an enema, or have you tried an enema? If so, did it help with your digestion, healing, weight loss or other? I’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. 🙂

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