Coffee Enema: Unmatched Detoxification for Health and Recovery| Updated: Feb 04, 2019
The coffee enema represents the ultimate detoxification experience possible such that the most effective holistic cancer treatments in the world, including those offered by the Gerson Institute and holistic oncologist Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez MD, use the coffee enema extensively as part of their healing protocols.
The coffee enema is also widely used for health recovery from autoimmune disease and other degenerative ailments providing nothing short of unparalleled results. Others use it for health maintenance and as a potent prevention tool given the toxic soup our world has unfortunately become.
The Enema in Early Medical Writings
The earliest known mention of the enema comes from Ancient Egypt. Both the Edwin Smith Papyrus (circa 1600 BC) and the Ebers Papyrus (circa 1550 BC), some of the earliest known medical documents, describe enemas in detail. In 500 BC, Hippocrates, considered the Father of Western Medicine, and his followers in Ancient Greece advocated the maintenance of optimal health using enemas as well.
Another early writing about internal cleansing with water is recommended and described in great detail in The Essene Gospel of Peace (Book 1, p 15-16). This fascinating Dead Sea Scrolls text, probably written somewhere around the second century AD, was found by Hungarian biblical scholar Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, who was also a linguist, philosopher, and natural living advocate. Szekely claims to have found an Aramaic copy of the book in the purportedly cavernous Vatican library full of scrolls, parchments, and paper manuscripts. He translated the small book into English and published it in 1936.
In the New World, Native Americans from both North and South America used enema bags made from animal bladders and other materials for seasonal cleansing and to maintain regularity. Ancestral African tribes fashioned and used enema bags in a similar manner.
Why the Use of Coffee for an Enema?
The coffee enema as we know it today made its debut in modern medical literature in 1917. Some may be surprised to learn that the coffee enema remained in the Merck Manual as recently as 1972. Coincidentally, this is about the same time that plain water enemas were stopped as an important cleansing protocol for pregnant women about to go into labor, an indication that the enema seemed to fall out of favor for a time.
Why focus on cleansing when you can just take antibiotics and other drugs to zap the microbes, neutralize toxins, and cover up symptoms instead? This narrow-minded thinking seemed the order of the day.
Fortunately, the unmatched effectiveness of this ancient practice is being rediscovered, unfortunately much of it due to the cancer epidemic. People are seeking holistic detoxification alternatives that provide rapid enough results to avoid the cut, poison, burn approach of conventional oncology which brings such intense and long lasting suffering.
How a Coffee Enema WorksHow does a coffee enema work and why coffee and not tea? It is the caffeine in coffee that is so therapeutic as it has been found to open up the bile ducts in the liver thereby increasing bile production and flow.
Tea does not have the same effect. This is likely because the caffeine in tea binds to the tannins and L-theanine, a water soluble amino acid, at the time it is brewed. These bonds prevent the caffeine from directly opening the bile ducts as they would have to be metabolized digestively to free up the caffeine first. Since an enema bypasses the digestive process, tea is ineffective compared with coffee for therapeutic enema purposes.
Max Gerson MD, founder of the famed Gerson Institute for holistic cancer treatment, found that the root cause of cancer is extreme toxicity and nutritional deficiency. In order to detoxify rapidly (before the cancer kills you), the liver must be stimulated to release toxins in large quantities. He found that this rapid detoxification is best encouraged via coffee enema where the unbound caffeine is absorbed from the descending colon via the hemorrhoidal vein, which carries the caffeine to the portal vein and the liver. The caffeine quickly and very effectively stimulates the liver and biliary ducts to open, which release both metabolic and environmental toxins into the intestinal tract for elimination.
According to the journal Physiological Chemistry and Physics, “Caffeine enemas cause dilation of bile ducts, which facilitates excretion of toxic cancer breakdown products by the liver and dialysis of toxic products from blood across the colonic wall.”
Interestingly, those sensitive to coffee taken orally typically have no problem with a coffee enema. The bypassing of the digestive process and the infusion of coffee rectally only for the purpose of liver stimulation, toxin release and blood cleansing makes all the difference. Absorption of the coffee into the bloodstream is very low when doing a coffee enema.
Coffee Enema is for Detoxification Not Constipation
It is important not to get coffee enema confused with a plain water enema. Plain water enemas are a helpful therapy for elimination of the bowels and issues with constipation.
Coffee enemas, on the other hand, are used for detoxification of the liver and blood especially in holistic cancer treatments. Two helpful substances found in coffee, kahweol and cafestol palmitate, promote the activity of a key enzyme system responsible for neutralizing free radicals, glutathione S-transferase, at much higher than normal levels. This system according to Gar Hildenbrand of the Gerson Institute, “must be regarded as an important mechanism for carcinogen detoxification.”
It is believed that kahweol and cafestol palmitate increase the liver’s production of glutathione, the master antioxidant, by as much as 700%.
In addition, theophylline and theobromine, two other beneficial chemicals in coffee, dilate blood vessels and counter inflammation of the gut. The palmitates are responsible for stimulating the enzyme system responsible for the removal of toxic free radicals from the blood. Finally, the fluid of the enema itself stimulates the visceral nervous system to promote peristalsis and the rapid transit of diluted toxic bile from the duodenum and out the rectum.
Coffee Enema for Pain
Coffee enemas are not only a powerful detoxification protocol easily accessible to anyone, they are extremely helpful for pain management as well.
Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD writes that the following is from an article in Healing Newsletter, NL#13, May-June, 1986. By Gar Hildenbrand:
The coffee enema may have been first used in modern Western nations as a pain reliever. As the story goes, during World War I nurses kept coffee pots on the stove all day long. Battle surgeons and others drank it to stay awake while working horrendously long hours. Enema bags hung around as some patients needed help moving their bowels.
Pain medications were in short supply. Doctors were forced to save the pain drugs for surgical procedures, with little or none for follow-up after surgery. When surgical patients woke up from operations without the benefit of further morphine injections, they would scream in pain and agony from the surgery. They were also constipated from the anesthesia drugs.
As the story goes, one day a nurse was preparing an enema for constipation. Instead of fetching water for the enema, she accidentally dumped some cool coffee into the patient’s enema bag, undid the release clamp, and into the patient it flowed. “I’m not in so much pain,” the poor soldier said. The nurse took notice, and thus began the use of coffee enemas to help control pain.
There is also significant anecdotal evidence of migraine headache relief from coffee enemas. Some conventional doctors even recommend their regular use for pain management for cancer patients.
Bulletproof Coffee Enemas Ineffective
It is important to note that the benefits of coffee enema are in the coffee itself, not anything that might be added to it.
According to Kim Schuette, founder of the clinic Biodynamic Wellness, while the coffee enema is widely used with great success for a variety of digestive and autoimmune ailments, bulletproof coffee which adds coconut oil, MCTs, and/or butter has no benefit and should be avoided.
She says this about the use of bulletproof coffee as an enema, “The therapeutic point of the coffee enema is to increase the production of glutathione, not oil up the liver or the sigmoid colon. I have never seen any literature that supports its use as a benefit.”
On the other hand, Louisa Williams, author of Radical Medicine, writes that a retention enema of pure x-factor butter oil is an effective way to increase butyric acid in the colon. This healthy fat supports beneficial probiotic activity in the colon. However, adding this or any other fat to a coffee enema is a whole different story, and there is no credible support for this practice.
In short, coffee should be black when taken as an enema!
Are Coffee Enemas Ok for Celiacs or the Gluten Sensitive?
The protein in coffee is one of the most common cross-reactors to gluten. Because it is the protein in the coffee that is the trigger, decaf coffee presents the same problem.
Given that many who are sensitive to gluten also avoid coffee because it brings on symptoms, are coffee enemas off limits as well?
According to Kim Schuette of Biodynamic Wellness, not had a single gluten sensitive or Celiac person in her practice over a ten year period has reacted while using coffee enemas. The fact that the coffee bypasses, for the most part, the small intestine as it goes in from the sigmoid colon to the left hemorrhoidal vein to the portal vein and finally the liver seems to be the key. The exit route of the coffee when it is released also involves minimal exposure to the small intestine.
How Often to Do a Coffee Enema?
For those with cancer who need to detoxify as rapidly as possible, multiple coffee enemas per day are typically recommended by holistic cancer clinics spaced out at least 4 hours apart during the day.
For help with other degenerative problems, it is best to seek the advice of a holistic practitioner who can recommend the proper frequency for your specific condition.
For those simply wishing to detoxify for health maintenance purposes or pain management, an as needed basis is fine.
In this shocking story, a Florida couple claimed to be addicted to coffee enemas, each doing 100 or more per month for over 2 years! They claimed to experience euphoria from the practice.
Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD, a huge proponent of coffee enemas, claims that “Most everyone can use coffee enemas daily for at least 10 years to detoxify the liver and help heal the entire body (1)“.
This advice seems excessive, at least to me. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t need to do anywhere near this many coffee enemas to see huge benefits to your health. Try it on an occasional basis, perhaps once a week, and see how it goes for you. If you see improvement and want to increase the frequency, do so.
And don’t worry. Healthy gut flora is not damaged by coffee enemas contrary to some sources.
Please note that pregnant women should not do coffee enemas or any enemas as it could trigger preterm labor. For breastfeeding women and children, consider this healing protocol only under the advice of a holistic physician. Kim Schuette of Biodynamic Wellness suggests that, in her experience, coffee enemas really aren’t appropriate for children under 5 unless extreme circumstances present.
How to Perform a Coffee Enema
The thorough and detailed instructions below are provided to patients in need of the therapeutic benefits of coffee enema and are courtesy of Kim Schuette and the staff of:
Supplies Needed for a Coffee Enema
- Enema bag or bucket (quality source)
- Quart of organic coffee (Biodynamic Wellness recommends therapeutic low roasted coffee available from gapsinfo.com)
- Olive oil or organic coconut oil
- Hydrogen peroxide (available at the pharmacy)
- Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap (available at natural food grocers or online here)
- Selectrolytes (gapsinfo.com)
To prepare one quart (four cups) of coffee, which is used for one enema session:
1. Place 3 tablespoons of organic coffee (this amount may be reduced to 2 tablespoons if one is not dealing with cancer) in one quart (four cups) of purified or spring water. The best coffee for an enema should be organic and must be caffeinated. Prepare the coffee in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot. Aluminum is not recommended as the aluminum can leach into the coffee.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes; then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes more. Strain using a fine mesh strainer. Add additional purified or spring water to bring the coffee mixture to one quart (four cups).
3. The coffee can be made the night before each use. Reheat to body temperature before using.
4. Place a thick towel and a pillow for your head on the floor near the toilet. Waterproof pads are a good idea, as they will protect your floor in the event of a spill or leakage.
5. Hang enema bag from a cabinet knob, which allows bag to hang about 18-21 inches from the floor. If using an enema bucket, place bucket on a stool, chair or tub platform so that it is elevated about 18-21 inches above the floor.
6. Make sure the tubing on your enema bag or bucket is clamped closed before pouring in the coffee. Pour the quart of coffee into the enema bag or bucket.
7. Lubricate the tip of the colon tube using olive oil or coconut oil.
8. Lie on your left side or your back and insert the colon tube slowly 6-18 inches (never more than 18 inches) into the rectum. If the tube kinks pull out and try again, as kinking will block the flow of the coffee.
9. Release the clamp, letting about a pint of coffee (two cups, which is half the amount in the bag or bucket) flow slowly in, and re-clamp. If the coffee does not flow there is most likely a kink in the tube. Withdraw the tube, reinsert, and try again.
10. Turn to your right side. Hold the coffee for 12-15 minutes. At first, it may be difficult to retain the enema. That is okay. Gradually work up to the 12-15 minutes. Holding the enema longer than 15 minutes is counterproductive.
11. After 15 minutes expel the liquid in the toilet. If you don’t expel much liquid, that’s ok, it’s just an indication that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water. Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD suggests reflexology if there is any discomfort during this process. Rub your feet, especially the colon reflex areas and the small intestine area. The tops of the toes of the left foot seems to especially help relieve any discomfort. Know that any discomfort will quickly pass, usually within 5-10 minutes.
12. Wait about 5 minutes to ensure that you are finished eliminating and then repeat the enema as directed in steps 6-11 with the remaining coffee.
13. After each use, clean the enema bag or bucket and tubing with hot water and soap. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide and hang to dry.
Additional Tips for a Successful Coffee Enema
1. A coffee concentrate can be made and stored in the refrigerator for 7 days, for your convenience. Bring 1 cup of organic coffee grounds and 1 quart purified or spring water to a boil for 5 minutes. Then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain. Add additional purified or spring water to bring the coffee mixture to four cups. Use one cup of the concentrate to three cups purified or spring water for each enema session (each enema session consists of two consecutive enemas).
2. Supplementing with additional minerals after the coffee enemas is not necessary but can be beneficial. If you desire additional minerals, we recommend Selectrolytes (1 tablespoon in purified water), Original Quinton Isotonic (1 vial) or Trace Minerals with B12.
3. It is very rare, but some individuals may feel slightly jittery due to the caffeine in the coffee, although, most often, clients find the enemas relaxing and even experience euphoria. Absorption of the coffee is very low when doing a coffee enema. Jitteriness should lessen after the third session. If not, make the coffee weaker.
4. Store open bag of coffee in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator or freezer.
5. Having difficulty holding the coffee enemas for 12-15 minutes? This may be due to feces being compacted in the descending colon. You may try the following to help things along:
- Do a clear water enema first. Start with one cup of warm purified or spring water. Take in water and hold until urge to release is felt. Release completely and then do your two coffee enemas.
- Drink two cups of warm water with fresh lemon juice upon rising in the morning, will often initiate a bowel movement.
- Take additional magnesium prior to bedtime such as three capsules of Magnesium Lactate or Magnesium Malate or 3 tablets of Mg-Zyme. This will increase the likelihood of having a nice bowel movement first thing in the morning.
- Constipation is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, liver congestion and/or gut dysbiosis. This may need to be addressed by a qualified health care practitioner.
Sources and More Information about Detoxification
Gerson, M. 1979. Physiological Chemistry and Physics 10(5): 449-464, 1979.
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Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.