Enemas aren’t anything new. We are talking about a practice that’s been happening since 1,500 B.C! From China to Africa and South America to North, inventive humans across the globe have fashioned animal bladders, bamboo pipes, and all sorts of contraptions to flush the bowels and jump-start detoxification.
Using coffee for enemas became a thing in WWI. Wounded soldiers were routinely prepped for surgery using water enemas. In a pinch with no water around, a nurse used coffee and the results were amazing! When soldiers started noting how much better they felt post-coffee enema, they became standard protocol.
Enemas: Much More Than Just Helping You Poop
We think of enemas as only clearing out poop, but their benefits are far more reaching than that. In fact, coffee enemas in particular support the liver as much as they clear crud from the colon.
Just inside our rectum (last part of our colon before the anus, or our butthole) resides our hemorrhoidal veins. These veins connect to the major venous system of the liver, the hepatic portal. The coffee’s vasodilatory effect opens these vessels up so that all of its antioxidant-rich compounds are delivered much more directly and quickly than simply drinking coffee. Plus, coffee ingested this way hasn’t been broken down by our stomach acid.
With all this stimulating coffee entering the dilated hepatic portal vessels, the liver is triggered to secrete bile. Bile is a critical component of detoxification but many of us, due to a surplus of toxins in our environment and food supply, have lackluster bile creation and flow. Basically, blood is sent to the liver to have all the waste filtered out, and at any given moment, the liver is holding ~10% of our blood! The bile is responsible for removing that captured waste. If we have a sluggish bile, the toxins filtered out of the blood will build up and create a sludgy mess. Sometimes this blocks the bile duct, other times it causes inflammation which stresses the immune system and leads to a vicious cycle of chronic disease. By stimulating bile flow, coffee enemas have the power to de-gunk and unblock, allowing relief and a revitalized detoxification system of the liver and colon. Coffee also stimulates contraction of the gallbladder, the organ that holds the bile for us during digestion. A happily contracting gallbladder means better fat digestion and toxin clearing and less risk of gallstones.
Coffee contains 2 unique constituents found nowhere else: kahweol and cafestol palmitate. Both are known to support healthy gene expression by turning on the genes that increase the rate of detoxification in our intestines. They’ve also been shown to increase the level of glutathione, our most powerful antioxidant, in both the colon and the liver. Glutathione and other antioxidants are vital for breaking down harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), heavy metals, and other carcinogens and toxins. (1) In particular, glutathione plays a role in inhibiting neoplasia, or the uncontrolled & abnormal growth of tissue - basically what happens in cancerous situations (so my coffee shop customer was right after all!). Theophylline, also found in chocolate and tea, has been used to reduce inflammation in the liver and intestines.Caffeine serves to dilate blood vessels, improving circulation, Qi flow, and delivery of the healing compounds dramatically
As herbalists, we know the power of the whole is far greater than a few constituents isolated for science. While these identified compounds are fun to extract and goggle over, it’s the whole bean that offers a matrix of thousands of healing compounds. Together, they create a cooling, diuretic, parasympathetic-stimulating, and anti-inflammatory dose of goodness for our insides.
What You’ll Need
-Coffee - but not just any coffee. It must be organic, mold-free, fully caffeinated & light roasted (less roasting means more helpful compounds). We like Kion or this.
-Distilled or purified (reverse osmosis) is definitely the best option. I love LivePristine water filters for drinking and doing enemas. Berkey filtered water would be the next best thing, but try to use distilled or R.O. if you can! (definitely don't use water straight from the tap!!!)
-Coffee enema steel bucket - we like this one!
-Something to lubricate the end of the tube that goes inside you. We like coconut oil!
-A comfy spot in your bathroom to do the deed.
HOW TO* (I promise it’s not as messy as you think):
-The best time to do it is in the morning after your first poop. Removing all the poop and trapped gas beforehand will make the experience much more pleasant. Remember that coffee is stimulating so doing this later in the day may disturb your sleep.
-Choose a bathroom with a shower to set up your enema. Lay out a yoga mat or some towels on the floor or in the tub- somewhere close to the toilet. You will be laying on this during the cathartic experience.
-Make your coffee:
Take 3 flat tablespoons of your organic, mold-free ground coffee and add it to 1 quart of distilled water in a pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on strength desired). Strain and cool until the water is slightly warm/body temp. If you are new to coffee enemas, add 1-2 tbsp of this coffee to 1 quart of filtered, room-temp filtered or distilled water & save the rest of this "mother" coffee for later enemas. As you get more advanced, you can work your way up to using the entire quart of the "mother" as your enema liquid.* (boiling/simmering will reduce the amount of water, so just add more until you have 1 quart).
-Pour the water-coffee mixture into your steel enema bucket, making sure the tube is clamped so it doesn’t immediately come pouring out. Hang the bucket from your shower.
-Rub some coconut oil on the tip of the tube or on your bum and gently ease it in while laying on your back or your left side. When you are ready, gradually undo the clamp so the liquid slowly flows out of the bucket and into you. Try to fill your booty up with ½ of the quart. If you feel cramping before this, close the flow and let the cramping pass or remove the tip and relieve yourself on the toilet. The goal is to hold each ½ of the quart for 10-15 minutes. Also, if you can’t hold it more than a minute - don’t fret! You are still getting some benefit and the more you do it, the easier it gets.
-Be sure to thoroughly clean, sterilize, and dry every part of the enema kit following the kit’s instructions.
The whole process should take less than an hour.
Take slow deep breaths when the cramping starts to help you hold it a bit longer. I like to breathe deeply while swaying back and forth on my back to take my mind off the toilet.
Start with 1 tbsp of coffee per quart of water, working your way up to 4 tbsp.
Start with 1 coffee enema/week, doing up to 3x a week (unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professional, multiple times a day is not a good idea - you can only release so many toxins at one time).
NOT TOO HOT, NOT TOO COLD.
Never use hot coffee to do an enema (YOWCH!) Let it cool down to a slightly warm or lukewarm temperature (diluting filtered water will facilitate this as well). At the same time, cold coffee enemas are not pleasant either. I like my coffee enema liquid to be gently warm to the touch; this creates a soothing experience.
You don't want to forget about cleaning out your kit. I do this with warm soapy water immediately after my enema and am sure to let it dry completely before storing. Running hydrogen peroxide through the tube is also a good idea.
*Be sure you speak with your healthcare professional before starting any new healthcare routine. Coffee enemas can be very helpful, but if you aren’t yet ready in your detoxification optimization journey, they could do more harm than good.
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
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