A coffee enema is the enema-related procedure of injected coffee into the anus to cleanse the rectum and large intestines. This procedure is considered by most medical authorities to be unproven, rash, and potentially dangerous.
While the idea of rectal cleansing dates back to the Ancient Egyptians, the notion of caffeine as an enema-related substance is relatively new. It was conceived in 1917, and first appeared in the Merck Manual in 1972.
In 1920, German scientists investigated caffeine's effect on the bile duct and small intestines. Max Gerson proposed that coffee enemas had a positive effect on the gastro-intestinal tract. Gerson said that coffee enemas had positive effects on patients with tuberculosis, and later even those with cancer. He claimed that unlike saline enemas, the caffeine traveled through the smooth muscle of the small intestine, and into the liver. This, he said, cleared even more of the gastro-intestinal tract and removed more toxins and bile than a normal enema. He told his patients often that the "coffee enemas are not given for the function of the intestines but for the stimulation of the liver."
Effects and dangers
Some proponents of alternative medicine have claimed that coffee enemas have an anti-cancer effect by "detoxifying" metabolic products of tumors. There is no medical scientific evidence to support any anti-cancer effect of coffee enemas.
Coffee enemas can cause numerous side effects, including infections, sepsis (including campylobacter sepsis), severe electrolyte imbalance, colitis, proctocolitis, salmonella, brain abscess, and heart failure. If the coffee is inserted too quickly or is too hot, it could cause internal burning or rectal perforation. Long term use of coffee enemas can lead to malabsorption of fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and calcium.
The use of coffee enemas has led to several deaths as a result of severe electrolyte imbalance, hyponatremia, dehydration, pleural and pericardial effusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that study participants must be warned of the risk of death from coffee enemas in studies that use them.
- Ernst E (June 1997). "Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science". J. Clin. Gastroenterol. 24 (4): 196–8. doi:10.1097/00004836-199706000-00002. PMID 9252839.
- Shils ME, Hermann MG (April 1982). "Unproved dietary claims in the treatment of patients with cancer". Bull N Y Acad Med 58 (3): 323–40. PMC 1805327. PMID 7052177.
- Moss, Ph.D., Ralph W. "The Cancer Chronicles" 2nd ed. Austin, Texas: 1994. (6–7)
- Lee, C.; Song, S.; Jeon, J.; Sung, M.; Cheung, D.; Kim, J.; Kim, J.; Lee, Y. (2008). "Coffee enema induced acute colitis". The Korean journal of gastroenterology = Taehan Sohwagi Hakhoe chi 52 (4): 251–254. PMID 19077527.
- Cassileth B (February 2010). "Gerson regimen". Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.) 24 (2): 201. PMID 20361473.
- "Colon Therapy". American Cancer Society. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- Margolin, K.; Green, M. (1984). "Polymicrobial enteric septicemia from coffee enemas". The Western journal of medicine 140 (3): 460. PMC 1021723. PMID 6710988.
- Eisele, J.; Reay, D. (1980). "Deaths related to coffee enemas". JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 244 (14): 1608–1609. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310140066036. PMID 7420666.
- Keum, B.; Jeen, Y. T.; Park, S. C.; Seo, Y. S.; Kim, Y. S.; Chun, H. J.; Um, S. H.; Kim, C. D.; Ryu, H. S. (2010). "Proctocolitis Caused by Coffee Enemas". The American Journal of Gastroenterology 105 (1): 229–230. doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.505. PMID 20054322.
- "Livingston-Wheeler Therapy". Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., National Council Against Healthcare Fraud, "Cancer Quackery". Accessed 11 July 2012.
- Ginsberg MM, Thompson MA, Peter CR, et al., "Campylobacter sepsis associated with nutritional therapy in California". MMWR 30:294-295, 1981.
- Keum, Bora, et al. American Journal of Gastroenterology, "Proctocolitis Caused by Coffee Enemas". 2010; 105:229–230; doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.505.
- Sashiyama, H.; Hamahata, Y.; Matsuo, K.; Akagi, K.; Tsutsumi, O.; Nakajima, Y.; Takaishi, Y.; Takase, Y.; Arai, T.; Hoshino, T.; Tazawa, A.; Fu, K. I.; Tsujinaka, Y. (2008). "Rectal burn caused by hot-water coffee enema". Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 68 (5): 1008–1009. doi:10.1016/j.gie.2008.04.017. PMID 18657805.
- Paran, H.; Butnaru, G.; Neufeld, D.; Magen, A.; Freund, U. (1999). "Enema-induced perforation of the rectum in chronically constipated patients". Diseases of the colon and rectum 42 (12): 1609–1612. doi:10.1007/BF02236216. PMID 10613482.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, "About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products: Metabolic Therapies". Accessed 11 July 2012.
- FDA, "Human Research Subject Protections Under Multiple Project Assurance (MPA) M-1356 and Federalwide Assurance FWA-2636", 2002.
- Atwood, Kimball, Science-Based Medicine, "The Ethics of “CAM” Trials: Gonzo (Part I)". Accessed 11 July 2012.