Coffee enema

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A coffee enema is the enema-related procedure of injecting coffee via the anus to cleanse the rectum and large intestines. There is no medical, scientific evidence to support any positive health claim for coffee enemas. The process can result in sepsis, severe electrolyte imbalance, colitis, proctocolitis, internal burning, rectal perforation, and even brain abscess or heart failure.


While the idea of rectal cleansing dates back to the Ancient Egyptians,[1] the notion of coffee as an enema-related substance is not new. It was conceived in 1917, and appeared in the Merck Manual until 1972.[2]

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 detoxification effects that contributed to the recovering health of his patients. He claimed that unlike saline enemas, coffee in the enema traveled through the smooth muscle of the small intestine, and into the liver. This, he said, stimulated the autonomic nervous system in the same way caffeine does when consumed orally and activated the release of bile in the liver, cleared even more of the gastro-intestinal tract and removed more toxins 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."[2]

Coffee enemas appeared in the Royal Army Medical Corps manual in 1944 as a stimulating enema for the treatment of shock and poisoning, mixed with brandy.[3]

The practice of colon cleansing experienced a renaissance in the 1990s, and at this time, coffee enemas were used as alternative cancer treatments.[4]

Effects and dangers[edit]

Some proponents of alternative medicine have claimed that coffee enemas have a rapid detoxification effect by "detoxifying" metabolic products of tumors.[5] There is no medical scientific evidence to support any detoxification or anti-cancer effect of coffee enemas.[6][7]

Coffee enemas can cause serious side effects (some common to other types of enemas), including infections, sepsis, severe electrolyte imbalance, colitis, proctocolitis, salmonella, brain abscess, and heart failure.[5][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] If the coffee is inserted too quickly or is too hot, it could cause internal burning[15] or rectal perforation.[16]

When administered as often as every two hours, coffee enemas have shown to be connected to two cases of deaths as a result of severe electrolyte imbalance, hyponatremia, dehydration and pleural and pericardial effusions.[9][17] 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.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Colon Therapy". American Cancer Society. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Moss, Ph.D., Ralph W. "The Cancer Chronicles" 2nd ed. Austin, Texas: 1994. (6–7)
  3. ^ Gunter, Jen (21 January 2018). "Did the military use coffee enemas? I had to know". Dr. Jen Gunter. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  4. ^ Ernst, E (June 1997). "Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 24 (4): 196–198. doi:10.1097/00004836-199706000-00002. PMID 9252839.
  5. ^ a b 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Cassileth B (February 2010). "Gerson regimen". Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.). 24 (2): 201. PMID 20361473.
  8. ^ Margolin, K.; Green, M. (1984). "Polymicrobial enteric septicemia from coffee enemas". The Western Journal of Medicine. 140 (3): 460. PMC 1021723. PMID 6710988.
  9. ^ a b 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Livingston-Wheeler Therapy". Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  12. ^ William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., National Council Against Healthcare Fraud, "Cancer Quackery". Accessed 11 July 2012.
  13. ^ Ginsberg MM, Thompson MA, Peter CR, et al., "Campylobacter sepsis associated with nutritional therapy in California". MMWR 30:294-295, 1981.
  14. ^ Keum, Bora; et al. (2010). "Proctocolitis Caused by Coffee Enemas". American Journal of Gastroenterology. 105 (1): 229–230. doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.505. PMID 20054322.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, "Gerson Regimen". Accessed 17 November 2017.
  18. ^ FDA, "Human Research Subject Protections Under Multiple Project Assurance (MPA) M-1356 and Federalwide Assurance FWA-2636", 2002.
  19. ^ Atwood, Kimball, Science-Based Medicine, "The Ethics of "CAM" Trials: Gonzo (Part I)". Accessed 11 July 2012.