Coffee Enemas for a Healthier Gut & Happier Hormones
The journey to health can be pretty darn expensive, do you agree?
All of the organic food, grass fed meat, high quality supplements and functional medicine tests can leave your bank account pretty bare at the end of the month.
Although most of these things are certainly an 'investment' for your long term health, there are so many cheap (even free) things that you can do to improve your health.
I'm always talking about the importance of things like hydration, blood sugar balance, sleep, stress management and movement, but I haven't yet shared my favourite inexpensive 'detox hack'...
Before you click immediately away from this blog post and think I've gone completely insane, let me explain!...
The Benefits of Enemas
You've probably heard some of the health benefits of DRINKING coffee, such as the antioxidant levels and energy boosting effects, but why the hell would you put it up your butt?!
Water enemas and colonics have been used for YEARS to support bowel motility, constipation and detoxification. In fact, humans have been 'colon cleansing' since the dawn of time!
We are bombarded by environmental toxins and chemicals in our modern world. Even if we are eating a healthy organic diet, we aren't getting the same nutrient levels like we used to because of soil depletion. Stress levels and demands are higher than ever due to our demanding jobs, family life and 24/7 accessibility due to social media.
All of these things can stress our body, overburden our liver and negatively impact our gut health. There is now so much research about the connection between our gut and pretty much every other system in our body. If you are dealing with hormonal imbalances like PCOS or endometriosis, you can't overlook gut health if you are trying to overcome them naturally
When our gut and liver are functioning sub-optimally, this can negatively impact our sex hormones and metabolism. Dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and constipation can lead to inflammation, the recirculation of toxic waste and 'used' hormones, like oestrogen.
Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis often have poor gut health as a potential driver of their symptoms. Certain gram-negative bacteria produce a toxin known as Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which is highly inflammatory. Bacterial overgrowths like SIBO, high levels of yeast and parasitic infections are other common drivers of inflammation and malabsorption.
I commonly recommend enemas as part of a comprehensive gut restoration protocol with my clients, to support the eradication of these organisms.
To do an enema, you basically force fluid (usually water or coffee) up through the anus, into the colon. 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. (Don't worry, I share my favourite resources below)
While colonics 'cleanse' the entire large intestine (colon), enemas only really reach the last part of the colon and have an effect on the portal vein, which connects the colon to the liver.
"Ok, makes sense, but why COFFEE?"...
I have no idea why someone thought to add coffee to enemas initially, but the science is pretty impressive!
If you are someone that is sensitive to caffeine (like me), don't worry, the stimulatory effects you get from drinking coffee, doesn't happen the same when you do an enema. Caffeine helps to stimulate the liver to function more efficiently when performing its required tasks, such as blood filtration and bile production.
The coffee also helps to dilute any thick, sludgy bile which is common in women with fat malabsorption, oestrogen dominance and a long history of being on the oral contraceptive pill. You may notice some gurgling or slight movement in the area under your right rib as you perform a coffee enema. This is often due to your gallbladder contracting and squirting out bile into the large intestine.
Coffee opens up blood vessels, relaxes smooth muscles that help with bowel movements and improves circulation. They are also believed to help support vagal tone, which is the activity of the vagus nerve. This is the largest cranial nerve and it connects the gut and the brain. Many people have dysfunction in this nerve which can lead to chronic constipation, digestive issues, anxiety, intestinal permeability and gut infections like SIBO.
Bile doesn't just help with the digestion and absorption of dietary fat and fat soluble nutrients like vitamin D, it also helps to detoxify 'used' hormones, natural by-products of metabolism and environmental toxins. The liver creates bile, and the gallbladder stores this until we eat (or do a coffee enema), then released into the intestines via the bile duct and out through the bowels as a component of faeces.
Coffee can also stimulate an enzyme system in the liver called glutathione S-transferase and increase levels by 600-700%. Glutathione is the master antioxidant in the body and its job is to reduce inflammation and neutralise free radical damage. Excessive oxidative stress may be a precursor to multiple diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity.
Dr. Gerson (of the Gerson Therapy Cancer Clinics) made coffee enemas famous as a natural cancer treatment when he pioneered the use of a special anti-inflammatory diet combined with nutritional supplements and daily enemas for speeding up detoxification.
The combination of vegetable juices and coffee enemas were designed to strengthen immune system of cancer patients and restore electrolyte balance (such as levels of potassium in cells). Many of his patients were able to stop their pain medications, help restore liver function and facilitate tissue repair by performing multiple (sometimes up to six) coffee enemas per day.
(Please speak with your doctor first before performing coffee enemas if you have any health issues)
How to actually DO a coffee enema...
All you need is some organic coffee, filtered water and an enema kit. These are available online and in many health food stores, however I recommend buying one that is free from plastic (which is a hormone disrupting material).
The kits that I recommend are either silicone or stainless steel, like the ones linked below...
As with all enemas, it’s best to do one immediately after having a bowel movement if possible, which makes it more comfortable, effective and easier to retain for longer. You can also do an enema even if you haven’t recently had a bowel movement (for example, if you’re constipated), but many people like to perform enemas in the morning directly after going to the bathroom.
Bring 3 tablespoons of freshly ground, organic coffee (ideally light or 'green' roast) and about 4 cups of filtered water to a boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid, stir and then simmer on low for another 15 minutes. (If you are very sensitive you may want to start with 1 teaspoon or so of coffee & slowly increase tolerance)
Add 1 cup of room temperature or cool filtered water to the mixture or give it time to cool to room or body temperature. You do not want hot water!
Slowly pour the coffee into your enema bucket, the grinds should stay behind in the pot, but I recommend straining through a coffee filter, sieve or nut milk bag.
Hang the bag or bucket 3 or 4 ft above you in the bathroom (usually on the shower or on the counter) for good flow.
Get comfy and lie on an old towel or blanket near the toilet, so you can relax. Rest your head on a pillow or cushion. Turn on a podcast, listen to some music or grab a magazine. RELAX!
Lie on your right side (liver side down) and insert the tip using a little coconut oil, olive oil, or any other lubricant. Just don’t use too much because it can cause the tube to slip out!
Slowly take in as much of the coffee as possible by opening the valve. If you begin to cramp, stop the flow and take a few deep breaths. Once this feeling passes you should be able to take in more. You will probably feel like you need to stop the process and have a bowel movement multiple times throughout this process, but the feeling should pass.
Once you have taken in all the fluid or don't feel like you can take any more, slowly release the tube and place it in the shower/bath (or keep it in if this feels more appropriate). Retain the coffee for 20-30 minutes. If this is your first doing it, you may only be able to hold it for 5 minutes- this is ok! The more frequently you do them, the easier it will be to hold it for longer. If you have trouble holding it in, try filling 2 cups at a time, holding for ten minutes and then releasing. Repeat this twice.
Now it's time to release the fluid. Sit up slowly and sit on your toilet. Gently release the fluid. I recommend positioning yourself in squatting position when you eliminate as this will help you eliminate much more fully. To do this you can put your feet on a stool or stack of books/magazines.
Be sure to take BINDERS (such as charcoal, clays or my favourite Cellcore products) afterwards to 'mop up' toxins released by the process***
See FAQ's below for more information on cleaning the kit and potential side effects.
Are coffee enemas painful? They shouldn't be! If it hurts when you are inserting the tip then make sure it is lightly lubricated and that you are relaxed. You may also get some slight stomach cramps during the process, but this is normal and should pass. If you experience any intense pain or discomfort, please stop immediately.
How do I clean the kit thoroughly?
Dismantle the enema kit after use and wash through with hot soapy water (non-toxic) and then disinfect with a hydrogen peroxide solution. I recommend watching this helpful video to see a step by step process.
Are they safe for everyone?
Individuals who are pregnant, have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, liver disease, gallbladder issues, polyps or haemorrhoids should avoid coffee enemas. If you are on any medications or have a medical diagnosis, please speak with your health practitioner before performing a coffee enema.
Are there any side effects?
All enemas come with certain side effects, including tears in the colon and dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, especially if they’re over-performed or performed incorrectly. Coffee enemas may be most dangerous when someone is allergic to coffee, and although rare, this should always be ruled out before an enema is performed. Taking a binder afterwards will reduce the risk of a detox/'herx' reaction.
What benefits might I expect?
Clearer skin, more energy, constipation relief, less brain fog, headache relief...I could go on! Everyone experiences different benefits. For me personally, I have noticed that my skin has improved and my histamine reactions have reduced. Even though I don't feel like I deal with brain fog or concentration issues, for the few hours after performing my weekly coffee enema, it feels like someone has switched on a lightbulb in my brain! I feel 'lighter' and more productive.
Do I have to use organic coffee and filtered water?
YES! Coffee is one of the highest sprayed crops and the last thing we want to do is put a ton of pesticides and fluorinated/chlorinated water into our bowels, in my opinion.
How frequently do I need to do one?
Depending on your current health status it could be anywhere from once a month to several times a week. I personally do one coffee enema per week and find this to be the most suitable for me.
How long does the whole process take?
You can expect it to take around an hour in total, depending on how long it takes for you to brew the coffee, retain the fluid and clean up afterwards. Once you get the hang of it, it's usually quite quick and straight forward.