If you’ve never heard of a coffee enema, there’s no need to worry. You aren’t missing out on the latest and greatest health trend. Though proponents of this practice claim that a coffee enema could change your life, the “scientific evidence” that they quote is virtually nonexistent. So what exactly is a coffee enema, and why would anyone ever do one? Let’s dig into the stinky truth of this weird fad.
What is a coffee enema?
First things first. That image that you have in your mind of a coffee enema is probably pretty accurate. Essentially, it is rinsing out or “cleansing” the colon using coffee instead of water. The practice is usually performed at home with a specialized device used to administer the coffee enema. Supporters claim that it cleans the lining of the colon and eliminates mucus buildup that can lead to constipation. Unsurprisingly, scientists find more than a few things wrong with these statements…
So what’s the problem?
According to research, coffee enemas are not only ineffective but could be seriously dangerous as well. Studies indicate that they could cause adverse reactions such as septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream), rectal perforation, and electrolyte abnormalities. In fact, these issues have been documented in numerous cases of regular coffee enema use.
Plus, to dismiss this dangerous practice altogether, there have even been numerous deaths linked to it.
Colon cleansing is not a research-based practice for general use, and coffee enemas are even more alarming, causing things like:
- Rectal burns
- Bowel perforation
- Infection caused by improperly sterilized equipment
- Heart failure
- Brain abscess
Though a healthy person may be able to withstand (not benefit from) a coffee enema, certain people groups are at an increased risk of developing any of the above symptoms. Those groups include people with:
- Chron’s disease
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Heart disease
- Intestinal tumors
- Severe anemia
- Ulcerative colitis
Pregnant and nursing women, as well as people who have been fasting, and those who have undergone colon surgery may also experience severe symptoms.
If you have an issue with caffeine dependency, sensitivity to coffee, or insomnia, shooting coffee directly into your butt probably isn’t the best idea, since it is absorbed into your colon and affects you just like drinking a cup of coffee.
That mucus that supporters of coffee enemas claim is so bad that it needs to be eliminated, is actually helpful. It works to coat hard stools, allowing you to pass them without straining. Basically, the mucus helps ease constipation, not exacerbate it.
Coffee enemas are not backed by any scientific evidence or peer-reviewed studies, and the evidence against them as an alternative treatment is insurmountable. Experts and healthcare professionals recommend avoiding coffee enemas entirely.
The bottom line
The body is an amazing machine that is capable of astonishing things when given the proper fuel. If you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and exercise regularly, there is no need to perform risky colon detoxes. Simply put, your liver and your kidneys already take care of clearing toxins from your body and keeping your internal organs happy and healthy.
If you do notice any concerning bowel symptoms such as increased constipation, bloating, or diarrhea, you may just need to change up your diet and drink more water and eat more fiber. Or, you could have a more severe issue that may require medical attention such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, neurological issues, and even ovarian cancer. Regardless, sticking a tube up your butt and shooting coffee into your colon probably isn’t the answer.
As always, listen to your body, give it what it needs, and if it’s trying to tell you something, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to help figure it out. If you see a naturopath or other alternative healthcare professional that recommends a coffee enema, it may be time to find another doctor. This dubious practice doesn’t have a shred of scientific evidence. Be your own advocate and always do the research yourself before blindly agreeing to or trying any medications, supplements, or treatments. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. Remember, you only get one body…look after it.