Everything You Need to Know About Coffee Enemas: The Benefits, How It Is Done & Potential Side Effects

By Dr. Will Cole
As a functional medicine practitioner, I am no stranger to peculiar wellness therapies. From stool transplants to helminthic therapy, these more “extreme” tools have been shown to be a game-changer for those struggling with chronic autoimmune and other health problems.

One of these therapies I have seen be beneficial for my own patients are coffee enemas. Yes, coffee can do more for you than just help get your day started. A twist on a regular enema, the addition of coffee is supposed to take the benefits to the next level. Should you try it? Let’s take a closer look.

What is a coffee enema? 

A coffee enema may sound a bit strange if you haven’t heard of it before, but they are used as a natural detoxification tool and have been used for thousands of years to help restore digestive function and general health.

Since the late 1800s, coffee enemas have been used to help speed up healing following surgeries or to combat cases of accidental poisoning. Today, doctors of functional and alternative medicines use coffee enemas as part of natural treatment protocols for fighting cancer, parasites, overdoses, constipation, liver dysfunction, Candida overgrowth, viruses, IBS and other digestive disorders. Coffee beans naturally contain antioxidants and other compounds making it beneficial for overall health as well. 

The compounds within coffee - either from drinking it or from inserting coffee directly into the colon - act like a cathartic that causes the colon muscles to contract. This helps move along stool through the digestive tract, resolving cases of constipation and making it easier to go to the bathroom.

It’s important to have regular bowel movements as they are necessary for carrying waste and toxins out of the body. This is because the coffee enema has caffeine and other compounds that travel via the hemorrhoidal vein to the liver. Coffee opens up blood vessels, relaxes smooth muscles that help with bowel movements, and improves circulation. Once it makes its way to the liver, coffee is also believed to help open up bile ducts and increase production of bile that’s needed for proper digestion and excretion.

While more research needs to be done on coffee enemas specifically, anecdotally and many small-scale studies have shown the health benefits of this therapeutic tool:

  • Helps flush out bacteria, heavy metals, fungus and yeast
  • Relieves constipation  
  • Improves function of digestive tract, liver, and colon
  • Supports healthy inflammation levels
  • Help restore bowel function
  • Restores digestive tissue
  • Cleanses the liver
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Strengthens immunity
  • Improves cellular regeneration
  • Relieves digestive distress

How to Perform a Coffee Enema

Coffee enemas can easily be performed at home in your own bathroom. All you will need is fresh organic coffee beans, towels, and an enema kit purchased from your local drugstore.

Side Effects

As this therapy is more invasive, it can cause some adverse side effects if not performed correctly or monitored. Frequent enema use can contribute to symptoms due to electrolyte depletion can often be mistaken for “detox” symptoms such as:

  • Cramping or stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Bowel irritation
  • Infections

Other than performing too many enemas, improper use can also cause negative side effects. For example, since coffee enemas involve boiling water, burns in the bowel can happen if performed too soon before water is cool.

Since everyone’s health case is different and studies are limited, there is no optimal frequency for performing a coffee enema. However, up to once a day for a few weeks can be ok for those with severe digestive distress before moving into once a month or less frequently as maintenance. 

Certain health conditions are also at higher risk for negative side effects such as those recovering from bowel surgery, hemorrhoids, or heart, kidney, or liver disease. Because of these factors, it's important to consult with your practitioner and follow their recommendations based on your health case and symptoms.

So, while this tool has strong anecdotal evidence to support its benefits, it’s important to talk with your doctor and listen to your body before determining if this is something you should try. But with most things in wellness, the more conversations we have about these unique therapies, the more likely research will be done to confirm or support what people are talking about.

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