One afternoon last November at the Wise Traditions conference, a few of us bloggers had a little chat. We weren't talking about anything innocent like the delicious food at the conference or how to grow blog traffic, though. We were gettin' the real scoop on coffee enemas from Christine and Amy!
(Pictured: Me, Amy from Real Food Whole Health, Christine from Butter Belle, Jami from Eat Nourishing, Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS, and Brenda from The Well Fed Homestead – at the 2011 Wise Traditions Conference in Dallas, Texas.)
Apparently they'd been doing (or is it “taking”?) coffee enemas for a while and the rest of us were fascinated. We'd heard that they were done to detoxify and that there are other coffee enema benefits too: they can also really help some cancer patients, but personally, I didn't know anyone who did them.
So when I decided to put up a post on this topic, I knew just who to ask, and they both agreed to share their experience with coffee enemas today in a little Q & A. 🙂
1. What made you first decide to do coffee enemas? What are the benefits?
Christine: I started doing coffee enemas under the advice and guidance of my nutrition coach Pam Killeen. I have been working with Pam for almost two years on a Nutritional Balancing Program. Essentially this program helps to re-balance your biochemistry and detoxify heavy metals from your body. Coffee enemas are an essential part of this program because they help the body to remove these metals and other toxins while cleansing the blood. These are the main benefits of coffee enemas, but others are to heal the colon, rebuild the liver, reduce headaches and pain, increases energy and mental clarity, enhances bile flow and relieves constipation.
Amy: I’ve been involved in the alternative health & healing world since the mid 90s, so I have certainly been aware of coffee enemas (and enemas in general) for some time. Being raised in the US, enemas weren’t something we grew up with, like in other countries where it’s commonplace, so just like anything new or unknown, it can seem weird. So I didn’t try it, despite hearing about beneficial results. It was actually working with clients who were on the GAPS protocol and training to be a GAPS Practitioner with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride that convinced me to try them myself.
During a training session with Dr. NCM, she talked about how beneficial enemas are, especially to those on GAPS (or any gut healing protocol), and how, in Europe, almost every home has an enema kit. She said that a parent would never even dream of taking a child to the doctor for routine constipation, because they would just do a small, safe, easy enema at home (but not a coffee enema- these aren’t recommended for kiddos) and like magic, the constipation would clear immediately. She also impressed upon me that clients would benefit from my personal experience and being able to talk them through the process step-by-step (and be able to answer those kind of questions you only know the answers to by doing). So, that’s how I began doing them, and indeed, it has helped me numerous times with many different clients and their questions. It’s been extremely helpful to know about enemas when dealing with babies and constipation, because it’s helped me to empower parents to easily assist their child with that uncomfortable issue and help the baby pass stools easily within minutes, with no pain and no need for medicines that can have side effects or be irritating.
As far as I’ve seen, the benefits of enemas, and coffee enemas are far-reaching. Not only are they beneficial for clearing constipation and helping with detox, but coffee enemas especially help with liver and gallbladder support- and whose liver couldn’t use more support these days, right? People have reported everything from headaches clearing, fatigue lifting, skin issues clearing up, better digestion, clearer thinking, an easier time losing weight, reduced pain (especially like pain related to fibromyalgia symptoms), and more.
I should say, however, that coffee enemas aren’t for everyone, and those with an extreme burden to detox (like a huge heavy metal issue), those who are in extremely poor health or have active gut inflammation (Crohn’s, colitis, etc.) might want to start very slowly with plain water enemas, or consult their physician about the appropriateness of any enema in their condition. Although many U.S. physicians aren’t well versed in enemas, this would at least give you more information to choose what is best for you. Coffee enemas are also contradindicated during pregnancy and are not appropriate for young children. Regular water enemas (with a bit of sea salt or some probiotics) would be more advisable in those situations.
2. When did you begin?
Christine: I have been doing coffee enemas for close to a year now.
Amy: I guess it’s now been close to two years since we started doing coffee enemas. I really wish I hadn’t waited so long- it probably would have been very beneficial to me years ago when I was struggling with so many health issues, and it could have helped ease constipation without drugs, especially since that constipation was a side effect of pain medicine! Oh, the things we didn’t know…!
3. How did you get over the ‘ick' factor?
Christine: I didn't find it that hard to get over the ‘ick' factor. Pam just told me that the results of my nutritional balancing program wouldn't be as good if I didn't do the enemas. I have been unwell and feeling horrible for so long, that I was willing to do just about anything to get better faster. And guess what? I love them! I can't imagine ever stopping. I will honesty continue doing them for the rest of my life. Coffee enemas are an essential part of some alternative cancer therapies such as the Gerson and Kelley protocols. If someone with cancer can do coffee enemas twice a day, so can I!
Amy: Alrighty, so let’s get real. LOL. Honestly, the “ick factor” was a BIG one for me, and that “ewwww” was the reason I had never done enemas to begin with. Like many in the U.S. who are unfamiliar with enemas, it just seemed a little too invasive for my taste. I sort of had a no entrada policy regarding the hind end if you know what I mean. I also thought it would be so gross, and honestly, messy. I don’t know what I thought was going on but I just imagined a big mess. And I thought it’d be terribly embarrassing – like you’d have to go to the drugstore and buy the kit or you’d go to a colonics therapist and there’d be that whole interaction. So, there were several reasons I didn’t want to even consider it.
But once I learned a bit more about it, and that a lot of people in other countries regularly employ this easy, safe, painless home therapy, and that enemas are a traditional remedy that’s been trusted by cultures around the globe for centuries (and almost 100 years for coffee enemas), I began thinking it couldn’t possibly be THAT bad. So, I was already a bit more open to the idea when Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explained it, but I wasn’t convinced yet. During her talk, she even had a drugstore enema bag out so that we could see it and she went over the basics. That helped a lot. And then I realized that you just go to the bathroom afterwards, so it’s not like there was this tremendous, gross mess in your house (again, who knows what I was really thinking happened!!!) The final thing that helped me feel comfortable was to watch a (very tastefully done) video, on a medical website, where they explained the process in a much more thorough (but discreet) manner. I could easily see that it was no big deal. (Just a note, you might not want to just Google this one, because you could end up with some, shall we say, less-than-credible, links. You can find the link at my site if you want to see it.)
People get really worked up about the whole insertion thing. Honestly, it’s a super small tube and it’s inserted into the rectum a teeny bit, about the length of your pinky finger (much less for children), so it’s not like you see in the movies with these crazy machines and huge attachments and all. It’s not painful or really even uncomfortable. And, no, you won’t be walking funny afterward!
4. How often do you do them?
Christine: I do a coffee enema just about daily, but at the very least 2-3x per week.
Amy: At first, we did them a couple times per week or so. But they can be time intensive, so its been a lot less often, especially recently. However, I think it would be wise to start doing them again on a regular basis, especially to help support my liver and encourage cleansing. The thing is, if you do them on a regular basis, you can retain the coffee a bit longer, about 15-20 minutes, and that is a bit more effective than just a few minutes. Before doing an enema with coffee, however, you do a couple rounds with just water so that you cleanse the colon before introducing coffee. Otherwise, if the colon is full, the coffee can not be properly absorbed.
People always ask if they are doing them too often or if they can become addicted to enemas (or hurt their body to where regular elimination will not happen correctly). From what I understand, while on the Gerson therapy, a nutrition-based cancer treatment, the patients do four or more coffee enemas per day with no ill effects (and to much benefit). I am not involved with the Gerson therapy as that is outside my scope of practice, but I have researched it and have spoken with several people who have had fantastic results.
I do have experience with clients doing coffee enemas as often as once or twice daily during critical times of health challenges or detox, extreme constipation or to ward off migraines (say for a week or two at a time) and to my knowledge, no one has ever had any side effects or problems and they certainly still effectively eliminated on their own once stopping the enemas. I am sure that like anything, enemas could be overdone, but a proper application of this centuries-old technique has been nothing but beneficial in my experience and research. Certainly, to keep this therapy in your back pocket for use during times of constipation or ill health by a family member, it is a means of empowerment – to be able to help your family at home with a safe therapy always makes us feel more secure!
5. Does anyone else in your family use this form of therapy?
Christine: After I had been doing coffee enemas for some time, my husband tried them and has also turned into a firm believer of them. He won't go more than a few days without doing one!
Amy: My husband and I both have done coffee enemas. At first, he wasn’t on board with the idea or open to trying it. However, once understanding the history behind it, the benefits, and also watching the same medical video, he agreed that it might be worthwhile. I did it first and once he could see how easy and painless it was, he had no issues with it. We plan on keeping enemas as part of our home remedy toolbox, and for use with kiddos (plain water only when they are little) when needed.
6. What benefits have you seen in yourself?
Christine: The benefits I have seen in myself include: mental clarity, increase in energy, headache reduction, bile release, stress relief and relaxation and release of toxins and heavy metals (as shown on my hair mineral analysis tests). Here is my blog post on coffee enemas: I'm addicted to coffee and no, I don't drink it.
Amy: I definitely did experience the overall cleansing and detox aspect. It seemed to just clear out the junk and improved fatigue, some little nagging health stuff, supported my digestion (especially liver/gallbladder function) and has cleared headaches and a skin rash. I am prone to migraines and it was actually through a client that I discovered that coffee enemas could help with migraines. So, I’ve been so thankful to have this drug-free remedy in my toolbox. Luckily, since changing to a real food diet and addressing the rest of the Essential Elements of Whole Health, I haven’t really experienced migraines or fibromyalgia pain anymore, but once you’ve suffered from them, you do fear they could return, so it’s nice to know I have another method to handle that unbearable pain!
One thing I want to make sure I mention is that you can’t exactly just go down to Starbucks and pick up a special blend, pop into Walgreens and grab a discount enema kit and start doing these enemas. Well, I suppose you could, but it’s not exactly ideal. First of all, the coffee needs to be a lighter roast than we generally use for drinking in the United States. The roasting affects the acidity of the coffee and the lighter roasts are generally better tolerated and not as irritating. There are coffees sold specifically for enemas, or you can order low-roasted coffee. I am not a coffee connoisseur, so I can’t speak too much to the roasting issue, but from what I understand, a roast around a 2 is preferable for enemas and most people would drink coffee roasted to a 5 or 6.
The equipment you use is also important, as most of the drugstore stuff is going to be plastic (or PVC) and, as we know, plastic carries its own health risks. Not exactly something I want to put directly in my colon! The acidity of coffee also may contribute to leaching these chemicals from plastic bags or tubing, so we use a stainless steel enema bucket (it’s like a big measuring cup) with silicone tubing and nozzle. For infants and young toddlers, you would be able to use a bulb syringe- and remember, just water, not coffee. There’s more detail that we could go into, but not exactly enough time, so if you have specific concerns, I’m more than happy to try to help you one-on-one during a consultation or Q & A session.
Finally, I’m so glad that Kelly is doing this post because coffee enemas are certainly something that I think should be talked about more often in health circles, and it really is the fear of the unknown and the “ick factor” that stops people from using this safe, easy home remedy. I talk clients through this process quite often and answer a lot of questions in the beginning, but once people have done it, they see how simple it is and that it’s really not such a big deal after all.
Thanks Amy & Christine!
Have YOU ever done coffee enemas? Did you notice a difference in your health or specific coffee enema benefits?
Christine Kennedy writes Butter Belle , a food education blog where butter trumps all, and local, seasonal, organic ingredients are prepared the traditional way.
Christine has been interested in health and nutrition (with a special emphasis on cooking!) since grade school. She earned a B.A. in Kinesiology & Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. Never satisfied, and hungry for learning more, she ran across the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell. It has since changed her life and the health of her whole family. As a wife and homeschooling mother of three children, she spends much time in the kitchen nourishing them all with traditional foods. In addition to this, you can find Christine visiting her local organic farmers, de-stressing in her garden, taking long walks on a summer evening or sweating it out in the sauna.
Passionate about real food and raw milk, Christine became a Local Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2006, excited to teach others and share the wealth of knowledge.
Amy Love, NTP, CGP, CILC is a board-certified nutritional therapy practitioner, natural
fertility support specialist, certified GAPS practitioner and owner of Real Food Whole
Health- an online resource for real food nutrition, traditional food recipes (all gluten-free!), holistic wellness, education & nutritional therapy consultations. Amy offers support
for the whole family with a special emphasis on digestive wellness (and the GAPS diet),
natural fertility, pregnancy and post-partum care.
Amy is available to work with nutritional therapy clients via phone and internet
worldwide. She also speaks on nutrition topics, leads cooking classes and workshops and
offers a series of online classes available at www.realfoodwholehealth.com.