Coffee enemas have become an increasingly popular form of colon cleanse used in popular medicine. The procedure consists of a mixture of brewed, caffeinated coffee and water that is inserted through the rectum. This method of treatment originated in the 1900s via German physicians seeking treatment for cancer patients.
Max Gerson put the procedure on the map through his belief that the body could detox and still receive the nutrients it needs through a plant-based diet, raw juices and coffee enemas. This was coined the Gerson therapy.
Coffee enemas are supposed to help stimulate bile flow and the production of glutathione, a detoxifying antioxidant. However, there is very little research to back it up and potential side effects that could outweigh the benefits.
So before you decide to try this method, here is what you need to know.
Enemas are typically used to relieve constipation or to prepare for a procedure looking at the bowel such as a colonoscopy. People have used many different substances for this including water, mineral oil or water with a small amount of soap.
Others began using coffee because it contains a compound called cafestol palmitate, which stimulates the activity of an enzyme called glutathione S-transferase. This opens up the bile duct in the liver breaking down food components and improving indigestion.
Coffee also contains three other components: theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine, which widen blood vessels and boost the flow of bile.
A 2012 study was conducted on 11 healthy participants. They received either coffee enemas three times a week for two weeks or drank coffee twice daily for 11 days. The participants then switched to the alternative method. Results showed that neither approach led to an increase in glutathione levels or in total antioxidant capacity.