What You'll Learn in This Article
- Health reasons for using coffee enemas
- How to prepare and use enemas
- Types of Enema Solutions
THIS SH*T HURTS! If you're reading this, then you're probably in the same predicament I found myself in a few months ago - In pain, tried all the over the counter medicines, ready to visit the doctor. An enema was the very last thing I tried and it worked!
Enemas work exceptionally well for relieving constipation because they directly introduce liquid to hardened fecal matter, which loosens it to the point it can pass through the colon with ease. Results can be expected within minutes compared to hours or days with oral medications.
In this article, I'm going to share my online research, experience, and show you:
- PART 1: Why enemas work to relieve constipation
- PART 2: What's wrong with medication
- PART 3: How to do an enema at home for constipation relief
- PART 4: Different Types of Enema Solutions
- PART 5: How often should you use an enema
- PART 6: How to clean your enema equipment
Hopefully, this will save you a ton of time <and pain>.
For me, constipation is rare and usually correlated with extremes in my diet. For you, it might be a chronic problem that seriously screws with your life. In either case, I think it's interesting that we would immediately run to the pharmacy and look for a drug to help us before trying a natural treatment.
…Back to me.
My gut felt like it was going to explode and my lower back ached like the morning after pissing off my wife and sleeping on the couch. I swear, even my chest hurt!
When I first noticed some mild pain, I hadn't pooped in 3 days. I went to the pharmacy and grabbed some laxatives (can't remember which ones - doesn't matter). I followed the directions and tried each one with zero results. After another 9 days of eating a high fiber diet, drinking tons of water, and taking laxatives, I had reached the end of what I could handle and ready to go to the doctor. Here's what happened instead -
Before ponying up $125 for that office visit, I did some internet research and discovered some super interesting things about enemas for constipation relief and common drugs used to treat constipation. I'll share all the juicy details in a second.
I was desperate and needed the pain to stop, so I gave it a try the night before my scheduled appointment with my doctor.
The enema for my constipation conundrum worked brilliantly and here's why - keep reading…
PART 1: Why enemas work to relieve constipation
About 12 miserable days had gone by with no pooping. During that time, my fiber-rich food products had gotten stuck somewhere in my gut behind some fecal material that had basically hardened to what amounts to dry concrete. I had been doing all the things people tell you to do, like take stool softeners, laxatives, drink a ton of water, eat fiber, and exercise.
Nothing worked. In fact, the laxatives seemed to cause more pain and spasms in my stomach than I had experienced before taking them. I probably would have been fine with the pain had the laxatives actually produced results - but, still no poop.
As I read about enemas for constipation, I began to learn some things that really resonated with me. Essentially, what had happened was similar to trying to remove your wedding ring after a decade of…growing. Knuckles are swollen and fingers are fat compared to the good'ole days. Something has to change size - The finger has to get smaller or the ring has to get bigger.
In case you haven't put it together, the finger = a turd and the ring = gut.
Enemas work to accomplish a few important things that lead to bowel movements.
First, the fluid introduced through your rectum causes your guts to stretch. You are lying on the floor with a container of liquid hanging about 18 inches above you and gravity is gently helping the liquid find its way around the concrete block in your gut. While the higher the volume of liquid, the further into your gut it will travel, for severely constipated people, too much can be dangerous. It's pretty important to rely on low volume enemas when you're severely backed up and always exercise moderation going forward. Read PART 5 where I talk more about moderation and discuss the frequency of enema administration.
Second, holding the fluid allows it to moisten the hardened fecal material in your colon, making it easier to have a bowel movement. It might take some time, but the water is being absorbed by the stuff obstructing your gut.
Next, there are things you can add to your enema that will help lubricate your bowels and expedite the elimination process. Read PART 4 for examples.
Finally, you can add medication (as prescribed) to the enema to kick-start the spasms and contractions that are part of the bowel movement process. For constipation, I feel like this is a last resort but when people are desperate, they'll do what works.
To quickly recap, the enema work perfectly for me when drugs failed. Additionally, it only took minutes or maybe an hour to work compared to drugs that can take days and can result in pretty severe abdominal pain, headaches, and other side-effects like dependency over time.
Check out PART 2 where I dig into the details, quoting some shocking research on prescription drugs for constipation.
PART 3: 10 Steps - How to do an enema at home for constipation relief
Once you've decided on the type of enema you want to administer, you should follow some basic steps.
Whether you're administering a water-only enema, coffee enema, or other type, the fundamental steps are the same.
1. Prepare your solution
- Simply follow the instructions and remember to always use distilled water or filtered water. Make sure you cool your solution to at least body temperature with ice. Use a thermometer to be safe. Don't ever microwave anything.
2. Prepare your area on the floor
- If you have a large shower, grab 2 towels and place one on the floor to lie on. Then, roll the second one and use it as a pillow. Grab your phone and some headphones for entertainment. You'll also want to set the timer on your phone so you hold the enema for the proper amount of time.
3. Hang your enema apparatus
- The standard is about 18 inches higher than your rectum. If you've prepared an area inside a large shower, you can simply hang the enema apparatus from a knob in the shower. If you're in another location, you can set the set the enema bucket on a counter (use a non-slip mat) or hang it from some other structure.
4. Position yourself properly
- For constipation relief, start by lying flat on your back. Some nursing guides recommend lying on your side in the recovery position or fetal position. It doesn't really matter, in my opinion. Just be comfortable. You can change positions throughout the process. Go ahead and switch from your back to your right side and then your left side. You'll probably experience some gurgling and discomfort along the way but that's normal.
5. Safely initiate the enema
- So many articles out there about how risky enemas can be. It's like these authors are trying to scare people rather than inform them. One of the top risks cited is "perforated colon." Seriously? If you perforate your colon doing this, you're way too excited about enemas. Chill out, skippy. This is not a garden hose and it's definitely not (or shouldn't be) some exciting fetish. So, listen, if it hurts going in, you're doing it wrong. Slow is fast and fast is smooth. Just apply a generous amount of natural, water based or coconut oil based lube and move slowly. You can't go too slow. Remember, you're only going about 3 inches deep.
6. Make the most of your wait
- This is the perfect time to listen to some relaxing music or a podcast. Don't forget to start your timer, first. You can massage your stomach and change positions if you want.
7. Execute a tactical withdrawal
- When your timer expires, close the tube clamp and slowly begin to remove the tube. Take your time. Once the tube is completely removed, slowly stand up and walk to the toilet.
9. Clean and store your equipment by following PART 6
- Drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet. Consider limiting your simple carb intake. Following up with probiotic supplements is a great idea, too. The food and water will take care of electrolytes and dehydration. Probiotic supplements will help restore balance to intestinal flora.
PART 4: Different Types of Enema Solutions
Admittedly, I had no idea how common and effective different these different mixtures are when used to address gut problems. Since we've been trained to immediately trust the very first doctor we speak to, I'll refer you back to my earlier statement about second opinions.
It seems that for every M.D. that doesn't support these different types of enemas, there are an equal or greater number who do. You might have to go outside of family practices and talk to specialists or those practicing alternative medicine. They went to the same schools and formal education, they just focus on different things.
- Plain water - One of the most common types of enemas, it is important that users at home remember that pure, filtered water that doesn't contain harmful metals and chemicals should be used.
- Saline - Often preferred as a cleansing enema because the solution is isotonic and will not cause an electrolyte imbalance as plain water enemas can.
- Coffee - Commonly used as a detoxification enema, specially produced coffee is used to stimulate the liver to release glutathione S-transferase  at 600-700% normal levels. This enzyme reacts with toxins to render them inert and expedite their expulsion. Coffee enemas have been researched and linked to treating cancer. There are a ton of other benefits claimed by thousands of coffee enema users, including pain reduction, increased focus, higher energy, and better immune response.
- Aloe Vera - Used as a soothing enema to reduce inflammation.
- Mineral oil - This is a laxative lubricant and will help soften and lubricate stools for constipation relief.
- Lemon Juice - Used to balance pH levels and some claim a reduction of pain.
- Chamomile - This solution is typically used as a soothing enema. People use chamomile enemas to reduce intestinal irritation, anxiety, nausea, and even to treat hemorrhoids. Because of its soothing properties, chamomile enemas are also used during menstrual cycles as there have been claims that they significantly reduce bloating and cramps. Another common use is as a sleep aid.
- Garlic - Used to treat intestinal worms and candida overgrowth.
- Probiotic - Enemas infused with probiotics can be used to restore balance to intestinal flora during or following an illness or intense round of antibiotics. Most supplement manufacturers focus on the capsule used to deliver probiotics because they know the probiotics are usually destroyed well before reaching their intended target in the gut. Enemas allow for direct delivery of the payload. Also proven as an effective treatment for colitis .
- Salt - The magnesium sucks water into the colon and retain it there, which helps amplify the effects of a standard water enema.
- Burdock root - Linked to kidney health, this solution has been adopted by many as a treatment for detox. Additionally, people have used burdock root enemas to combat psoriasis.
- Castor oil - Used by many to detox.
- Green Tea - Chosen by many for its antioxidant properties and to restore good bacteria in the intestines. Green Tea enemas are also linked to higher energy levels and better sleep quality.
- Chlorophyll - Linked to cholesterol reduction, detoxification, blood and liver cleansing, and overall intestinal health. Often used as a cleansing enema and followed by a second enema consisting of something like probiotics.
- Marijuana - Yes…that's right. Pass the…bong? These enemas are used by people to treat inflammatory bowel disease and studies have proven them effective in treating colitis in animals. This is reportedly the result of the anti-inflammatory properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) .
If you're boiling water as part of preparing your solution, please don't be stupid. Make sure you add ice and bring the temperature of the liquid down to body temperature before administering the enema. I mean seriously! I shouldn't even have to write this because it's common sense but we're living in a time when a lady can sue McDonald's because she spilled hot coffee on herself. Some of the negative studies conducted on the use of coffee enemas, for example, highlight rectal burns and colitis because a handful of dumbasses lacked some basic common sense.
Side-effects for each type of enema vary but are largely reported as "self-resolving." However, I'm sure if you're a determined idiot you can find a way to kill yourself with any type of enema that would otherwise be harmless if administered sensibly and moderately. In a study covering ONE 57-year old guy admitted to the hospital after taking an herbal enema (doesn't say how many, how often, how long, etc…), Dr. Om Tantia says injurious side-effects from herbal enemas might involve abdominal discomfort or a couple of different forms of colitis . First of all, these side-effects sound an awful lot like those associated with OTC and prescription drugs.
I wonder if the side-effects are as common with these enemas as we saw with orally administered drugs? Probably not because if the side-effects were that bad, there wouldn't be such a large number of people seeking these enemas on their own free will, without a prescription. The market speaks for itself, it seems. What Dr. Tantia doesn't assess is equally important - He quickly jumps to the conclusion that herbal enemas are bad and caused this ONE guy's butt problem based clearly on assumptions and inferences assembled by investigating the patients post-injury state while under his care.
Common logic has been ignored and my opinion is that the process by which his conclusion was reached is at least as irresponsible as the "quacks" (doctors recommending herbal enemas) he refers to in his paper. There's no data to help reach any scientific conclusion that all herbal enemas are bad and I don't have to be a doctor or scientist to see that there's no data. There's not even a good story about how the guy may have been using scolding hot water over the last 10 years, doing enemas 3 times a day, experimenting with other herbs, or never cleaning his equipment. Wouldn't those factors be rather important in reaching such a conclusion?
PART 5: How often should you use an enema
So, you're researching enemas and thinking about getting started at home. You've spent a bunch of time reading all the scary articles about how risky enemas are because you could perforate your colon, your electrolytes could become unbalanced, or you could torch your insides. If you're a rational and logical person, you've thought about how other things in your life cause the same risks with a much greater probability of occurrence, like getting drunk which messes up electrolyte balance.
The scare tactics didn't work on you and like me, you wonder, "How often do I need to do use enemas to be effective and safe?" The answer is that is depends on the type of enema. Check out PART 4 for a list.
It also depends on your individual condition and purpose. For example, if I was a dying cancer patient, I would jump onboard with Gerson Therapy or follow the therapy prescribed by Dr. Gonzalez. That means, I would probably be doing coffee enemas every single day and taking a ton of supplements with a very strict diet. If I'm dying and there's a chance to live long enough to raise my daughters, I'm cool with that.
If, on the other hand, you're in your 20's and you're an athlete looking for enhanced performance, maybe it's once or twice per week. If you're a new mom with all kinds of new health issues that came along with your beautiful baby, it might be a different frequency.
Frequency of enemas for treating constipation: As needed, or when symptoms arise.
I think there are 3 key things to consider when making the decision on how frequently to use enemas:
- Like anything in life, problems will arise if use is excessive. Use your hands to much and you get blisters. Use your butt too much, you get lower back pain. Eat too much fast food, you get fat. Here's one I didn't know about until my doctor told me - If you drink too much coffee, your esophageal sphincter can become relaxed over time. Now, when she told me that, I totally misinterpreted what she said and ran around telling everyone my doctor said drinking coffee causes anal leakage. She corrected me during our next visit and it now makes a great story. But the point is to exercise moderation in both dosage and frequency.
- Check with different types of doctors. If you're worried about something, especially if you have some type of medical condition, chat up some doctors in different fields. Talk to a GI specialist, talk to an integrative medicine doctor, ask other alternative medicine docs. Ask them all for references when they tell you absolutely not to try something or want to prescribe a drug.
- Join groups where people are already using enemas and ask them for advice so you can make a well-informed decision.
- Don't just believe the first thing you hear. Get the counter-argument and make a solid assessment.
- Make sure you start with a low dose and follow the instructions that come with your product. You don't know how your body will react until you try it, so start with a low dose and work your way up as needed.
- Make sure your equipment is clean and stays that way while stored.
- Make sure your solution is the proper temperature before you administer the enema.
- Use lubricant and insert the tube slowly and only to the recommended depth.
- Be prepared with a plan if you feel a certain way after the enema. You can understand how you might feel afterward by simply asking people who have done the same thing before.
- If you're just getting started, make sure another adult is home when you administer the enema. If you jump up too quickly after lying in your bathroom floor and pass out from blood pressure, you'll want someone around to scoop you up. You'll also probably crap yourself. Just don't go write an article about how the enema made you pass out when it was your blood pressure.
To wrap things up, listen, there just isn't that much hard evidence out there to support the effectiveness of enemas for many of the purposes people use them. Remember, that does not prove they don't work! The use of enemas, in my opinion, can be justified largely by social proof. While not scientific, there are groups of people who have integrated enemas into their lifestyles and have reported some pretty amazing results.
In the end, you're going to have to accept some risk. If you don't use enemas, you're accepting risk. If you choose to use enemas, you're also accepting risk. The bottom line is that it's your risk to accept and no one else's.
PART 6: How to clean your enema equipment
Congratulations! You did all the hard work and hopefully you were rewarded with success. Now, it's time to clean your equipment because failing to do so could cause some major health problems.
Let's talk about the equipment for a second. You've got a silicone bag, a stainless steel bucket, a glass bucket, or a plastic bucket. You have a tube that's probably silicone. Then, maybe (hopefully) you have some tips with one-way valves to keep the liquid flowing out of the tube and preventing it from carrying fecal material back into the tube.
As a general rule, I like to make sure that the cleaning supplies I use are of the same quality as the things I would introduce into my body. For example, I use distilled or purified water that is free of metals and chemicals. I might use an organic soap based on coconut oil. Or, I might use white vinegar diluted with purified water.
Here are some steps to follow:
- Choose your cleaning solution
- Rinse out your equipment (including the tube) with tap water
- Leave the tube attached and fill the enema container with the cleaning solution
- Shake it around and scrub it with your hands if you can
- Use a tube brush if you need to remove solids from the inside of the tube
- Rinse everything with purified water
- Dry your equipment thoroughly. This is where I disagree with most instructions I've seen online. Most people tell you to simply air dry your equipment. If you want to make sure mold doesn't grow, you should force clean air through the tube until it's completely dry. If you can't do that for some reason, hang the tube vertically so that all water can leak out. Shake it occasionally. Guys, you know the drill.
- Store your equipment in an air tight container and if you don't know when you'll use it again, vacuum seal it for storage. If you don't have any way to do this, grab some non-toxic, BPA free plastic wrap and wrap the entire bucket with all the clean accessories.
- When you're ready to use it again, quickly rinse it all with purified water.
That process might seem like a lot but it takes me about 3 minutes to clean my equipment and once dry, another 1 minute to store it. Being careful upfront is way better than getting an infection.
I really hope this series has been helpful. My experience has been absolutely life changing so it was important for me to share it.
If you haven't subscribed to the e-mail list here, you definitely should. I will be writing a ton of articles and posting them to this site in order to dig into the details behind each of the different types of enema solutions, rip apart medical research, interview doctors and enema users, and much more.