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All About Enemas

Colon illustration

Enemas involve introducing fluids into the colon in order to either promote defecation and bowel cleansing or to aid absorption of the liquids used and their direct delivery to the liver. 

There are historical records of enemas being used for a wide variety of conditions for at least 10,000 years. The term is derived from a Greek word, but they have also historically been referred to as clysters in medical parlance. 


Why enema?

It is really important to keep the colon clean and functioning effectively. For one, it is a sizable organ (see the image on the right which shows the large intestine or colon surrounding the small intestine). The colon also functions to absorb water from the chyme received from the small intestine and to compact it into solid waste ready for expulsion.

It is for this reason that it is well served by blood vessels which transport any nutrients/toxins absorbed directly to the liver in the portal vein in what is known as the entero-hepatic (intestines-liver) circulation. This system also means that any toxins absorbed are sent directly to the liver for detoxification rather than circulating throughout the body. In fact, three-quarters of the blood supply to the liver comes from the gastrointestinal tract, so that cleansing the colon relieves a great deal of strain from the liver which is invariably compromised in any chronic health condition. 

In fact, so important is colon cleansing that almost no other approaches will be fully effective until the colon is cleansed and maintained in good health. It is for this reason that naturopaths say that health begins in the colon.

One example of this is that an older friend who was a psychiatric matron for many years tells me that when patients were admitted having psychotic episodes the practice in the early part of her career used to be to administer an enema and that the patients would settle down almost immediately.

They weren't 'mad' - they were critically toxic!


What you need for an enema

In order to do an enema, you are going to need the following:

  • An enema kit. These are inexpensive and involve bag with a hook, a plastic hose with a nozzle and a shut-off tap fitting.  
  • If doing the enema in a bathroom you will need a towel and a pillow or cushion to lie one and another towel or blanket to cover yourself so that you keep warm.
  • A watch or clock to time treatments and a radio or similar entertainment for distraction.
  • Some paper towels and a lubricant.
  • The enema bag will need some kind of some kind of hook/door knob/chair to attach it to about 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimetres) above the floor. This height achieves the right amount of pressure - too high and the pressure will be too great and too low and there may be backflow. 
  • It is important only ever to use reverse osmosis filtered water, pure mineral water such as Evian or distilled water for an enema. Warm the water to close to body temperature. Warmer water promotes muscle relaxation and cooler water can promote muscle contraction within the colon wall.
  • Any other solute. Options include enema soap, baking soda or salt if the intention is to relieve constipation. Coffee and fulvic acid enemas are described in more details below.


Administering the enema

Connect the bag to the tubing with the shut-off closed and then fill the enema bag. Let enough enema solution flow through the tubing to force any air present out of it. Coat the tubing nozzle and your anus with the lubricant and wipe your hands. 

Either lie on your back with your knees bent or lie on your left side in the recovery position with the left leg straight and the right leg bent for support initially. Insert the nozzle and then let the enema solution flow into the colon slowly. If cramping is experienced temporarily stop the flow until it subsides. 

You may want to massage your abdomen slowly and deeply in an anti-clockwise direction (up on the left, down on the right). This helps to work the solution higher into the colon and also to dislodge impacted material from the colon walls.

Clamp off the tube once the enema is stopped and try and hold the contents in for between 5 and 15 minutes before evacuating. At the end of the allotted time or if the urge becomes overwhelming, remove the enema tube, and sit on the toilet. If possible raise the legs on a stool so that you are in a squatting position which helps to expel the contents more effectively. At this stage, you may want to massage your abdomen in an clockwise direction (up on the right, and down on the left) to expel the contents.

When finished clean the kit with bleach, vinegar or hot soapy water and allow to dry thoroughly to prevent the formation of mould. 


Coffee enemas

Dr Max Gerson MD, the developer of the Gerson Therapy approach to treating cancer, recommended coffee enemas every 3 hours when treating tumours. According to Dr Gerson, the first coffee enema prepares the liver for further detoxification. Then the second coffee enema activates enzymatic activity in the intestines, gallbladder and liver which start to excrete their stored toxins. This promotes detoxification of heavy metals, chemicals, and the breakdown of proteins in tumours and fibrous tissue. 

The coffee is absorbed by the liver where it promotes bile production and causes dumping of bile into the small intestine for elimination in the faeces. The coffee contains some alkaloids that also stimulate the production of glutathione-S-transferase, an enzyme that is crucial in the formation of glutathione, which is required for one of the main detoxification pathways. 

To make a coffee enema, measure out 1 litre of distilled water, and then use a little over half to cook the coffee in. Pour the water into the stainless steel pan and add 2 heaped teaspoons of organic ground coffee to the water, bring to the boil for 5 minutes then turn the heat down and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve or similar and add in the remaining water to cool the mixture.

This can be used for two consecutive enemas or for one depending upon your ability to retain the enema. Lie on your right side to best promote transport to the liver. You may need to void the contents of your bowels first time round to enable retention of the enema for longer the second time. 

If you feel wired or hyper, or have palpitations or irregular heartbeats after a coffee enema, you should reduce the amount of coffee, usually by half for a few days or weeks. You may hear a squirting sound or feel the gallbladder emptying (upper right abdomen under the ribs) during a coffee enema and this is desirable and shows that the treatment is working. In fact, if you don't experience such a sensation and have no adverse effects, you may want to increase the amount of ground coffee used until you do. 

Coffee enemas promote a general detox, but their effect may be most noticeable on brain function and skin quality. During the process it is advisable to supplement minerals using chlorella, spirulina, kelp or fulvic acid (see below). 

Click the appropriate link to watch a video about How to Take a Coffee Enema and/or How to Make Gerson-Style Coffee Enemas 


Fulvic acid enemas

Fulvic acids are a kind of humic acid. These have formed as a result of the process of degradation of organic matter (humification) and are found mostly in the soil. Fulvic acids are complex mixtures of substances including phytochemicals, amino acids, nucleic acids and colloidal mineral ions. 

With modern agricultural practices the chain of life has been broken and we no longer get sufficient quantities of these substances naturally in our diet, so humic acids are often used in agriculture to enrich the soil.

Fulvic acids have a lower molecular weight and higher oxygen content than humic acids. They also have the unique property of being able to diffuse easily through membranes and so can be used to supplement these essentials nutrients directly. 

The chemicals in fulvic acid acts as potent antioxidants, chelating agents and supply bioavailable minerals which act as electrolytes. They promote metabolism, detoxification and catalyse enzymatic processes within the cell. 

To use in an enema, heat half a litre of water and then add another half litre to cool the mixture and 1 bottle cap of liquid fulvic acid for a mineral enema. Once the fluid is in the colon, lie on your right hand side and try and retain the mixture for about 12 minutes to enable proper absorption.  


Enemas: When and how often?

For a fairly intense detox, consider doing an enema every day for a week. Observe your body closely. Depending upon symptoms you can then scale then back to one every other day for 2 weeks, then two a week for a couple of weeks and then one a week for a while. The detoxification provoked may make your skin break out, or make you feel bloated, light headed or even slightly nauseous. However, if you have any kind of adverse reactions whilst doing an enema other than these kinds of detox reactions, discontinue and consult a professional healthcare provider.

Also, be aware that any implanted foreign bodies such as hip replacements, dental implants or breast implants may act up and if you experience unwelcome symptoms simply stop doing enemas or scale back the frequency.

Some people like to do a regular detox once or twice a year involving the use of enemas. The time of the spring and autumn/fall equinoxes is thought to be particularly beneficial for cleansing as this is when the seasonal energies change from Yin to Yang and vice versa. (You may notice a spontaneous detox at these times of year if you pay attention to symptoms ie: a 'cold' or the 'flu'). 


Further resources

You might also be interested in the following: 

Read button

The Scoop on Poop

The Health Benefits of Colonic Hydrotherapy

The Large Intestine and Guilt


Listen button
Colon Cleansing and Why Health Begins in the Colon in Natural Recovery 
Video button

Your Colon and Your Health

How to Make Gerson-Style Coffee Enemas

How to Take a Coffee Enema

How to Take an Enema


Or for all media use the Search facility at the top of the page


All about enemas: Article summary

This article explains how to administer a home enema and what active substances can be added to the water used. 


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The Natural Recovery Plan Mid-Summer Newsletter 2013 Issue 43. Copyright Alison Adams 2013. All rights reserved
Dr Alison Adams Dentist, Naturopath, Author and Online Health Coach

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