A Candid Colon-Cleansing Conversation

Colon cleansing via enema has been around for thousands of years. Cleansing the colon is mentioned in ancient writings of the Chinese, the Romans, and the Greeks. European kings benefitted from regular enemas. King Louis XIV had almost 2,000 enemas in his lifetime and stayed healthy throughout.

In the 1900s, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (of Kellogg's Corn Flakes fame) ran a holistic medical facility utilizing enemas as well as diet and exercise regimens. In the 1917 Journal of American Medicine, Kellogg reported that in over 40,000 cases of gastrointestinal disease, all but 20 were treated successfully with no surgery. Kellogg maintained that 90 percent of the diseases of civilization are due to an improperly functioning colon.

In World War I, when pain medications for wounded soldiers were in short supply, doctors and nurses discovered that coffee retention enemas helped relieve pain.

Why did enemas fall out of favor in recent years? More than likely because we went from preventative medicine to symptomatic. We started seeking a quick fix rather than searching for the cause of the problem. Prescription laxatives and surgical procedures quickly became the preferred means of treatment.

Coffee enemas in particular can be of benefit to the chronically ill, who are often deficient in glutathione, a small protein composed of three amino acids. Glutathione plays a key role in detoxification. The Gerson Institute, an organization dedicated to healing cancer and other degenerative diseases naturally, offers this explanation:

Enzyme systems in the liver and small bowel are responsible for the conversion and neutralization of the most common tissue toxins, polyamines, ammonia, toxin-bound nitrogen and electrophiles, all of which can cause cell and membrane damage.

... the introduction of 32 fluid oz of coffee solution into the colon will dilute portal blood and, subsequently, the bile. Theophylline and theobromine, major constituents of coffee, dilate blood vessels and counter inflammation of the gut. The palmitates of coffee enhance glutathione S-transferase, which is responsible for the removal of many toxic radicals from serum. Finally, the fluid of the enema itself stimulates the visceral nervous system, promoting peristalsis and the transit of diluted toxin bile from the duodenum out of the rectum. Because the stimulating enema is retained for 15 minutes, and because the blood in the body passes through the liver nearly every three minutes, these enemas represent a form of dialysis of the blood across the gut wall.

I recently spoke with a family friend about his health journey. Given three years to live because of a failing liver, he embarked upon the Gerson regimen. Fifteen years later he is strong, working full-time, and enjoying life. Coffee enemas are still a part of his day. He says,

I use only organic coffee and do it twice a day, once when I get up in the morning, and once late afternoon. The enemas cause the liver to open up the bile ducts and release toxins that have been stored there, sometimes for years. Be sure to balance with minerals. I make two juice glasses in the morning, one green—that is, romaine lettuce, 1/2 green pepper, red chard, and Granny Smith apple (to make it taste bearable)—and one carrot and apple juice (about 2-3 carrots and 1/2 Granny Smith apple), and I also take a mineral supplement. I have absolutely no problems with hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, or regularity. It has also helped keep me alive by relieving my liver of toxins on a daily basis. I've been doing it for 15 years. I swear by them.

When the doctors did a colonoscopy last year they said, "Wow, you sure have lots of pockets, but they are all pink and healthy. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it."

The following list encompasses some of the things I've learned since incorporating colon cleansing into my regimen.

1. Good supplies are crucial. I like the stainless steel buckets found here. When using additives such as coffee, the silicone hose is optimal. A colon tube is helpful when hemorrhoids are an issue.

2. It takes time to work up to 15 minutes of retention. Initially it will be difficult to hold the water for any length of time because of the high levels of toxicity. A clear-water enema before a retention enema is often a good idea.

3. Lying on the right side is recommended by the Gerson Institute. There is lots of conflicting information about this. The right side makes sense when you consider the descending colon is on the left side.

4. Enemas are an opportunity to connect with the inner workings of your body. The digestive tract comprises the bulk of the immune system. It’s a logical place to focus when detoxing. At one point I passed a strand of fungus that was 15 inches long. That was the point when I realized that microbial warfare is real.

5. Water temperature is crucial. The Gerson Institute recommends a range of 99-103 degrees. Never use water greater than 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Use a foot stool for elimination. Studies have shown that squatting offers a more thorough elimination. The Welles Step is designed specifically for this function.

7. The lighter the roast of coffee, the higher the levels of palmitates. Organic is essential. Fair trade is optimal. The company s.a. Wilsons offers a uniquely roasted organic coffee specifically for enemas. To find out more see their website.

Donna Gates, founder of the Body Ecology Diet, is a strong proponent of enemas. For an excellent article on the subject, click here.

Other possible additives for colon cleansing include:
  • Castile soap
  • Chamomile tea
  • Baking soda/salt
  • Frankincense
  • Probiotics
The website Enema-Information provides helpful suggestions for incorporating some of these additives into colon cleansing.

The Gerson Institute offers an excellent handbook titled The Little Enema Book for $5.00. To learn more, click here.


  1. Wow. I have to admit - I was a bit jolted when I saw "Coffee enema" on your morning routine list. But now that you have explained it more in depth, I can see why you do it. Having Crohn's disease, I should really consider it, but lets face it, there is a bit of a gross factor with them. I chose to have (a regular) one before my induced childbirth and it wasn't all that bad. Have you convinced your children to try this?

  2. Honestly it seems so natural now. It's a hurdle for sure, it was for me too. My family has seen the difference in me...thus there was no convincing needed. Not everyone in the family has added this, but for those who have, we have seen pain relieved, anxiety lessened, and a multitude of symptoms abated. I can't say enough about this addition to our healing protocol.

  3. Thanks for the great blog on coffee enemas. I'm a big fan too.

    Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt (who's been talking a lot about mold recently) says that parasites can be really important. He suggests that using anti-parasitics (arteminisin and freeze-dried garlic, along with phosphatidyl choline to promote uptake in the system) in enemas can be a good thing.

    Do you think that adding this to a coffee enema would be a good idea, for those who do have parasites? Or should it maybe be done separately?

  4. Oh, based on one experience I had with non-organic coffee, I would suggest that using organic coffee is ESSENTIAL!

  5. I saw it on your blog as part of your daily routine then the very next day a friend recommended it and told me how she does it (and has for 3 years). I did it yesterday. Must have been lots of toxins because I was nautious afterwards, weak and had chills. I didn't expect that and we missed church as a result. I rested the rest of the day and today I feel great! I will try it again but I'm not quite ready today. Maybe tomorrow. Thanks for more information. I will read it all for clearer understanding.

  6. Tina,
    Thank you for your input. I started very slowly as well. You're describing something so true about detoxification in general. Healing responses are common. Once it passes we often feel much better.

  7. Good question about the issue of parasites. I don't know. The only thing I add to the coffee is a small amount of glutathione. If I find something from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride or Gerson Institute on this question I'll post it here in the comment section.

    I'm glad you mentioned the organic issue! I was talking with our coffee vendor at the Farmers Market and he was explaining why he sells only organic and fair trade. The bigger coffee companies in these tropical countries use all sorts of fumigants(because mold is such an issue with storage of coffee.) I asked him what happens when he gets a shipment and the beans smell moldy. He says he tosses the whole batch immediately.
    He also explained the multitude of pesticides and other chemicals used on the coffee plantations. From what I understand fair trade supports the small family farm in their effort to remain organic.

    Of course he had no idea why I was so curious. :)

  8. I just read the Body Ecology article. What she says about the decaying waste in the colon seems really important to me, for those who are in the process of detoxing. Getting that stuff out of the body seems critical.

    The problem with coffee enemas is that they're not designed to clean the whole colon. Colonics are good for that, but they are expensive and not available everywhere.

    I was seeing a colonics therapist a few months ago, in the wake of doing some really heavy detox, and she recommended a product called Mag07. I think it's been really helpful in getting my gut moving back toward being more normal. It was in very, very bad shape for a while there!

    It would be interesting to hear more experiences.


  9. Lisa,
    You're right to point this out.
    In the Gerson booklet it says,
    "Patients have to know that the coffee enemas are not given to improve elimination but to stimulate the liver to release toxins."

    The high level of nutrient dense juices (in the Gerson therapy) helps move things along. We like the Homozon colon cleansing magnesium supplment in combination with fresh lemon juice of raw apple cider vinegar. Homozon has no additives. Mag 07 has added rice flour and citric acid.

    Thanks for bringing this up!

  10. Thanks so much for this post!

    It's funny because an Accupuncturist I spoke with recently (who's also a DOM, and a Licensed Nutritionist) said this when I asked him what his thoughts were on coffee enemas: "I don't think anything that doesn't naturally belong in the colon should be inserted into the colon...don't believe in any kind of enemas for detox, only in severe cases of constipation. May even be dangerous in people who are struggling with diarrhea or loose stools from leaky gut." I was surprised and disappointed by this, and thought I'd have to look into it more myself. And now, I have some more answers and a point of reference, that sounds more promising! So thank you!!

    Andrea - You mentioned that you add a bit of Glutathione to your enema. Have you ever tried Glutathione suppositories?
    Or, how about Glutathione patches?

    I'm trying to find more affordable options than IV Glutathione and was wondering if anyone here had any success (i.e, measurable success) with either suppositories or patches?

    There are 2 GSH patches that look promising -- LifeForce (being promoted by Suzanne Somers) and MaxGXL (the only one with a patent). But who knows what they use as an adhesive for those patches (I'm chemically sensitive), so the suppositories sound a bit more "appealing" (so to speak).

    Any feedback on this would be most appreciated.

    Thanks!! :)


  11. Thank you so much for your reply Andrea! With so much on your plate, I wholeheartedly appreciate it.

    I just have some follow-up questions. I hope it's okay.

    1) Would you mind clarifying what you mean by "nothing comes close". Are you refering to an improvement in symptoms, lab tests, or both?

    2) How much Glutathione do you add to your enema?

    3) Did you stop the Glutathione nebulizer and patches? ie., Is the coffee enema the *only* form of "glutathione supplementation" in your routine now?

    Thanks again!


  12. Cary,
    I still nebulize if I feel a need. I no longer use the patches, so yes, this is the primary way I boost my glutathione. I use several drops.
    Since this is a candid conversation and anyone reading this far is truly interested, I can tell you that I see continual evidence of detox. I am seeing thing pass out of my system that simply do not belong. It is often disturbing, but I feel the difference and continue to feel stronger. I can't imagine doing this without a solid detoxifying nutrient-dense diet. Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride strongly encourages enemas on the GAPS diet which is why I first considered them. We were already seeing progress on the diet alone...I felt determined to give it a try. I'm so glad I did.

  13. The protection of digestive tract cleaning mostly relies on what type of technique you are using. There is not just one way to cleansing your colon. You must already be aware of the value of cleansing the colon of wastes and other toxic materials.Colon cleansing is sometimes performed by the means of cleansing resources such as enemas, which are misting nozzles that are used to present certain fluids into the digestive tract for the washing objective. This technique is known as Colonics or Colon Hydrotherapy.