Hello dear friends!
As a culture, our efforts to detoxify our bodies have been taken to the extremes. Green juice fasting. Tubal feeding. Internal clays. Colon cleansing. While most of these things don’t really present any major risks, most of their health claims are seriously exaggerated. However, as someone who is in recovery from Lyme and CFS, I do think that detoxification is an important part of any healing plan, and sometimes, it can get a little…unusual.
Coffee enemas are nothing new, but they have enjoyed a recent upsurge in popularity thanks to our recent obsession with detoxification and alternative health. They’ve been used in many holistic cancer therapies and liver renewal programs for a long time now, and have lately been embraced by scores of average Americans looking to feel better.
As for the Lyme, CFS, MS, and autoimmune communities, we’ve discovered this remedy to assist our bodies in flushing out the toxic metabolites that are created as part of our disease processes. Coffee enemas help to pull out the endotoxins released by dying bacteria (aka Herxheimer reaction, or “Herxing”), and boost our body’s natural antioxidant production. I had heard of this odd-sounding practice years ago, but was too scared (and admittedly, a bit grossed out) to try it. Up until a few months ago, that is. So, if you’re considering making the leap into the coffee enema world, I’ll teach you everything you need to know. But first, how does it actually work?
It’s important to know that, to do a coffee enema correctly, you need to use organic, fully-caffeinated coffee (no cheap decaf!). Why? The caffeine, along with coffee’s other two power players, theobromine and theophylline, are extremely important, and have been shown to:
- Open the bile ducts in the liver
- Dilate blood vessels
- Relax smooth muscles (the kind of muscles that organs are comprised of)
- Encourage bile flow
Now, you probably know that your liver is your #1 detoxification organ, and it serves to filter everything that you put into, and onto, your body. It is heavily vascularized, and is linked to your body’s main antioxidant system- an enzyme system called glutathione S-transferase, which is the key to the power of coffee enemas. When consumed rectally, coffee boosts the activity of this enzyme up to 700% of its normal levels! This enzyme then reacts with free radicals in the bloodstream, making them inert, and then flushes them through the bile ducts, allowing their release from the body through the enema action.
A coffee enema for detoxification purposes is different from other enemas, in that it is a retention style enema. This means that you hold the fluid in your intestines for a period of time before expelling. For the coffee enema, you need to hold for 12-15 minutes for the maximal effects. Because it takes approximately 3 minutes for your entire blood supply to circulate through your body, this length of time allows all of your blood to be filtered by the liver 4-5 times. This means that the coffee enema acts as a sort of dialysis process, even through your gut wall.
Especially for people dealing with chronic degenerative illness or microbial overload (like with Lyme), this manual filtering of the blood can dramatically assist in the body’s recovery, because it works to:
- Improve blood circulation
- Boost tissue repair
- Increase cellular energy production
- Improve immune cellular action
That all sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? So, how do you actually do a coffee enema? Let’s walk you through the steps!
How to do a coffee enema
1. Get your hands on good quality, caffeinated coffee. It’s important that it’s organic, so that you’re not introducing large amounts of pesticides directly into your GI tract!
2. Find yourself a sturdy enema bag or bucket kit. I use this one here, and it’s fantastic. --------->
3. In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of fresh filtered water and between 2-3 Tbsp of coarsely ground coffee. If you are just starting out, or are especially sensitive to caffeine, go with 2 Tbsp to start.
4. Bring mixture to a boil. Then turn down the heat, and simmer coffee for 12 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, filter (I use a mesh sieve), and allow to cool to a point where it’s comfortable to the touch, or approximately body temperature.
6. Pour your coffee into your enema bag or bucket and set up your tubing. Place your bag/bucket at least 1-2 feet higher than the floor or surface you will be laying on.
7. Make yourself comfortable! I like to lie out a few blankets, covered with a towel, on the bathroom floor, and grab a pillow for my head. You always want to do your enema very close to the toilet. It’s also good to have a heater nearby- it doesn’t feel good to get chilled while you’re laying on the floor, trying to hold in your coffee!
8. Unclamp your tubing and flush the line with the coffee to remove any air bubbles. Then re-clamp, and lube the tip with something natural like coconut oil, olive oil, etc…
9. Lie down on your side in the fetal position, and slowly insert the tube tip into your rectum. Don’t push it too far in, but make sure it's in far enough so it won’t pop out either! I usually hold on to the tube while “drinking” my coffee.
10. Unclamp the tubing, allowing the coffee to start flowing. This takes a bit of practice, but you can move around a bit to find the best position to encourage faster coffee flow. It’s recommended that you lie on your right side (your colon curves up and to the right), but it’s okay to experiment here.
11. Once you’ve taken in all the coffee, re-clamp your tubing and remove the end from your rectum. Set it aside.
12. Set your timer for 12-15 minutes, and get comfy. The retention is the hardest part of the coffee enema, so now’s a great time to practice your deep breathing, meditate, listen to music, or distract yourself with games. I like to bust through some Sudoku on my iPad, while blasting Kesha. No judging :)
13. When your timer is up, slowly make your way onto the toilet and let ‘er rip! Plan to hang out here for a few minutes until everything comes out. You should be able to feel when you’re “emptied out”!
14. Clean up and make sure to drink some extra water today!
It all may sound a bit complicated, but trust me, once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll realize how simple it is. Plus, I find that it gives me a little boost in mood and energy for a few hours after, and that never hurts!
Remember, that all of us are different. Our bodies are different. Our bathroom setups are different. Our lifestyles are different. So we all may have slightly different experiences when it comes to coffee enemas. You’ll probably run into a few snags when you’re first starting out, so I’ve compiled a few tips to make things easier:
- Be sure to void your bowels before your enema. You will be able to retain more fluid for longer this way. However, if you’re severely constipated, go ahead and enema- this will get things moving!
- Stay warm! Like I mentioned earlier, there’s really nothing worse that getting the chills while lying on the floor with coffee in your butt. In the cooler months, I wheel my portable heater into the bathroom with me.
- Don’t let any bubbles get into your tubing. The more air you introduce into your gut, the more uncomfortable it will feel.
- If you can’t make it the whole 15 minutes, don’t worry. It does take practice to be able to hold the coffee for that long. Shoot for at least 6 minutes on your first go.
- When dealing with lots of bloating or gas (like after eating dairy, for example), it’s a good idea to try to work some of that gas out before the enema. Like I mentioned, the more air in your colon, the more uncomfortable the enema will be.
- If you tend to get jittery or have hypoglycemic issues, eat something beforehand. I always have a hearty breakfast first, and have never had a problem with feeling lightheaded or shaky.
- If you struggle to keep the coffee in (leaks happen sometimes, but they shouldn’t be expected every time), it’s probably smart to start doing your Kegel exercises. A strong pelvic floor will help you retain the coffee longer, as well as give you lots of other benefits…
- On your first go, feel free to cut down the liquid by ½. I recommend the full 4 cups, as this will reach the upper part of your intestines, but it is quite a bit of liquid, so go ahead and start slow.
- Gravity is your friend! Put your enema bag or bucket as high as you can, attached to something sturdy, of course. Also, you can lift up your hips (like bridge pose in yoga) to encourage better emptying of the coffee into you colon.
- There are special coffee blends made for enemas, which claim even better benefits, so feel free to use those as well. However, regular organic coffee will work too, and lighter roasts are better.
- If you are really having a hard time with this, you may want to “pre-flush” with a water enema or douche.
- Remember to be patient with yourself! It will take a few tries to get it right, and sometimes you may make a mess. Some days are easier than others.
- Depending on your condition, anywhere between everyday and once a month is good for coffee enemas. During intense periods of detox (heavy Herx reactions, other medication-induced dieoffs, dietary-supported cleansing), every day may be necessary. Right now, I do it 1-2x per week for maintenance.
- Always drink extra water and electrolytes on enema days. Bone broth, miso soup, fresh vegetable juice, etc…are all great options.
- Clean your equipment thoroughly after each enema, and do a deep clean at least every 3 times. I usually clean/rinse with castile soap for light cleaning, and soak in bleach solution every couple of weeks. Always disassemble your tubing to get things totally sanitized!
- I personally have a tendency to bloat later in the day after an enema, but I find that drinking ginger tea really helps that.
- Make sure you budget enough time to sit on the toilet afterwards. You do not want to get up and rush off before everything has had the chance to get out! Potentially messy and embarrassing accidents may occur…
Like I said, it takes a bit of trial and error to find your ideal coffee enema setup, so resist the urge to simply give up after your first failed attempt. And if you need more help and coaching, I’m happy to provide it. Coffee enemas are a wonderful way to enhance your body’s detox pathways, and I think they are especially important for anyone with a chronic illness like Lyme, MS, CFS, or metabolic diseases.
So, friends, that’s the rundown. For those of you who have done coffee enemas before, what other tips would you add?
Good luck, and happy detoxing! And as always…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~
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