You Do What With Your Coffee? (Part 1)

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A short guide to Coffee Enemas

Sande Bargeron 9/18/21

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the blank stare or horrified and shocked look when I mention coffee enemas. Though widely accepted in the holistic world, my world is still heavily imbued with folks from the conventional medical community.  I am dumbfounded that  my medical peeps are the ones who think coffee enemas are a crazy and hippie type thing to be doing- we do some really wild things to  human beings in medicine and don’t bat an eye. Besides this, coffee enema has a history in medicine, but in medicine, we are also known to quickly move to better technology after which we disparage the older technology as silly or antiquated. But newer methods are not always better. 

I was once chatting with an older nurse colleague about the changes in medicine that we have seen through our career and much to my surprise, she shared that she remembered a time when coffee enema was used as part of the standard protocol for all patients admitted to the hospital. This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that this was listed among taught and accepted treatments in nursing textbooks as late as the 1970s.

So, where did it start? While there is mention of the use of coffee enemas as far back as ancient Egypt, the modern history is replete in evidence of using this as a health adjunct. We have written case reports and studies back as far as 1866. Look at these reports: 

1866: Dr. Cachot reports coffee enema aiding a dying child from an accidental poisoning

1896: Dr. W.J. Mayo (one of the founders of the Mayo clinic) recommended coffee enema to prevent post-operative shock

1929: Lenox Hill Hospital in NY reported increased bile flow with use of coffee enema (this is good thing)

1941: Dr. Stajano reports almost immediate improvements in several terminal patients, including patients in cocaine intoxication and post-operative shock

1900-1970’s: Coffee enemas were listed in several nursing textbooks as well as the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (which is considered the manual containing all accepted and orthodox medical treatments)

(picture from my personal copy 🙂  )

1985: Dr. Harold Manner, PhD describes retention coffee enema as a form of liver dialysis, during which the liver cells are able to remove large amounts of toxins

2014: Physicians in Korea used coffee enemas to prepare patients for endoscopy. Their goal was to stimulate the release of all retained bile from the gallbladder in order to achieve a clearer and unobstructed endoscopy exam. They found coffee enema very effective in stimulating bile flow.

The Gerson Institute, which was established by Dr. Max Gerson for the treatment of chronic illnesses and cancer, employs coffee enema as the hallmark of his treatment protocol. This protocol is aimed at radically reducing toxins as the cornerstone of healing. (Who here is shocked?)

How does it do it’s thing? The short answer is chemistry

It’s actually really interesting chemistry- the substances, kahweol and cafestol palimate, (palimitic acids), which are found in organic, air roasted coffee beans (commonly called therapy beans), are understood to promote the activity of the enzymes glutathione-s-transferase. Glutathione s-transferase is a group of enzymes used to facilitate the reduction of glutathione (our body’s master antioxidant), making it able to bind with toxins.  In studies performed on mice, they demonstrated up to 600-700% increase in this pathway. 

Furthermore there is beneficial change in the metabolism of cells when exposed to these high levels of palimitic acids, wherein the cells utilize electrolyte appropriately, preventing death of the cells. 

Also, the stimulation of release of bile from the gallbladder further enhances the absorption of toxins from the bloodstream and digestive tract. Remember that the bile released from the liver contains bound toxins. When you stimulate bile flow from the gallbladder and liver, you are promoting active detoxification.

Lastly, the chemical components, theophylline and theobromine, also found in coffee enema, stimulate the dilation of blood vessels, and decrease overall gut inflammation. Whoop whoop! Support for leaky gut !!!

When it comes to personal experiences, I have seen this work wonders for so many people. I remember helping a friend who had given up on finding relief from her pain. She had been experiencing pain in all of her joints, her spine, and her head for years. After finding the courage to attempt her first coffee enema, she could not believe her experience. She told me it was her first pain-free day in years. There are countless others whose experiences have been equally as profound. 

Here is my take away: 

1.) Coffee enema is a very useful ADJUNCT to help enhance detoxification by cleansing and supporting the liver. As with all natural therapies, it is not the magic bullet for all things. 

2.) Don’t overthink it, don’t obsess over it. Once you have learned the process and how to troubleshoot things, it is just not that big of a deal and can literally take no more than 20 -30 minutes one to two times a week.


  1. The purpose of coffee enema is to detoxify the liver to improve its ability to detoxify the blood.
  2. The coffee enema itself does not produce bile. The coffee does cause some stimulation of the liver to produce bile, but it’s the chemical compounds in it- caffeine, theobromine, theophylline- that dilate blood vessels and bile ducts, relax smooth muscles leading to increase in the flow of bile.
  3. Electrolytes are always lost during evacuation of coffee and contents, so it is important to replace these with supplementation and/or nutrient dense juices.
  4. The coffee is retained in the lower or rectal segment of the colon to ensure uptake of the chemicals via the hemorrhoidal and mesenteric veins to the portal vein and then the liver. Because of the restriction to the lower segment, the procedure does not interfere with the necessary and important microflora of your colon or cause dependence on coffee enema for normal bowel movements.
  5. A variety of air roasted therapy beans are available to do coffee enema, but dark roasted beans are never appropriate because the deep roasting eliminates the majority of the beneficial compounds. The best tolerated beans are light or medium roasted, but gold green and white beans are also acceptable, though these are much more potent. Coffee must be organic since pesticides and mold are very commonly found in most coffee beans.
  6. About distilled water- You will find it is important to have pure, clean water, completely free of contaminants for more than coffee enemas as you journey the wellness path. While distilled water is available for purchase at most grocery stores, remember that the water bottles have  been stored in low grade plastic bottles and often in hot conditions, leading the plastic to release toxic byproducts into the water. Though this source will do for the short term, you will likely want to consider investing in a countertop water distiller (Amazon), even if you have a whole house water filter. Distilled water is not the same as purified water. Distilled water is not the same as the water you get out of a Berkey filter either. I have linked to the water distiller that we chose after careful research. There are other less expensive options available, but be careful to check for plastic parts within the distiller, noise, durability, non-stainless steel metals, and warranties when researching these.
  7. It is important to always check with your primary care physician or licensed medical professional before attempting coffee enema. This information is for those without cancer or serious illnesses. Additional contraindications may exist for those with serious health conditions


Coffee enema is not for everyone. According to the leader in the research and understanding of safe coffee enema use, the Gerson Institute, these individuals should not attempt coffee enema unless under the supervision of a provider:

  • Currently undergoing chemotherapy
  • Renal, cardiac or respiratory failure
  • Bleeding and/or ulceration in the colon tract
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ileostomy (no colon)
  • Hypertension and/or tachycardia
  • Pregnant (consult with your primary physician or Gerson Practitioner)
  • Acute or ongoing chronic diarrhea until investigated by a physician
  • First 6-8 weeks post-surgery (always check with your primary physician or Gerson Practitioner)

In summary, coffee enema is one of the tools that benefit anyone who is serious about intense, ordered and efficient detoxification. Providing both immediate relief from inflammation and side effects of a detox program, coffee enemas also enhance the liver’s ability to do its job, while helping eliminate stored toxins from the liver. Once you get over the awkwardness of this therapy, you will find it is actually tremendously beneficial and dare-I-say- enjoyable.

Learn how to safely complete a Coffee Enema here


Cachot MA. Case of Poisoning by Aconite; Enema of Coffee in the Treatment. Pac Med Surg J 1866;9:239-240. Available at

Mississippi Valley Medical Association Society Proceedings. West Med Review. 1896;1(7):189-194. Available at

arbat AL, Jacobi HG. Secretion of bile in response to rectal installations. Arch Intern Med. 1929;44:455-462.

Stajano C. The concentrated coffee enema in the therapeutics of shock. Uruguayan Med Surg Special Arch 1941;29(3):1-27.

 Practitioner AG. The Illustrated Family Doctor: A Handy and Authoritative Guide to Essential Medical Knowledge and the Maintenance of Good Health.London: Waterlow & Sons Limited; 1934.

cClain ME. The patient’s needs:  Enemas. Scientific Principles in Nursing. St. Louis, MO: The C.V. Mosby Company; 1950:168.

Bedside procedures. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 9th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck & Co, Inc; 1956:1747-1748

 Bedside procedures. In: Lyght CE, Gibson A, Keefer CS, Richards DW, Sebrell WH, Daughenbaugh PJ, eds. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 10th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories; 1961:1754-1755.

 Bedside procedures. In: Lyght CE, Keefer CS, Lukens FDW, Richards DW, Sebrell WH, Trapnell JM, eds. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 11th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories; 1966:1682-1683.

Walker, Morton DPM, Excerpted from July 2001 edition of Townsend Newsletter,

Kim ES, Chun HJ, Keum B, et al. Coffee enema for preparation for small bowel video capsule endoscopy: a pilot study. Clinical nutrition research. 2014;3(2):134-141.

Douglas BR, Jansen JB, Tham RT, Lamers CB. Coffee stimulation of cholecystokinin release and gallbladder contraction in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1990;52(3):553-556.

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