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Colon cleansing with coffee, or otherwise known as coffee enema, is one of the most well-known ‘detox’ method used in alternative medicine. It was widely believed that coffee enema can help to remove harmful toxins from the body. A coffee enema involves inserting a mixture of brewed coffee and water into the colon via the rectum.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serraboten/5540006703
One of the most famous applications of the coffee enema is the Gerson therapy. It was developed by Max Gerson, a German doctor in the 1920s and 30s. Gerson therapy uses a strict and specific organic vegetarian diet, nutritional supplements and enemas (using coffee or castor oil) to treat cancer. However, there is no evidence that shows Gerson therapy can effectively cure cancer.
Image credit: https://www.wepost.com.my/recommends/items/taobao-572967528432.html. Image shows the ‘starter pack’ of coffee enema.
The believers of coffee enemas usually use it for the following purposes:
To relieve constipation
To boost immunity
To improve their energy level
To treat depression
To treat cancer
To lose weight
However, none of the above uses of coffee enemas has been proven or disproven by scientific evidence. The evidence for or against the use of coffee enemas is mostly anecdotal, i.e. merely based on personal accounts and not rigorous scientific studies.
The supporters of coffee enemas often tout the antioxidant or anticancer properties of coffee enemas by claiming the cafestol palmitate in coffee promotes glutathione S-transferase, which detoxifies the products of tumour cell metabolism, and that the enema fluid stimulates movement of the colon and drainage of toxic substance from the gut.
Image credit: https://allthenourishingthings.com/tag/detoxification/
However, a small study conducted healthy Thai male volunteers has found out that coffee enema does not raise the level of glutathione S-transferase in the volunteer’s blood. Hence, the claim on coffee enema provides antioxidant benefits by raising the levels of glutathione is questionable.
More studies about coffee enemas are warranted for better insights into its uses.
There is some evidence suggested that coffee enemas may be harmful to its users. For instance, there have been deaths associated with coffee enemas reported in the U.S.during the 80s. One of the victims died as a result of hypokalaemia (extremely low level of potassium in the blood) due to frequent use of the coffee enema. Another death involves a cancer patient who died from fluid and electrolyte imbalance due to the usage of coffee enema as well.
A few cases of proctocolitis associated with coffee enemas were reported in the past. Proctocolitis refers to the inflammation of the rectum and colon. Although the exact mechanism of how coffee enemas cause proctocolitis is not known, it is suspected that the proctocolitis is caused by the chemicals in coffee enemas, as coffee is a complex mixture of chemical compounds that contain more than just caffeine.
Another clinical observation found out that a 23-year-old cancer patient died from polymicrobial septicaemia after using coffee enemas. Polymicrobial septicaemia is the presence of multiple microorganisms in the blood. It is believed that the polymicrobial septicaemia is caused by the use of colonic instrumentation which is required to insert the coffee enema fluid into the colon.
Other potentially harmful effects of coffee enemas are:
Image credit: https://thyroidschool.com/thyroid-blog/the-coffee-enema
As there is a lack of scientific evidence on the use and safety of coffee enemas, modern medicine does not advocate the use of coffee enemas. What is known for sure, is that coffee enemas are potentially dangerous. The decision to have a coffee enema or not is a personal choice best made between you and your doctor.
If you choose to undergo coffee enema, beware of the dangerous signs such as severe abdominal pain, persistent nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding. Should any of these happen, kindly seek emergency medical help immediately.
Cover image credit: https://allthenourishingthings.com/tag/detoxification/
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