is for Enema
Dr. Ralph Moss
seems I am the Coffee Enema King. Out of 7,500 websites on the topic
at the Google search engine, my essay on the history of enemas is
rated number one. I have found my ticket to immortality. When all
my books have crumbled to dust, my little coffee enema article will
still be kicking around the Internet.
I first heard the words "coffee" and "enema" 25
years ago, I almost fell off my chair laughing. At Sloan-Kettering,
the big joke was, "With cream or sugar?" Eventually that
joke wore thin, when I discovered that coffee enemas were a serious
part of alternative medicine (CAM). The National Institutes of
Health has even given $1.4 million to find out if coffee enemas,
along with supplements and diet, can fight pancreatic cancer.
enema is defined as "a fluid injected into the rectum for the
purpose of clearing out the bowel, or of administering drugs or food."
It is one of humanity's oldest medical procedures still in use. Tribal
women in Africa routinely administer it to their children. The earliest
medical text in existence, the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, mentions it.
Millennia before, the Pharaoh had a "guardian of the anus,"
a special doctor whose purpose was to administer his enema. This was
truly a Royal Flush.
sprang up from ancient Greece to India. American Indians independently
invented it, using a syringe made of an animal bladder and a hollow
leg bone. Pre-Columbian South Americans fashioned latex into rubber
enema bags and tubes (the world's first use of rubber). It is more
ubiquitous than the wheel. Enemas are also found in world literature
from Aristophanes to Shakespeare, Gulliver's Travels to Peyton Place.
Louis XIV is said to have taken over 2,000 in his lifetime. Could
this have been the source of the Sun King's sunny disposition?
one knows when the first daring soul filled an enema bag with Java.
What is known is that the coffee enema was recorded as early as 1917
and was recommended in the prestigious Merck Manual until the
mid-1970s. In the 1920s, German scientists claimed that a caffeine
solution could open the bile ducts and stimulate the production of
bile in the liver of experimental animals. The CAM pioneer Max
Gerson, MD, used this clinically as part of his detoxification
regimen. The effects of caffeine, he postulated, travel upward to
the liver. He noted that patients could dispense with pain-killers
once on the enemas. Many people have noted a paradoxical calming effect.
But while coffee enemas can relieve constipation, Gerson emphasized:
"Patients have to know that the coffee enemas are not given for
the function of the intestines but for the stimulation of the liver."
enemas are still the butt of many jokes. However, in 1981, Dr. Lee
Wattenberg showed that substances found in coffee promote the activity
of a key enzyme system that detoxifies the blood. Dr. Peter Lechner,
of Graz, Austria, has reported that "coffee enemas have a definite
effect on the colon which can be observed with an endoscope."
-- and they are many -- claim that coffee enemas can be at least as
habit forming as coffee taken by mouth. They say there is also a potential
danger to the rectum, since bowel perforation has been associated
with hard insertion devices. However, at the Gerson-oriented clinics,
they use a short nozzle, which is not likely to inflict any harm.
Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, a proponent of coffee enemas, advocates a soft
always cite the deaths of two Seattle women, which was attributed
to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities, following enema abuse. One
took 10 to 12 coffee enemas in a single night and then continued at
a rate of one per hour. The other took four enemas daily. Drinking
orange or pineapple juice just before taking the enemas should help
with the electrolytes. Obviously, one can't go crazy with any procedure
and not expect consequences.
a coffee enema, the coffee has to be of the regular caffeinated kind
and preferably organic. There is even a special brand of coffee that
was created just for enema users (www.sawilson.com).
The coffee should be about half the strength of coffee used for drinking,
and should be served warm, not so hot as to hurt tender tissues, but
not so cold that it will bring on cramps. Finally, one should not
do more than one quart per day, except under a physician's guidance.
If you have trouble retaining an enema, add a tablespoon of blackstrap
molasses. One then holds the enema in, while lying on your side for
15 to 20 minutes.
which side? The conventional medical protocol is to have patients
lie on their left side while taking an enema. But Gerson insisted
that patients lie on their right sides, with their legs comfortably
pulled up, relaxed and breathing deeply. I have seen grown people
nearly come to blows over this question. This is the CAM equivalent
of the war of the Big-Endians vs. Little-Endians in Gulliver's Travels,
where thousands were killed over which end of the egg to break first.
Ordered to break the small end, "The orthodox deemed it their
duty to resent this innovation, and declared a war of extermination
against the heretical Lilliputians," wrote Jonathan Swift.
believe, on empirical grounds, that coffee enemas are helpful to many
people. But I admit to a certain ambivalence about their long-term
effects. Here's why. In 1990, my son and I crossed the country in
his old Grand Am, stopping at the homes of many celebrated CAM practitioners.
We visited a man I will call the Enema Master. He told me of his life's
work, which included promoting coffee enemas. And, true to his word,
there in his bathroom, hung his own worn enema bag, Naturally, I was
awestruck. Who wouldn't be? This was an icon of Americana, worthy
to hang next to Mr. Roger's cardigan sweater in the Smithsonian!
Master presented me with long screeds about the Jews and Satan which
he read with shaky hands. He assured me that Chinese Communists were
taking over America by planting garrisons (known to us as Karate
studios) in every community. As he spoke, flecks of white spittle
gathered at the corners of his mouth. As soon as we could, my son
and I escaped back to enema-free America. As Matthew Broderick said
in The Road to Wellville, "With friends like this, who needs
this individual was drawn to detoxification because he already had
mental or emotional problems. Or maybe he had pushed the coffee enema
beyond the bounds of common sense. In any case, while I do look favorably
on coffee enemas, I would look out for tell-tale signs of mental instability
which include foaming at the mouth.
from Chet: Although he doesn't write about coffee enemas very
often, he writes about a lot of other alternative health information
worth your time, so be sure to subscribe to Dr. Moss's excellent newsletter
at his website.
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