What is a coffee enema?
If you struggle with constipation and bloating, you’re recovering from mold toxicity or you simply want to a little gut reset, a coffee enema is a wonderful, supplement-free way to cleanse. Although a coffee enema may sound intimidating or like a “last resort” if you haven’t pooed for several days, coffee enemas can be an adjunct to add to your self-care routine on a regular weekly or monthly basis to give your digestive tract and detoxification pathways an extra “oomph.”
If I haven’t convinced you already, here are 3 benefits of coffee enemas, plus a simple 3-step process for doing it at home.
3 Benefits of Coffee Enemas
Benefit #1. Coffee Enemas Stimulate the Brain Gut Connection
Coffee enemas are a great way to exercise and activate your vagus nerve—the controller of “brain-gut” connection.
The vagus nerve is your 10th cranial nerve that is directly connected from your brain to your gut and it is responsible for both supporting and governing healthy digestion, as well as keeping your body not stressed.
The Vagus Nerve’s Role in Digestion
- Controls of the movement of food through the intestines (motility)
- Releases digestive enzymes to chemically break down food
- Regulates blood flow that carries vital nutrients and chemicals to support gut health and repair
- Regulates food intake, appetite and satiety
The Vagus Nerve’s Role in Brain & Nervous System Health
- Controls the Fight or Flight and Rest and Digest response
- Manages anxiety, mood and a sense of “calm”
- Sends information and signals from all organs (heart, lungs, liver) to the brain
- Maintains “homeostasis”—breath rate, heart rate, lymph flow, perspiration
If your vagus nerve and your gut microbiome are functioning in tip top shape, then your digestion is on point, your hormones (especially cortisol) are balanced and your brain, energy and general “good feelings” are up to speed.
It may sound weird, but coffee enemas are like sprints for your vagus nerve, reawakening gut motility and vagal nerve function. The clincher: Once you feel a bowel movement coming on, try to hold your bowels in for 10 minutes ideally—or as long as you can, then release. This is called “planking”—simulating that shaking feeling you may get while holding a plank in order to reawaken the brain-gut connection.
Benefit #2. Coffee Enemas Aid in Detoxification
Coffee enema supports your liver and gallbladder to assist in activating them to detox your body of toxins. Coffee is a cholagogue, which means it promotes the flow of bile—the fluid that carries wastes, excess hormones and excess cholesterol out of your body as well as supercharges the digestion of fats from all fatty acids in your diet. Coffee enemas also specifically activate your Phase 2 liver pathways that actually help package and mobilize the detoxification of toxins.
Benefit #3. Coffee Enemas Help You Do the Poo Dance!
You know that feeling of the “golden poo”?! Your dog or baby do! It’s what makes a dog run around the backyard, foot loose and fancy free, and makes your baby stop fussing. Simply put: Releasing poo just feels good. If you struggle with digestion, constipation and bloating, coffee enemas can assist while you work on getting to the root cause(s) behind why you feel how you feel.
Disclaimer: Coffee enemas are great for activating the brain-gut connection, liver cleansing and constipation relief as long as you don’t abuse them or use them as a laxative, especially if you have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating mindset behind it. In this scenario, coffee enemas can end up backfiring and making things worse, not better in the long run—suppressing your body’s natural ability to digest and poo on its own.
Without further ado, how to do a coffee cleanse!
How to Do a Coffee Enema
Prep Step: Get Your Supplies
Order your coffee enema kit. Hands down this one is my fave (it makes the prep easy and takes only 15-20 minutes).
However if you want a traditional approach with a coffee enema bucket and making your own coffee, here’s how to do it!
- ½ quart (about 16 oz or 2 cups) purified water (not tap water) for heating
- ½ quart purified water for cooling the heated water
- 2 tablespoons organic coffee (whole coffee beans)
- Other Items:
- Enema bag or bucket
- Lubricant (for insertion of tube into rectum): a few drops of olive oil or sesame oil (Avoid petroleum jellies such as Vaseline)
- Old towels (to use when kneeling/lying on the floor); do not use good towels since any coffee drops will cause permanent stains
Step 1: Make Your Coffee
- Prep one to two cups of organic coffee in filtered or distilled water is best. If you can, grind your own beans right before the enema. Pre-ground coffee can be oxidized and go rancid easily. If you use ground coffee, store it in the fridge to keep the oils fresher.
- Boil the coffee for about 10 minutes and strain out the grounds. Note: The stronger the coffee, the more stimulating it is to the vagus. If you are new to enemas or very sensitive to coffee, start with 1/2 tsp and build up over time. As you become more experienced with the enemas, you may find you can tolerate stronger coffee and longer holdings.
- If doing in the morning, make sure you eat at least a small meal before a morning enema so you don’t feel depleted afterward.
Step 2: Cool Coffee
- Let coffee cool to room temperature until you can put your entire hand in the coffee for 5 seconds comfortably since the tissues inside your GI are very sensitive to temperature.
Step 3: Enema Process
- If you’re new, start the enema in the bathtub in case a “spill” happens, or place a waterproof layer on the bathroom floor using an old shower curtain or tarp and bath towels.
- Ensure the enema bag hose clip is closed (keep it at the end near your body) and fill the bag with the cooled coffee, then release any air from the tube by holding the bag over the sink with the tip slightly lower and let liquid flow till it just comes out.
- Hang the enema bag or bucket on a sturdy towel rod or shower rod, so it’s situated 2 to 4 feet where you will be lying down (a sturdy towel rod or shower curtain will do). The end of the hose must reach your body easily.
- Lubricate the plastic hose tip with a lubricant such as petroleum jelly, coconut oil or olive oil. Lie on your back or on your right side, with your knees folded toward your abdomen. Gently insert the tube a couple inches into the rectum.
- Release the water slowly from the tube into your body, controlling the flow with the hose clamp. You may experience some cramping and urgency to eliminate as the liquid moves up into the intestines. If you cramp or get gas, close the clamp to stop the flow, then turn from side to side and take some deep breaths. Cramping typically passes quickly. After the cramp is gone, gently open the clamp again.
- Take in as much of the liquid as your body will allow. Two cups is an average, and everyone is different. You may have urges to poo, but don’t go—breathe steadily. Exhale deeply to relax the abdomen. For some, leaving the plastic enema tip in the rectum assists in preventing leaks.
- Lay on your back for 2 minutes, then turn onto right side for 2 minutes to help the liquid move up into the turns of your colon.
- Try to hold the contents in your bowel for 5 to 15 minutes. To best activate the vagus nerve, the enema should be very difficult to hold so that you suppress the urge as long as you can.
- Relax the abdomen by laying on your back, or move back to your right side. Gently massaging the abdomen in a circular direction helps to move the liquid further into the intestines. After the time has passed, move to the toilet and allow the liquid to flow from the body freely.
Step 4: Clean Up
- Separate the coffee enema bag and hose, rinse them thoroughly with hot water and soap, as well as the stainless steel enema bucket.
- You can also run some hydrogen peroxide through the bag and hose after washing it. If you do so, make sure to rinse it well with water afterward so no peroxide goes into your intestines the next time.
- Hang the hose and bag/bucket in a warm dry place until they are completely dry. Store in a dry location.