Coffee Enemas: Are They Worth It?

Medically reviewed by: Liza M. Capiendo, MD

A coffee enema is a colon cleansing procedure used in alternative medicine. Although common in the 1800s to speed up healing following surgery, the first recorded use in the Merck Manual was in 1972.

Today, doctors of alternative medicine often use coffee enemas as part of natural treatment protocols for fighting liver dysfunction, cancer, constipation, candida, viruses, and digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

However, modern medicine teaches that there is no reason to use coffee enemas or other practices to help the body excrete waste.

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What Is a Coffee Enema?

A mixture of lukewarm-infused coffee and water is inserted into the colon through the rectum. The primary function of a coffee enema is to remove toxins and waste from the body.

Caffeine increases enzymatic activity in the intestine, helping to flush out toxins thereby giving your body the nutrients to heal while also lowering inflammation, restoring bowel function and increasing energy levels. A coffee enema allegedly supports these caffeine-related anti-toxin effects.

What Are the Alleged Benefits of Coffee Enemas?

There is no proven data to support the alleged health benefits of coffee enemas. Alternative medical practitioners and other proponents, however, list several benefits that many believe coffee enemas provide:

  • Relieves constipation

The coffee enema supposedly triggers the elimination of food residues and toxins that are major causes of constipation.

  • Supports cancer treatment

Using a coffee enema to treat cancer is part of the Gerson therapy–a popular alternative treatment for cancer.

However, there has to date been no studies to support any particular benefits that Gerson therapy and coffee enemas can help or increase the anti-cancer benefits of chemotherapy.

  • Improves liver function

The theory states that when the coffee is administered through the rectum, caffeine, and other active components pass through the hemorrhoidal vein and enter directly into the liver. When the liver is stimulated, the body’s detoxification rate increases. As a result, the toxins and compacted waste on the intestinal walls empty the body.

As with the other supposed benefits of coffee enemas, there is no data to support this.

  • Enhances oxygenation of the body

One of the supposed benefits of a coffee enema is improved oxygen distribution throughout the body, which improves cellular health. When the detoxification process of the body accelerates, so does the duplication of red blood cells. More red blood cells mean more oxygen in the body and increased energy levels.

This has never been proven.         

  • Coffee enemas reduce Candida

Candida is a yeast infection that can develop in the gut. Some believe that coffee enemas create an acidic environment, which is thought to inhibit candida growth.

  • Coffee enemas help you lose weight

Coffee enemas are used by some for weight loss, but results are usually temporary. After completing a coffee enema, weight loss results from the elimination of fluids and other waste from the body.

Although the long-term results can be objective, the immediate elimination of excess waste is what provides users with a false sense of doing something positive about weight loss.

  • Provides energy

Immediately after a coffee enema is administered, many patients report renewed physical energy. This supposedly is the result of both the stimulation from caffeine and the reduced toxins. Users report the effect usually lasts several hours and can last up to a few days. Caffeine is a known stimulant and does boost short-term energy levels. Relief from constipation also provides increased energy, but this boost in energy can be short-lived as the effects of the stimulant wear off.

Side Effects

The risks associated with coffee enemas outweigh the nebulous claims of positive results.

Some of the side effects include:

  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal Burns
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Bowel Perforation
  • Dehydration

There are many reports of coffee enemas causing colitis – an inflammation of the lining of the colon.

Using a coffee enema at home risks possible puncture of the rectum if the coffee liquid is inserted too quickly.

You can also severely damage your intestines if the liquid is too hot or cause severe rectal burns.

There’s also concern that coffee enemas may be harmful to individuals with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, congestive heart failure, abdominal hernias, hemorrhoids, heart disease, anemia, intestinal tumors, gastrointestinal cancer, and blood vessel disease.

The side effects of coffee enemas seem to increase if the individual is also fasting.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not undertake a coffee enema.

Coffee enemas can also result in coffee dependence because caffeine is a stimulant.


Mainstream medicine doesn’t advocate the use of coffee enemas. There is no generally accepted scientific evidence to support the supposed benefits of coffee enemas.

Most people use an enema to relieve constipation. There are several home remedies you can try such as increasing fiber in your diet and drinking more water. If this doesn’t bring relief, then seek the help of a professional to eliminate a more serious issue.

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