Coffee enemas consist of the administration of warm coffee via the rectum into a patient’s intestines. They are popular, not least because they cause profuse bowel movements and thus lead to immediate relief of constipation and therefore to short-lasting weight loss.
Coffee enemas are promoted for detox under the erroneous assumption that that the content of our colon is toxic, an obsolete theory known as ‘autointoxication’. Other notions assume that coffee enemas have beneficial antioxidant effects or stimulate the liver. Supporters of coffee enemas also claim they are effective treatments for:
- boosting immunity
- increasing energy
- preventing yeast overgrowth
- treating autoimmune diseases
- excreting parasites from the digestive tract
- removing heavy metals from the body
- alleviating depression
- treating cancer
Coffee enemas can cause adverse reactions some of which can be severe and have even caused fatalities:
- electrolyte imbalances
- rectal burns
- bowel perforation
This new systematic review was conducted to investigate the safety and effectiveness of self-administered coffee enema and to provide evidence about its benefits and risks.
Relevant studies were retrieved from multiple electronic literature searches. Considering self-administered coffee enema being used in a various indication, study population was not restricted. Any types of published studies that included outcomes of effectiveness or safety of self-administered coffee enema with or without comparators were eligible for inclusion in this systematic review. Data on biomedical indications, patient-reported outcomes, and adverse events were collected. Descriptive analyses were planned because diverse health conditions and outcome variables did not allow for quantitative synthesis.
Nine case reports that describe adverse events were identified and included in the analysis. The reported problems included:
- rectal perforation, peritonitis,
- rectal burn,
- cardiorespitatory arrest, followed by death,
- hepatic failure, followed by death,
- vomiting, dyspnoea, followed by death.
No study reporting on the effectiveness of coffee enema was found.
The authors concluded that, based on the evidences reviewed, this systematic review does not recommend coffee enema self-administration as a SCAM modality that can be adopted as a mean of self-care, given the unsolved issues on its safety and insufficient evidence with regard to the effectiveness.
So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is full of truly barmy ideas, but coffee enems are amongst the worst. They are disgusting, uncomfortable, useless and risky. I am posting this article with the sincere hope that nobody reading it will ever consider using such nonsense.