Coffee Enema Research

May 12, 2014 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer’s popular podcast on Hayhouse Radio. For the most part, Dr. Dyer’s programs feature content relating to psychological and spiritual matters. However, from time to time, he shares insights into his personal health care journey. On this particular occasion he revealed that he was enthusiastic about a time honored, natural therapy which supposedly cleanses and detoxifies the liver – coffee enemas. This is by no means a new concept in the field of holistic healing. That said, it has remained quite popular throughout the past several decades much to the scorn of the conventional medical establishment.

Perhaps the most common and controversial use of coffee enemas is in patients with cancer. One example is the Gerson regimen, a cancer protocol developed by Dr. Max Gerson involving the use of a strict diet, coffee enemas, dietary supplements and juicing. According to a 2010 review in the journal Oncology, “coffee enemas are believed to cause dilation of bile ducts and excretion of toxic breakdown products by the liver through the colon wall”. While widely believed and restated, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support this assertion. Certainly, there are many anecdotal accounts of cancer remission by individuals using the Gerson regimen. The problem is that scientific evidence is lacking for a few reasons. The first is that the Gerson approach involves many therapeutic components. Therefore, isolating the specific effects of any given strategy is difficult to do. Also, peer-reviewed analysis of the Gerson regimen has yet to yield verifiable proof that it actually prolongs survival time.

As it turns out, the scant data on the efficacy and safety of coffee enemas comes to us courtesy of researchers in Thailand. Presently, there are two studies in print. One reports that caffeine absorption from a single coffee enema is about 3.5 times less than a single cup of coffee taken by mouth. A second trial examined the antioxidant effects of six coffee enemas administered over a two week period. No beneficial changes in oxidant status (glutathione or GSH, malondialdehyde or MDA and trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity or TEAC) were noted. Lastly, a German study is currently underway which compares the constipation relieving activity of coffee enemas vs. oral coffee. The results from the latter trial are due for publication in the coming months.

My personal stance on coffee enemas is that more scientific research is clearly required. Simply put, we need to better understand its safety profile as some cases of harm have been documented in the medical literature. In addition, like it or not, this is a therapy that is being used by many people with serious medical conditions, sometimes at the expense of other modalities. And, frankly, there is at least some rationale to conducting studies on coffee enemas. For instance, we now understand that coffee consumption appears to reduce the risk of various forms of cancer and liver disease. This doesn’t necessarily equate to coffee being a viable adjunct or remedy for cancer and liver disease, but it’s worth investigating.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Oncology Journal (Williston Park): Gerson Regimen (link)

Study 2 – Unproved Dietary Claims in the Treatment of Patients with Cancer (link)

Study 3 – Pharmacokinetics of Caffeine Following a Single Administration of (link)

Study 4 – Antioxidant Effects After Coffee Enema or Oral Coffee Consumption in (link)

Study 5 – Clinical Trial: Coffee Against Obstipation in Intensive Care Treatment (link)

Study 6 – Proctocolitis Caused by Coffee Enemas (link)

Study 7 – Rectal Perforation Due to Benign Stricture Caused by Rectal Burns (link)

Study 8 – Coffee and Cancer Risk, Epidemiological Evidence and Molecular (link)

Study 9 – Is It Time to Write a Prescription for Coffee? Coffee and Liver Disease (link)

Study 10 – Roles of Chlorogenic Acid on Regulating Glucose & Lipids Metabolism (link)

Coffee Acts As An Antioxidant and Prebiotic

Source: Food Funct., 2012,3, 916-922 (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Detoxification, Food and Drink

4 Comments & Updates to “Coffee Enema Research”

  1. JP Says:

    A new way to enjoy coffee: high fiber coffee flour:

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update: Coffee enemas may prove to be a valuable adjunct for endoscopy cleansing …

    Clin Nutr Res. 2014 Jul;3(2):134-41.

    Coffee enema for preparation for small bowel video capsule endoscopy: a pilot study.

    Coffee enemas are believed to cause dilatation of bile ducts and excretion of bile through the colon wall. Proponents of coffee enemas claim that the cafestol palmitate in coffee enhances the activity of glutathione S-transferase, an enzyme that stimulates bile excretion. During video capsule endoscopy (VCE), excreted bile is one of the causes of poor preparation of the small bowel. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and effect of coffee enema for preparation of the small bowel during VCE. In this pilot study, 17 of 34 patients were assigned to the coffee enema plus polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2 L ingestion group, whereas the 17 remaining control patients received 2 L of PEG only. The quality of bowel preparation was evaluated in the two patient groups. Bowel preparations in the proximal segments of small bowel were not differ between two groups. In the mid and distal segments of the small intestine, bowel preparations tend to be better in patients who received coffee enemas plus PEG than in patients who received PEG only. The coffee enema group did not experience any complications or side effects. Coffee enemas may be a feasible option, and there were no clinically significant adverse events related to coffee enemas. More prospective randomized studies are warranted to improve small bowel preparation for VCE.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 05/23/15:

    Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 May 21.

    Associations of coffee drinking with systemic immune and inflammatory markers.

    BACKGROUND: Coffee drinking has been inversely associated with mortality as well as cancers of the endometrium, colon, skin, prostate, and liver. Improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation are among the hypothesized mechanisms by which coffee drinking may affect cancer risk; however, associations between coffee drinking and systemic levels of immune and inflammatory markers have not been well characterized.

    METHODS: We used Luminex bead-based assays to measure serum levels of 77 immune and inflammatory markers in 1,728 older non-Hispanic Whites. Usual coffee intake was self-reported using a food frequency questionnaire. We used weighted multivariable logistic regression models to examine associations between coffee and dichotomized marker levels. We conducted statistical trend tests by modeling the median value of each coffee category and applied a 20% false discovery rate criterion to P-values.

    RESULTS: Ten of the 77 markers were nominally associated (P-value for trend<0.05) with coffee drinking. Five markers withstood correction for multiple comparisons and included aspects of the host response namely chemotaxis of monocytes/macrophages (IFNγ, CX3CL1/fractalkine, CCL4/MIP-1β), pro-inflammatory cytokines (sTNFRII) and regulators of cell growth (FGF-2). Heavy coffee drinkers had lower circulating levels of IFNγ (OR=0.35; 95% CI 0.16-0.75), CX3CL1/fractalkine (OR=0.25; 95% CI 0.10-0.64), CCL4/MIP-1β (OR=0.48; 95% CI 0.24-0.99), FGF-2 (OR=0.62; 95% CI 0.28-1.38), and sTNFRII (OR=0.34; 95% CI 0.15-0.79) than non-coffee drinkers.

    CONCLUSIONS: Lower circulating levels of inflammatory markers among coffee drinkers may partially mediate previously observed associations of coffee with cancer and other chronic diseases.

    IMPACT: Validation studies, ideally controlled feeding trials, are needed to confirm these associations.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 03/28/16:

    J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016 Mar;25(1):63-9.

    Effect of Coffee Added to a Polyethylene glycol plus Ascorbic acid Solution for Bowel Preparation prior to Colonoscopy.

    BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Conventional bowel cleansers for colonoscopy have an unpleasant taste and a large volume of solution must be ingested. Coffee increases bowel motility and has an intense flavor. The addition of coffee to a polyethylene glycol+ascorbic acid solution reduces the volume of the solution to be consumed without reducing efficacy, improves the taste of the solution and enhances patient comfort.

    METHODS: Outpatients with clinical indication or people who wanted screening for cancer were considered eligible. Control group (PEGAS group) consumed a 1-L solution of polyethylene glycol+ascorbic acid twice. Study group (COF group) consumed 750 mL of coffee+polyethylene glycol+ascorbic acid twice. Bowel cleansing was rated using the Aronchick, Ottawa scale, polyp detection rate and colonoscopic insertion time. Tolerability, acceptability, preference, and adverse events were investigated by questionnaires.

    RESULTS: The COF group had non-inferiority in efficacy (non-inferiority margin, -15 %; lower limit of 95 % confidence interval for difference between success rates, – 4.7 % and -8.4 % from both scales, respectively). Polyp detection rates were 0.48 and 0.60, respectively (P=0.067). Colonoscopic insertion times were 323.6+/-166.8 s and 330.7+/-243.6 s, respectively (P=0.831). Significant improvement was observed with respect to ease of drinking (P=0.012), taste (P=0.026) and preference (P=0.046) in the COF group. Adverse events occurred in 52.4 % and 60.4 % in the two groups, respectively (P = 0.251).

    CONCLUSION: The addition of coffee to polyethylene glycol+ascorbic acid solution reduces the required volume for bowel preparation without reduced efficacy and enhances patient comfort in coffee-drinkers.

    Be well!


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