A coffee enema is the injection of coffee into the rectum and colon via the anus, i.e., as an enema. There is no scientific evidence to support any positive health claim for this practice, and medical authorities advise that the procedure may be dangerous.[1][2]

Efficacy and safety

There is no medical or scientific evidence to support any detoxification or anti-cancer effect of coffee enemas.[2][3]

Coffee enemas carry a risk of adverse effects, some of them serious, including infection, seizures, heart and lung problems, and death.[4]


Apparatus prepared for injecting a coffee enema

The rationale for using enemas can be traced back the earliest medical texts, to the prescientific misconception that the accumulation of faeces in the intestines can lead to autointoxication and that the "cleansing" of intestines can prevent that.[5]

The practice of colon cleansing experienced a renaissance in the 1990s, and at this time, coffee enemas were used as alternative cancer treatments.[6] Their frequent use is a feature of Gerson therapy and Kelley therapy, ineffective alternative cancer therapies.[7] Their use is promoted with claims they can "detoxify" the body by boosting the function of the gallbladder and liver. Such claims are not supported by evidence.[8] In 2018, Gwyneth Paltrow's company goop.com was promoting coffee enema kits, one of a number of questionable medical products it has sold.[9]

Advocates of coffee enemas often point to their inclusion in editions of the Merck Manual through 1972, where coffee is listed as an ingredient for a retention enema for treating constipation. The Merck Manual does not list any other uses for coffee enemas, and in editions after 1972 all mention of them was dropped.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Ernst E (June 1997). "Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science". J. Clin. Gastroenterol. 24 (4): 196–8. doi:10.1097/00004836-199706000-00002. PMID 9252839.
  2. ^ a b Shils ME, Hermann MG (April 1982). "Unproved dietary claims in the treatment of patients with cancer". Bull N Y Acad Med. 58 (3): 323–40. PMC 1805327. PMID 7052177.
  3. ^ Cassileth B (February 2010). "Gerson regimen". Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.). 24 (2): 201. PMID 20361473.
  4. ^ "Gerson therapy". Cancer Research UK. 5 April 2019.
  5. ^ Scott Gavura (11 July 2013). "Ask the (Science-Based) Pharmacist: What are the benefits of coffee enemas?". Science-Based Medicine.
  6. ^ Ernst, E (June 1997). "Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 24 (4): 196–198. doi:10.1097/00004836-199706000-00002. PMID 9252839.
  7. ^ a b Unconventional Cancer Treatments. Congress of the U.S., Office of Technology Assessment. 1990. p. 51.
  8. ^ Russell J; Rovere A, eds. (2009). "Colon Therapy". American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). American Cancer Society. pp. 184–185. ISBN 9780944235713.
  9. ^ Sabrina Barr (9 January 2018). "Gwyneth Paltrow's 'Goop' promotes potentially harmful coffee enema kit". The Independent. London.