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Are Enemas Good for Your Health?

Undergoing an enema involves using a bag of water and a tube to fill your colon with enough water to stimulate contraction of the walls of your colon - the idea is to force your colon into expelling waste materials out through your anal sphincter.

Unfortunately, years of constipation and/or undergoing enemas can disrupt the mechanisms that are in place to allow your body to generate its own bowel movements - for some people, it can become near impossible to have a bowel movement without having an enema.

If you're able to have bowel movements without using enemas, and you're interested in having regular enemas for ongoing cleansing, I encourage you to consider the long term implications of fiddling with the natural contractile capacity of your colon walls.

Let's review some basic anatomy and physiology of your GI tract so that you're well equipped to decide on whether you should or shouldn't have enemas done on a regular basis.

After nutrients from the foods and beverages that you ingest pass through the walls of your small intestine to enter your bloodstream, what remains in your small intestine is a watery mass which consists mainly of the following components:

  • Fiber

  • Dead cells from the walls of your digestive tract

  • Microorganisms

  • Digestive juices

This watery mass travels through your small intestine until it reaches your large intestine, also called your colon.

As it travels through your large intestine, the walls of your large intestine absorb water from this mass. By the time this watery mass reaches the end of your large intestine (also called your rectal pouch), enough water is absorbed from the watery mass to leave a solid mass. This is essentially how you form stools for bowel movements.

The pace at which the watery mass travels through your intestines is mainly determined by three factors:

  1. The amount of fiber in your diet.

    The more fiber-rich plant foods that you eat, the quicker this mass will travel through your intestines. This is why not eating enough fiber can cause constipation - without regular intake of fiber-rich foods to keep this watery mass moving through your intestines at a healthy pace, your colon will have more contact time with this watery mass, which leads to excessive water absorption, which leads to uncomfortably hard stools.

  2. How well you manage emotional stressors.

    Emotional stress can accelerate or decelerate the pace at which this watery mass travels through your intestines, and can therefore be a cause of chronic constipation or diarrhea. Whether you experience acceleration or deceleration due to emotional stress depends on your genetic predisposition.

  3. The health of your enteric nervous system.

    Your enteric nervous system consists of a series of sensory receptors and nerves that are scattered throughout the walls of your intestines.

    Your enteric nervous system is responsible for regulating the natural waves of contractions that occur in the walls of your intestines. These contractile waves are what push material along at a steady pace towards your rectal pouch. Whenever the walls of your digestive tract are stretched by food or liquids, sensory receptors in these walls are stimulated, which sends a signal to your enteric nervous system, telling it to contract the muscles in the walls of your digestive tract.

Getting back to why I don't believe that enemas are good for long term bowel health, consider that whenever your colon is filled with water during an enema, the walls of your colon are stretched to a larger degree than they are with normal amounts of food and liquids that you eat and drink. If you have enemas done regularly, then over time, the stretch receptors in your intestinal walls may recalibrate to this greater degree of stretching and even become numb to the stretching that occurs with regular amounts of food and liquids that you ingest.

Also, repeated unnatural stretching of your bowel walls with regular enemas can lead to weakening of the muscles in these walls, making it difficult for you to have bowel movements without an extraordinary amount of stimulation to your enteric nervous system. As mentioned above, for some people, this lack of natural tone and contractile ability in the bowel walls can reach a point where they can't have a single bowel movement without using an enema or laxatives.

None of this is to say that enemas should be avoided in all circumstances. When I ran our residential fasting program, I regularly recommended a one-time enema for people who had a history of chronic constipation and felt constipated before they began a long, water-only fast. I made this recommendation because during a lengthy water fast, existing stools and materials in the digestive tract tend to build up in the rectal pouch and become quite hard. People with chronic constipation and problems with hemorrhoids or anal fissures can usually benefit from clearing out their colon and rectal pouch with an enema before beginning a long fast.

To summarize, I firmly believe that it is best to avoid undergoing enemas on a regular basis. The three best ways of naturally maintaining healthy bowel walls and movements are to:

I hope this information is helpful. Please consider sharing this post with family and friends who may not know about the potential problems with long term use of enemas.

Please note: Colonics are similar to enemas, the main difference being that a skilled practitioner can better regulate the pace and amount of water that is used during a colonic than most people can with enemas. Still, even with better regulation of water flow, I feel that regular use of colonics is not an optimal way to promote a clean and healthy colon.

For more information on this topic, please view:

How to Keep Your Colon Clean and Healthy


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For those of us who have had quite a few teeth (back teeth) pulled, chewing is an issue. We have to find ways around this. For me, I put some foods through a grinder.

I had suffered from chronic constipation all of my life. At 40 years of age I was diagnosed with extreme osteoarthritis in my lower back. There were mornings I could not move my legs without the use of my hands to get out of bed and at times would fall to the ground while walking because my legs simply gave out. I lived with chronic increasing pain. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. My family doctor at the time prescribed me 100 celebrex tabs and Tylenol #3 to take daily and advised me to get used to it...."It was a part of aging". I threw the prescription out and sought alternative health measures which eventually led me to colonics. They saved my life. My osteoarthritis is absolutely totally 100% gone. There is a huge correlation between lower back pain and constipation. My mega/redundant colon has receded in size back to a more normal state because of the water effect from the colonics excersing a smooth muscle which is what our colon is. My digestion has never been better. I look and feel 20 years younger. My health is excellent. My BM's went from one every 7-10 days to 1-2 daily. I am now a colon hydrotherapist for 7 years and helped 100's of people gain back their health. Live blood analysis at one time showed a pathetically encrusted mucoid-filled poisonous colon and today shows a healthy clean colon. I have tons of friendly bacteria as I make sure I take plenty of probiotics to replenish what is removed during a colonic. I no longer have parasites crawling around my body - I have gotten rid of the ones hiding and nesting in the mucoid build up that was once in my colon. My doctor whom I rarely see wants to know my secret of youth - I tell him "colonics." I actually treat some doctors. I have and continue to do my homework thru the greats, like Dr Bernard Jenson, Norman Walker, Louise Tenny to name a few. Every Naturalpathic doctor I know of supports and encourages colonics. It is written in Book 1 of the ESSENE GOSPEL OF PEACE where the masses of sick and maimed ask JESUS how to get well. He tells them by eating vegetarian food free of abominations and cleansing their bodies with ENEMAS until the water runs clean, ridding the body of parasites, worms and toxins. I for one am NOT going to argue with Jesus and think I know better. I will continue to have a colonic every week for the rest of my life enjoying a 'dis-ease free life' thru healthy eating, lots of fiber, spiritual practice, excercise, drinking lots of clean water, fresh air, sunshine and regular colonics. It is said that "Death begins on the colon" A return to health begins with cleaning it up. Please do your homework - I've done mine.

A salt water flush (drinking 1 to 2 litres of warm salt water first thing in the morning) is much better than a colonic because it completely washes the entire digestive system not just the colon or part of the colon. I've tried both and there is no comparison. The colonic is uncomfortable and feels very unnatural and exerts too much pressure inside the colon.

I too prefer water cleanses verses colonics. (without salt) I read it is healthier for the water to go through the entire digestive system in order for you to benefit from the cleanse. I would drink 32 - 48 ounces of water first thing in the morning within 15 - 20 minutes and then fast for 2 hours. Sometimes If I am feeling sick, I would drink an 8 ounce glass of prune juice before bed and do the water cleanse in the morning. It is a sure way to get rid of a cold.

I used to do this and ur absolutely correct. I’m over weight again . But wen I did the cleansing my weight dropped and my energy levels went way up.. I need to start on this again.. Health is wealth

Thank you for this information. I was wondering what you think about retention enemas for the purpose of disease prevention. I have been practicing coffee enemas several times a year for about five years. I do not have any bowel concerns or issues.

First off, well done for even making this a topic. kinda ends there though.

The article is ultimately bias and predjudice.
Has Dr Kim pursued enemas on a regime? Probably not.

Personally I am in my 4th year of doing daily coffee enemas.

I have undergone colon/digestive transformation. I used to hardly digest food, have slow/reduced bowel movement and perpetually have gas and constipation.

I changed my diet to exclude starches, aggressive lectines, refined sugar, pork and monitored/adapted my meats intake, which I have now reduced to zero.

During this time I have been consistent with probiotic supplementation and coffee enemas.

As of about 6 months I have normal stool and bowel movement irrespective of enemas. This is for myself a clear indication that if intestinal support is provided, there are no negative effects in any way shape or form.

Furthermore may I add that I had a leaky-gut situation that affected my immune response, with which enemas have also helped me.

I would like to make clear that I am not referring to colonics, which apply pressure to the organism and are quite forceful therefore. I am ONLY referring to gravity induced enemas.

I do different kinds of enemas, garlic, camomile and coffee mainly. My wife does with basil infusion to help migraine situations.

In my opinion, on the basis of my own experience and working with an integrative doctor in this development, I find the remarks published as highly irresponsible and effectively fear-mongering.

A true professional makes aware of factual benefits of experience and does not paint fictitious worst-case scenarios.

Kindest wishes.

My tip: Do coffee enemas. Game changer.

I am 60 years old and people think I am 45 - 50 years old. I believe that enemas (fleets Saline or Water) are the reason that I look so young, and I have absolutely no physical or psychological ailments. Other people around me who are younger than me have high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, backaches, etc, etc. I think that Medical Professional do not want us to use anything they can't charge a lot of money for. Thus they always spread fear about natural ways to heal. The Ancient Egyptians knew something about medicine, since they virtually created it.

Doctor a sentence in your article struck me "I don't 'believe' enemas are beneficial".The word believes means, to assume, to one does not have' experience' of. Albert Einstein says "The only true knowledge is experience" which I am to assume in your case means you have no personal or clinical experience in this area.
I have practiced as an integrated medicine physician for some years now, and have learned that the two foundation pillars of health are to cleanse and nourish the body. In my busy practice, i see many seniors. And, without exception, those who partake of regular, gravity fed distilled water enemas ,enjoy a health & vibrancy usually reserved for the young!
One of the finest (if not The finest) surgeons of the 20th Century Sir William Arbutnoth Lane found that when he performed bowel resections, many medical problems in other parts of the body completely resolved.
Due to his much respected & revered position in the medical community, articles about this phenomena in medical journals had such an effect that surgeons In Europe & USA were performing colectomies regularly in the hope of resolving their patient's chronic debilitating health problems. Over time Sir Lane realized that removing the colon created other serious problems. However, he knew the source of all disease lay in the toxic congestion & weakness of the bowel. After much research, he discovered the solution was a regular cleansing of the large bowel with water enemas, and a diet of raw wholesome foods. Sir Lane ultimately resigned from the Royal Medical Society , and established a Raw Food Society, where he spent the remainder of his life educating people on regaining & maintaining health via cleansing the bowel & correct diet. Surgical instruments & techniques he invented are still used by orthopedic surgeons to this day.