Enemas – their history and use

by on 18/01/2013

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I am returning to the topic of colon cleansing which is extremely popular among readers. Many people realise the importance of keeping the colon working well.

In an old issue of ‘AHZ’, I asked in an article: Is colon cleansing really necessary?

Today, I ask whether enemas are actually useful – or whether they just represent an old-fashioned idea. The short answer to the question of usefulness is – yes; they can be very useful in maintaining, or gaining, good health.

History of enemas

In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh had a ‘guardian of the anus’ – who administered his enemas! Enemas are referred to later, in 1500 BC in old Egyptian papyruses; and later still by Herodotus and Diodorus from Greece.

Enemas were known in Babylonia, India, China and America where the Native Indians used them.

Not long ago, in France, enemas were regarded as essential for health. During his lifetime, Louis XIVth is said to have had thousands of enemas.

More recently, the use of enemas has been curtailed. Why? Perhaps it is linked to modern ideas about medicine. Drug companies make available chemical enemas (small amounts of liquid containing chemicals) which are naturally preferred by doctors who lean towards drugs anyway. Also, laxatives may be seen as a substitute.

Certainly in the UK, doctors have been reported many times to have stated that having a bowel movement once every one, two, or three days is ‘normal’. Whereas their counterparts a century or more ago would likely have been as rightly concerned about this as alternative practitioners would be today.

What is an enema?

During the process an amount of warm water – usually between 1-4 pints (1/2-2 litres) is slowly introduced to the bowel, through a tube. Either a bag is filled and gravity is used to introduce the water into the colon; or a small hand-operated ‘squeezy’ pump is used to do so.

After holding the water for a few minutes, an urge to expel it is felt. With deep breathing and gentle massage this urgent desire will pass.

It is advised to hold the water in for 5 or 10 minutes, then expel it. The process is usually repeated several times.

A practitioner may add herbs or other substances to the water for various purposes. One purpose for this might be to help relax spasms, for example.

Another additive is coffee! Coffee enemas, used in moderation, have been found to help increase elimination of toxins – especially from the liver. This is why the use of coffee enemas is advocated in some treatment systems for cancer. See I need a coffee website!

Ralph Moss, medical writer, has an interesting article on coffee enemas, and points out that they are a part of two well-known cancer treatments – the Gerson treatment and the Kelley Treatment. E is for Enema

What does an enema do?

A standard water enema will help to soften any hardened faeces present in the colon. It will help to release any of this which may have become stuck to the colon wall. When the water is expelled, it will take some of this faecal matter with it. In this way, an enema is usually a good treatment for bad constipation.

However, in the case of constipation, colon cleansing with herbal treatments is normally a better long-term solution, as the colon can be ‘re-trained’ to work better for itself.

Is herbal colon cleansing a replacement for enemas?

It may just come down to convenience. Most of us are pretty busy. It just takes too much time to stop and give yourself enemas every week. Much easier to take some herbal capsules!

That’s if you are well.

But if I was ill with, for example, arthritis or rheumatism; bowel problems; allergies and sensitivities, or more serious problems, enemas would be near the top of my list of treatments I would use on myself.

Enemas are quite easy to do; and have a long history of successful use. They have been recommended by top naturopaths such as Dr John Christopher, Bernard Jensen and Arnold Ehret. They are cheap and you can do them at home.

How do I do an enema?

A good description of how exactly to give yourself an enema, as well as the necessary equipment, is available in the UK from the Wholistic Research Company. They are a well-established mail-order company and can send all over the world.

Their book “Harmony of Nature and Science” is what you need from the Wholistic Research Company

If you are in the US, you might prefer to get a copy of the book second hand from Amazon.com, to save you paying shipping from UK. (The book appears to be unavailable from Amazon new.)

Here is a link to enema equipment from Wholistic Research Company:

Enema equipment


If anyone knows of a good American book for ‘How to do enemas’ please let me know. It sounds as if an enema bag is available much more easily in the US from pharmacists. In the UK such equipment is very hard to find. Again, if you have any feedback on this – from the US or from Europe or the rest of the world, I would be very interested to hear.

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