Could I Really Use an Enema?
I read your book, Spontaneous Healing, and found it absolutely marvelous. I was, however, surprised that you never mentioned enemas or colonics as an adjunctive therapy for detoxification. I know the Gerson therapy and other cancer treatments make extensive use of these ideas. What is your opinion about them?
Enemas enjoyed great popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries, when they were considered both fashionable and medically necessary. Louis XIV of France was quite an enthusiast, sometimes undergoing as many as four a day - often during meetings with dignitaries. At that time, people believed that constipation resulted from "hypochondriacal melancholy," a problem that afflicted only the most noble and intelligent men. Similar symptoms in women were associated with "hysteria," a disorder that involved an inflamed, heated womb longing for fulfillment. Mayan shamans are believed to have used hallucinogenic enemas. Made with mead, tobacco juice, mushrooms, and morning glory seeds, they must have induced majorly altered states of consciousness.
Proponents of enemas today argue that they clean away microorganisms, impacted feces, and dead cells, while relieving constipation and helping backache, fatigue, headache, loss of concentration, and other maladies. Quite a list. Colonic irrigation involves flushing the entire colon with running water.
The Gerson therapy you mention uses coffee enemas, plus a special juice diet, as a treatment for cancer. Its purpose is to detoxify the body and restore normal function to poisoned cells, which then mobilize to fight tumors. Coffee by this route is stimulating and addictive, claims of enthusiasts notwithstanding. Whether coffee enemas really detoxify the liver or any other organs is an open question. I don't think there's any health need for enemas and colonics, despite their interesting history. The best way to ensure the health and normal cleanliness of the colon is to make sure you're having regular eliminations: Eat a diet that's high in fiber, drink enough water, and get adequate exercise. Avoid putting things into you that are toxic in the first place. The colon sheds its entire lining and regenerates it every day, so it's impossible for anything to build up on its walls.
To increase your fiber intake, you can eat psyllium seed husks in a variety of forms. There's also an herbal bowel-regulator called Triphala, from the ayurvedic tradition, that is very effective. You can get it from a health-food store; follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
A short "fruit fast" can give your digestive system a rest. I've done a 10-day regimen that included two days of fresh fruit, two days of fruit juice, two days of water only, then two days of fruit juice and, finally, two days of fruit. All along, I took a tablespoon of powdered psyllium seed husks stirred into a big glass of water every day to give the intestines bulk.
Enemas and colonics are trendy, and it may be partly because there is an element of pleasure in them. This is fine if people are honest about it. You can become addicted to the sensation of colonics, and doing them addictively is not very healthy. There's also a small risk of getting diseases like hepatitis from them, but I think that's pretty negligible.