How & Why to Use an Enema

  reading time: 7 min

Episode 15.

As with many things regarding the human body (weirdly) there is a stigma around using enemas, and I totally understand this.
For the longest time I was grossed out by – even scared of – the idea of taking an enema. During my 2 week at-home Ayurvedic cleanse I had successfully avoided the enema, but I knew that I couldn't avoid it any longer once I started my 3 month (!) Sacred Woman program by Queen Afua, which starts off with an in-depth (literally) cleansing of the internal organs – kidneys, colon, and womb.

Basically, enemas are rectal injections of fluid (usually warm water or tea) into the large intestine intended to cleanse your colon and stimulate the emptying of your bowel. While it should not be employed regularly, it is a popular practice to prepare for a cleanse or detox such as the Panchakarma Ayurvedic cleanse, therapeutic fasting or the Sacred Woman program.

I am not a physician, and the information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

What You Will Need For This Method

  • an enema bag or enema bucket (irrigator)
  • 1 – 8 cups of fluid *
  • a towel
  • coconut oil or petroleum jelly

* For cleansing enemas that are meant to be held in the rectum for a short time – usually about 10 minutes – to flush your colon, use water-based fluids such as:
- warm filtered water or saline solution (salt water that mimics your body's sodium concentration)
- Epsom salt solution
- sodium phosphate solution
- lemon juice (mixed with warm filtered water)
- apple cider vinegar (mixed with warm filtered water) 
- soap suds (castile soap mixed with warm water) 
- Bentonite clay (2 tbsp clay mixed with 1 litre warm filtered water)

For retention enemas that are designed to be held in your bowel for an extended period – usually a minimum of 15 minutes – to soften the stool, use water-based or oil-based fluids such as:
- coffee (made from unroasted coffee beans)
- garlic (mixed with warm filtered water)
- mineral oil
- castor oil and olive oil (equal parts)
- probiotics (mixed with warm filtered water)
- herbal tea (e. g. red raspberry leaf tea, chamomile tea, catnip tea)
- flaxseeds (soaked in warm filtered water)

Please be careful when using highly acidic enema solutions such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or coffee. It's safer to go with a more gentle solution such as warm water, saline, or oil!

The Benefits of Taking an Enema

  • it flushes out built-up waste in the colon
  • it removes toxins and heavy metals from your entire body
  • it increases you body's overall immunity
  • it stimulates elimination and relieves congestion
  • it improves skin 
  • it supports therapeutic fasting
  • it regenerates the intestinal flora
  • it helps relieve depression, fatigue, headaches, allergies, and irritability (due to built up colon waste)
  • it boosts energy levels

Do NOT use an enema in the following cases:

- pregnancy
- anal fissures
- haemorrhoids

- chronic intestinal disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis) 
- bowel cancer
- renal insufficiency
- intestinal obstruction
- vomiting and abdominal pain when the cause is unclear
- intestinal bleeding
- severe heart disease
- after intestinal surgery

Before taking an enema at home you should always consult a doctor, because side effects – such as digestive disorders and circulatory problems, inflammations and injuries in the sensitive intestinal tract, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, or even kidney failure! – can occur if the enema is used incorrectly.

How To Take An Enema

1. FILL THE ENEMA BAG with warm filtered water or one of the listed fluids, making sure the clamp is shut. The fluid should be warm, but not hot, and also not icy cold – body temperature is best. If you are doing this for the first time, I recommend started with a small amount such as 1 cup (250 ml) or 2 cups (500 ml).
If you've already had some experience with enemas, you may use 4 cups (1 litre) or even up to 8 cups (2 litres) of fluid per procedure.

Before inserting the enema bag nozzle, open the clamp up a little bit and drain some of the fluid into the sink so that any excess air in the tube can be cleared; this way, you won't get any gas backup in the colon with your first intake of fluid. Close the clamp again.

2. LUBRICATE THE NOZZLE, using a natural cream lubricant, coconut oil or petroleum jelly.

3. PLACE ENEMA BAG IN AN ELEVATED POSITION, such as the bathroom door handle, a towel hook, the edge of your bathtub, or a shelf. The higher it hangs, the better the fluid will flow. Place a towel on the bathroom floor and get into a kneeling, all-fours or side-lying position, lying on the left side.
You may also want to keep another towel and/or a wash cloth within arms reach.

4. GENTLY INSERT THE NOZZLE of the intestinal tube of the enema bag into the anus (so that the tap is still outside). This may be uncomfortable, but should not cause pain.
Stop if there is pain and call your doctor. Open the clamp and release a little of the fluid. Then allow the rest of the fluid to run in, or as much as you can hold.

Then close the clamp again and slowly withdraw the nozzle.

5. LET THE FLUID SOAK for 10 to 15 minutes – or as long as you can hold it – while lying down and gently massaging the abdomen with your hands. If you feel able to, you may turn over on your back for a bit, then turn to the right side and massage your colon again. If you feel advanced, you may even do some floor exercises such as the shoulder stand pose.

The first time of taking an enema, you may quickly feel pressure and the need to empty your bowels. Give in to this urge, remove the tube, go to the toilet and empty yourself. Then start another pass. You will notice that much more fluid can now be passed into the bowel and you will be able to hold it longer. At the second and third pass, try not to rush to the toilet immediately at the first pressure, but wait for about three peristaltic surges (aka the urges to defecate) before rushing to empty.

6. EMPTY BOWELS into the toilet.
Stay close to the bathroom for the next 30 to 60 minutes as it may be necessary to go to the toilet several more times.

7. REPEAT THE PROCEDURE two or three times, OR LIE DOWN AND REST for about 20 minutes, ideally raising your legs at a 45-degree angle, and massaging your colon in a circular motion to relax and calm your intestines. Don't forget to breathe :)

8. CLEAN THE ENEMA BAG by running 2 to 4 cups (500 ml to 1 litre) of hot water through it. It's especially important to CLEAN THE NOZZLE by placing it in a bowl with boiling water to disinfect.


How Often Should You Take an Enema

The frequency of taking an enema depends on why you use it. To increase general well-being, it's safe to use an enema once or twice a month
To support an intestinal cleansing or fasting cure on the other hand, which is accompanied by regular enemas, they can be done more frequently, for example one to three enemas per week. However, this should only be done once or twice a year, and no longer than two to four weeks at a time.

In any case, don't overdo it. Too frequent enemas can unbalance the intestinal flora and irritate the intestinal mucosa. In addition, the body can get used to the enema, with the result that the intestines become increasingly sluggish.
Whether you are undergoing a complete bowel cleanse and fasting cure, or whether this is just an acute one-time constipation relief, it is advisable to take a high-quality probiotic to support the build-up of healthy intestinal flora and thus the elimination of dysbacteria.
In general, enemas should not be seen as a compensation for an unhealthy lifestyle. A diet predominantly rich in vital substances, plant proteins and fibre, sufficient drinking of still water and daily exercise that promote regular bowel emptying and develop a healthy intestinal flora long-term!

An abnormal, prolapsed, constipated, constricted colon is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you do not have daily bowel movements naturally, please consult a doctor.
Have you ever tried using an enema? How do you feel about it? 
Let me know in the comments!
Sources: Healthline, Verywell Health (1), Verywell Health (2), Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit, pg. 99