All Clear! All About Enemas

Women's Health | | Natasha Weiss
6 min read

There are endless trends out there in the world of health and wellness. Some seem pretty doable, while others feel whacky and out there. The cool thing about exploring different trends is that you get to learn about what works for you and make decisions that reflect your personal needs. 

One trend that may make you gawk at first is enemas. Before you run away cursing us for even mentioning the word – hear us out. There’s a lot more to enemas than meets the uh, eye. *Winks awkwardly*. Who knows? You may just find your new favorite health trend and self-care tool. Keep on reading to learn all about enemas, their safety, benefits, and how to do one yourself. 

What’s An Enema?

If you’ve heard of enemas before, you most likely only associate them with sending water up your backside for the sake of relieving constipation. But enemas have been used for centuries as not only a means of getting things moving in your bowels but also as a holistic health remedy for all sorts of things.

Enemas have been believed to boost human health long before modern medicine. The use of enemas has been found amongst ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek populations. It is also a common tool used in Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine.

But what exactly is an enema? An enema is a process of inserting liquid into the lower part of the large intestine via the rectum. This gently flushes out the colon and administers medications when necessary. There are quite a few different kinds of devices that are used to do enemas, we’ll talk more about that later on. 

What Do People Use Enemas For?

Self-care you say? Enemas may seem a whole lot less appealing than getting a massage or taking a yoga class, but they do serve a purpose. Enemas are done to relieve constipation, as well as to insert medicine, or for examination purposes. 

Constipation

Constipation is one of the most common reasons people turn to enemas. The discomfort of not having regular bowel movements can really put a damper in your day, as well as your energy levels. 

Although enemas can be incredibly useful in treating constipation, you may want to try other remedies first like increasing your fiber intake, staying hydrated, getting regular physical activity, and gentle laxatives or stool softeners. 

Preparation for a Procedure or Scan

One of the biggest reasons people use enemas is to prepare themselves for a health procedure or some sort of diagnostic scan. These may be done at a medical office, or at home before you go in for a procedure. Some procedures that may necessitate an enema are colonoscopy, surgery on the rectum, colon, or gut, or cancer screening. 

Administering Medication

Enemas can be used to administer medications directly to the colon. The blood vessels in the rectum can also quickly move medication to other parts of the body using an enema.  Many holistic health providers including Ayurvedic ones and Naturopathic doctors use enemas to administer natural medications. Advocates of enemas claim that they can help all sorts of ailments including boosting immunity, regulating blood pressure, removing toxins from your system, boosting energy levels, relieving chronic pain, and improving your skin. 

These are some common types of holistic enemas used: 

  • Herbal medicine: Certain herbs may offer anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits.
  • Epsom salts: Are rich in magnesium, which can benefit people with constipation.
  • Mineral oil: This lubricates the inside of your colon and seals it with water, promoting waste removal.
  • Apple cider vinegar: May offer antiviral benefits for the digestive system.
  • Probiotics: The use of Lactobacillus reuteri and other probiotics may help to promote gut health and good bacteria, as well as reduce inflammation in the gut.
  • Coffee: Mold-free coffee made specifically for enemas may help promote bile removal in the colon.

Are Enemas Safe?

If you’re feeling skeptical, we don’t blame you. This is new stuff! So are enemas safe? Well, it depends on what kind of enema you’re using. Enemas do come with a few potential risks. 

Here are some to keep in mind:

  • Electrolyte imbalance: Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium can potentially be thrown off from enema usage
  • Infection: If you use improper tools or ones that aren’t sanitized, you can potentially introduce infection into your digestive tract. It’s also vital to use water that has been filtered and is free from chlorine and potentially harmful bacteria.
  • Bowel Issues: Solutions that are highly acidic like coffee, apple cider vinegar, and lemon can potentially harm your bowel with issues like rectal burns, infections, and inflammation. 

Many of the enemas listed above have little to no research to back up their claims or effectiveness. There have been rare cases of enemas leading to internal bleeding, perforation of the bowels, and death. That being said, many people and practitioners have found great results for all different ailments using enemas as part of their protocol. 

Enemas shouldn’t hurt, although you may feel some discomfort, especially if you’re experiencing constipation or if it’s your first time doing one. Overall, enemas carry little risk when done correctly. Still, the risks may outweigh the benefits in some cases. 

How To Do An Enema

Specific instructions vary depending on which enema kit you’re using, so be sure to read the directions carefully. Some of the most important things to keep in mind are:

  • Use filtered water.
  • Lay a towel on your bathroom floor. You may want pillows that are also covered in towels to stay comfortable.
  • Hanging the bag above you so the fluid can move down with gravity, without you having your body. 
  • Lubricate the nozzle for the tube before inserting it. A lube that’s safe for your sex toys will work fine.
  • Gently insert the nozzle into your rectum and allow the contents of the bag to flow in. You can take breaks by bringing the bag closer to you so that it stops the flow. 
  • Relax and breathe deeply.
  • Once the bag is empty, slowly remove the tube, and retain the fluids for as long as directed.
  • Be sure you’re near a toilet for the next couple of hours just in case.

Because the known benefits of enemas are limited and they come with potential risks, it’s important to contact your doctor before beginning any enema protocol. If you are going to self administer an enema, we suggest starting with a very mild solution of just water or saline water, unless you’ve been directed otherwise by your healthcare provider. 

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