Flim-Flam Friday: A** Coffee

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I first heard about coffee enemas from “Gus“, a raging conspiranoid who wanted to screen The Beautiful Truth, a documentary about the German quack physician Max Gerson, in my city. You wouldn’t think a film with both “truth” and “beautiful” in the title would involve squirting coffee up your butt, but Gus was adamant that Gerson had found the cure for cancer; the Gerson-Sauerbrach-Hermannsdorfer diet combined with regular coffee enemas.  (1)

Gerson first used ass coffee back in the ’30s, so it’s nothing new. However, today’s health faddists have rediscovered and resurrected hundreds of worthless therapies from yesteryear, and caffeine enemas fall into that group. An episode of the TLC show My Strange Addiction featured a Florida couple who administer ass coffee to themselves with the zeal of religious converts, up to four times a day.

What do coffee enemas supposedly do?

Gerson declared that caffeine enemas purged toxins from the liver by stimulating bile production, alleviating cancer and a host of other diseases.
There is no evidence that coffee increases bile production, and no one has ever explained just what these toxins are. Therefore, it is impossible to verify that ass coffee can remove those theoretical toxins. One might as well say that ass coffee flushes gremlins out of the lower intestine. (1)
Other uses of ass coffee are: treatment for constipation, pain relief, energy boosts, and weight loss.

The obvious question is, why not drink your coffee? Gerson’s reasoning was that one cannot possibly consume his prescribed amount of coffee – one liter – in a single day (amateur), but the most frequently-cited reason for ass coffee is that the body absorbs more caffeine from coffee via the tissues of the colon than through oral ingestion. Also, ass coffee is speedier than drinking and bypasses the unpleasant side effects of indigestion, heartburn and continuous peeing. This is the same logic behind rectal shelving of DMT, the legendary vodka tampons, and other stuff you really shouldn’t try.

What’s the active ingredient?

Caffeine and/or cafestol palmitate. Coffee enema enthusiasts have imbued caffeine with mysterious detoxifying properties that it doesn’t actually have, and today’s proponents of the Gerson method claim that cafestol palmitate promotes the production of glutathione S-transferase. No research supports that claim, mostly because cafestol palmitate is active only in green, unroasted coffee beans.  (2,4)

Does it work?

It depends on how you define “work”. Do coffee enemas deliver caffeine to the bloodstream? Yes, in that sense they are effective (if inefficient, disgusting, and potentially dangerous). So increased energy is one short-term effect of ass coffee.
Does it cure cancer? Hell no. Any treatment for cancer, by necessity, has to kill cells and inhibit cell growth. Coffee does neither.
While ass coffee unquestionably does provide short-term relief of constipation, long-term enema application can actually make your colon lazier, ultimately making constipation worse.  (3)
Caffeine consumption does not promote weight loss. In fact, it can complicate dieting by making you hungrier than usual.
The bowel is actually quite efficient when it comes to cleansing. The intestinal lining sheds old epithelial cells naturally every few days, so hurrying that procedure along with colon cleanses of any sort is completely unnecessary. Colonic irrigation and enemas can even flush out beneficial bacteria that helps detoxify waste.

So what’s the problem?

As harmlessly weird as ass coffee may sound, it actually poses serious health risks. There have even been ass coffee fatalities. Here are a few of the potential hazards:

  • As with any bogus cancer treatment, there is the risk that cancer patients will choose the Gerson method over proven medical treatments.
  • There is such a thing as too much caffeine. A liter of filtered coffee (roughly 6 cups) can contain anywhere from 570 to 1200 mg of caffeine. Health Canada indicates the safest known upper limit for adult caffeine consumption is 400 mg of caffeine per day. The Florida couple who give themselves four coffee enemas a day? They’re ingesting up to 4800 mg of caffeine in a 16-hour period.
  • Any colon cleanse runs the risk of overexpanding the colon, causing it to perforate. This can lead to sepsis and any number of other infections.
  • Rectal burns and scarring (duh)
  • Removal of beneficial flora
  • Tissue inflammation (proctocolitis)  (2)
  • Dehydration, potentially fatal electrolyte imbalance and potassium imbalance (hypokalemia)  (4)

The Bottom Line:

Don’t squirt coffee, or any other beverage for that matter, up your butt.

please_knock_it_off

Sources:

1. National Cancer Institute, Gerson Therapy: General Information
2. Keum, B.; Jeen, Y. T.; Park, S. C.; Seo, Y. S.; Kim, Y. S.; Chun, H. J.; Um, S. H.; Kim, C. D. et al. (2010). “Proctocolitis Caused by Coffee Enemas“. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 105 (1): 229–230
3. American Cancer Society pages on colon therapy and Gerson therapy
4. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center page on metabolic therapies

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