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History and Some Science Behind Coffee Enemas

       Excerpted from Ralph Moss' Healing newsletter, 1986:

Coffee enemas were an established part of medical practice when Dr. Max Gerson introduced them into cancer therapy in the 1930s. Basing himself on German laboratory work, Gerson believed that caffeine could stimulate the liver and gall bladder to discharge bile. He felt this process could contribute to the health of the cancer patient.

Although the coffee enema has been heaped with scorn, there has been some independent scientific work that gives credence to this concept. In 1981, for instance, Dr. Lee Wattenberg and his colleagues were able to show that substances found in coffee—kahweol and cafestol palmitate—promote the activity of a key enzyme system, glutathione S-transferase, above the norm. This system detoxifies a vast array of electrophiles from the bloodstream and, according to Gar Hildenbrand of the Gerson Institute, "must be regarded as an important mechanism for carcinogen detoxification." This enzyme group is responsible for neutralizing free radicals, harmful chemicals now commonly implicated in the initiation of cancer. In mice, for example, these systems are enhanced 600 percent in the liver and 700 percent in the bowel when coffee beans are added to the mice's diet.

Dr. Peter Lechner, who is investigating the Gerson method at the Landeskrankenhaus of Graz, Austria, has reported that "coffee enemas have a definite effect on the colon which can be observed with an endoscope." F.W. Cope (1977) has postulated the existence of a "tissue damage syndrome." When cells are challenged by poison, oxygen deprivation, malnutrition or a physical trauma they lose potassium, take on sodium and chloride, and swell up with excess water.

Another scientist (Ling) has suggested that water in a normal cell is contained in an "ice-like" structure. Being alive requires not just the right chemicals but the right chemical structure. Cells normally have a preference for potassium over sodium but when a cell is damaged it begins to prefer sodium. This craving results in a damaged ability of cells to repair themselves and to utilize energy. Further, damaged cells produce toxins; around tumors are zones of "wounded" but still non-malignant tissue, swollen with salt and water.

Gerson believed it axiomatic that cancer could not exist in normal metabolism. He pointed to the fact that scientists often had to damage an animal's thyroid and adrenals just to get a transplanted tumor to "take." He directed his efforts toward creating normal metabolism in the tissue surrounding a tumor.

It is the liver and small bowel which neutralize the most common tissue toxins: polyamines, ammonia, toxic-bound nitrogen, and electrophiles. These detoxification systems are probably enhanced by the coffee enema. Physiological Chemistry and Physics has stated that "caffeine enemas cause dilation of bile ducts, which facilitates excretion of toxic cancer breakdown products by the liver and dialysis of toxic products across the colonic wall."

In addition, theophylline and theobromine (two other chemicals in coffee) dilate blood vessels and counter inflammation of the gut; the palmitates enhance the enzyme system responsible for the removal of toxic free radicals from the serum; and the fluid of the enema then stimulates the visceral nervous system to promote peristalsis and the transit of diluted toxic bile from the duodenum and out the rectum.

Since the enema is generally held for 15 minutes, and all the blood in the body passes through the liver every three minutes, "these enemas represent a form of dialysis of blood across the gut wall" (Healing Newsletter, #13, May-June, 1986).

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