Introduction to Coffee

woman collecting coffee beans

Coffee is a drug, not a beverage. Thus, it should be used like a drug, sparingly and only for specific purposes to alter consciousness, consciously. In this review, I will explore the health benefits (and challenges) of oral coffee and the benefits of coffee when used as enemas.

Coffee as a Beverage

Like many drugs, the beneficial effects of coffee can wear off, and prolonged use cause like anxiety, insomnia, and exhaustion. However coffee can also enhance mood in depressed people, stimulates alertness, and increase mental performance and focus due to the increase in dopamine that occurs. Coffee contains hundreds of chemicals, including the powerful and well-known caffeine, an addictive chemical that is known to cause some negative health effects in people with heart disease, insomnia and anxiety. It also is rich in polyphenols which act as antioxidants that decrease inflammatory processes in the body.

coffee cup

Coffee should be used in moderation and should always be organic. Non-organic coffee contains pesticides and herbicides that harm your body and mind as well as the environment and communities where it is grown. Coffee that is not decaffeinated via a cold process, contains methylene chloride which is used in the decaffeination process. Although there are some proven health benefits to drinking organic coffee, it should be consumed in moderation due to its addictive qualities and potential for negative effects on mental health.  When used in the morning, one cup can help regulate circadian rhythm  but should be avoided in the afternoon and evening unless one is consciously needing a stimulant. People may use caffeine to combat fatigue however relying on coffee alone to address fatigue raises the body’s adrenaline levels and can lead to adrenal exhaustion.

The adrenal glands regulate the stress response, but when they are exhausted it may be difficult to respond to stress because their ability to produce the necessary hormones is impeded. Imagine driving a car with your foot on the accelerator while the car is in neutral. Eventually this will cause the engine to burn out. Your adrenal glands are like your body’s engine, ready to pump out hormones in response to stressors in your environment. When the adrenal glands are repeatedly stimulated, which occurs with regular coffee drinking, they can become exhausted. This can lead to increased stress levels and health problems, including anxiety, insomnia, hypertension, headaches, depression, hypoglycemia, arthritis, ulcers, asthma, and heart disease.

People who are anxious or cannot sleep often are not aware of how much caffeine they ingest daily. When I was working in the mountains of Mexico many people reported anxiety and insomnia and when I asked about caffeine use they denied it, until I asked specific questions about products containing caffeine. Many people were drinking several bottles of Coca Cola daily but not making the connection to it as a source of caffeine.  I conduct a caffeine intake survey with each client to help them measure the amount of caffeine they are ingesting from all sources each day.

How to Eliminate a Caffeine/Coffee Addiction

The process of detoxifying from coffee addiction can be physically accomplished in four weeks. Starting with week one, substitute 50 percent of your coffee intake with organic decaffeinated coffee; at week two, substitute 75 percent and add in a cup of black or green tea of required. At week three, use 1/2 cup of coffee only and, one cup of black or  green tea; and at week 4, drink just 2 cups of green tea. Since green tea still has some caffeine you will feel the benefits of caffeine but because it is rich in theanine, a natural anxiolytic that counteracts the effects of the caffeine, it modulates the jittery effects of caffeine. You may also benefit from supplementing with the amino acid Tyrosine (100-150 mg) on an empty stomach in the morning to counteract fatigue or using Rhodiola tea both of which support dopamine in the brain.

I also encourage clients to observe and accept the real fatigue they feel and to become aware of their use of coffee to medicate fatigue and low mood. Indeed, coffee is best used as a drug and not as a beverage. Some people will be able to use coffee as a drug when needed on special occasions and knowing this may help them transition from its use as a daily beverage. In these cases, assessing for and improving sleep quality, providing adrenal glandular and herbal adaptogens and increasing intake of quality protein can also increase energy. I explore these nutritional strategies in depth in my Clinical Text Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health.

Be Nice to your Liver! Try a Coffee Enema

Options for the benefits of coffee increase when absorbed through the anal route in contrast to oral. Indigenous peoples have long used enemas for health or religious purposes, often using animal skins, bladders, or horns to hold the liquid or liquefied plant substances. Substances inserted into the rectum travel into the large intestine where they are absorbed via the intestinal wall into the blood stream. Enemas are a direct route for absorbing different substances. Drs. Marshall and Thompson discussed the use of colonic irrigation for “mental conditions” in the New England Journal of Medicine (1932). There are many types of enemas that people may use, however, one of the most effective enemas is the coffee enema. The coffee enema is used primarily for liver/gall bladder detoxification, even though the route is through the intestine. Coffee enemas are a powerful method of detoxification and provide “dialysis of the blood across the gut wall” (Walker, 2001, p. 49). Coffee enemas support liver function; they dilute bile, dilate blood vessels, reduce inflammation of the intestines, and enhance glutathione S transferase, thus facilitating the phase 2 liver detoxification pathway. While sometimes ridiculed by the uninformed, coffee enemas were until the 1970’s included in the bible of medicine, the Merck Manual and only eliminated due to space. (Gonzalez & Issacs, 1999). Enemas promote a sense of relaxation, reduce pain significantly, and promote well-being by stimulating parasympathetic response in contrast to oral delivery.

In my clinical practice, some people who have been sexually abused, or had abusive toilet training practices as children, or who have been conditioned to believe touching their anus should be avoided (anal retentive), or who have negative associations with fecal elimination, may be resistant to this form of detoxification and need not be pressured but can be reassured. In these cases, it must remain a personal decision about whether to proceed with this method of detoxification. Not everyone will choose to do it and there are other options for health. Mother Nature is redundant, providing many options. I explore detoxification strategies and techniques extensively in my book Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature and the Body


A reminder: undertake detoxification strategies with the guidance of a skilled clinical team. The principles I explore above are just that; principles — success will depend on tailoring the needs of the individual to diet, detoxification, supplementation and behavioral supports.

Additional Reading

Demystifying Coffee Enemas. What are the Benefits?


Gonzalez, N. J., & Issacs, L. (1999). Evaluation of pancreatic proteolytic enzyme treatment of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, with nutrition and detoxification support.

Nutrition and Cancer, 33 (2), 117–124.

Marshall, H. K., & Thompson, C. E. (1932). Colon irrigation in the treatment of mental disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 207 ,454–457.

Walker, M. (2001). Liver detoxification with coffee enemas as employed in the Gerson therapy. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 216 , 46–50.

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