Enemas vs. Colonics, Mineral Absorption, and Electrolyte Imbalance

excerpted from Gerson Therapy Physician’s Training Manual 1.3, The Gerson Institute, p.7

Enemas are given primarily to enhance detoxification in the bloodstream, and not for “rinsing out” of the (descending) colon, although this is an added benefit.  That is why we use coffee rather than water.  One of the claims that critics of the Gerson Therapy are quick to make is that enemas are dangerous, cause severe dehydration and resulting in electrolyte imbalance, and death.

To understand the concerns about dehydration one must recognize that the colon far from just being a “storage place” for wastes is also responsible for mineral absorption and fluid reabsorption.  Much of the mineral absorption takes place in the ascending and transverse colon the parts closest to the small intestine and farthest away from the rectum.  Gerson prohibited colonics because he was concerned about the loss of minerals and possible dehydration.

Colonic irrigation procedures irrigate the entire colon (ascending-transverse-descending); a typical colonic irrigation procedure can circulate as much as 5 gallons of water through the colon.  It is easy to imagine that regular use of colonics would almost eliminate absorption of minerals.  Due to the constant washing away of the liquids from which the minerals would be absorbed.  When there is a severe insufficiency of minerals, it can result in an imbalance in serum (blood) electrolytes.  Left untreated, this imbalance can cause severe side effects and will eventually lead to death.  Electrolyte imbalance is not caused solely by colonics, it can occur in otherwise healthy people (particularly babies) in the presence of severe diarrhea, or prolonged, recurrent vomiting.

By contrast, the coffee enema used on the Gerson regimen is 32 ounces, just enough to fill the descending colon, and barely, if  at all, reaching into the transverse colon.  Mineral absorption is minimally affected, and, of course, the coffee solution itself contains minerals (potassium) which are absorbed along with the caffeine and palmitic acid salts.

Information gathered and researched by Dr. Scott Priebe