An interview with Dr. Gonzalez that appeared in the November 1999 issue of Clinical Pearls News, a health letter on current research in nutrition and complementary medicine.
Excerpted with permission from the November 1999 Clinical Pearls News – for a free sample, call 916-483-1085.
Kirk Hamilton: What is your educational background and current position?
Nicholas J. Gonzalez: I graduated from Brown University, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude with a degree in English literature. I did my premedical work as a postgraduate student at Columbia University, and received my medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York. I subsequently completed a year of internship in internal medicine, and a fellowship in immunology.
KH: What is the role of coffee enemas in this particular treatment and what is the history of coffee enemas in traditional medicine?
NJG: When I first began my research efforts, I was very surprised to find that the coffee enemas, often portrayed as one of the most bizarre aspects of alternative medicine, came right out of the Merck Manual, a revered compendium of orthodox treatments. When I was completing my immunology fellowship, I had an interesting correspondence with the then editor of the Merck Manual, who confirmed that the coffee enemas had been advocated in the Merck Manual from about 1890 right up until 1977, when they were removed more for space considerations than anything else. Most nursing texts for the better part of the century recommend coffee enemas. Particularly during the 1920s and 1930s coffee enemas were used in the US and abroad to treat a variety of conditions, and I have put together a library of articles from that time discussing the wide ranging effects on patients. Coffee enemas were frequently recommended because patients, whatever their underlying problem, tended to feel better after a coffee enema. I have followed thousands of patients over the years who have done coffee enemas in some cases for decades: virtually all patients report an increase sense of well being. I have done them myself daily since first learning about them in 1981.
There is research going back to the earlier part of the century that indicated that coffee enemas stimulate more efficient liver function and gallbladder emptying, and we believe that is the primary therapeutic benefit. Particularly with cancer patients, who often have a very large tumor burden, as the body repairs and rebuilds and as tumors break down, enormous amounts of toxic debris can be produced, much of which must be processed in the liver. The coffee enemas seem to enhance this processing of toxic metabolic waste. Interestingly enough, in Hospital Practice (August 15, 1999 page 128), a very orthodox journal of internal medicine, I read a summary of an article showing coffee seems to enhance gallbladder and liver function.
KH: Is it possible that the positive effects from the coffee enemas are a result of a “caffeine high” versus a metabolic benefit?
NJG: The issue of a caffeine high is often raised. I don’t believe this is the case at all. First, patients almost universally report a relaxing effect, not the stimulation you find with coffee taken orally. Many patients, in fact, fall asleep while doing the enemas. I, myself, have never been able to tolerate drinking coffee because coffee, when drunk, causes in me an amphetamine like response. However, I always feel relaxed when I do a coffee enema and often fall asleep. Something completely different is going on with the enemas.
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