How to Do an Oil Enema Without the Mess

What is an Oil Enema?

An oil enema is the insertion of a small volume of unctuous substance into the rectum. Oil enemas, otherwise known as sneha basti are commonly used in Ayurvedic therapy as part of a complex cleansing therapy called panchakarma.

An oil enema can provide the following benefits:

  • lubrication of the rectum and colon
  • preparation for higher-volume enemas
  • relief from gas and bloating
  • softening of hard stools
  • relief of constipation
  • reduction of other symptoms due to excess vata dosha
  • a gentle complement to your cleansing regime

An oil enema is an effective alternative for individuals who are unable to administer high-volume enemas: pregnant women, the elderly, or people with weakness due to illness.

How to Give Yourself an Oil Enema

An oil enema can be a little more messy than a regular enema, but following the advice below will help to reduce the risks of spills and leaks, and help you to get the most benefit  from your oil enema.

Buy the Appropriate Equipment

Using the right equipment is very important for giving yourself an oil enema without the mess. First of all, an enema bag is much too large for the volume of oil you will need, and it will take a much longer time to clean it afterwards. But, most importantly, if you use a bag you will not be able to achieve the appropriate pressure for injecting the oil all the way into to colon. You need a syringe to inject oil; since oil is an unctuous substance it will not flow as water does through enema tubing.

There are a 2 types of syringes available:

enema syringeBulb Syringe –  Bulb syringes range in volume from 1oz – 26oz (30-780ml). You will need nothing larger than an 8oz size (240ml) for an oil enema. These syringes are easy to find, however, they can get a little messy and may not be the best choice.  Because the bulb self inflates when you release pressure from it, if you do not maintain a firm grip on the bulb for the entire time it is in your rectum, you will draw oil from your rectum back into the syringe. This means that you will end up with less oil in the colon than you were hoping for (you can’t squeeze it back in because then you will also inject a fair amount of air). Also, along with the oil, the bacteria and matter from your rectum will be drawn into the syringe. That is not at all sanitary, as these bulbs are difficult to clean inside.

You may not have problems using a smaller sized bulb syringe, but the larger the bulb the more difficult it will be.  To make it easier to use, lay in a position where both of your hands can reach the enema syringe, or get assistance from another person.

syringe 100cc

Standard Syringe – A larger sized standard syringe is preferable to a bulb syringe, because with this type of syringe, once the oil is injected into your rectum the syringe will not draw it back in.  With a standard syringe you also do not have the same risk of injecting air into the colon as you do with bulb syringes. These are easier than the bulbs to clean and sanitize for reuse.  One problem with this type of syringe is that they are not designed specifically for enemas;  the tip may be rough and is usually not long enough. A work around I have found for this is to just attach the tip from a bulb syringe onto the end of this syringe. A ideal syringe (with an appropriate tip) can be found in panchakarma supply stores in India, but I have yet to find an online source.

Another draw back is that this standard syringe is more difficult to find in a variety of sizes.  Sizes ranging from 30- 100ml/cc are common, but you may have difficulty finding this syringe with a larger volume than 100ml. If you want to inject more than 100ml of oil you can either refill the syringe once emptied, or fill more than one syringe and keep it in close reach.

Preparation for Oil Enema

Unlike the larger volume enemas, there is no preparation required for oil enema; however, oil enema  should be done after a meal. Lunch time (between 10am and 2pm) is best because your body’s ability to absorb peaks at this time. Administer this enema while you still have a full stomach.

Of course you still want to have the basics covered:

  • make sure the room is warm, because you will probably want to be naked from the waist down
  • choose a comfortable spot; you will remain there for 30minutes after injection
  • place some old towels where you be laying to catch any spills or leaks

How much oil should you use?

 60-90ml of oil is enough in most cases, but more oil (up to 240ml)  can be safely administered.

What kind of oil should you use?

You can use any natural oils. Sesame, almond, and castor oil are commonly used. Castor oil is best if you are suffering from severe constipation because it has laxative properties. Use sesame oil  if you are the type of person who is prone to becoming cold and use almond oil if you are more prone to becoming hot.

It is ideal if you can obtain medicinally prepared Ayurvedic herbal oils, as these are the most beneficial. Sacharadi thaila or Dhanwantaram thaila are the most suitable. Any Ayurvedic supplier will have herbal medicinal oils. Choose the “vasti pakam’ grade for injecting into your colon.

If you want increased absorption use the following Ayurvedic recipe for sneha vasti.  The rock salt aids the absorption of oil and the dill seeds are a strong carminative.

Small oil enema

  • 60-90ml suitable oil (Sacharadi thaila or Dhanwantaram taila)
  • 15g   paste of Anethum sowa (roasted and powdered dill seeds)
  • 10g powdered rock salt
Large oil enema
  • 240ml suitable oil
  • 30g paste of paste of Anethum sowa
  • 15g powdered rock salt

Using a mortar and pestle, mix the salt, dill seeds and oil together. Once mixed, filter the through cheesecloth or fine muslin. Squeeze the cloth to get any remaining oil out.

Warm the oil

Heat the oil until lukewarm. The best way to heat the oil is by keeping it in another container which is filled with warm water.  You can also heat it over a low temperature on the stove. You will want it fairly warm, to increase it’s absorption in the colon, but make sure you do not heat the temperature above 104 degrees F  (40 degrees C); if the oil is too hot it may scald the delicate lining of the rectum.

Fill your syringe and make sure everything that you need is in place.  You do not want to wait too long before you inject because the oil will cool rather quickly.

Insert and Inject

Before you begin , squeeze the syringe until a small amount of oil comes out; this will get rid of any air in the syringe. If you are using a bulb syringe, maintain your grip and make sure not to let the bulb inflate and draw the air back in.

Lay on your left side with the left leg straight and right knee bent. You can rest your head on your left arm or on a pillow.  Your right hand should be able to reach your anus, if it does not, you will need assistance to administer your enema. This position is usually the most comfortable for people. If it isn’t working for you, then try the other positions outlined in ‘How to Give Yourself an Enema’.

Lubricate the anus as well as the enema nozzle and gently guide the nozzle into the anus until you have passed the internal anal sphincter (about 3 inches).  Remember to relax!  Once the nozzle is in, it is time to inject the oil; it will only take a moment to get all of the oil inside the colon.

Leave a small amount of oil in the syringe, if you inject it all into the rectum,  you risk injecting air as well. If you take in air, it will become more difficult to retain the enema.

Remove the nozzle and retain the oil

After the enema is administered, slowly remove the nozzle from the rectum and squeeze the muscles of your anus. Retain the oil for 30 minutes. If oil comes out before 30 minutes, then repeat the basti right away; oil which does not remain inside does not serve the purpose.

While you are laying down, massage the abdomen in a counter clockwise direction to move the oil deeper into the intestinal tract.

After you have held the oil enema for 30 minutes you can evacuate in the toilet. If oil does not come out, it is ok, this just means that it was absorbed into the tract. If it is going to come out, it will do so within 9 hours. If 9 hours has passed, then forget about it, it means it was all absorbed.

Be aware of post-enema leaking

Some oil may leak out, even a few hours after the enema; wear a pad or an old pair of underwear that you do not mind getting oil stains on.

Keep in mind, that if you pass some gas after your oil enema, you are likely to pass some oil along with it. Of course, holding intestinal gas is never recommended, so either make sure you are wearing something that will absorb the oil or move to the toilet before expelling the gas.

You will only have to be cautious about the possible leaks on the day which you took your enema; all remaining oil will be absorbed or expelled by the next day.

How often should you take an oil enema?

For maintenance purposes, an oil enema can be performed daily, in doses under 60ml (usually 15-25ml is plenty for daily use). Volumes over 90ml should be done on an as needed basis, for a maximum of 7 consecutive days.


Do not administer oil enema is you are currently suffering from:

  • diabetes
  • rhinitis
  • cold or flu
  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • obesity
  • consumption of poison
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7 Responses to “How to Do an Oil Enema Without the Mess”

  1. Messy on October 5th, 2013 5:19 AM

    While this type of enema is very relaxing, calming, and effective, take the warning for Post-Enema Leaking seriously. It will be coming out for several hours after you are done, at the most inopportune times and it’s not pretty. Do not do it if you have to go somewhere important, like work.

    My suggestion: a few hours after the oil enema do an enema with baking soda and a mild, all natural body soap to rinse out the oil. Then do one more with just baking soda and water to rinse the soap out. Just my opinion and personal experience though.

    Bottoms up 😉

  2. Michelle on October 15th, 2013 10:42 AM

    Thank you “Messy” for your comment and suggestion. Yes, leakage is an unfortunate side effect with this type of enema. The amount of leakage varies person to person. When we practiced this in my Panchakarma training, there were some people that had no leakage at all, but most people do experience a little.
    For those that do not have the time or energy to do another enema in order to flush out excess oil, there are some things you can do to minimize leaking:
    – Rest afterwards. If your body is active you will have more of an issue with leakage.
    – Do it in the evening. Although the ideal time for absorption is is midday, administering the enema in the evening, after dinner, will be better for those with a busy lifestyle.

  3. Native indn on May 12th, 2015 2:13 AM

    I know this is an old thread but just in case someone is out there- what about coconut oil? Seems like this oil is the new trend right now. I bought an enema from the store. Can this bottle be used? I’m American so I don’t know liters etc but the bottle states 4 1/2oz. If oil is absorbed by the body, will you still get the results one is looking for? How does it travel upwards? Is there a lot of discomfort like using liquid? And I am obesed (hate that word but having a child at 44, that weight does not like to come off) so why is this not recommended? If a non obese person does this ( who only has a bm maybe twice a week due to pain meds) will they have a lot of fecal matter come out? I was reading about coffee,sea salt etc enemas that stayed up to 10lbs can be trapped. Would one see that amount with just one try or would they have to repeat it several times? How do you know when your colon is clean and not just clogged? Can this method constipate you? Lastly, if your having diarrhea/loose stools, then you probably don’t need to do this-even a few days after? Or having diarrhea doesn’t mean you don’t have fecal matter way up high? I do apologize for this being so long. I’m a mom of 5 with no Obama care and just trying to take care of myself so I’ll be around awhile for my 4 year old. Thank you ahead of time for answering my 20 page questionnaire (and apologies for auto-text). ?

  4. Michelle on May 23rd, 2015 12:15 PM

    I’m sorry but your questions are all muddled together and I am not sure what you are asking in most of them. I unfortunately do not have the time right now to figure out what exactly you want from your vaugue/unclear questions. Please do some more research on your own, I am sure you will find the answers. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

  5. Jacob on October 29th, 2015 11:36 AM

    I use different oil enemas all the time. Rarely ever have leaks. And if I do it’s so minute that my underwear absorbs it before it ever gets close to my pants. I usually have a 2 sheets of toilet paper in between me butt cheeks for at least 2 hours after doing the enema. I can do extreme cardio, and heavy weight lifting after an hour of the enema and be just fine. It varies person to person

  6. Ludmil on April 11th, 2016 5:04 AM

    What is the reason oil does not absorb in the rectum but stays there?

  7. Michelle on April 12th, 2016 8:10 PM

    A small amount does get absorbed, but it’s too much oil for it all to be taken in.

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