Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Giving Yourself An Enema And Were Afraid To Ask

enema can

An enema is an injection of liquids into the colon via the anus. The most common form of enema is the use of large amounts of liquid to fill and flush the colon. Enema formulas can range from simple salt water to more complex herbal or medicinal preparations. Lesser known enemas include the introduction of oil into the colon for the purpose of lubrication and the elimination of particular symptoms.

Why do an Enema?

Enemas have been used as an effective cleansing and healing practice for centuries. Both Allopathic and Alternative Medicine promote the use of enemas for restoring and maintaining health. The ancient healing science of Ayurveda has valued the use of enemas in it’s cleansing therapy (panchakarma) for over 5000 years.

People may administer an enema for a variety of reasons such as:

Giving yourself an enema is actually a very simple process. The steps below are outlined in detail to ensure that you get the most out of your enema. An enema can be an awkward procedure for some, but the more preparation you do and the more informed you are, the more comfortable your enema will be.

1. Buy your Enema Equipment

First, you will need an enema bag or bucket; there are various types available:

Enema Bucket

Enema BucketAn enema bucket is the best choice because they are really easy to fill and to clean after each use. They are also very durable.

Enema buckets are made of either stainless steel, glass, or plastic. I don’t recommend a plastic bucket due to the possibility of chemicals leaching from the bucket into your enema solution. Stainless steel and glass enema buckets are non-toxic, won’t absorb stains, and have great durability. They cost more than a plastic bucket initially but are a better choice in the long run because they will last you a lifetime.

You can get a high-quality American made stainless steel enema bucket kit here.

Glass Enema Bucket 2000ml

Glass enema buckets are made from Pyrex (tempered glass) and will hold hot water without cracking. The benefit of a glass enema bucket is that it is transparent and you can see the fluid level.

Glass enema buckets are available in 1-quart and 2-quart size and are ideal for coffee enemas and enema solutions containing essential oils.

Silicone Enema Bag

Silicone Enema BagSometimes an enema bag is more practical than a bucket; they take up less storage space and are easier to pack for travel.

Most enema bags are made from latex and are not suitable for those with latex allergies. Those bags (which are simply red hot-water bottles with tubing attached) are not transparent so you can’t see the fluid level inside the bag. Another downside is there small opening which makes them impossible to clean.

Silicone enema bags are non-toxic, translucent, and have a wide opening which makes them easy to fill and clean.

Silicone enema bags are available in 1.8-quart and 4-quart sizes. If you want to do high-volume enemas (which are explained later in this article), then a 4-quart silicone enema bag is your best option, as you won’t have to refill the bag halfway through your enema. Although it is not recommended to administer a high-volume enema on your first try, this may be the bag for you if high-volume enemas are your ultimate goal.

Latex Enema Bag

enema bagThese bags are not recommended as they are very difficult to clean and will become unhygienic after a few uses. Another drawback is that you cannot see the fluid level in this bag. The one benefit is that latex enema bags are cheap and easy to find.

Disposable Enema Bag

These bags are designed for single use and that is why they are so inexpensive. They are OK in a pinch when you need to pack an enema bag for travel, but are not recommended for regular home use. Most of them are made of plastic which will break down and leach chemicals into your enema solution. Often people will get a disposable bag if they want to try an enema for the first time before committing to a better quality bag or enema can.

Bulb Syringe

enema syringeThe bulb syringe is another option for an enema.  Although they can be found in sizes that hold up to 750ml, most are under 500ml in volume and are somewhat useless if your goal is to cleanse your colon; they just don’t hold enough solution for this purpose. These bulbs are suitable for small children, but for an adult-sized colon, stick with an enema bag or bucket that will hold more solution.

The bulb syringe may be of interest if you would also like to try an oil enema. There are excellent benefits to be had from oil enemas, but this page is dedicated to larger volume enemas for the purpose of colon cleansing. See “How to Do an Oil Enema” for oil enema benefits and instructions.

Other things to consider when purchasing your enema equipment:

  • Make sure whichever enema container you choose comes with a clamp on the end of the tube to help control the flow and to prevent fluid from leaking out when filling the enema container.
  • Check that the nozzle (also called rectal tube) is smooth. Sharp or jagged edges may cause damage to the rectal lining.
  • Most bags are made of latex, so if you have allergies, purchase a silicone bag or an enema can with latex-free tubing. Alternatively, you can purchase silicone enema tubing separately.

2. Choose an Enema Solution

You will need to know ahead of time what kind of enema solution you will use to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients for your enema. For your first enema, a saltwater solution is best. Use 1tsp of pure sea salt per litre or quart of water. Salt water is preferable to plain water because salt water is more neutral to the body. When plain water is held in the colon for longer periods, it draws electrolytes from the body. Repeated use of plain water enemas may cause electrolyte depletion. Keep your enema solution as simple as possible in the beginning, and then, when you are more comfortable with the procedure, you can explore other effective enema solutions and herbal enemas.

Make sure you use clean, filtered water in your enema. You do not want to introduce harmful bacteria or chlorine into your colon.

If you are doing a few successive enemas, in your last enema you may want to include some acidophilus powder in the solution. This will keep the large intestine populated with the beneficial flora and reduce the chance of overpopulation of pathogenic organisms and candida.

When you become more experienced with enemas and want to try other solutions, refer to the page “7 natural enema solutions you can use at home”.

How much solution should you use?

That depends; certain enema solutions require less fluid, but if you are using a plain or salt water enema to relieve constipation 1-2 litres will suffice.  If you are trying to achieve a deeper colon cleanse you will want to use more water. Keep in mind that most individuals will not be able to hold more than two litres of water the first time they administer an enema; you may have to build up the volume over a series of enemas. (Note that 1 litre equals approximately 1 quart).

If you have been fasting for a few days before your enema, you will be able to hold more solution. This is because there is no new waste entering the colon. If you are administering a series of enemas, you will find you can retain more solution each time as the colon gets cleaner.

If you are nervous about administering an enema, start with a low volume enema (about 500ml) for your first try. This will relieve any anxiety about the procedure, and then you can proceed to take in a higher volume of solution.

You might be surprised how much the colon can actually take in. Colon size does vary; an adult colon can hold between 3L and 6L of water. The average is about 4L. It is rare for most individuals to hold more than 3L, (unless they are on a cleansing or fasting regime) because there is usually a fair amount of fecal matter built up in the colon.

High-Volume Enemas

There is some fear of high-volume enemas, but these larger enemas have been advocated by many reputable Doctors throughout the last century and are regarded as completely safe if you follow common sense guidelines.  In his book ‘The home handbook of domestic hygiene and rational medicine’ Dr Kellogg recommends enemas ranging from 4-6L for a variety of conditions. High-volume enemas are used by many and are not to be feared.

Aside from professional colonics, high-volume enemas are the only way you will achieve an effective colon cleanse. It is often stated in health literature that if one uses enemas for the purpose of colon cleansing, it is essential to fill the colon completely to be effective. J. Parsons DSc, author of ‘Naturopathic practice’, recommends 5L as the average maximum for a thorough enema, stating that the results of your at-home-enema can be just as good as what you would experience with professional colonics.

Some practitioners even suggest that you should do a series of high volume enemas to obtain the best results. In his book ‘Back To Eden’ Dr Kloss recommends repeating enemas until 4L can be held for 5-10 minutes. He suggests that one should repeat the high volume enema several times until what is evacuated is only the clear fluid, free of fecal matter. Dr. Swartout, author of ‘Modern Medical Counselor’, similarly states that one must hold as much water as possible, and repeat the procedure until a clear bowel movement is achieved.

Even though many Doctors recommend to keep going until what comes out is clear, a lot of the advice comes from before 1950 when diets consisted of primarily whole foods, and the colon was much cleaner in general. Today, the average person eats a fair amount of refined and processed foods. The average diet today is low in fiber, which causes more waste to accumulate in the colon. Even if you eat healthy now, poor eating habits in the past will have had an impact in the colon. Trying to get it all cleared out in one go, may be a bit overenthusiastic.

Even in very healthy individuals, there is a limit. Dr Moser, the author of ‘How and When to Be Your Own Doctor’, claims that the colon will begin to protest and will not accept any more than three successive enemas. This is a bit of a generalization; each person is different, but this is still a good guideline to keep in mind. If you are feeling tired, or if you are getting clear signals that it is time to stop cleansing, then stop. Even if the solution coming out is not entirely clear, it is better to take it easy, than to risk over-doing it. You can always repeat the procedure on another day when your colon is ready for more. Remember to listen to your body and do not overdo it!

Parsons offers very practical and cautious advice in his book ‘Naturopathic Practice’. He recommends building the enemas up successively, starting with no more than 500ml for your first enema and increasing daily by 500ml until you have reached the maximum of 4-5L. Choose a volume which feels safe and comfortable for you to start out with. If you find it was not enough, you can always add more. If you are part way through the procedure, and you find that you overestimated your colon’s current capacity,  you can stop at any time; there is nothing to prove.

3. Prepare Yourself for the Enema

Don’t administer your enema at any random time; there are things to consider before starting the procedure.  You most likely will not cause harm if you do your enema mid-day on a full stomach, but it’s not going to go as well as it would if you did it at the right time with a little preparation.

When is the best time to take an enema?

An enema should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Ideally, you should have a bowel movement before beginning your enema; it is not essential, but it will make the process more comfortable.

Plan to stay at home or somewhere you have easy access to a toilet for 1hr after the enema. Make sure you do not have any big plans the day you schedule your enema, as you may feel slightly depleted afterwards.

Choose a day when you will not be interrupted. If you live with others, tell them your anticipated washroom schedule.  Unless you are an exhibitionist, you’ll probably want to secure some private time for this.

What should you eat the day before an enema?

Dietary changes are not necessary, but preparing your bowels in this way will allow you to benefit more from your enema.

Fast on only fruits the day before you plan to do your enema. You can fast even longer if you wish, but fasting on fruits for even one day will ensure the stomach and small intestine are empty before you do your enema. This will make your enema more efficient and decrease the chance of nausea. It is not that common, but some people may experience nausea if they take an enema while there is food in the digestive system.

If you are unable to do a complete fruit fast the day before, then at least try to ingest only foods which are easily digestible. Stay away from flour products, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, potatoes, bananas, beans, and legumes.

Make sure to drink at least 3L of water the day before your enema. Avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages.

4. Prepare your Space and Equipment

Prepare the area where you will do your enema and get all of the necessary equipment ready. Having everything in order will make you feel more at ease.

Choose your Space

Pick a place to do your enema where you will be close to the toilet. Make sure it is a space where you are comfortable and can relax. A bathroom floor is a good option, or you can use your bed. Lay a few old towels on the floor for comfort and for catching any solution that may leak out. The room should be warm as you will probably want to be naked from the waist down.

You will need a place to hang the enema bag; a door handle or towel bar works well. Alternatively, you can install a hook at the appropriate height. If you are using a canister, you will need a countertop, table, or a ledge to place it on. The enema container should be 1.5-3 feet above the anus. The bag or canister should not sit more than 3 feet above the anus. If it is higher than this, the pressure and speed of flow may be too much and can cause discomfort. Also, be sure not place the container too low (under 1.5 feet) as the pressure will not be enough to allow all of the solution to flow into the colon.

Warm your solution to the appropriate temperature

Make sure the temperature of your enema is in the proper range before you insert it into your rectum. An enema that is too cold will cause abdominal cramping and cause you to evacuate too soon. An enema that is too hot may damage your intestinal lining. A comfortable temperature range is between 98 and 104˚ F (37-40˚C). When the temperature is right, it will feel comfortable inside your colon. If you get it just right, you may not even feel the water flowing in.

You can use a thermometer if you want to be accurate, but if you do not have a thermometer, then testing the temperature on the inside of your wrist will provide a good indication. It’s easy to discriminate which temperatures would feel comfortable or uncomfortable to inject into a delicate area of your body.

If you are planning to refill your enema bag, you may want to heat your refill slightly (only slightly!) warmer than your first bag. Unless you store it in a hot water style bag, the temperature will drop a little in the amount of time it takes for the first enema bag to be emptied into your colon.

Fill the bag

Once you have the right temperature, it is time to fill your enema container. Have everything you need in place and be ready for your enema before you fill your bag. The solution can cool quickly if you are using an enema can or a thin disposable bag. Before you fill your container, ensure that the tubing is secured to the container and that the clamp is closed tightly so you do not spill your solution out the other end.

Have the refill solution ready

If the enema container you are using is less than the volume you want to take in for one enema, then you will need to make sure it is possible for you to refill the bag while still injecting water. You can always have someone assist you in this.

You want to refill the enema bag before it empties completely; otherwise, you will risk injecting air into the colon. Make sure the solution which you are refilling the container with has been measured, so you do not take in too much. Keep the per-measured refill close to you, so you can quickly refill the bag. You may have to stand up or kneel with the tube still in your anus to refill; this is fine, just lay back down once the bag is refilled.

A fuss-free option is to fill 2 enema bags and have them hanging next to each other. When you empty one, all you need to do is remove one nozzle and replace it with the other.

5. Get Into Position

Once you have everything in place for your enema, it is time for you to get into position. There are three common enema positions:

  • Left-side: This is the best position for taking an enema. Lay down on your left side. Keep the left leg straight and bend the right knee towards the chest, knee resting on the floor. You can rest your head on a pillow or the left arm. Your right arm will be able to reach your anus easily in this position, making inserting and removing the nozzle quite comfortable.
  • On the back: Another common position. Lay on your back with the knees to the chest. Hands can rest on your knees. You can place a pillow under your head for comfort. It may be harder to reach the nozzle in this position.
  • Buttocks up: Get onto your knees and elbows. The head should hang low and your buttocks will stick up in the air. It may be more comfortable to rest your head on your hands with your chest closer to the floor. You can place one or two pillows underneath your chest to make things more comfortable. Also, make sure there is enough cushioning under your knees and elbows. This position may be harder to relax in and does not provide as easy of reach to the anus as the left-side laying position. The nozzle also tends to slip out more in this position.

Everyone is different, so try the positions first and see which one you feel is most comfortable. It may take five minutes or longer for the enema bag to empty into your colon; you don’t want to have to strain to hold your position.

Whichever position you choose, make sure you can reach your anus easily. If you find you cannot reach your anus in any of the positions, you will have to get assistance with your enema.

You cannot do an enema sitting on the toilet or standing up because in these positions the solution may not flow into the entire colon and you will also have to work against gravity to retain the solution.

6. Prepare for Insertion

Before you insert the nozzle into your anus make sure there is no air in the tubing; if air enters the intestines it will be harder to retain the enema, and it may also cause uncomfortable cramping. You can make sure no air is left by unclamping the tube and letting a little of the enema solution spill out into a toilet or sink. Make sure the solution is coming out in a steady stream and no air bubbles are in the tubing. Clamp the tube to stop the flow.

You can administer this step as you are filling your bag, but keep in mind that any solution in the tubing will cool much faster than what is in the bag. To keep the temperature comfortable, administer this step just before you are ready to start your enema.

Check the position of the clamp; it should be placed a few inches up from the nozzle to ensure an easy reach.

Lubricate the anus and nozzle

You want to lubricate both the nozzle and your anus before insertion. Natural oils such as olive, coconut, almond, grapeseed, or sesame work well.

Relax and breathe

Now you are ready to insert the nozzle into the anus. Make sure you are relaxed. Take a few deep breaths or massage your anus if you are feeling nervous.

7. Insert and Let It Flow…

The tip of the nozzle should go passed your internal anal sphincter. About three inches is a good depth. Unclamp the tube and relax as the solution flows in. If the solution is not flowing, it is probably because the opening of the nozzle is blocked by the walls of the intestine. Pull the nozzle out of your anus just a little and the solution will begin to flow.

Keep you hand on the clamp to prevent the nozzle from slipping out and to make it easy to adjust the flow if you find the pressure to be too much. You can also hang the bag lower to reduce the pressure.

Remember to relax!

Stay relaxed as the solution continues to fill your colon. You will feel the stomach expanding; this is to be expected. The sensation of water filling and expanding the colon may be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but it will not be painful. You will get used to these sensations.

Don’t be in a rush to get all of the solution in; you want to make sure you are comfortable because this will increase your chances of being able to take it all in. You want to get as much of the solution in as possible, but if it enters too quickly, it could stimulate peristaltic action and make you evacuate too soon.

You may not be able to get all of the solution in on your first try; this is normal. If you are very constipated, and the colon is already quite full of fecal matter, you may not be able to take in that much. Take in what you can while remaining comfortable. There is no need to tolerate pain or high levels of discomfort; you can always administer another enema once you have evacuated.

Enema Troubleshooting

Certain situations may arise as your colon fills up. There is nothing to worry about; they can all be relieved by simple measures.

Leaking: Leaking of enema solution from the anus is usually due to weak muscles in the rectal area. Some people use an retention nozzle to prevent leakage. If it is only a small amount leaking, don’t worry, let it come out, you should have towels or a washable enema pad below you to soak up any leaks. If you think there is too much solution coming out, then stop the flow for 30 seconds, resume flow for 2-3 minutes, then rest and stop the flow again for 30 seconds. Continue in this manner to allow time for the solution to work it’s way deeper into the colon.

If you are laying on your side or your back, then switch to the knees down position. You are less likely to leak when the buttocks is high in the air.

Cramps: If cramps come, take a few deep breaths and relax. You can also try slowing the flow of the solution. If the cramps are more intense and you feel the need to evacuate, then clamp the tube to stop the flow and take a few moments to relax. The cramping will subside, usually in less than a minute, and you will be able to resume.

Pain: If you experience pain during your enema, it is usually because air was taken in with the enema. Clamp the tube to prevent any more solution from flowing in and try to dislodge the air. There are a few different methods to dislodge the air:

  • Breath heavily so that your abdomen moves in and out, this will help any gas in the intestines to move around.
  • Using your hand, press on the area where you are feeling the pain and massage the abdomen in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • As a preventative, be careful when your solution is getting low;  you do not want to empty your bag completely as you will risk air entering the colon.

8. Remove the Nozzle and Retain the Enema

When you have finished emptying the enema or when you have taken in as much solution that you can comfortably hold, clamp the tube and slowly remove the nozzle from your anus. Lay in a comfortable position on the floor.

Slightly clench the anus to ensure the solution does not leak out. Tightly folding a towel and pressing it against the anus will also assist in retaining the fluid. Alternatively, you can use a retention plug if your muscle control is weak, or you just want the feeling of extra security.

How long should you hold it in?

Try to hold the enema in for at least 10-15mins. It takes time for the stools to soften and for any impacted matter to break away from the walls of the colon. The longer you can retain it, the better the results will be.

It is often recommended to hold the enema for 30 minutes, or even longer. J. Parsons suggests the most thorough holding procedure: once the desired amount of solution has been injected into the colon, remain lying on the left side for 10 minutes. After, turn onto your back for 10 minutes, then lay on the right for 10min, then, if you can tolerate it, turn to lay on your abdomen for 10 minutes. Even though it’s hard to lay face down on the stomach with distended bowels, Parsons recommends remaining in the position for the full 10 minutes to ensure the loosening of the impacted fecal matter.

This will be a tough task in the beginning; if you make it to 10 minutes in any position you’re doing really well! If it is not possible to hold the solution in for more than a few minutes on your first try, don’t fret, you will be able to increase the maximum holding time with continued use.

Assist the movement of water with massage

Large IntestineWhile you are laying there, massage the abdomen in a counter-clockwise direction to assist the water to flow into the entire colon. Begin in the lower left corner of the abdomen and massage towards the ribcage to move the water up the descending colon. Next, massage across the upper abdomen to moving the water along the transverse colon and then massage down the right side of the abdomen to move the water into the ascending colon and the cecum area.

9. Evacuate the Enema

When your desired holding time has been reached, or you feel a strong urge to evacuate, get up and move to the toilet. The entire enema will not come out in the first evacuation, so stay close to a bathroom for the next 30-60 minutes.

After the first evacuation, you can either lay back down and administer more abdominal massage (this time in the opposite direction to assist the flow out of the colon), or you can do gentle twisting motions at the level of the abdomen to encourage more cleansing until the next urge comes. If you are familiar with the yogic technique nauli kriya, doing it at this time will promote further cleansing.

After you are finished evacuating your anus may be tender, apply some more oil to help soothe the area.

10. After the Enema

Clean up

If there have been any spills on the towels, make sure to wash them separately and add disinfectant to your laundry cycle.

Clean and sanitize your enema equipment thoroughly. You can use a natural soap to wash the can or bag. Boiling the nozzle for a few minutes, since this is the part that needs the most sanitizing. Make sure to hang the bag and tubes to dry. It will take several days to dry completely. Never store your equipment while it is still wet as it may grow mold.

Keep your enema equipment reserved for your personal use only; do not share it with anyone else.

Rest and nourish the body

After you have made your last evacuations, lay down and rest for a while. If you have administered a large enema, you may feel slightly depleted; this feeling will pass if you nourish the body and take it easy for the remainder of the day.

After you have rested, you will probably want to eat something. Keep your meals light for the remainder of the day. Eat simple, nourishing foods such as rice, dahl, and steamed vegetables. Try avoid raw vegetables and fruits, pungent spices, dairy and meat. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and drink plenty of fluids. You can resume your regular diet on the following day.

Enemas FAQ

How often should you use an enema?

The recommended frequency or enemas depend on what you are trying to achieve.

Mae West and Veronica Lake, well-known actresses from the 1930’s and 40’s, both claimed that their health and beauty was attributed to the daily use of high volume enemas. These women can be inspiring examples, but everyday use is probably a bit extreme for most people. It is better to exercise moderation and only administer daily enemas in the case of severe illnesses.

Daily enemas can be beneficial in the treatment of many chronic conditions, but do not attempt daily enemas for prolonged periods unless a knowledgeable health practitioner monitors you. Large enemas taken daily may upset the balance in the colon.

For general maintenance and colon health, the recommended frequency varies from one a week to once a month. Doctors such as Hartland Law, author of ‘Viavi Hygiene’, advocate an enema once a week whereas others state that once a month is sufficient in healthy individuals. It is best to practice moderation and start slowly; in time, you will know the frequency of use which is best for you.

Can enemas weaken the colon?

It is often claimed that repeated use of large enemas can weaken the colon. But the opposite is true. Dr Moser, states that it is the frequent use of small volume enemas (1-2 cups) to induce a bowel movement, which can cause dependency and may even distend the rectum and sigmoid areas of the colon. She states that the high volume enemas which fill the entire colon, actually strengthen and tone the muscles of the colon, and with repeated use will increase peristalsis, reducing the transit time of feces in the colon.

Are enemas safe?

Yes, enemas are very safe and provide excellent health benefits. Complications are very rare in healthy adults. Use your equipment properly and within reasonable limits and you should have no problems. Read the precautions below to make sure you have no contraindications for enema therapy.

Enema Precautions

  • Enema usage can result in dehydration, be sure to drink a lot of fluids the day you do your enema and replenish your electrolytes if you are using enemas on a regular basis.

Do not administer enemas if:

  • You have undiagnosed abdominal pain
  • You have tumors or a perforation in the rectum or colon
  • There has been recent surgery on your colon or rectum
  • You suffer from an acute flare-up of Crohn’s disease, colitis, or diverticulitis
  • You have a history of heart attacks, irregular heartbeat or renal failure
  • You are less than seven months pregnant (after seven months check with your doctor before administering an enema)
  • You suffer from a severe illness which causes weakness

Resources and Recommended Reading:

Photo: Michelle Greene

Michelle is passionate about holistic health and self-discovery. She received her training in Nutrition, Herbalism, and Bodywork from the International Academy of Natural Health Sciences in Ottawa, ON. She studied Ayurveda and Yoga in India and later continued her Yoga studies on Koh Phangan in Thailand. Michelle truly believes that good health involves body, mind, and spirit. She loves to spend her time in walking in nature, meditating, painting, writing, and learning more about health and wellness.


  1. Hello, my name is Jacob, im 22 years old and have to go for a Sigmoidoscopy
    in a few weeks. the doctor told me I have to take TWO fleet enemas, one the day before and one the day of the procedure. I recently had a not fun experience when I couldn’t go poop because there was a plug to big to push out, I am wondering if you have any suggestions to make this easier as im terrified of the thought of something going in my anus, im a male, is this the only option for cleaning my colon or could I use laxatives?

    • Hi Jacob,
      Unfortunately, I do not know much about the Sigmoidoscopy procedure. In general, I would not recommend fleet enemas, but in your case, you will have to stick with the procedure outlined by your healthcare team. Laxatives may not give as adequate of a cleanse the for the sake of the procedure. Sorry, I cannot be of more assistance but since I do not know anything about you or your health I cannot offer individual advice.

    • Hello Jacob, I am a long time chronic pain patient with a severely deformed spine which has kept me either in a wheelchair or bedridden. Because of my disability I have had to take many different meds which all seem to attribute to my constipation issues. Because of my lack of mobility and need for daily narcotics, constipation has been an ongoing issue that I have dealt with for many years. Since my Dr. told me to simply use Miralax (now available over the counter) each day I no longer suffer with constipation.
      You may want to ask your Dr. before trying. Personally, I like this product because it is not something your system will require more of it as time goes on. It is non-habbit forming (unlike most laxatives which require you to take larger doses as your body gets used to them).
      I now only need half the required dose for results and best of all I add it right into my morning coffee. You can’t even taste it. I no longer have issues with constipation.
      I would suggest you ask your Dr. about it before trying this product o make sure this would indeed help your situation.
      The best of luck to you–

      • Thanks for your input Elizabeth. I have read reviews and testimonials on Miralax and it seems to cause dependency in some people. I am glad you find it non-habit forming, but experience with this product seems to vary.
        I would not recommend this product because the body usually endures some form of damage from long-term use of these synthetic laxatives, but if it is the only answer for someone, it is better than stagnating.

        • That form of laxative is recommended by doctors for daily use … especially those using narcotics … there are severe complications that come from severe constipation … such as tears in the tissue and if that happens the bacteria that leaks into the gut can actually poison and kill you very quickly !

          As much as I don’t like anything to be used that is habit forming most doctors recommend miralax for daily use for people who suffer with chronic constipation … it is a much better choice than the alternative if the constipation is left untreated … AND it is the ONLY thing I have ever used that is completely tasteless and flavourless and does not cause ANY gas bloating or cramping … it says it doesn’t cuz it really doesn’t … it is extremely comfortable to use and that is coming from someone who struggled for years with terrible constipation …. some episodes of impaction even!! ….. but would not use a laxative due to the fear of the usual side effects …. once I found this particular product my whole life changed ! …. please don’t discourage people from trying and using this product because the fear of using it could cause deadly results …

          • Hi Angela,

            I’m glad the product works for you and makes your life better. This website is geared to inform people of natural alternatives to conventional medicine, so we will always recommend non-synthetic products. Natural laxatives or enemas will work for most people. If someone, like yourself, can only get relief from a synthetic product we wouldn’t discourage its use. If you read the original comment again you will see that I did say that taking Miralax is better than stagnating the colon. And didn’t say anywhere that “using it could cause deadly results”.
            Ultimately, it’s up to an individual to weigh pros and cons and make their own health choices.

    • I’ve had several of those. DO what your doctor instructed. Usually they tell you to get Fleet Kit #3, which contains more than just the fleet bottle solution. That usually tell you not to eat anything that you cannot see thru. They also usually have you drink alot of water then day or evening before. For this procedures, get the detailed info from your doctor, not the net. He or she will make sure your colon is in the right condition for the procedure. YOU DON’T want to do some procedure you found that may IRRITATE your colon and lead your doctor to think you have an issue you really dont have. Itll good smoothly.

      • on a related note, I talked to my doctor with respect to colonoscopy prep, which was miserable and required a certain diet five day before and a ton of clear liquid the day before that at two points was mixed with a laxative–one dosage of which happened at 3:00 am because of a morning procedure. My thought was honestly that anyone going in medicine should be required to do one so they don’t get prescribed haphazardly because they know how much it sucks (oddly the colonoscopy itself wasn’t bad at all). Anyway, my doctors comment was that “you want it to be one and done”–in other words so you are cleaned out enough on the first go that you don’t have to try again. That made sense so I stuck with the obnoxious instructions and it did work.

  2. Really an excellent explanation in depth.
    No matter is untouched by you.
    Thanks a lot.

  3. Thanks very much
    I feel empowered with knowledge

  4. A sigmoidoscopy is the S-shape portion of the rectum. This procedure examines the first 12 inches and up to 15 inches if the lower colon. If the rectum contains bits and pieces of feces, the doctor will not be able to view the lining of the rectum and lower colon. I would suggest asking the Dr. if I could drink a bottle of magnesium citrate the day before the procedure and take ONE Fleet Enema the morning of the procedure.
    Another alternative to enema would be a bisocodal suppository.

    • Hi Mr. Lee. I see you did not reply to his comment directly, but your comment is clearly related to Jacob’s question about the sigmoidoscopy. Thanks for your input!

  5. Hi, What I use to think was a normal amount of times to use the bathroom is not normal…I’m now almost forming regular bowel movements.
    I can go at least once a day for 4 days then 3 days nothing – which is better than what it’s been previously…however; at times it maybe a week or two that I won’t go at all, which is once in a blue moon now, but still not healthy.
    So does using an enema seem like it works for my situation?

    • Well, it’s better to do an enema and get out 3 days to 2 weeks worth of feces than let it stagnant that much. But this is not a long-term solution. You need to see someone about dietary adjustments and a long-term plan to get your colon functioning more optimally.

  6. I have bought an attachment that fits on a shower. If I get the water to the correct temperature will this be good to use instead of the bags? I have not tried enemas before and thanks for a very informative article.

    • No, this is not recommended. Tap water contains chlorine, sometimes fluoride and other undesirable chemicals and substances. And doing it that way, you cannot know or control how much water you are taking in. Use a bag and a pre-measured quantity of an enema solution. I already mentioned in this article that plain water – even filtered or distilled is not a great option due to electrolyte balance. Please refer to my articles on enema solutions. I am glad you found this article useful, you will find the enema solution articles are also very useful. Please don’t try your shower attachment, sounds more like an unsafe home colonic, not an enema. If you want to administer colonics on yourself, find a qualified colonic therapist and they may advise you, but I won’t.

      • Definitely do not use attachments to the shower. The attachment hose and or the speed and pressure of the water flow from the shower can damage your colon walls. You could even end up having a colostomy or ileostomy surgery due to damages to your colon. YOU WILL REGRET IT

    • Hi Niel, and all.
      I realize your question was posted a long time ago, but I ended up here years later, so am assuming the discussion is still benefiting people.
      I’m a gastroparesis patient. Somehow, my vagus nerve was damaged and life has never been the same.
      Food doesn’t move out of my stomach and into my small intestine for 4 long hours, where a “normal” person’s might take 90 min. Adding to that, is a slow transit colon. And to that, acid reflux which requires proton pump inhibitor twice daily, which also prevents the breaking down and digestion of foods.
      I am required to refrain from eating fiber. Instead, I must eat things that are easily digested, which to the person I used to be and probably everyone else reading this, was considered the highest degree of unhealthy…(canned fruit with no peelings, canned veggies with no peeling, white rice, white bread, pureed meats, etc)… The more processed the easier it digests. I can’t eat fats, or high density protein, no salad. (the total opposite of the way I was eating before my diagnosis).
      They tell me to eat 6-8 small balanced meals a day, which for me is next to impossible, because these foods don’t satiate me. By the end of the day, I’m out of control with hunger. My body craves what it cannot have.
      Food accumulates in my system. If I didn’t take Zofran daily, I would not be out of bed, EVER. Someone mentioned the word “stagnate”. Excellent description.
      Also, if I didn’t do an enema every day to every other day, I would literally be a miserable non- functioning heap of a human being. Although I agree with everything said by the writers of this article, I cannot live my life performing the 3 hour procedure described in this article, every day. I cannot eat the foods listed in this (or other) article. There are no other answers for me, apart from ingesting drugs that would put me at risk to turn me into a spastic, or undergo surgery to implant a gastric stimulator on my stomach, none of which bypasses the need for ingested food to go through my stomach. Then there is the J-tube.
      I drink a lot of water.
      Gravity is what my insides depend upon to move my food through. I sleep sitting up. I’m not supposed to eat anything 3 hours before I go to bed. Over the night, all that undigested food rots and dries into rocks due to the lack of stomach acid and fiber.
      My esophagus is inflamed from reflux which goes along with GP. My stomach burns. Gas is trapped. Pressure! And all this is from eating in the best way possible to relieve Gastroparesis symptoms (there is no cure). Imagine if I were eating like a healthy person!!
      I’ve aged 10 years over night from the lack of proper nutrition.
      Nothing (and I’ve tried them all) gives me any relief. I absolutely agree, John and Michelle, it is not ideal, but the only way I manage through this from day to day is with that shower attachment Niel mentioned.
      There is no way water can get into my upper colon until that massive collection of rocks is moved. So, I shoot the water inside and let it all run right back out until finally, it can run freely to higher places. Yes, gravity is working against me. Yes, there are undesirable elements in the water I’d rather avoid. But for my body, a bag and the force of gravity is not enough to make it past where the water needs to go. After I’m done, I feel half way normal. I replace my electrolytes, and enjoy the time I have …..until my next meal…and then it starts all over again.
      Food is my enemy.
      I’d feel great if I didn’t have to eat to live!!! So maybe a colostomy wouldn’t be the worst case scenario for me.
      If anyone has any answers for the GP sufferer, I’m SO willing to hear it!
      I especially would like to know how to keep escaping fluids from migrating to the urethra (which happens even while standing).
      In the meanwhile, until researchers starts paying some attention to this condition, please don’t give me grief for managing my symptoms when no one else can.
      Why is this condition not being studied more. Its not that rare, but it sure is ignored.
      Thanks for “listening”. May you feel good!

  7. Michelle, you have done such a good job in writing this article. It looks like you have not missed anything. You have included every little detail possible. Such a thorough job. Thank you so very much for giving such a self-less (or better selfish-less) yet self-full 🙂 service.
    Words are not enough to thank you! Thank you so much!

    • Thank you Siddharth, I’m always happy to receive comments from those who have found this information useful. You are most welcome!

  8. Very good info. Enemas have helped with my IBS issues and general health. A natural way to help the body heal and stay well!

  9. I have used enemas on an average of three times a week for many, many years. I usually do a series of three large volume enemas of warm water with salt and baking soda added; when I mention large volume enemas I mean never less than 3 quarts, occasionally 4 quarts, but I have no problem with taking a three-quart enema and holding it for 15-20 minutes. At 70 I finally had a colonoscopy recently, so well overdue for my age, yet only two very small polyps were found, to the surprise of the attending physician. I confided to him that I have been taking enemas weekly for many years to which he replied “I usually don’t recommend enemas to any of my patients, but it does appear that you taking enemas weekly has contributed to the health of your colon, so I’d say, don’t stop and we’ll see you in 10 years.” I think this physician’s statement said it all.

  10. Found to be very informitive and helpful.

  11. 5 1/2 hrs since my last comment. Well i had my first enema.. That was an experience. Thanks again for all the information.. I am feeling much better..

  12. Hey, if I don’t manage to hold the enema in for longer than 5 mins is it ok if I then do another?
    Thoughts would be great please, thanks

    • Hold the enema as long as you can even if it’s just 5 minutes. You can do a second enema, but I would recommend at least a 4-hour break in between

  13. I have diverticulitis which has been discovered after a colonoscopy, when is it ok to have an enema? Thank You

    • You should be asking that question to a health professional that you are working with. Someone who is familiar with how severe your condition is. Sorry, but I cannot give individual advice online.

  14. I bought an enema kit about 2 years ago when I went raw. I never had the nerve to use it. But I am contemplating a short-length water fast soon and I have read that some people have terrible body odor. The cleaner I am, the less I will smell, right?
    I read your article, brought out the bag, warmed up some spring water and got down to business.
    What was I so afraid of?
    Thank you for the boost.

  15. I have read your very interesting and detailed article and I thank you for that but I do have a question for you if you don’t mind:
    I have just started using enema and I’m using coffee enema, the thing is I can’t hold it more than a few minutes which from what I read is normal. But what doesn’t seem to be normal is that when the urge comes I run and empty the liquid once and that’s it!!! I never go for a second time until the next day. When I have a BM the next day it is liquid too kind of a continuation of the enema. I always have the filling that part of the liquid stayed in my body and got released the next day. Can you please explain to me? I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you so much

  16. Why is it ideal to do an enema right after you had a bowel movement?

    • So there is less fecal matter in the way. You want the solution to go as deep into the colon as possible to cleanse out older, built up material. The solution also flows in much easier and it is easier to retain when you have already had your morning bowel movement. It does not have to be “right after” a bowel movement, just better when you have already had an elimination.

  17. Has anyone used this for a spinal cord injury (SCI) person before?

  18. Hi Michelle,
    These enemas are a life saver for me as I have candida & MCS, & IBS..LOL but everytime I read about the enemas, I never hear of people have pain the next couple days after…It feels like my intestines are on fire.. I guess they are extremely sensitive.. I did an enema yesterday & I instantly feel sooooo good…But today, I had pain in my left side all day.. I took some Aloe gel, this helped a bit & also took slippery elm, and even antacids..I use Olive oil in my enemas.. Is there a solution to this? Have you any ideas of what I am doing wrong, or is there something I can take…. Thank you for your time,
    Enjoyed this article very much 🙂

    • Discontinue enemas if they give you pain and a sensation of your intestines being “on fire”. You could have a damaged or weak mucosal lining. To heal the lining take a little slippery elm and marshmallow root every day – and avoid enemas for at least a few months.
      It could be another problem though, so you may want to get it checked out.

  19. I just administered my first warm water enema and nothing but almost clear water came out. Is that because my colon is dehydrated or do I need to do it a couple more times? I have a scheduled colonic on Monday and the practitioner advised how to prepare as far as only eating fruits for 24 hours and no food 3 hours before. My only worry is that I might have blockage somewhere higher up.

  20. Your article gave me everything I needed to know and made me confident to go ahead and try this! I am preparing for a spiritual journey soon and I am detoxifying my body in as many ways as I can. This is just one of the many things on my list but it was the most dreaded.

  21. […] about the Fleet enema, I decided to give the Bucket Enema a try. At the same time, I came across a very helpful website which gave tips on everything to do with enemas – from choosing a solution to deciding the […]

    • Hi Michelle,

      I agree that fleet enemas are dangerous to use because of electrolyte imbalance. If you are going to use an enema for constipation or part of detoxing you are better off using a water (filtered) enema. I can take up to a 4 quart enema with 1 teaspoon of sea salt to each quart of water, but I only take what is comfortable for me to retain for a minimum of 15 minutes.

  22. Hi Michelle, Thank you for sharing. This article has given me a better understanding about enemas and more.The world need more people like you. You are making a difference. Keep up the good work. Thanks again. Vee

  23. So, I do enemas with a water bottle, which I attatch a little hose to the nozzle of, kind of the like squeeze bul method but cheaper. After doing one, I didn’t think I got all the water out, and when I pressed on my lower abdomen, the area parallel to my hipbone, I heard this weird gurgling sound. I don’t have any pain, but I’m worried that there is still water, and it somehow traveled into one of my intestines. Is this possible? If so, what do I do? Thanks.

    • The gurgling sound would most likely be the water. It’s fine if all the water does not come out right away, it will either come out later or get absorbed by the body. The water did travel to your intestines – because that is what an enema is…colon cleansing (the colon is the large intestine).

  24. Great article! Ive been using enemas for about 12 years, and I am VERY familiar with my body and how everything works down there (really important). I find doing the enema (1 gallon) in the shower with the shower water on hot and low makes for a very relaxing experience. For me, getting the water in is the easy part; getting it all out is what takes the longest. The problem with evacuating in the toilet is I tend to “push” it all out, and that can lead to a hemorrhoid and is not good. There are internal sphincters and turns in your colon that don’t allow everything to come out at once.

    Forgive me, I don’t say this to be inappropriate or gross, but years ago I found that using a long, flexible “instrument” (I don’t need to spell it out) really opens things up and stimulates evacuation without having to push in the slightest. I realize that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works very well for me. I can start the enema and be COMPLETELY clean and 100% evacuated within an hour.

    Not trying to be weird, just offering improvements I’ve learned over the years. Know your own body :).

    • Not weird at all, Mrs. Clean. I completely agree! Doing it on the toilet is messy and limits you to just the sitting position. Whereas, laying down in the shower allows you to lay on your back, stomach and sides. It’s much more conducive to expelling everything. Plus, it makes for easy cleanup. Anyone who’s ever had a hemorrhoid will agree that they will want to avoid them AT ALL COST! Pushing everything out on the toilet is just begging for one. Then you get raw down there from wiping a bunch. Shower is way better, and more therapeutic.

  25. I tried an enema for the first time yesterday morning, with 2 cups of very weak coffee. I was going to start with water, but I’d had several BMs the previous day and one that morning, so I decided to go for the coffee. The enema fluid flowed at first, but once it all left the bucket and I could see air at the top of the tube, it stopped and then started backing up, so I clamped the tube and waited a few seconds. When I unclamped it again, the liquid level would drop a little, then go back up. It went up and down for many minutes, never going in any further. I tried again this morning with 2 c. of water, Same result as yesterday – stopped flowing just when the bucket emptied. I finished, voided, and tried again with just 1 c. weak coffee – less than half of it went it, then fecal matter started backing up the tube – gross!! Help??

    • Hi Lynn,
      Sometimes there isn’t enough pressure to get the last bit of enema solution into the colon. How high do you place your enema bucket? The height may also play a factor in the dirty solution going back up the tube.
      I don’t think you need to worry so much about getting every last drop in, If the bucket is empty, and it is just the solution left in the tube, you really have most of it in.

  26. Hi Michelle,
    I have done just 3 self administered (organic lemon juice) enemas in the past for constipation. The first was a couple years ago, the second this month on July 4th, and the third last night around 6:30 pm. The first time, I was surprised to feel okay after…not especially depleted or tired. I believe I used distilled water for that one. The second time, 2 weeks ago I used my own filtered tap water, and felt great afterward–lots of energy! I even went kayaking right after (leisurely paddling, not strenuous at all) and felt great all day.

    However, after the 3rd one last night, my guts now feel a bit upset and “on fire” and I can’t get back to sleep. I’m wondering if, and am a little worried that it’s because I used OLD distilled water from a gallon jug that had been sitting on my kitchen floor a while, probably 6 months or so, with an expiration date of July 26, 2016, 10 days from now. I had bought a fresh gallon of distilled yesterday but thought “it’s just water, I’ll use this up first,” so I used the old one, which I also noticed had been opened already. I tasted and smelled it beforehand and it seemed fine.

    Do you think the old water could have harbored bacteria that I then put into my colon? Why do you think I would feel so good afterward before, but not this time? Would another enema today, maybe plain salt water, help to clean any bad bacteria out? Or maybe it’s because I hadn’t boiled the nozzle parts last time 2 weeks ago, but only washed them with soap & hot water then rubbing alcohol (and rinsed enema bag w/ hot water)? Is that an effective enough way to clean them? I’m just worried that I put something harmful IN… I’m leaving for a trip in just 3 weeks and don’t want to make myself sick beforehand! Any insight or thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!

    • Hi Kristy,
      It is possible you introduced some bacteria into your colon, but I think it is unlikely this is the problem. Our bodies are complex and the reasons you felt fine after your first series of enemas, but not this last round could be due to a variety of factors – your general health at the time, when you had your last meal before administering the enema, what you ate for your meal, etc.
      I’ve used just soap and water to clean my nozzles before and had no issues. It’s always best to boil them of course. But, I’d also say it is unlikely that is what caused your issues.

  27. Apparently, I’m super late to the enema party. This sure does beat suffering through constipation due to pain pill usage for illnesses or other causes. The article was very informative. I’ll be sure to share this with a family member of mine with IBS, seems as if we all deserve relief – and I’ll be sure to tell her to consult with Doctor first.

    Thanks Michelle for article and others for your questions and/or testimonials.

  28. Hi,

    I am currently 12 days in to a juice cleanse and On Wednesday (2 days ago) I carried out a home enema with Pink Himalayan salt.

    This seemed to be successful as I passed a lot of waste and didn’t feel any discomfort at the time. However, the next day I had really bad abdominal pain resembling a similar pain to menstrual cramps and my lower back where my kidneys are were tender and painful. This is still happening 2 days after the enema, is this normal?

    I used 2 tablespoons of Pink Himalayan salt in 2 liters of water instead of 2 teaspoons as I misread it, is this okay? And I was able to take in almost all of the water into my colon.

    I am very uncomfortable, have no appetite and have not had stool movement since (I am still continuing with the juice cleanse so I haven’t ate anything solid).

    I am really concerned that I have done some damage to my internal organs? Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated as I am unsure what to do.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Carrie, I just saw this. I hope you are still not in pain and have seen a docotor by now. Do you still have problems at this time?

      The enemema could have put too much stress on your kidneys, especially with the high concentration of salt.I doubt that it has caused any real damage, but since I do not know your entire health situation, I don’t want to brush it off.

  29. I just administered my first enema and unfortunately read your article after.
    I a freind suggested that I take it in the shower, but that was all that was said. I administered it standing up. So far no problems, is standing safe? Why not standing?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Joan, it’s not a matter of safety, it’s just that standing is against the flow of gravity and it is also much more difficult to relax in a standing position. Most people would not be able to get the enema solution in when standing. I am surprised you had sucess! I would not suggest doing an enema that way in the future just because it could make the process more difficult or uncomfortable.

  30. First off, thank you for all the information you provided. You explained so much that I needed to know.

    I do have a few questions.
    One, I understand tap water is not safe-so I’m assuming I go out and buy some kind of bottled water. Any brands you would or would not recommend?
    Two, how do I safely heat up the water without getting any additional bacteria in it? Put it in something covered, microwave it, put it on the stove?
    Three, how long after an enema can I take my medicine safely? I take medicine many times throughout the day. I don’t want it evacuated from my system too quickly!

    • I’m glad the information has been helpful to you.

      I use filtered tap water, so there is no lead, chlorine, or other chemicals. Pur or Brita filters are just fine. This is providing you live in an area with treated water, you really don’t want to use the tap water in some countries. As for bottled water, I would think any brand is safe since they do get the water tested for bacteria and such.

      I usually boil some water in the kettle, and then add cold water until I get the right temperature. That is the fastest way I’ve found. You can always warm it a clean pot on the stove as well. If you are concerned about bacteria in the water, then bring the water to a rolling boil for 3 minutes. You would then have to wait for the water to cool down. If the water is clean, you do not have to worry so much about contaminating it, I doubt there would be any harmful bacteria in your pots and such unless you had raw meat in them and did not wash them.

      As far as the timing with medication, the best bet would be to do an enema first thing in the morning before you eat or take any meds. Since the medication has to go through the rest of your digestive tract before reaching the colon, I don’t think you need to wait long after the enema, as long as you have eliminated the majority of the fluid before taking the medication you will be fine.

  31. I use chamomile only, usually between 1 and 1,5 quarts, sometimes up to 2,5 in a very gentle weekly cleansing enema that help me to reduce my allergic asthma medicines. I think that volume is not so important. I have the most successful enema when I’m fully relaxed and the whole experience was relaxing, pleasant and even a little joyful, even if my body ask me to stop even after only one quart (of course, when my body want to receive more fluid, without cramps and pains, the results are better. If I’m not satisfied with the small volume, and if my body wants to be more cleaned, I repeat the procedure when I’m ready, sometimes the same day, other times after one day) But I never continue to take fluid when my body tell me to stop. Gentle distension is ok, pain and cramps no. Continuing is unpleasant, and ruin the relaxing detox experience. It is important to take it in a gentle way, “with a smile on your mouth”, with an happy and joyful spirit. It is important to say that I always talk with my doctor: always consult a doctor in medicine before a detox procedure!

  32. Is boiled or distilled water and sea salt OK to use

  33. Article answered so many questions. Glad it is here. I refer many moms to this page and to flowingfree.org
    to read and learn about enemas.
    What I don’t understand is why so many moms sometimes freak out when I tell them about a coffee enema or suggest they give home enemas to their kids. Gotten the “e..www..wwww” when suggested she does a coffee enema.
    Most say “no way … not that” or “that is too hard and messy to give to him”
    I have convinced a few to give enemas!

    It takes a little taking and referring them to this page to get them to agree that cleansing is a very good thing.

    When I first found this page I clicked on the enema bulb link and .ordered the same red enema bulb syringe. Has white nozzle on it. Holds 8 oz of solution. I think that is about 240 ml.

    I have given both of my children a few enemas with it. Works great. No leaks. Easy to fill and squeeze when giving an enema.
    A friend of mine told many times in the past that her son is constipated, grouchy, moody and with holds BM often. She told me she has tried about every thing. I told her she should give him an enema.. Even a few enemas would help him. She told me she purchased a enema bulb over a year ago. Never gave him an enema with it because he complained when she showed him the bulb and told him he was going to get an enema.

    When she was over with her 9 year old son in tow, I got the enema bulb out.

    We had a discussion about enemas. Know it sounds nutty but glad I could help another mom. I believe enemas are the best home remedy a mom can give.
    Told her to use filtered tap water for the enema. And showed her the herbal enema solutions page on here.
    Her son had a “oh no” look on his face when he saw me showing his mom how to fill the enema the bulb.

    In the sink I showed her how to fill the bulb up full with no air remaining in the enema bulb. Squeeze it until water comes out of the nozzle. Hold the squeeze in. Showed her in the sink how to gently and slowly squeeze the bulb for giving an enema.

    Since our discussion and show and tell session, she has given him enemas. Instead of giving laxatives and other meds. She told me he feels much better and looks better too. Is not grouchy all the time and is more active now. Took a little talking to him to make it easier to give an enema. Good for her!!
    She told me when he had a BM after the first ever enema, it was a lot that came out!….”he needed an enema”
    I am sure he was not happy that I got his mom to give enemas to him! But convinced it is best for his health.

    Anyone wanting to give an enema at home should consult with their doctor before hand.

    • Mom gives enemas

      Betty good you suggested she give him an enema. When I suggest a mom give enemas I tell her to check with medical professional first.

  34. Michelle, you have one of the best informative pages about health and enemas. All your articles are well written. Printed most of them off. Even handed out a few to moms.

    A while back I did buy the bulb syringe you linked to. Love it. I did change the nozzle on the bulb. I now use a “junior nozzle” on it. It is a flexible nozzle for enemas. Great for the kids.
    The nozzle that came with the bulb syringe worked fine for my kids.

    There was one comment on the reviews that the bulb leaked where the nozzle goes into the bulb.
    If you “bend” where the nozzle goes into the bulb on any enema bulb syringe you will have drips.
    Never had a leak with the bulb.

      • Mom gives enemas

        Thanks for the page Michelle. I would love to buy the 4 quart enema bag.
        I looked at the other items sold on the page.
        I have the 4 ounce Infant Enema Bulb syring sold on that page. The small red rubber bulb with the black nozzle.

        Gave many enemas with it. Good size for giving enemas to a child. Glad to it is still being sold.

        Going to give an enema? Talk with your doctor first. Most don’t but best to say that.

  35. Enemas Are Good - Mom

    I now give enemas with a one piece enema bulb syringe or a higginson syringe. Used to use a two piece bulb for enemas. I read the reviews about the enema bulb that Michelle has a link to on here. Few reviews mentioned the bulb leaked.

    The biggest reason the bulb may leak is “bowing” where the nozzle attaches to the bulb.
    When giving an enema if you “bend” the bulb up some it may leak or drip where the nozzle goes into the bulb. The nozzle just inserts into the enema bulb. So you are creating a small gap there when bending the bulb up. Hope that makes sense.

    The one piece bulb I use is this one. Mine is red:


    Surprised the higginson syringe was not mentioned in Michelle’s article. It is a very good device to give an enema.

    This is the higginson syringe I use:


    I got my higginson syringe from Klystra’s for $19.50. Good quality. Same link as for the higginson syringe.

    She also sells enema bags, bulbs, buckets and more. Yes, pricy but good quality.

    The one piece enema bulb come in 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz and larger. Even up to 26 oz. Which is a quart of water! The large 26 oz bulb has to be held with two hands when giving an enema with it.

    The biggest complaint I hear from moms about the enema bulb is mold forming inside the bulb.

    To prevent this, after each enema clean the bulb with warm soapy water. Filling and emptying the bulb numerous times. This can be done in a sink or pan of warm soapy water. Shaking the bulb when full of warm soapy water. Then squeezing the soapy water out. Then rinse the bulb a few times with plain water.
    After washing and rinsing the bulb put some alcohol or hydrogen peroxide into the bulb. Shake it around. Squirt the solution out of the bulb.
    Let it air dry for a few days. I let mine air dry sitting out for about 4 or 5 days.
    Best way to air dry the bulb is to put it upside down on the towel rack. Put the bulb upside down between the wall and the towel rack. Remove the nozzle if it comes off.

    I think the higginson syringe is the best to use for an enema!
    I like the higginson syringe because can see how much water has been given or needs to be given. The water level goes down in the pan/bowl as you pump the bulb.
    Put the enema solution in a pan or bowl. One end of the hose into the solution. The nozzle in into the patient. Squeeze the inline bulb. You can squeeze slow or faster. If more solution needs to be given you can add, or have someone add, more enema solution to the pan or bowl. You do not have to remove the nozzle from the patient or stop the enema. Before you give a higginson syringe enema, pump the bulb a few times to remove all the air from the hose and bulb.

    The higginson syringe is easy to clean. Just pump the soapy water and rinse water through the bulb and hose. The nozzle comes off the hose. So you can replace it with another nozzle if you like.

    Enemas are nothing to be ashamed of in my home. Myself and all four of my kids are given home enemas when needed. They know a enema is good for them. Does not hurt. Is soothing and relaxing. Makes them feel better. May cause some fullness in the tummy when getting a enema but not painful.

    I also bring up the subject of enemas to other moms. I tell them the wonderful benefits of an enema.
    And especially mention a coffee enema for the mom. A few moms give me that weird look when I suggest an enema be given!

    I think others on here also told they do the same thing. That is wonderful!

    Now, of course, of course, of course consult with your doctor before giving any enema or starting a natural/herbal healing program.

  36. Enemas Are Good - Mom

    sorry, you may have to scroll down on the page to see the bulb or the higginson syringe.

    Another good source for enema buckets, bags and bulbs are from optimalhealthnetwork.net
    Good quality. Good service. Professional.

    IMHO I do not like giving a Fleet enema! I think that was mentioned on Michelle’s list of enemas not to give.

    If you haven’t given or gotten an enema…give it a try.

    Tell other moms about enemas!

    Do consult with your doctor before giving enemas.
    Not medical advice. Just what I do.

  37. Enemas Are Good - Mom

    Very sorry!! I forgot to tell Michelle how much I appreciate this page. Her articles are wonderful.

    Love that comments can be posted on here. And others can tell of how the enema went.

    Good to learn from others and from Michelle.

  38. Michelle, I think enemas are a wonderful natural home remedy. Easy to give and many benefits.

    Why do you think so many moms turn their noses up when they hear “enema?”

    I have told many moms to give an enema. Most of their reactions have been “no way!” or “omg a enema! uhhh!!!”

    I have talked with younger moms about enemas. Most of them have no idea what a enema is and the benefits of giving enemas at home.

    • Hi Becky, I think enemas are just something that are unknown to most people. They used to be more commonplace in our culture, but in modern days we are out of touch with simple home remedies.

  39. housed plans isnt

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am going through issues with your
    RSS. I don?t know the reason why I am unable to join it.

    Is there anybody getting similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond?

    • Hi, Thanks for pointing out my RSS link had a quirk. I believe I have fixed it now 🙂

  40. Hi,
    why the enema is not recommended for people with irregular heart beat & people with Crohn’s disease, colitis, or diverticulitis?

    • Hi Al, in the case of irregular heartbeat, enemas are not advised because they can lead to temporary electrolyte imbalance, which affects heart function. With inflammatory bowel conditions, enemas can cause further irritation in an already sensitive tract.

  41. Thank you so much for such an informative article. It’s helped me change a few things regarding my enema routine. For the last few months I have been working myself up to a high retention enema. However, I have noticed that I have a hard time keeping the liquid in. In the article you had mentioned a retention plug but did not elaborate. I am not sure if I understand what you are meaning by that. Was if for the equipment or the body? Could you direct me to a link of what you were talking about so I could learn more about possibly getting the product? Thank you so very much!!


    • Jennifer, Michelle’s link to retention plug no longer works.
      If you still read on here, hope you do, here is a link to the plug and a good explanation about the plug:


      Before using a rectal plug or giving/taking an enema, always consult a qualified professional medical doctor to see if ok to do so.

  42. I need a big time help
    I have been trying out enema for last 3 days now but I am struggling to hold in water for more then a min
    I was also struggling to have a comfortable position but as of now I have found mine . I practice enema in a butt up position
    Please help me with some tips to hold water for more time

    • Hi Akshay, have you tried to reduce the volume of enema solution you are taking in? It may help to start with a smaller amount. Good to hear that you found a position that works for you!

  43. I’ve been semi constipated for a couple of weeks – meaning what I go doesn’t seem right compared to the amount I eat and I don’t seem to have a complete bowel movement. So I did a salt water enema as you described and held it a good 30 min but only about a 3rd of the water I used came out along with a small bowel movement. I feel fine – actually better than before but I am wondering what happened to the rest of the water? Could it have been reabsorbed into hardened stool in my bowel and is in the process of softening it?

    • Hi Rusty, sometimes the water gets absorbed into the body and it is nothing to worry about. Could be you were dehydrated.

  44. Hi Michelle,

    It’s Tom again posting on How to give yourself an enema. I want all of my posts to show up in all articles that involve coffee and herbal enemas and colonics.

    F.Y.I. I forgot to mention if anyone is looking to do high volume or colonic enemas (and have no medical issues that can prevent them from doing it) try using a COLEMA BOARD (Search web for colema boards) NOTE: IT COMES WITH INSTUCTIONS ON HOW TO SET IT UP AND USE IT)…(DO NOT USE ANY OIL IN THE ENEMA IT MAY DETERIORATE THE ENEMA PARTS). Its a home colonic setup that you use in the bathroom. What you do is 1) Place one end of the board on the on the toilet and the other end on a chair. 2) Set up tubing and prime tube with water. 3) Place a 5 gallon bucket of water on something that is strong and can hold 5 gallons of water and is at least 2 to 3 feet above hips. 4) Lay on your back on the board and insert lubricated tube into rectum open clamp let water flow in. 5) When you feel that you safely reach the amount of water that is comfortable to hold then close the clamp and release. The enema nozzle is pencil thin so there is no need to remove it to release the water and thats it. You can even add herbs or coffee to it. The process can take an hour or two if you just take you time and in no rush. It would best be done if you have a minimum of about 2 hours of free time. I do them 1 x a week but can be done when there is a need for it. More or less frequently.
    I find that doing colonics and coffee enemas are great for a heathly body. Both the colonics and coffee enemas are great for many types of pain relief and detoxing. I think they both should be in everyones home along with the herbal rack set aside for enemas or i will call it the herbal enema rack.

    • Thanks for these great tips and instructions Tom! I hope others find them useful.

  45. Betty K, very good that you taught that mom. I have done the same a few times.

    A very good page, written by By Catherine Cavanaugh, R.N. can be found at:


    Catherine is correct about poor diet, lack of exercise, and parents who need to pay more attention to the BMs of their children.

  46. […] This is an excellent article that details everything from how to get an enema bag to making your solution to troubleshooting during the process: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Giving Yourself an Enema and Were Afraid to Ask. […]

  47. Me:
    -15 years of extreme stressful life style as a driver trainer
    -I would throw up in the morning because of stress coming from my tummy nerves
    -coffee amd energy drinks
    -late sleeper and early wake ups
    -emotional suffering from family issues
    -BP meds, cholesterol, severe suicidal anxiety and depression
    -sleep apnea and RLS

    As of August I changed my life 180 degrees when I started managing stress better, eat a very low carb diet, boot camp 3 times per week, I lost weight and started the enemas. ACV, coffee and sea salt.
    I AM AMAZED how the enemas have been nothing short of a miracle for me. I am more level with my emotions, BP is back to normal with meds as before it was high even with meds, I am tapering off antidepressants, my sleep is very good.
    It’s not too late for you to start changing EVERYTHING. You can’t carry on with a dangerous health lifestyle and do 1 enema and be healed.

    • Thank you for your comment – Yes enemas are just one part of a holistic healing regime. I don’t think anyone expects healing from one enema. I am happy to hear about all the healthy changes you have made in your life and that you are seeing such great results!

    • Interesting to read. Do you do coffee enemas or just plain ones and how many in one month. I am new to all of this

  48. Are warm water enemas beneficial for general health. I eat well, but have horrible allergies. Think I would start with the the smaller bag vs. the larger one. How often do you suggest that an enema be taken for general health.

    • Hi Barbara, Yes, enemas are good for health maintenance. One enema per month is usually fine for general health. If you are on a detox program you would do them more frequently.

  49. Barbara, Michelle answered. I agree once per month is good. I have taken and given more than once a month if need is there.

    Most enema bag are the 2 quart enema bag. You can buy a 4 quart or even larger volume one such as a 6 quart.
    You can find the 2-quart enema bag in most drug stores. Even at Walmart.
    I find the 2-quart bag is good for my enemas. Cleansing enemas and the coffee enemas. I cannot afford a stainless steel bucket set. Hope to get one soon.

    Barbara read on here what Michelle has written about enemas. Or you can also find the book Prescription For Nutritional Healing very helpful too. Every home should have that book. It tells of the different types of enemas, how to prepare and such. Such as garlic enema, catnip tea enema, lemon enema, and more.

    Since you are new to this, may be best to consult with your naturopathic doctor or regular doctor first. To be sure enemas are ok for you.

    You may want to use a bulb syringe first. Then move up to the bag.

    Go to Diamond Herbs

    There is a very good article there about enemas. Plain and coffee. There is a picture of the enema bag and the bulb syringes.

    Coffee enemas are great for detoxing the liver.
    I feel so good after an enema.


  50. Thank you, Michelle, for creating a place where informative discussions about the use enemas can be shared!

    I personally find having a series of three different types of enemas periodically helps reduce stress as well as providing a through cleansing of the colon. My first enema is a 2 quart bag full of very warm salty water to rid the lower colon of any residual waste. Next is a 4 quart high enema, using a clear silicone bag full of 102 degree water with lemon juice, administered very slowly. I find it most comfortable to be on my bed, completely undressed in the knee-chest position. In order for me to be completely relaxed during the enema, I must have a partner to assist. The high enema is delivered using a silicone colon tube type nozzle with inflatable balloon. This allows me to change positions without fear of having the nozzle slip out. Once I’m in position, my partner takes control. She begins by inserting the colon tube deep into my rectum, inflates the balloon, and begins to release the water. She hangs the bag on an IV pole, which allows her to free up both hands to vary the flow and reach around to massage my tummy. I find being in the knee-chest position allows gravity to pull the enema deep into my transverse colon. After taking about half the enema, I turn onto my back to take the rest. By now, my abdomen is visibly swollen and I can see the level of water left in the bag slowly go down. My partner continues to help massage the enema across my abdomen into the ascending colon. She is now able to make eye contact with me to make sure I’m not too uncomfortable. It will usually take me about 15 to 20 minutes to take the entire 4 quarts, after which I’m ready to release! My partner guides me to the bathroom with the nozzle still in place, and has me sit backwards on the toilet seat. She deflates the balloon, slides the nozzle out, reaches around and massages my abdomen to help push the enema out of me. After about 30 minutes, I’m ready for my last enema, which is 12 ounces of hot virgin olive oil squeezed in quickly using a large bulb syringe. I find the sensation to be very soothing and relaxing, but after 20 minutes, I’m ready to release. After having an oil enema, leakage is an issue for the next couple hours, so I am careful to protect clothing, furniture, etc. during the next few hours.

    • Hi John,

      Glad you find the article and the comments useful! Thank you for sharing your protocol and tips for doing a series of enemas.

  51. Thank you for your thorough research and sharing of critical information. I noticed a few typos though. 🙂

    • Glad you found the article useful Helen!

      Better to be useful than perfect eh 😉 This particular article gets visited about 20,000 times every month and no one’s ever been bothered by typos before. Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? It’s a lifesaver for perfectionists who refuse to put anything out in the world unless it’s “perfect”.

  52. Hello,
    I am a long-distance runner and on my long run days I perform a water enema to flush out the bowels so I don’t have to go while out running. I definitely don’t hold it in for as long as is recommended, just a few minutes really but it has been helpful! Do you think this is a safe approach?

    • Michelle Greene

      Hi Scott,

      As long as the enema does not make you tired, I think it is fine. Since you are running long-distance after your enemas it sounds like your energy levels are very good!

      A shorter retention time won’t clean as deeply into the colon as holding it for a longe period of time, but that isn’t your intention here. You are just holding a few minutes to stimulate a bowel movement. This is safe, it doesn’t seem like you are doing it daily. If this was a daily practice, it may lead to bowel dependency. If you can still have bowel movements on the days you don’t use the enema to stimulate a movement pre-run, then I don’t see a problem.

  53. Yesterday I did a twelve cup enema and got a pound of poop ou! But today it says I gained a pound and a half?! What happened? I’m bloated too!

    • Hi Kristen,

      We aren’t offering information on enemas for the purpose of weight loss. Flowingfree.org promotes detoxification and following a healthy lifestyle.
      In regards to your questions, follow the dietary suggestions for post-enema to avoid digestive issues such as bloating. And remember, weight fluctuates all the time due to water retention and other factors. 1lb-1.5 lbs is nothing to worry about.


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