As a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary combines the best of Western medicine with time-tested Ayurvedic practices. This week, we're thrilled to share some of Dr. Chaudhary's favorite ancient techniques to reach optimal health. If you're inspired to learn more, check out her new course: How to Use Ancient Ayurvedic Wisdom to Heal Your Gut & Achieve Long-Lasting Weight Loss.
Enemas, or "bastis," are considered an ancient and significant part of Ayurveda. This is especially true in purification therapies like panchakarma, a seasonal detoxification process performed at an Ayurvedic facility.
Enemas are important because of the colon's central role in processing end-stage toxins. Sometimes, things get stopped up in there, and bastis can be helpful in getting things moving out of the body.
The entire digestive system is a long tube running continuously from the mouth all the way to the anus — but it certainly isn’t a straight shot from beginning to end. It twists, it turns, and it folds back on itself over and over. Microscopically, even the folds have folds. These folds are useful for peristalsis; they allow the muscles to move, accordion-like, so they can push food through.
However, the downside to this structure is that food, old stool, and bacteria can get trapped in all those folds. There are some really obvious manifestations of this, conditions such as toxic megacolon, in which waste builds up to such an extent that the colon stretches almost beyond its limit and the bacterial load becomes life-threatening.
On a more subtle level, slow movement and buildup can be more than uncomfortable. It can be toxic in a more low-grade, chronic way when the bad bacteria aren’t shed quickly enough and accumulate in the colon.
An enema will help clean out the lower colon. A colonic — which always should be administered by a professional — cleans higher up, so it can be more detoxifying but also harsher.
An Ayurvedic enema has a specific method behind it: First, the enema cleanses and nourishes with a substance such as chlorophyll or other herbs. Then, it's always followed (the next day or in the evening of the same day) by an oil enema to relubricate the colon and help dissolve some of the lipophilic, or fat-loving, toxins that won’t dissolve in water.
You should never do a water enema without getting an oil enema afterward because water alone strips away moisture and good bacteria. The bowel is moist and needs to stay lubricated with fats and mucus to hold the good bacteria. It’s not supposed to be squeaky clean.
I recommend doing an enema once a month. That's usually plenty for people who are not having any major health issues. (Women should never do one during their menstrual cycle.) There are special purification protocols in Ayurveda when enemas are done more frequently, but those are always under supervised conditions.
If monthly is still too much for you, I suggest at least trying this twice a year, as part of a spring and fall cleanse. A lot of my patients who would never in a thousand years have thought they would be doing enemas later tell me they feel fantastic afterward.
The first time is usually the least comfortable because there is an initial detoxification reaction. You may feel crummy for a few days, but don’t let that discourage you. It only gets better and better, and if you feel bad at first, it's evidence that the intervention was particularly needed.
Here are the instructions for doing a chlorophyll enema and how to follow it with an oil enema.
How to Do a Chlorophyll Enema
- Disposable enema bags (available on Amazon)
- Organic Liquid Chlorophyll by World Organic (also available on Amazon)
Preparation of the Chlorophyll Enema:
- Warm 3 cups of filtered water (The water should be heated to the point at which it's slightly warmer than room temperature and still comfortable to touch.)
- Add 3 tablespoons of liquid chlorophyll to the warm water.
- Empty 1 to 2 capsules of probiotics into the mixture, and stir. (This step is optional but beneficial; choose any probiotic with at least 1 billion colonies. I prefer the ones in the refrigerated section of the store, as I believe these bacteria are more likely to be intact).
- Pour the mixture into the enema bag, with the lock on the enema tube closed.
- Lie on your right side and insert the enema tube 3 to 4 inches into the rectum. If the tube isn’t prelubricated, use coconut or sesame oil to lubricate it.
- Unlock the tube to allow the enema to move into the rectum.
- Once the enema has been administered, lock the tube again before you remove it from the rectum. This prevents leakage.
- Try to hold the enema for 5 to 10 minutes. But if you feel any cramping, go ahead and empty your bowels. Sometimes you have to administer a small amount (about 1 cup) and then empty the bowels. Administer the remaining amount and hold for 5 to 10 minutes. If it becomes uncomfortable at all, just empty your bowels. You can work up to 5 to 10 minutes, but I don’t recommend holding it any longer.
How to Do a Follow-Up Oil Enema
- That evening or the day after doing the chlorophyll enema, heat 1 to 2 cups of cured, organic sesame oil to slightly warmer than room temperature.
- To cure the sesame oil, add one drop of water to the oil and heat until the drop “pops.”
- Administer the enema as outlined above. You may need to wear a pad that day because occasionally there's leakage of the oil during the day or night.