Couple Addicted to Coffee Enemas, Up to Four Times a Day

So-called Gerson therapy is unproven and can be risky, say doctors.

February 7, 2013, 3:20 PM

Feb. 8, 2013— -- Mike and Trina swear by their coffee. He enjoys a fine espresso grind, which is "on the cold side"; she prefers a "saturated blend" that is "warm and thicker."

The St. Petersburg, Fla., couple refuses to drink the caffeinated beverage, which they say is bad for their health. Instead, they use it as an enema. They each have at least 100 coffee enemas a month, 6,000 in all since their addiction began two years ago.

"I started the whole debacle," Trina, who did not want to reveal her last name, told "Then it took on a life of its own. I twice tried to stop and felt worse, so I do this every day and as much as I can. But it's very time-consuming."

"I love the way it makes me feel," said Trina. "It gives me a sense of euphoria."

The couple admits they perform their caffeinated enema at least four times a day. Once, Trina said she did "nine or 10" in a 24-hour period.

Her husband Mike, 45, said he initially thought, "Oh my god, how disgusting," but then he tried it, "and now I am addicted."

TLC has outdone itself in the fourth season of "My Strange Addiction," which always carries the warning "do not attempt" this at home. The couple heats up the coffee on the stove and injects the liquid into their colons to clean out their lower intestines.

In its premiere of the first of eight new episodes on Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. ET, the show will also highlight Lisa, a middle-aged woman from Detroit who eats cat fur, grooming her pet with her own tongue. In subsequent episodes, a woman is addicted to bee stings and another one inhales more than 30 jars of vapor rub every week. In the season finale, a woman is addicted to drinking blood.

More "My Strange Addictions"

As for Mike and Trina, for the past two years they have been "unable to function" without their coffee enema, a ritual that takes five hours of planning and executing each day.

They fill a 32-ounce bucket with coffee and deliver it to their lower intestine via a Vaseline-coated hose. "That's the freaky part," Trina said. "So I try to relax."

While she administers her enema, Trina listens to music, catches up on TV shows and tweets. "I even play Sudoku," she said.

But these enemas can be tricky: "I make a quick transition from the floor to the toilet seat," said Mike. "It comes flying out like a torrent."

His mother Jan is concerned about their habit, which she says is "kind of gross." They are so addicted, they won't travel or leave the house for long periods of time. Fortunately, they each work from home.

The habit began after Trina had a series of issues with her health.

"I had a lot of stomach problems, digestive problems with my kidney and my liver," she said. "I started research and it led into coffee enemas and I really started to feel the benefit. I felt like I was living for the first time in years."

When she stopped the coffee enemas recently, Trina said she ended up the emergency room with kidney stones.

Neither Trina nor her husband had, up until then, visited a doctor in years. Caffeine can cause problems with dehydration and high blood pressure. Her family worries they will have a heart attack.

But will they quit? "Not a chance," said Mike.

"We can't live without them," echoed Trina.

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Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist at NYU Medical Center, said she would never recommend coffee enemas.

"There's a down side and really no up side to it," she said.

Sometimes known as Gerson therapy, coffee enemas and other cleansing rituals purport to improve health and even fight cancer, claims that are false, according to Rajapaksa.

"They claim it's a way of detoxifying and might even be an alternative to cancer treatment," she said. "There is definitely no evidence and I would hate for someone to forego [proven medical] treatment."

"The bottom line is there is not any beneficial effect and there is some risk associated with any enema and, in particular, using coffee," said Rajapaksa.

Enemas in general should only be used on the recommendation or guidance of a medical professional. Any liquid used as enema would have the same effect, she said, making the person defecate.

"Whenever you are inserting something into the rectum there is a danger of causing a tear in the lining," she said. "Over using enemas can sometimes lead to dehydration and it can basically lead to a decrease in bowel function."

When ingested, caffeine is a cathartic that causes the colon to contract and "move along," according to Rajapaksa. But when injected into the colon, caffeine can cause irritation.

"If it's a warm liquid you are using, then it can cause internal burns and some of the caffeine can be absorbed and those sensitive to caffeine, like pregnant women, have to be careful," she said.

As for Mike and Trina, they eventually seek help at the encouragement of her teenage son from a first marriage, Taylor.

"I don't want to get the phone call one day that you've keeled over from a heart attack," Taylor tells his mother in the TV series. "I want you to go see a doctor."

Mike admits he has cut back on the practice, telling, "I don't do it daily anymore. It's a little time-consuming so I do like maintenance. I am not a medical professional, but I haven't had any complications or health problems."

And he is tolerant of his wife's addiction, he said, "because I love her."