What is Peristalsis and Why Should I Care?

Peristalsis is an important part of digestion.

Picture of food being squeezed through intestines by peristalsis.

This squeezing motion moves food down your throat, and also through your intestines.

It’s how food gets:

  • down your throat…
  • through your stomach…
  • through your small intestine then…
  • through your large intestine…
  • to it’s final destination the rectum (before exiting out the back door ;).

Peristalsis or “peristaltic action” is what moves food through your entire digestive tract.

When things go wrong with peristalsis, you can end up with bowel cramps, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc., (and other things like GERD).

How does peristalsis work?

Your digestive tract is like one long tube from your mouth to your anus (aka, your butt ;). That tube has muscles that squeeze the food along, just like you might squeeze toothepaste from a tube.

Now I know this is an IBS website, and mostly concerned with the last half of your digestive tract, but here’s how the whole thing works:

Peristalsis in action:

  1. A diagram of the human digestive system from throat to rectum.

    This is the trip that the food you swallow takes. And it gets from your throat to the “exit” all by peristalsis.

    You swallow and your mouth pushes food into your esophagus.

  2. Your esophagus has muscles that push the food down into your stomach like a peristaltic wave.
  3. Your stomach squooshes and squeezes (very technical I know) the food around and mixes it with digestive juices etc. It then continues the toothpaste like squeeze, pushing food into…
  4. Your small intestine. Your small intestine does this same rhythic squeezing, continuing the peristaltic action to push the food along. The small intestine absorbs the nutrients from the food as the food moves along. Next stop…
  5. Your large intestine (the colon, or large bowel). Your large intestine absorbs the water from whatever is left from digestion. This allows the body to keep the water, which it needs; and turns the mostly liquid stool or fecal matter into something more solid and easier to excrete out the back. Your large intestine delivers the finished product to…
  6. Your rectum. (this seems awkward to type :). Peristalsis delivers fecal matter (okay let’s just say it, poop), to your rectum where it builds up. When there’s enough to form a “stool” you get the urge to defecate (to poop). Then with one last peristaltic push, the food you ate and digested gets squeezed out of…
  7. Your anus (no planet jokes please :)

For more information about how your digestion works (or doesn’t work) see The Human Digestive System page.

When things go wrong with peristalsis…

Now that you’ve had the tour, I bet you can see where things can go wrong. If something irritates the colon or causes your peristaltic action to move to fast, then the water doesn’t have time to be absorbed. Diarrhea. Often with painful cramps.

If your colon cramps up and prevents the waste from moving through, then it sits too long in the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs too much water from it and it becomes hard. This hardened stool becomes more difficult to pass. These colon cramps or spasms can be very painful.

These are sometimes described as problems with “gut motility.”

What causes problems with peristalsis?

There are a number of different things that can cause problems with the peristalsis process. Caffeinealcohol and cigarette smoking are all suspected of causing problems with peristalsis.

Some people have more nerve endings or pain receptors in their intestines, which can cause spasms in response to food irritants.

Caffeine is a stimulant and bowel irritant which can speed things up to the point of diarrhea. Alcohol can mess things up too (possibly do to the mind gut connection mentioned below).

Some people have a food intolerance that they don’t know about. This can cause abdominal pain, intestinal cramps and (usually) diarrhea.

There is also a connection between the mind and gut which recent studies link to IBS. Also, if you’re prone to IBS, then stress can make IBS symptoms worse.

What helps peristalsis return to normal?

There are some medications your doctor can prescribe that may help with “gut motility” issues. They often work by either speeding peristalsis up or slowing it down.

You can find out if you have a food intolerance using a food elimination diet (the help of a doctor or nutritionist is recommended). If you find that certain foods cause IBS symptoms, then avoid these foods for fewer peristalsis problems and IBS symptoms in general.

Then of course there’s fiber!

Peristalsis and Fiber

Picture of high fiber foods and a sign that says fiber.

Almost nobody gets enough fiber. Fiber helps peristalsis work better.

Almost nobody gets enough fiber. People in the United States (where I live) typically get about 14 to 15 grams of fiber a day. The recommended daily amount is about 30 grams!

Fiber provides something to grab onto when the peristaltic wave is trying to push things through your digestive tract. Fiber also provides structure which helps stool to develop.

It’s better to get fiber from things like vegetables. I’ve always found it difficult to get enough fiber that way (as mentioned elsewhere, I’m a vegetable wimp). My doctor recommended Citrucell which helps a lot, but is expensive.

Psyllium husks don’t work for me at all. They just give me gas, which can lead to IBS cramping! I also find drinking psyllium husks to be pretty nasty. Your experience may be different of course.

One thing about fiber. If you’re going to increase the amount you take in, do it GRADUALLY. A sudden large increase in fiber can cause gas, pain, and trigger IBS symptoms!

In conclusion…

I personally think that if you can remove the irritants (including the stress), and get enough fiber you’d be feeling much better. I know I am.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.




  1. Reply


    Very useful article. Stress plays an important role, especially fight and flight response and affects digestion.

    I read recently that Abdominal Breathing is awesome for this.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Reply

    it was great thanks shawn. 🍩🍕🍔😁😃😃😉

  3. Reply

    I was 49 yrs old like clock work my whole life bowel movement morning and afternoon, after meals. A bad relationship, drinking and smoking, contractors not paying got me sick, acid reflux , stomach burn and ass burn after constipation, go from 164 lb to 155 lb when the pressure finally pushes things thru and I shit 6 to 8 times in 2 days start solid and end with runny. Then I feel great for a while then the cycle repeats it self. I got a nice lady now, quit drinking beer an sodas, work for a great guy. It all helps but still got things to work on cigs qu.it soon. I try hard to not get stressed that helps, Eat more fish and chicken with vegs. 4 yrs now and things are better but I will never be the same. you have to look at things in your and make changes. I say to young kids. skip the wife, kids, house payment and don’t work for an assholes. God bless you all ! Rob

  4. Reply

    I suffered from bad constipation for many years. Finally I got to the stage where even the strongest laxatives made no difference. I used to sleep with a fan blowing around the room. Finally I switched it off at night and have been pooing like a baby ever since with no laxatives. I worked out that the cold air from the fan caused muscle spasms in the gut and this interfered with peristalis.

  5. Reply

    I was a methadone patient for years and it is virtually impossible to have bowl movements…I found that senokot or just Wal-Mart’s generic “vegetable laxative” is hands down the best…you take five or six daily and you will be as regular as anyone..even while I was on the methadone it worked which was a miracle..hope this helps :-)

  6. Reply

    Hi Shawn,
    I’m so glad I found your website. I was looking up info regarding peristalsis.

    Drinking water (or any fluid for that matter) triggers gas, cramping, and a bowel movement for me (often loose/diarrhea). It feels like a raw burning pain in my abdomen. This is alarming because I am not able to reach my daily intake of fluid. Drinking hurts more than eating. I get really bloated from eating, but my abdominal pain doesn’t burn to the extent that it does if I drink something.

    A recent endoscopy showed I have mild gastritis, but the pain I have is in my lower abdomen, often the left side. Right now it’s below my belly button. I’m wondering if I have SIBO. My GI doc wonders if it’s microscopic colitis, which it probably is if I’ve had diarrhea for so long. She couldn’t explain the issue with my fluid intake, so I was wondering if you have any thoughts.

    I know I have a gut flora imbalance, but have not had success with probiotics. I’ve started drinking Kevita (coconut kefir drink) and the first two days I felt great, but not today. I am on a limited diet: GF, DF, no raw veggies, rarely any fruit, and I have tried a variety of diets. I couldn’t sustain Paleo and SCD diets because my body couldn’t handle that many veggies and so much fat, so I was unable to meet my daily caloric intake – so I was basically starving on them. It was not good. Digestive enzymes seem to be helping me now.

    I’m a 28-year-old female and my IBS-D was triggered by a detox diet that an alternative MD started me on. She told me that the reason I had so many reoccurring sports injuries was that I had “leaky gut,” so she put me on a diet that had too much fiber and probiotics and it basically gutted my system and I lost weight and could barely eat anything. So I stopped seeing her and a year and a half later, I am still not digesting things normally despite trying many different alternative and traditional approaches.

    Thank you for this website and your time!

    • Reply

      I’m curious, before this all happened did u have any dental work done?

  7. Reply

    Thanks Shawn for all of this info! I suffer from IBS with constipation and rectal prolapse
    (Partial, just the lining at present) I am trying to exercise more and go for morning walks which is helping some. Also quit the junk food and eat more fiber. I am losing my teeth and that’s another problem that don’t help all of this any. I am soon going to get them all pulled and get some dentures.

    I have lots of stress issues and do have some IBS and Stress management CD’s to listen to. They help a little.
    I have good days and then bad days! One big thing is GAS! Farts seem to get stuck and it takes a good while to finally Well the word is FART! Trapped Farts and trapped stool, I’m trying to live with it. I had two years ago minor rectal prolapse surgery in Scottsdale, AZ. It now has returned but not full blown out yet. So this with IBS is a real stressor!

    Your info here helps me sort things out and to understand it a little better! I know one can’t die from IBS but there is times when one would like to! Thanks for your time and research this helps greatly! Kevin in AZ

  8. Reply

    hello! thank you for clearly explaining how everything works! i am 19 years old and live a very healthy lifestyle(eating clean/excercise everyday) and used to poop up to 3 times a day! abou three weeks ago I ecpiroenced constipation thought it was occasional, so took a laxative and though nothing of it. I then began to realize every time I ate something my stomach would inflate (sometimes so much I looked three months pregnant) and I wasn’t able to go to the bathroom. This was flowed by very discomforted feelings so I went to my doctor. She didn’t take me seriously untill I showed her what my stomach usually looks like and then she paid attention. I had an ultra sound done and it came back normal but still haven’t had any return I my normal bowel habits. I am young as mentioned before and have no idea what’s going on. I have been drinking ensure and very limited solid foods in hope my stomach will return and the pain will go awy but it hasn’t. a the lay time I felt comfortable and had a flat stomach was when I had to fast for the ultrasound. I know the food is just building up inside me an idont know what to do? any advice?

    • Reply

      WOW Meaghan. That’s awful. There are a few things that I would do. I’d write down anything I could remember about anything unusual from 3 weeks ago (when you say it started). Unusual menstrual cycle, any new medications, new foods that have entered your diet, etc. I’d write down anything, unusual then bring it to the doctor the next time you are struggling with this.

      Now I’m not a doctor, but it seems to me that something is slowing down the peristalsis process described on the page OR like something like a cramp may be stopping things up. Of course I have no way to know from here, but that’s what I’d be looking for.

      My other concern is that your doc didn’t take you seriously. If that continues you may need to find another one. You DON’T want this to become the norm obviously.

    • Reply

      Hi Meagan, don’t know if you are still having problems, but thought I would reply as I have the same problems with stomach swelling when I do not watch my diet and take caprylic acid, because I have an intestinal problem with candida albicans, which many doctors know nothing about but it is becoming recognized by many as a serious health problem. You might read “The Yeast Connection” and see if you might have a problem with yeast overgrowth. It is known as Auto-Brewery Syndrome in Japan and CNN did a news article on it if you want to do a search for it on the net. I an currently undergoing chemo treatments for cancer and it has really complicated my problem so I can appreciate what you are going thru. Wishing you well.


  9. Reply

    This is the best site I have found for my IBSC problem. Am going to try pineapple!
    I find it difficult to get my life to a point where I am doing the right things for myself. I know that small meals throughout the day help my IBS, but often am in a position where this is not possible. I know that I need a more quiet life, but this too is difficult to obtain. i have a stressful family and don’t know how to manage them. They are descending on me in July. I eat a very limited diet, ( have a large hiatel hernia too, so have to go easy on spices, fats, acidic foods, and dairy exceot for yoghurt) . I have no idea what to feed them when they come. I actually hate to cook in my old age ( 76), since I usually have to make separate things for myself. I really need to be able to live in my house without guests and feed myself what I need to eat. I don’t know how to handle the problem without making others feel unwanted. Friendships are hard, also. I have one friend who insists that I come to dinner at her house, her favorite way of entertaining. I tend to avoid her. She is a robust type who can eat anything and I suspect thinks I am a major hypochrondriac when I mention severe gastric problems being the reason I like to feed myself. Does anyone have any ideas for me? Thanks
    And then there is the problem of restaurants when traveling, which, I am sure everyone on this site has encountered

  10. Reply

    I wen4 for an operation in 2010 for hernia because I was coughing and vomiting a lot of phlegm. After operation everything was fine. In 2012 the problem started again.l was diagnosed with peristalsis. I cannot sleep at night.when I am in a deep sleep ihave to wake up and spit out huge quantity of slimyphlegm even during the day.the other thing that the doc said is that stomach produces a lot of acids that also worsening the condition.please guys help me.i don’t what to eat or what triggers this condition. On the 28 nov I’m golng again for endoscopy because the problem does not stop. Hope to hear from you soon

    • Reply

      This sounds like a different kind of peristalsis than the one I wrote about. This sounds like esophogeal peristalsis. That gets the food from your mouth to your stomach. If it were me, I’d try to find a good acupuncturist to see if that could help. There may be a medication to help as well.

  11. Reply

    Hi Shawn I have suffered from IBS (predominately diarrhoea) it started after a bad case of mumps and I was not able to eat but was given dispirin every four hours, could you tell me if this could have damaged the nerves in my bowel, I have tried everything to overcome thid problem but nothing works. Regards Janice

    • Reply

      I wish I could be more help on this one, but your best resource at first is going to be your doctor, then probably a dietitian. The mumps is out of my league, and I readily admit it.

  12. Reply

    if i put all the posts above together in synthesis I have an amazing insight into a problem that is facing so many of us..i am one of the lucky ones and dont have IBS …and any thing that goes wrong I can directly relate to what i have eaten in the 2-3 days prior and therefore monitor……this may be related though… I watched a doco last month on faecal transplants were a lady had a transplant from her donor husband ( as they lived in the same environment ) she was in a bad way with antibiotics depleting her natural good bacteria and enzymes in the gut causing her incredible medical problems probably all of the above…the faecal transplant fixed her up in a matter of days it contained billions of bacteria necessary to rebuild her system back again….amazing so simple a few grammes of poop versus years of medical science surgery naturopaths acupuncturists etc…sometimes the answer is so simple we cant see it.

  13. Reply

    You might try colon hydrotherapy. I have done it numerous times and it totally empties the colon as opposed to enemas which only get the lower end. This also helps rest the colon for a day afterward. Be sure to go to a certified colon hydrotherapist (I-ACT (?). Be sure to add probiotics afterward and just drink organic juices for a day. This might not relieve the total problem, but will give you relief as you continue your search

    • Reply

      Hello Scott and others, I really DON’T believe in hydrotherapy! There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, that can’t be replaced by any pill. Don’t wash them away!

  14. Reply

    I have problems when there is a change of air temperature after eating or after we’ve left a restaurant. If I am suddenly hit with cold air, I have an attack of intestinal cramps and diarrhea. I must immediately find a bathroom and it takes 3 evacuations before I can leave the building. This will happen after a nice restaurant meal and then we will drive to a book store. If the store has refrigerated air-conditioning then I will begin the feel the rumble in my intestines.

    This used to happen in a restaurant and I once mentioned this to someone in the food service business. She asked me several questions: 1) do I drink cold fluids at home with my meal? Answer: No, I don’t drink anything until afterward and it’s never cold because cold drinks hurt my teeth. 2) do you drink something cold in a restaurant? Answer: Yes, because that’s what the serve and the wait-staff usually keeps your drink full while you’re waiting for your meal. The solution for me is to order coffee or hot tea. No more cramps or diarrhea while eating in a restaurant. Now, if I could control the temperature of rooms and stores, I’d be ok!
    Take care,

    • Reply

      Wow Mary! Thanks for the interesting insights. I’ve NEVER heard of this particular situation, and I will have to look into it.

  15. Reply

    Wow thank you so much for “What is Peristalsis, and Why Should I Care?” I have had problems for several years with part of my colon getting pinched off when I do the wrong thing such as bending down to garden. I thought the new IBS drug Linzess had saved me from surgery but this week that proved false hope. I am trying everything to avoid a complete large colon removal. Thank you for the insight on how the colon works. Lisa

    • Reply

      Wow Lisa, I admit I’ve never heard of your problem, but I hope you’ve gotten 2 or 3 opinions. That’s pretty radical stuff! I would hope that they could at least save PART of your colon. Is it always the same part that pinches?

      I’m very glad you learned something on this page that you found helpful. I hope and pray that you don’t have to have the removal, and that some clever doc will think of something else!

      May you be well. – Shawn

    • Reply

      I would urge people with digestion and evacuation related problems to take to yoga,which includes praanayam and meditation. Curds (freshly made and unrefrigerated) taken twice daily will supply essential natural probiotics. Hydration ensures that ‘breaking ‘ wind is not noisy and embarrassing in public. Fruit should be eaten at least a half hour before a meal.

  16. Reply

    Hi Shawn, sorry I haven’t replied. It’s certainly interesting what you say. I’m convinced my problem is small, not large, intestine, but will my consultant listen? What do I know anyway? I’m just a patient! I haven’t heard of this little camera. It’ll only be private, not on the NHS, but I’m seriously thinking about paying for private anyway. Thanks for your advice!


    • Reply

      Hi Alexandra, no need to apologize. I thank you for coming back and letting me and the rest of us know what’s happening with you. Best of luck!

  17. Reply

    Hi Shawn. I think I’m confused about where IBS occurs! My pain,including hardish lumps, comes from the centre of my gut, so I assume the small intestine. From your info it’s the large bowel only that’s affected. Is that the case?

    I’ve had lots of tests including a gastroscopy and several encdoscopies (one at top and several at bottom!) but nothing untoward found, except a hiatus hernia and some gastritis, so I’ve been seen by a specialist. Just so you don’t worry!

    Love Alex

    • Reply

      Hi Alexandra, I have a picture of the human bowels here https://solvingtheibspuzzle.com/what-is-ibs.html. The red part is the large intestine. From everything I’ve read, IBS symptoms occur in the large intestine AKA colon AKA large bowel. There is some evidence that bacteria in the small intestine can lead to IBS symptoms, but the symptoms still happen in the large bowel (again from what I’ve read).

      BUT, even if you don’t have IBS, per se, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some kind of peristalsis problem. My understanding of endoscopies is that they don’t go into the small intestine. There is a kind of doorway that prevents access, so there’s no backwash from one part of the digestive system to another (eww, I know). I’ve read about a pill sized camera that is sometimes used to look at the whole digestive tract, but I don’t know if it’s available at your hospital.

      I wish I could offer more information for you. I wish you the best! – Shawn

      • Reply

        Hi Shawn,

        I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 19, some 31 years ago. I have had a variety of manifestations over the years and have had these changes checked to ensure nothing more sinister was going on. I was informed that my troubles could manifest anywhere from inlet to outlet, in short IBS can affect any part of the digestive tract. I am in no doubt of my diagnosis as on one occasion I had a major spasm during a barium enema which could be seen on the xray. A consultant was called to view my spasm, he came in with a number of medical students as they wished to witness the phenomenon. All well and good but not much fun when strapped to a tilting table whilst experiencing gut crushing pain. He informed me that he had IBS and angina and that IBS is by far the most painful of the two. I told him that I could quite believe him and to let me off the table asap! I find humour can diffuse stress quite effectively, perhaps it’s my slightly warped sense of humour ha ha.

        I tend to avoid anti-spasmodics, laxitives and drinks packed with fibre as I find diet is by far the best way to control my symptoms. My gut motility tends to be rather slow so I experience constipation most often. If I leave it too long I get the most awful spasms that can put me on my knees with the pain. I had a home birth with my second child using gas and air and a tens machine and the IBS spasms are by far the most painful, I am no pain wimp. Anyhow, I digress…I have found that nuts, fatty foods and chocolate, if eaten in excess (it has been known), will cause very loose, sometimes explosive, results. Over the years I have found that a sharing bag of peanut M & M’s (what an oxymoron) will do the trick nicely and cause the desired manageable result and often help my system to move naturally for a couple of days. I have also discovered that muesli with fruit and nuts will help regularity but it’s not as enjoyable as the M & M therapy.

        It is such a difficult subject as we are all unique beings and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. It is very much discovery learning and I have enjoyed reading round your site and may look at the enzymes that aid digestion. I have found that pineapple is useful for me, it’s interesting to know that there is a scientific reason why.

        Thanks for running this site and encouraging responses, we as ‘patients’ are often better at managing our symptoms than the doctors who are giving out the advice. Lets face it, if we find something that gives us an unpleasant reaction we will avoid it. Unless you’re me, in which case I will moderate my intake to achieve the desired result. :-)

        Kind regards,

        • Reply

          One therapy I strongly recommend for the problems related to digestion and evacuation is auto-urine therapy. It has miraculous healing properties that the medical fraternity has researched for a hundred years but kept secret from public. Read Martha Christy’s ‘Your own perfect medicine ‘It will surprise everyone.

          • interesting.yes I have heard of it,and the more I suffer,the more I think about doing it.I don’t understand the injection part .Are they using your urine? Other medications use animal urine-yes?so what are your experiences with it, and is Martha Christy healed?

  18. Reply

    In answer, to the question about enzymes, you can buy them in most vitamin sections. Some of them, will also contain probiotics. I like to buy Multi-Enzyme (which is a full-spectrum enzyme tablet) from Vitamin Shoppe, because it is the cheapest-good-quality buy that I can find. Along with Pineapple, papaya has papain which is also a digestive enzyme. (All living things have enzymes, they are what makes food decay.It is always best to get your enzymes from food sources, but most of us do not eat enough fruits and veggies.) Pectin(the white part)in citrus and apples, is a highly digestible fiber that can be useful for people with IBS. I hope some of this helps.

    • Reply

      That is great information Jenn. Thank you for sharing. – Shawn

  19. Reply

    Hello Dear,
    I was also facing the same problem and suffered a lot. My bowl movement was between 72 and 120 days. I lost about 12 Kg weight in two years and during these years my all test(Blood & urine) were normal. I took the expert doctors advice and came to the conclusion that I have low paristatic movement. With exercise and taking lots of water gave me some relief but not complete satisfaction. In 2010 October I went to one place for my company’s work for 10 days, I could eat only vegetables and fruits as I am vegetarian. During this time I my bowl movement was normal even without lots of water and exercises. I was very satisfied but couldn’t find the reason why it was normal. One day I was talking to one of my known Ayurved doctor and mentioned the diagnosis of low paristatic movement and he said this can be normalise by “Bromiline” enzyme which is naturally available in Pineapple. Immediately it strikes me that during those 10 days I was taking pineapple regularly in my diet. I again started and again the bowl movement got normal. So. Pineapple helps to normalise low paristatic movement.

    Regard and good luck


    • Reply

      Hello Mukesh, This is also great information. So to summarize

      An ayurvedic doctor helped you find an answer to your IBS-Constipation

      Pineapple contains “bromiline” which is an enzyme that helps peristasis.

      Check this out all! Maybe this can help some of you!

      Thanks Mukesh, may your information help others.


      • Reply

        The coffee enema is great but an enema will only affect the small intestine and if it’s been that long your problem is further up. Go to a medical spa and purchase 3 visits of colon hydrotherapy. It used to be something only celebrities did but living in Austin there are several spas that do it I suppose because the natural lifestyle here is much like Los Angeles…organic eating and toxin aware

  20. Reply

    I read over 50 years ago of a procedure utilized with radiation poison victims (after A-bombs) who had peristalsis problems. Simply bending gently while sitting on the toilet, and gently siting up repeatedly helps kickstart peristalsis. NO STRAIN! …and it has worked for me and others for years!

    • Reply

      WOW! 50 years ago. Proving once again the wisdom of older folks. Don, thanks so much!

  21. Reply

    Oh, yeah. Sunny, you might want to eliminate wheat from your diet right now, especially if it’s white. You might be gluten intolerant.

  22. Reply

    To Sunny: Please STOP taking laxatives! If perilstalsis is absent for you, it could very well be the laxatives, as your colon becomes lazy when laxatives take over the moving of your body’s waste. Any naturopath will tell you that right off the bat.

    I suffer from occasional lack of perilstalsis when I eat the wrong foods, mainly anything that is not organic. That’s why I’m up now – I just took a dose of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar with purified water. That helps the feeling of undigested food in the tummy. I also made some organic coffee, which I will use (when completely room temperature) as an enema in the morning. Coffee enemas are a terrific way to stimulate your colon to move. Many naturapaths will recommend them to cancer patients. It’s good for anyone who feels like their bowels are not moving properly. Like I always tell folks, coffee is one of the best things for human beings to take – we just put it in the wrong end. I urge Sunny to try it immediately. Follow instructions for a regular enema, but use room temperature coffee, undiluted. Lay on your left side while letting the coffee fill your colon as much as possible. You will begin to feel some cramping as the coffee begins to do it’s work. Hold the coffee in as long as possible. when you sit on the toilet, find something to place your feet on that lifts your knees 6″-8″ above your hips leaving you in a “squatting” position. This straightens the last 6″ or so of your colon that leads to the rectum, making the eliminating of fecal matter much easier. I use a “Squatty Potty” that I bought online for $29 for this purpose, but a couple of bricks or a trash can turned on it’s side will do the trick, just as long as they are stable.

    If I’ve been really bad and eaten out too much, I will give myself two enemas, just to make sure the coffee has gone up as high as possible to draw out all the bad “stuff”. You will be amazed at how great you will feel once all that poison has been moved on through.

    I highly recommend an organic diet, or at least a LOT of roughage (tons of greens and fibrous veggies) in whatever form(s) you prefer. Try to eat them as raw as possible. I love Swiss Chard, turnip & beet greens, Kale, Collards, etc. I don’t boil them, but I love to chop them up and saute them in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of garlic powder or a real pip of garlic just until they are softened. Delicious! And so needed for healthy digestive system. Also, romaine lettuce, celery, carrots, mixed spring greens… A LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF PURIFIED WATER!!!!! If you are drinking soft drinks of any kind, please wean yourself as quickly as possible! Also, while your body is in crisis, don’t eat potatoes, pasta, chips, or simple carbs, and try to keep red meats to a minimum. Add fermented foods to your diet (whole milk yogurt, kefir, etc. are the easiest).

    I am studying to be a certified holistic health counselor, but until I am certified, this is just my personal opinion. Please know that you probably need to make a lifestyle change in what you eat & drink, and add exercise to your daily routine. I know it’s difficult right now, but once you get your digestive system working properly, you can’t go back to your old ways. I highly recommend the following sites for you to glean some very useful info: Mercola.com, Gerson Institute on FaceBook, and westonaprice.org for starters. You’ll find there’s a whole “other world” out there of folks who know how to get and stay healthy who don’t mind sharing the real truth about being healthy for life. I wish you all the best on your road to a complete and lasting recovery. Do your research and I think you’ll be very surprised at what you find. One last thing, there’s a documentary available on Netflix you can watch, “Food Matters” that should interest you. You might even be able to rent it from your local library.

    I hope this info helps you like it helped me. And Shawn, keep up the good work.

    • Reply

      Wow! Sharon that’s a lot of information! Thanks for taking the time. I can’t even begin to endorse what your saying here because I don’t know enough about a lot of it. I’m putting up the comment for the sake of others that may want to investigate further. I will say I’m not a big fan of the enema approach. I also believe that something this drastic should be done with a naturopathic doctors guidance. Good luck with your studies!

  23. Reply

    hello shawn,
    i just now stumbled upon your website. its pretty awesome. i hope you can give me some advice. for two years i have had terrible colon problems. i am a 62 year old diabetic. my gastro doctor has done colonoscopies on me twice and always removes polyps. so no cancer. however, the past six months, the colon is so bad, i mean nothing will empty out from it, that i have changed gastro docs and he has not helped me either, he didnt even examine me last week and never read any of the reports that were sent to him, he just looked at me and said that if i cant poop then my colon will have to come out, plain and simple. so he sent me to a surgeon two days ago. the surgeon didnt look at any reports and he never examined me either. he said that he knew what my problem was. he said the peristalsis wave or something like that isnt working, and that i needed to do anything in my power to get the colon to move. he said he would not do any surgery as that is last resort. i tried to explain to him that i felt like there was something inside down by the rectum that was strangulating or something. he ignored me and said well it could be a hernia, and then changed the subject. i dont know where to turn or what to do now. my belly is so swollen and distended. i am taking laxative feverishly and nothing will come out the other end. i do not know what to do. i am just so sick all the time. the pain is so horrible. do you have any suggestions for me? i am in very bad shape and no doctors or surgeons will listen to me.

    • Reply

      Hey Sunny,

      Sorry I took so long to get back to you. It sounds like you’re in real misery. I’d like to make sure you’ve read my disclaimer. I can’t give anything like medical advice.

      That being said, here is my unqualified layman’s opinion.

      If you feel like your doctors aren’t doing every thing they can for you, I think you should find someone that will (as long as the delay isn’t endangering your health).

      I do like what the surgeon had to say about removing your colon being a LAST RESORT!

      Something you might try is a naturopathic doctor or a doctor that practices “integrative medicine”. These people try to work with natural processes and sometimes use herbs or other treatments that might get your bowels stirring. These kinds of doctors are more common in some areas than in others. They are often not covered by insurance, but in my opinion, anything is worth a shot if it means keeping your internal organs “internal”!

      Another thing that has helped me cure “uncurable” problems in the past is acupuncture. You might want to try that too. If it were me I’d try anything I could before having my colon removed!!!

      One thing about acupuncture (or naturopaths, etc) … Just like any other thing on the planet, different people have different levels of skill. I went to a great acupuncturist for years. When he retired, I went to another person that wasn’t anywhere near as good. After that second experience I haven’t been back (and thinking about it, I should). I personally think some of the best acupuncturists have studied at New England School of Acupuncture. But they may not be available in your area.

      As far as the hernia thing goes, it sounds like a Gastroenterologist has been up there a couple of times. I would hope that anything like that would have been discovered before now. However, from what I’ve read, there can be cramping in the colon that can stop poop from moving (as well as causing you agony). Maybe that’s causing the pinched off feeling you’re talking about.

      Regardless of any of that, you DO need to get things moving fast. You can get damned sick, very fast if your bowels aren’t moving at all. I hope you’ll look for a medical professional that will work WITH you, pronto!


      Please write back and let us know if you’ve found something or someone that helped!!!


      • Reply

        OH and excercise! Exercises like walking or yoga for half an hour a day can make a huge difference! You should talk to your regular doc before starting to make sure there’s no problems with you exercising though. He or she will probably give an enthusiastic approval!

    • Reply

      I had a similar problem due to pain meds. The answer was simple and is now a monthly solution…and everyone needs it!! The average person could do COLON HYDROTHERAPY quarterly and remove toxins. It will leave feeling great, with clearer skin and could save you from colon cancer. Go for an open system (this will make sense once you google medical spas in your area). Literally the best decision I ever made and although kinda gross to talk about, the fecal matter removed on my first and later visits went from normal color to BLACK. The therapist told me that this matter had been clogged inside me for years…decades even. Elvis Presley died sitting on the toilet and at his autopsy his colon (or large intestine) weight approx 60 lbs!!! It’s a private procedure you do by sitting in a machine and allowing warm water to fill your colon and “empty” yourself (poop) into a area you sit on comfortably, runs out the tube and is gone. No smell or mess. Look up Angel of Waters as this is the machine I used. Good luck

  24. Reply

    Hey roy can you please tell me more about these enzymes and where you can get them ?

  25. Reply

    Thanks for the info. Really good. What happens when you cannot empty your bowel or your system normally. What happens when there is absolutely no urge at all to excrete. No sense of wanting to go at all.
    I empty by using a tube and a bag of warm water, to fill up then wait for it to come out.

    • Reply

      Actually, I’ve heard of this. I’ve also read that it can lead to something called macrocolon (where the colon get’s stretched out causing large movements). Two things. This is a trip to the doctor if ever I’ve hard of one. Second, I’ve heard of something called bowel retraining that helps in cases like this.

      I hope it helps. Good luck Judy!

    • Reply

      I don’t go for eight days! I clean out with laxative and a prescription called Lines. I’m so afraid to eat any more. Please help me.

  26. Reply

    The best Ive ever seen it explained. Congratulations. Nice and understandable.. makes sense. Tip: After years of miserable abdominal pains and according to the medical profession ‘IBS’… I tried taking digestive enzymes with food and Ive never had any problems since! Apparently if your food is not digested properly in the stomach, it causes problems. Simply taking a tablet with meals has completely eliminated my problems, as well as supposed ‘dairy intolerance’s’ etc… Most doctors know nothing about digestive enzymes and Im sure this could be the cause of many peoples ‘IBS’ problems.

    • Reply

      Hey there Roy,
      Thanks for the kind words.

      I’m fascinated by your tip of digestive enzymes. I haven’t written about that or experienced them yet. Can you let me and the readers know what kind you use? I’m amazed that you haven’t had any problems from this reasonably small change!

      I’m very happy you’ve found a solution that works for you.
      All the best – Shawn

      • Reply

        I am 51 male and I have had sluggish system since 30. I have tried everything and nothing helps I can go 5 days without a BM and no urge but I have to interfere with a suppository or enema just to get some of it out. Like I said nothing works I need desperate help

  27. Reply

    I’m always looking for new stuff, and you probably are too. I don’t find FODMAPS on your very comprehensive site. Look them up. Fructans etc. feed bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, changing the osmotic load and causing water to be drawn into the bowel = explosive diarrhea.

    • Reply

      Awesome! Thanks for the tip. Yes, I’m always looking for new stuff. Thanks for pointing the way.

      • Reply

        Thank you Shawn, this has been very helpful !!

  28. Reply

    Very helpful. Thanks.

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