Q. I am very concerned about my wife’s practice of giving our boy’s enemas on the last Thursday of every month. Our sons are 14 and 12.
When I ask why she does this, she replies that it’s good for them. She says “it cleans them out,” keeps them regular, and cuts down on their chance of colorectal cancer.
I believe a diet high in fiber is enough, but she insists on this measure. Are these enemas harmful or helpful for our sons?
A. A diet high in fiber that includes lots of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains is your sons’ best insurance against constipation and colorectal cancer!
We share your concern about your wife’s enthusiasm for administering enemas. Most teenage boys would find this practice embarrassing.
Pediatricians generally counsel against regular enema use. Some commercial preparations are high in sodium phosphate which may be absorbed and upset the body’s mineral balance.
P.S. We know of no evidence that enemas protect against cancer.
Not surprisingly, this Q&A stirred some powerful emotions for our readers. Here is just one response:
Q. Since your expertise is in pharmacological matters and medical anthropology, I realize that you had to give a gentle answer to the husband who questioned his wife’s “perverse” need to subject her teenage sons to enemas. I am only a high school dropout, so I am free to voice my opinion.
This mother should be taken to a head shrink. She has no insight into her own incestuous need to bind her sons forever to an anal fixation. The sexual damage done to them needs treatment immediately.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the correlation between tortured children and adults who are mentally disturbed. Telling this woman that there’s no proof enemas prevent cancer will not stop her compulsion. It’s like telling her to take up Bingo instead.
A. People have reacted emotionally to the question about enemas administered monthly to a 12- and a 14-year-old boy by their mother. She insisted she was trying to “clean them out” for their health and to prevent cancer.
We are not in a position to diagnose medical or psychological problems. We agree with you, however, that this situation does not sound healthy.
We certainly discouraged the practice. Too many people are overly concerned with bowel function and regularity. Use of enemas and laxatives can become habit-forming and counterproductive.
Anyone who would prefer a more natural approach to digestive problems including constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, hemorrhoids and hiccups may find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies from National Geographic quite helpful. In addition to GI problems we deal with everything from arthritis and acne to high cholesterol and sinusitis. Let’s leave the enemas for emergencies.