2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Knowledge Base

Welcome to our extensive library of articles on health concerns and conditions, alternative therapies, nutrition, nutritional supplements, and much more. Acupuncture / Traditional Chinese Medicine Aging Allergies & Food Sensitivities Alternative Therapies Big Pharma Evils Bone Health Candida (Yeast) and Parasites Cardiovascular Health Case Studies Chiropractic & Physical Medicine Dermatology Digestion Diseases Ear, Nose & Throat Environmental Sensitivities Eye Care Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Fitness & Exercise Health Insurance Issues Healthy Lifestyle Immune System Inflammation Integrative Medicine Lyme Disease & Morgellons Men's Health Mental Health Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins, & Herbal Remedies Pain Management Sexual Health Thyroid, Adrenal, & Sex Hormone Issues Weight Issues Women's Health

On Good Bacteria, Enemas, And Your Health

In certain cultures, like middle class Jews growing up in Hyde Park in the 1950s, everyone remembers being chased through their home by a well-meaning mom armed with an enema bag. “Dr. Nachman said you needed this for a poopy!”

I am tearful, dressed only in whity-tighties until caught in the steel grip of my father, probably grateful he wasn’t next on the list.  I lose the battle, but since I’m right at Sigmund Freud’s anal stage of development, I probably lay still and rather enjoyed the experience. I simply don’t remember, which is just what Freud expected.

Decades later, when I was establishing what would ultimately become WholeHealth Chicago, I sampled just about every form of alternative therapy available at the time. During my encounter with colon therapy, comfortably lying on my side, a hose snaking upward from an irrigating pump, my tummy being gently massaged by my therapist, I thought…of mom.

Probiotic enemas
When I first encountered the research into using enemas containing probiotics, the whole thing made a lot of sense. With an enema, you’re simply inserting water into your rectum to clean it. A probiotic enema adds a small amount of powdered probiotic to the water. There are a lot of DIYs online, but here’s a good one.

Until recently, conventional medicine paid virtually no attention to the concept of good bacteria—probiotics—focusing its narrow-minded thinking solely on bad bacteria as the cause of most illnesses, battling them with the single tool in its arsenal: antibiotics.

Good-guy probiotics were highly suspect by MDs, since they were found in health food stores and the offices of clinical nutritionists, chiropractors, and naturopaths. Imbalances of intestinal bacteria (called intestinal dysbiosis) were so foreign to the conventional health care system that to this day, if a physician orders a test looking specifically for dysbiosis many health insurance providers will deny coverage, claiming it’s an unproven condition.

Our understanding of intestinal dysbiosis has changed dramatically over the past decade despite the deliberate reluctance of the insurance industry to keep abreast with the times. Read this piece for a solid overview. Scientists ultimately calculated the following, which still feels a little sci-fi to many of us:

  • There are 100 trillion bacteria (approximately 3 pounds!) in our intestines.
  • Bacteria represent from 1% to 3% of our entire body mass.
  • In terms of numbers, we carry ten times as many bacterial cells as human cells, each with its own genetics and metabolic system.

They named this living creature the gut microbiome. And when scientists recognized how many areas of the body were affected by it, they began to consider it a nearly separate functioning organ within the body.

Microbiome bacterial mix
A poor mix of bacteria in your microbiome can increase your risk for a diverse selection of conditions, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Susceptibility to intestinal inflammation (irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s) and colon cancer. Some gastroenterologists are treating these conditions by giving enemas containing stool material from a healthy donor, a process called a fecal transplant. If your doc recommends one, consider a DIY approach to save yourself $10K.
  • Lyme Disease.  Our physicians recommend a low-volume retention enema using an extremely high-potency, prescription-only probiotic containing nearly a trillion bacteria.

Testing the status of your gut microbiome
Currently the best test available (and at least partially covered by most insurance companies) is the GI Effects Comprehensive Stool Profile by Genova Diagnostics. WholeHealth Chicago patients can discuss this test with their physician, chiropractor, or any of our nutritionists and we can order the kit for you. If you’re not a WHC patient, your doctor can order it or you can contact Genova directly.

If your test results show that your gut microbiome is a train wreck, our nutritionists will guide you through the process of making it healthful again. We can even teach you how to self-administer your own probiotic enema so you won’t have to call your mother. My mother is, well, unavailable.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

 

 

 

Leave a Comment


  1. Deb S says:

    You are absolutely correct. I recently had the Genova GI Effects test which showed gut dysbiosis, a low level of short chain fatty acids, etc. I have started on a program to heal this and have made great strides. However, the insurance company refused to pay for the Genova lab test. I know they would have happily paid for a colonscopy, lower GI, and CT scan, all of which I had done seven years prior for the same (lingering symptoms) and would have had to repeat if I didn’t opt for the Genova test. The insurance companies are so short sighted, preferring to spend more in the long run.

  2. Evie says:

    Maybe it was because I grew up Catholic, in a large family of nine children, we were lined up and given Fletcher’s Castoria. It was only when mom (an R.N.) brought out the pan of boiling water to sterilize the needle for our annual flu shots, did we all run and hide. We actually got to like the taste of that castor oil!
    Great columns that you write, Dr. Edelberg. I still say you are brilliant! A genius!

  3. Tara Drolma says:

    This is a very timely article and I applaud your open mindedness. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Irritable bowel. My stomach problems became so intense over the past few months that I have completely given up all grains and gone on a low carb/ketogenic diet. I no longer have problems with my stomach. Dr. Myhill, an English physician suggests a “paleo” or stone age diet for her CFS patients. She has a good explanation of how our gut works on her website. She claims, “the upper gut is a near-sterile, digesting carnivorous gut (like a dog’s or a cat’s) evolved to deal with meat and fat, whilst the lower gut (large bowel or colon) is full of bacteria and is a fermenting, vegetarian gut (like a horse’s or cow’s) evolved to digest vegetables and fibre.” I am not sure if this is true and I have never been tested for gut disbiosis, but my stomach problems are gone as long as I follow this diet. The CFS seems a bit better, but it is still a problem. You can find more info at her website under Fermentation of the gut and CFS.

  4. Sandy Kurtz says:

    What do you think of Optimum Health Institute in San Diego?

    I go and get colonics with wheat grass implants.
    I found your comments on probiotics very informative.
    My best,
    Sandy Kurtz

  5. Dr E says:

    Hi Evie
    I am sure you’ll be delighted to learn that Fletcher’s is still available, renamed as Fletcher’s Laxative for Kids. You can get it on amazon
    Hi Sandy
    Optimum Health is an excellent SanDiego resource for you

  6. sara says:

    Am interested in learning how to give myself probiotic enema.

    Do you provide this service. If so, I will schedule an appointment. Although I live in Virginia.

    Thanks,

    Sara

  7. cliffmaurer says:

    Hi Sara – Dr. Kelley tends to be our office expert on this subject. She can help you decide what probiotic would be appropriate based on your health concerns. If you’re able to travel to us, feel free to call our front desk at 773-296-6700 to schedule a visit.

    All the best,
    Dr M

  8. Colette says:

    My son is struggling with Crohn’s and would like to try the probiotic enemas if they will help. Any guidance is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
    Colette

  9. Dr E says:

    Hi Collette
    Probiotic enemas would not be dangerous and may be useful for a Crohns patient
    You can read plenty of articles online about fecal transplants and Crohns
    http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/study-suggests-fecal-transplant-could-be-effective-treatment-for-crohns-disease/

  10. Gator says:

    I recently started doing basic probiotic enemas as rec. by my M.D. This is to address inflammation/autoimmune disease NOT constipation, as I go 2-3 times per day already. I am having trouble getting much of the soluion to go in even after having 1 or more BMs for the day. What can I do to improve this and help with retention when more does go in?
    Thanks!

  11. Dr. R says:

    Gator. It is probably best to perform your probiotic enema in the morning. Mix the probiotic solution the night before and let it remain at room temperature. Hold the enema for 15 minutes, if possible. You may feel an intense need to evacuate your bowels before the 15 minutes is up. Pay attention to your body’s signals and evacuate when it feels appropriate. Warnings: Speak with your doctor before performing a probiotic enema, especially if you have a digestive or intestinal condition. Do not perform an enema if you have a ulcerative colon or gallstones.

  12. Nema Nyar says:

    Hi Gator:

    I was not able to get my first enemas in until I shifted my position (laying on the left side, I shifted my right hip more forward). For some reason, that did the trick

  13. Paul lancor says:

    Very helpful explains alot thank you

  14. Shannon Smith says:

    Can you recommend a place where I can get a probiotic enema?

  15. cliffmaurer says:

    Hi Shannon – Typically we teach patients to administer these to themselves as they are easy to do on your own. Are you in the Chicagoland area?
    -Dr M

  16. Jamie says:

    What is the probiotic prescription name recommended for Lyme with a trillion good bacteria? Have an appt w/ llmd this week & want to request it asap Thank you

  17. Dr E says:

    Hi James
    VSL 3-DS (requires a prescription)

  18. Eric Banton says:

    Hi Dave,
    I loved the article. Esp. The opening paras – made me giggle. As a Hackney man of West Indian parentage I endured similar remedies which later have been shown to bare scientific proof.
    I am aggressively trying to cure/significantly abate my MS starting this weekend with probiotic enema and a 24 hour fast followed by a week of healthy eating as recommended by Dr Perlmutter (Brain Maker).
    Thanks for the advice thus far. Any further advice, greatly appreciated.

  19. Jonathan Darville says:

    How often and for how long do you recommend doing the probiotic enema for leaky gut and Lyme?

    Will a non-prescription high dose therapeutic grade probiotic work as well?

  20. Dr E says:

    Hi Jonathan
    ProBioMax by Xymogen is a high potency probiotic. I would suggest weekly, for eight weeks

  21. Robin says:

    Hi, I’m being treated by a doctor who specializes in detox. I have a severe case of Candida overgrowth. I’m also being treated for liver detoxification. The Candida messed up my BM’s for a long time, so I’ve been reabsorbing so many toxins. It took 7 colonics before we no. longer saw thick, dark colored mustard looking bile being removed during those colonics. I have skin rashes that are beyond itchy. Before all the bile was removed, my skin was on fire and blistering. The doctor told me I was on my way to liver failure. On days I do not have anti oxidant IV drips and colonics, I have to do organic coffee enemas. I am interested in doing here probiotic enemas. I live in FL, so I was hoping I could obtain info via phone on how to do these and what I need to use. I’m currently taking a 15 strain, 90 billion Probiotic orally. Thx, Robin

  22. Dr. R says:

    Hi Robin. It’s probably best to work with a local provider. You might try the Institute of Functional Medicine. https://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Upcoming Workshops

 

**Join us for a demonstration of Taoist Tai Chi® internal arts of health
Saturday, August 26th at 11:00AM – 12:00PM
There is no fee for this program
WholeHealth Chicago
2265 North Clybourn Ave.
773-296-6700

This demonstration of Taoist Tai Chi® arts will give you an opportunity to learn more about this ancient path to good health of body and mind. Taoist Tai Chi® arts help to promote a healthy, balanced life style and a simple way to manage stress. Taoist Tai Chi® arts offers a chance to discover a powerful adaptable, and accessible tool for all ages, including seniors, and people with specific health concerns. These arts can be used to help people take responsibility for their health on its own or as a complement to medical treatment they may be receiving.

 

**Facial Rejuvenation Guasha Class
The Ultimate DIY Anti-Aging Facial!

With Mari Stecker, LAc
Thursday September 21, 2017, 6:30-8PM, $65 course fee

Join us and learn a traditional Chinese facial rejuvenation technique that you can do yourself! Guasha treatment is a 2,000 year old Chinese massage technique that uses a flat tool to apply pressure to the skin to increase circulation as it moves along acupuncture channels.

Facial guasha is an easy to learn technique that:
* encourages blood flow and promotes radiance
* prevents wrinkles
* activates cells to regain facial elasticity
* drains fluids to detoxify skin and reduce puffiness
* sloughs off dead skin cells
* uplifts and tones skin
* firms up facial muscles
* minimizes dark circles
* promotes a healthy, younger and more radiant look

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register online or call WholeHealth Chicago at 773-296-6700
More>>

 

**Vaginal Rejuvenation
October 12th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm  Fee: $65
With Mari Stecker, LAc & Renee Zambo, RYT

Are you experiencing vaginal dryness? Or pain with intercourse? Have you been told you have vaginal atrophy due to menopauseAre you frustrated because you believe your sex life is overWell, it doesn’t have to be!

Come learn easy, non-pharmaceutical, non-hormonal, low cost techniques that you can do at home to help alleviate vaginal dryness, atrophy, thinning of vaginal skin and/or painful intercourse.

This class is appropriate for any woman who is experiencing discomfort during intercourse, pelvic exams or daily activities due to vaginal dryness and atrophy as well as women who are experiencing vaginal changes due to perimenopause, menopause, cancer treatments, hysterectomy or medications.

This class will include information on specific instructions for self-treatments that can be done at home as well as yoga postures and meditation that focus on the pelvic region.

Movement and breath will draw awareness to the pelvic floor, and facilitate both the full relaxation and activation of pelvic floor muscles. A short guided meditation will reconnect awareness to the feminine energy held within the pelvis.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register on-line or by calling (773) 296-6700.

 

Recent Health Tips

  • Women and ADHD, Part 2: Can I Treat This Without Meds?

    “I lose my keys endlessly. I pay big bucks in unnecessary late fees on bills that I put down somewhere and just forget about. After I finished college, I never read another book–it was just too much work. I can cope with a magazine article, …Read More »
  • Women and ADHD, Part 1

    Already ten minutes late for her first appointment, Claire phoned from her car that she’d be in the office in five minutes. Fifteen minutes later, arriving flustered and embarrassed, she blurted “Oh my gosh, I left all the forms on my kitchen table, but I …Read More »

August Sale: 20% Off All Hyland Homeopathic Products

Hyland’s has been trusted for generations to provide safe, effective, homeopathic medicines for every member of the family.  Take 20% off these products during August.  Read more>>