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Updated May 19, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


The overuse of enemas can have health consequences.

Photo © Dmitry Poliansky
Definition: An enema is the introduction of liquid, most often mineral oil, through the anus and into the large intestine. An enema may be given to treat constipation, to administer medication or barium, or as part of the procedure to empty the contents of the bowel before a test (such as colonoscopy).

Enemas are not harmless, and should be administered only on the advice of a physician. Mixing your own enema solution from tap water or other liquids is not recommended.

For inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and specifically approved for ulcerative colitis, a medication called Rowasa (which is a 5-aminosalicylic drug) may be given via an enema.

Pronunciation: EN-uh-muh
Also Known As: colonic, high colonic
Common Misspellings: enima
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  5. What Is An Enema?

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