A nutrient enema, also known as feeding per rectum, rectal alimentation, or rectal feeding, is an enema administered with the intent of providing nutrition when normal eating is not possible. This treatment is ancient, dating back at least to the second century CE when documented by Galen, and commonly used in the Middle Ages, remaining a common technique in 19th century, and as recently as 1941 the U. S.' military manual for hospital diets prescribes their use. Nutrient enemas have been superseded in modern medical care by tube feeding and intravenous feeding.
A variety of different mixes have been used for nutrient enemas throughout history. A paper published in Nature in 1926 stated that because the rectum and lower digestive tract lack digestive enzymes, it is likely that only the end-products of normal digestion such as sugars, amino acids, salt and alcohol, will be absorbed.
This treatment was given to U.S. President James A. Garfield after his shooting in 1881, and is asserted to have prolonged his life.
When the United States Senate Intelligence Committee published an unclassified summary of its 6,000 page classified report on the CIA's use of torture, its previously unknown practices of brutally forced nutrient enemas on detainees who attempted hunger strikes and of "rectal rehydration" for punishment and torture became apparent.
- Mattern, Susan P. (2008), Galen and the Rhetoric of Healing, Johns Hopkins University Press, Maryland, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 31, 145, 149, ISBN 978-0-8018-8835-9
- J. W. A. Mackenzie (March 1943). "The nutrient enema". Arch. Dis. Child. 18 (93): 22–7. doi:10.1136/adc.18.93.22. PMC 1987791. PMID 21032242.
- Mackenzie JW (March 1943). "The nutrient enema". Arch. Dis. Child. 18 (93): 22–7. doi:10.1136/adc.18.93.22. PMC 1987791. PMID 21032242.
- "War Department Technical Manual Hospital Diets" (PDF). Technical Manuals. United States Department of War. October 13, 1941. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
- "Rectal Alimentation". Nature. 118 (2980): 858–859. 1926. Bibcode:1926Natur.118..858.. doi:10.1038/118858a0.
- Bliss, D. W. "Feeding Per Rectum: As Illustrated in the Case of the Late President Garfield and Others". Washington: N.p., n.d. Rpt. from the Medical Record, July 15, 1882.
- "Controversial 'rectal feeding' technique used to control detainees' behaviour". CIA torture report. The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- Carol Rosenberg (2014-12-11). "Senate report confirms CIA had 'black site' at Guantanamo, hid it from Congress". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2014-12-12. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
- "Senate Torture Report Condemns C.I.A. Interrogation Program". New York Times. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2014-12-11.