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MEDICAL: How a Tactical Enema Could Save Your Life

The Tactical Enema – Just like maximum security prison but without the sporks

Anyone who has ever broken a sweat knows how important it is to stay hydrated. Dehydration of just 2-3% will decrease your endurance capacity by a whopping 25%.

Just sitting in front of the Xbox will cause you to lose dehydrate (mainly through respiration), and sit somewhere cold, you’ll dehydrate quickly as your body converts stored energy into free energy to shiver (plain old metabolism uses 1.5-2L of water a day, figure 2x-3x if you’re in a cold environment).

And all bets are off if you’re playing in the sandbox.

To rehydrate properly, you need a mix of salt and water, preferably in the same concentration that your body normally is – and if you can throw some glucose (sugar) in the mix for energy it’s a bonus, plus sugar makes a salt/water mix not taste like shit (actually glucose has some good hydration properties in itself and should be added in appropriate amounts, but that’s a different article).

For some reason, this combination wasn’t fully realized and exploited until the Florida Gator football team’s doctor came up with a good and marketable mix in the 60’s, you know it as Gatorade.

Red is Always Bad

But let’s say your humping it out in your favorite sandbox, or you’ve “just gotten yourself turned-around” in the woods, and the Gatorade stand is a long way away.

Here’s an easy way to scratch together a decent energy-drink:

  • 1L of water
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    6 teaspoons sugar

Or in backcountry/survival terms:

  • 1L water
    1 packet of salt (from an MRE or your favorite fast-food restaurant)
    6 packets of sugar

Salt and sugar packets are small and best of all free, and should be packed in your BOB or “boo-boo kit”. This method doesn’t taste great, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to manage than carrying bottles of your favorite energy drink. And that little bit of salt will make you feel, and more importantly, perform a lot better.

Die Of Dehydration or take a tactical enema up the ass? Hmmmm…

The Tactical Enema

So now let’s say you’re with your dumb buddy who didn’t drink enough and is now dehydrated to the point of being stupid, or you’re teammate has some unnatural holes in his body and is pouring his fluids into the sand, and there isn’t a medic anywhere near.

You can make a “Ranger I.V.” for your buddy by mixing the contents above into a camelback/hydration carrier (preferably his). This next part is really going to define how good of friends you are. Remove or cut the mouth piece off, lube the now open end (you do have lube with your nasopharyngeal airway in your IFAK don’t you?) and stick the tube up his ass.

The colon is very good at absorbing water and salt, and short of an actual I.V., it’s also the fastest way to get fluid back into the circulation (the gut can only absorb about 250mL every 15-20 minutes). So, while it may not be the most glamorous of first-aid techniques, the tactical enema just may save your buddy’s life, or yours.


~John B
Correspondent – Medical and S&R
John B has been an EMT for 18 years and is currently a Field Team Leader for a Search and Rescue Team, he also holds a Master’s degree in Neuroscience.


  1. Great article John, a friend of mine told me about the Ranger I.V. a wile back – but he called it man-rape

    John B is our new Medical Correspondent so look out for more stuff from him

    ~James G

  2. Man-rape, huh? Funny!

    Good article. The information is good to know.

    It’s little tid-bits o’info like these that can make a real difference to those of us who care to know.

    Thanks, again.

  3. That is great, potentially life-saving info. Thank you!

  4. If you’re going to use the “I.V.” method on your mate, is it polite to buy him dinner first? 😛

    • And a Movie – Don’t be cheap with your Brothers in Arms

      ~James G

  5. I think i’ll carry some extra Hartmanns bags just in case!

  6. What if all you had was sea water? Could you use this for a tactical enema? Would the colon absorb the extra salt or filter it out to allow good hydration?

    • Short answer – nope.

      “The administration of water by enema was probably a great help in speedily alleviating the dehydration suffered by us in times of drought. While we used water that was unpalatable, it was not undrinkable. I had wondered if it would be possible to use sea water in this way, but Lyn had strongly advised against it. Sea water taken by enema would cause as much damage as if it was taken by mouth.” Dougal Robertson, ‘Survive the Savage Sea’, page 198.

  7. Excellent article!!! Thanks!

    btw, lmao at the man-rape comment from James.

    @Terry Yeah, dinner and a movie at the very least. 😛

  8. the interesting thing is that urine from a well hydrated human animal can also be used in a pinch ask you emt buddy!

    Man-rape, huh? Funny!Good article. The information is good to know.It’s little tid-bits o’info like these that can make a real difference to those of us who care to know.Thanks, again.

  9. Due to a swallowing disorder I have stayed hydrated using plain water enemas for 20 months now. I cannot take any fluids in by mouth without choking but I am able to eat food which keeps my salt and sugar levels at decent levels. I take about 8 enemas a day, more when I sweat.

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