Early History

Cleansing the bowel is an ancient therapy, dating back some 4000 years, where the process of both enema and laxative use were described in the Indu Vedas, which are the oldest known medical texts.

The "Ebers Papyrus," an ancient Egyptian medical document written about 3000 years ago, describes bowl health and what to do for several bowel conditions in detail. It also cataloged many laxative herbs used to clean the bowel.

The practice of cleansing the bowel, as referenced in the "Odes to the Egyptians", Dr. Otto Bettman described the occasion:

"Thouth himself has revealed the enema one day to a few priest-physicians who were standing on the banks of the Nile. The God of Medicine and Science had landed in the water in the form of a sacred ibis. Filling his beak with water, he had injected into his anus".

The Doctors took the hint and the result was a great boon to humanity, "The Divine Clyster" (Note "clyster" translated means "enema").

The ancient Eygptians weren't the only civilization to recognize the benefit of bowel health.  Cleansing the colon was also mentioned in ancient writings of the Chinese, Romans, Sumerians and the Greeks.

Hippocrates (400 B.C.), the famous Greek physician, referred to as the father of modern medicine left behind many writings that were used in medical textbooks for centuries and are still used today.

He referred to various ways of cleaning the intestines and described using a bull's horn or pig's bladder and a hollow reed or cane to administer an enema.

The "Essenes", who lived during the times of the New Testament, also wrote about bowel health. One of the Essene Gospels states that "The uncleanness within is greater than the uncleanness without. And he who cleanses himself without, but remains unclean within, is like a tomb that outward is painted fair, but is within full of all manner of horrible uncleanness and abominations."

Galen (131-201 A.D.) who was the greatest physician since Hippocrates, mentions enemas with water, oil, and honey in his writings.

Farmer Parr, born 1483, lived on a farm until the age of 150, the king, impressed by his longevity, moved him into his castle, where he ate the King's food and died two years later. Cause of death: dietary changes and rich foods.

Watch Michele Talk About the History of Colon Therapy

Early Modern History

The 17th Century was commonly referred to as the "Age of the Clysters", enemas were so popular, it was said, "No Home was Without One". Many People had three to four enemas a day, fluids with colors and fragrances were all the rage.

Regnier DeGraff (1641-1673 A.D.) became very popular when he developed a system with a flexible tube connecting the enema bag to the anus. He described this in detail in his book "DeClysteribus" published in 1668.

Moliere, a famous play write of the time, ridicules the popularity of the enema in his plays.

Many European kings appreciated the benefits of the enema. Louis XI credited the enema with relieving attacks of seizers. Louis XIII received over 200 enemas in one year. Louis XIV, an ardent supporter had over 2,000 enemas during his reign. He even received court functionaries and visitors during the procedures.

Enema popularity gradually lessened over time but regained much of their popularity with the discovery of rubber in the middle of the 18th century.

Modern History

In the 1900's, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, (of Kellogg's Corn Flakes fame) ran a "sanitarium" (which now would be considered a health retreat or destination spa) where he treated thousands of people for a variety of ailments.

He reported in the 1917 Journal of American Medicine, that in over 40,000 cases, as a result of diet, exercise, and enemas, in all but twenty cases, he used no surgery for the treatment of gastrointestinal disease in his patients.

He held the opinion that most physicians when attempting to evaluate or treat disease, rarely explored an individual's colon health. He maintained that 90% of the diseases of civilization are due to an improperly functioning colon. He shared his 40 years of experience when he published a book on colon cleansing and the bowels effects of health.

During the 1930's, Dr. Henry A. Cotton, published several articles in the Journal of American Medical Association, discussing the use of colon cleansing and it's successful outcomes. What Dr. Cotton had observed was a phenomenon called autointoxication.

Dr. Arbuthnot Lane, (1912 - ), a well respected English physician and colon specialist, made the dramatic statement that constipation was the cause of all ills of civilization. Through his study of the scientific evidence, he discovered that the relationship between the bowel and the maintenance of a healthy body was an intrinsic one. Because of his conviction that proper care of the colon was essential for the prevention of disease, he spent the last 25-years of his life dedicated to teaching people how to care for tier colon.

In the 1950's, "colonics" were flourishing in the United States. The prestigious Beverly Boulevard in California was then known as "Colonic Row".

By the Mid 1960's, enemas and colonics slowly dwindled and by the early 1970's most colon cleansing devices were removed from hospitals and nursing homes.

Prescription laxatives and surgery gain favor. The philosophy of practicing medicine changed focus form preventative to symptomatic. It became easier to treat a symptom as opposed to finding the cause of the problem. Writing a prescription, and taking a pill is much more time effective and thus less expensive than hiring personnel to administer a colon therapy session. All "blame" cannot be put on the physicians, we (people on a whole) became lazy. Our society, in general, began seeking the "magic pill".

Summary: Colon Cleansing has been around for thousands of years.

Excerpted from: American Institute of Natural Health Manual, revised 5/22/08