Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Colon Therapy: Its History Since Ancient Times

The first records found in Western Civilization of humans employing colon cleansing (colonics) for health purposes dates from the Ebers Papyrus of Ancient Egypt, about 1550 BC. The Ancient Egyptians believed that food which stayed in the intestines was harmful if it remained inside the body for too long. They considered many illnesses to arise in the colon, and that a clean colon would both cure and prevent disease. The Egyptians took three days out of a month to purify their bodies of the harmful effects of an impacted colon. For their enemas, they used a hollow reed or bone, with a bag of ox-bladder, silk cloth or cat skin filled with seawater. One pharaoh employed a doctor who just specialized in colon cleansing therapies.

Like the Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks considered waste in the intestines a focal point of illness. In fact, the very word “colon” comes from the Greek “kolon,” which means “large intestine.” The noted Greek physician Galen recommended a variety of enemas, including one of oil and honey, while later Greek physicians prescribed enemas of pure water.

Dating even further back than the Egyptians and the Greeks, a classic text in ancient China refers to various methods of colon cleansing. This text dates back to the 3rd century BC! Enemas were part of the ancient cultures of Babylon, Assyria, India, the Aztec and the Maya.

European society went through various popularizations of colon cleansing. Apparently by the 14th century enemas for women were common in England. In 1480, Louis XI became an ardent advocate of enemas after an enema relieved the apoplexy he was suffering. Louis XIV may have had 2,000 enemas during his lifetime, and was so at ease with the procedure that he would feel free to receive court visitors while having an enema! Though popular, enemas were still chiefly the domain of the wealthy.

Colon cleansing made even more advances in the 17th century. In fact, that century has been dubbed, “The Age of the Enema.” Well-being was associated with a clean colon, and it was not unknown for members of fashionable Parisian society to have three to four enemas a day. Enema syringes came in a variety of styles and manufacture: copper, porcelain, and for the wealthy, mother-of-pearl and silver! Collections of such valued syringes were common among the aristocracy.

Colon therapy made significant strides in the 20th century. One of the great proponents of natural health was Dr. John Harvey Kellog (1852-1943). His Battle Creek health sanitorium employed healthy eating habits (whole grain cereals, soy foods, vegetarianism), exercise—and enemas. Handling more than 40,000 cases of gastrointestinal diseases, Dr. Kellog needed to do surgery in only twenty, the rest being effectively dealt with by enema applications from an enema machine. Dr. Kellog lived what he preached and lived to 91. (Incidentally, John Harvey Kellog should not be confused with his brother Will, who formed what would eventually be the Kellog cereal company; brother John was vehemently opposed to the adding of sugar to corn flakes.)

Since then, the colon therapy apparatus has become fully modernized. By the 1960s and 1970s, the intense marketing of laxatives meant that many people began to replace colon therapy with the ease of taking a pill or drinking a liquid to “flush the system.” But laxatives were found not to be as efficacious as a colonic. Besides, the continual use of laxatives presented problems, the very problems that many wanted to eliminate: bloating, dehydration, cramping and worse. Even the FDA had to step in and recall Phenolphthalein, an ingredient found in many laxatives, and which was thought to have cancer-causing properties.

With the 1980s, colon hydrotherapy made a resurgence. The colonic apparatus was fined-tuned with FDA-approved temperature and pressure controls. Particularly clued into what is good for one and willing to pay for such privileges, notable Hollywood and music personalities, high society, and sports figures began opting for colon cleansing for prime health and well-being.

Now colon cleansing is readily available to the ordinary person. Clients report feeling buoyant and energetic after colon cleansing, with tiredness and that run-down, bloated felling dissipating. They also report improved digestion and nutritional absorption, relief of discomfort due to colitis, IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders, a restoration of the proper function of the nervous and glandular systems, and enhanced mental clarity.

Based upon the knowledge of the ancients, as well as contemporary knowledge and the evidence of thousands of years, and perfected through the centuries, including these last important decades, a colon cleanse can be one of the most venerable forms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the body, mind and spirit.

Health Connections Center in Philadelphia is the oldest wellness center in this area offering colon therapy--for 20 years now! An initial colonic, with a consultation, is $95; follow-up colonics are $80 each. Visit Health Connections Center website or call 215-627-6000 for more information and to set up an appointment.

Copyright Susan T. Hui, 2009