John Harvey Kellogg was born on February 26, 1852 in Tyrone, New York and passed away on December 14, 1943 in Battle Creek, Michigan.
At the age of 24 Dr. Kellogg became chief physician at the Western Health Reform Institute of Battle Creek straight out of medical school. It was a position he was to hold 62 years. The Institute had been founded by Seventh Day Adventist leader Ellen G. White in 1866 as a home for healthy diet and lifestyle. Kellogg soon renamed it the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Here's something few people know: the word sanitarium was coined by Kellogg.
At the sanitarium served patients only whole grains, fruits, nuts, legumes, and other healthy foods. Kellogg had some for eccentric ideas. The man was fascinated with the bowels and they had his undivided medical attention. He believed that almost all illness originated in the stomach and bowels and advocated daily yogurt enemas to produce intestines that were clean as a whistle. If anyone is interested, yogurt enemas are still being advocated and you can get more information at Health Information-Fitness.com.
He also made the claim that virtually all other disease were caused by sexual intercourse. That may explain why he and his wife had no natural children; they he three adopted daughter and four adopted sons.
His treatments included such bizarre things as seating patients in a vibrating chair, applying carbolic acid to the clitoris to prevent "harmful" female masturbation, immersion in freezing radium-laced water, and administering electric shocks at various parts of the body. Kellogg believed that coffee was unhealthy for the liver and drinking it was the leading cause of Americans' deaths. He believed that spices from mustard to salt were unhealthy, vinegar was "a poison, not a food." At one time he promoted “Fletcherizing." The practice involved chewing food until it slithered down the throat. He changed his mind about Fletcherizing when he decided that excessive chewing destroyed the fiber content of the food.
Kellogg's obsession with the bowels so enthusiastic that it was catching. More and more people became convinced that their bowels, poisoned by meat-eating, drinking, smoking and just about everything else they did, flocked to to sanitarium.
In order to be properly cleansed, Kellogg made use of an enema machine that blasted fifteen gallons of water through their bowels in a matter of seconds. Every water enema was followed by a pint of yogurt, half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema.
If this didn't do the trick more drastic steps were necessary and if those methods didn't work the offending length of intestine was just removed. Kellogg performed as many as twenty operations a day. Even though Dr. John Kellogg advocated some weird ideas, his surgical skill was admired by the doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
Yogurt enemas were the key. Kellogg claimed that he had managed to cure cancer of the stomach, ulcers, diabetes, schizophrenia, manic depressives, acne, anemia, migraines and premature old age.
Kellogg authored many books. Treatment for Self-Abuse and Its Effects, Ladies' Guide in Health and Disease, Itinerary of a Breakfast, Autointoxication or Intestinal Toxemia, Tobaccoism: Or How Tobacco Kills and Art of Massage, to name a few. The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle and the film version in1994 tells his story in a fictionalized manner.
Kellogg lectured on the advantages of celibacy, and proudly claimed that he and his wife (they were married more than forty years) had never had sex. Kellogg was one of the most ardent anti-masturbaters in the country. He also sponsored "Race Betterment Conferences" in support of eugenics programs. Eugenics is the “science” of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor after the Nazis. He also held the bigoted opinion that races should be segregated for preservation of the human race.
As part of his dietary program, Kellogg and his brother, Will Keith, invented several foods made from grains, which were forced through rollers to make long sheets of dough. When the brothers were called away while cooking wheat one day, when they returned the wheat seemed overcooked, but because they were on a tight budget, they put it through the rollers anyway, and it emerged as a thin flake. They had just invented flaked cereals,and the Sanitarium became famous for its wheat and corn flakes.
This lead to the brothers co-founding a company to sell their cereals, but Dr. John Kellogg believed that because he was older and smarter and better educated than his brother, he treated poor Will like an employee. The result was that the brothers ended up feuding over business matters and Will left to establish his own business...Kellogg's of Battle Creek. For years they sold competing boxes of corn flakes, but ended up suing each other.. After the suits were settled, the brothers were estranged for the rest of their lives. Ol' Will had the last laugh. When business at the Sanitarium fell off, Dr. Kellogg got out of both the health resort and cereal business, but his brother's Kellogg Company kept expanding.
On his deathbed, Kellogg wrote an apology, acknowledging that he had wronged his younger brother and seeking his forgiveness. He gave the letter to his secretary and told her to mail it, but old hag had also hated Will for years so she just put the letter in her desk. John died shortly thereafter and the two Kelloggs never reconciled.