A History of Colon Hydrotherapy

A History of

Colon Hydrotherapy

By Betty Glasser

Certified Colon Hydrotherapist

According to the American Cancer Society: “Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when statistics for both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 50,830 deaths during 2013.”


The purpose of colon hydrotherapy, also called colon irrigation, is to clean the entire colon by infusing warm, filtered water through the rectum. Solid waste material is flushed out through specially designed equipment that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The process is repeated several times during the treatment, which lasts 30-45 minutes. Colon hydrotherapy uses a system that assures no unpleasant odor or discomfort, which can be associated with enemas. Enemas clean only the lower part of the colon, or the sigmoid colon.


In early 1900s, Dr. John Kellogg, a skilled surgeon, initiated the use of colon irrigation. He used colon irrigation along with healthy high-fiber food to treat many gastrointestinal diseases, to minimize surgeries, and to promote healthy colons. He published an article titled: “Should the Colon Be Sacrificed or May It Be Reformed?” in 1917 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Kellogg reported, “We are literally poisoning ourselves into illness when bowel evacuation is deficient.” He reported that he had used surgery on only 20 of more than 40,000 cases of gastrointestinal disease. The article enlightened medical professions in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Colon hydrotherapy equipment was in most hospitals and medical clinics around that time. Even the Royal Society of Medicine cited the colon as a major factor in health in 1913.

Many serious debates on the value of colon irrigation were published in JAMA from the 1920s to 1930s, according to Richards, McMillin, Mein, and Nelson (2006). There were also many articles about how intestinal toxemia could cause disorders. Satterlee and Eldridge, writing in JAMA in 1917, discussed the symptomology of the nervous system in chronic intestinal toxemia. Donaldson performed an experiment involving five voluntary patients with severe constipation for four days. He measured levels of autointoxication, the symptoms of which include: foul breath, depression, irritability, headache, nervous system disorders, muscle fatigue, and blood sugar abnormalities. All patients in the study showed impaired functioning. Donaldson performed enemas (not full colon hydrotherapy) on all five patients. Nervous system symptoms improved and the physiological parameters returned to baseline levels.

As colon irrigation flourished from the 1920s to 1930s, proponents published a variety of books on colon hydrotherapy and its clinical value. At the same time, the American Medical Association was jealously attacking the “quackery” of colon hydrotherapy because of a shift in medical practice from physical therapies to drug therapies. Despite the opposition to colon hydrotherapy, many articles through the late 1930s in JAMA clearly stated the effectiveness of colonic irrigation. Toward the end of the 20th century, colon irrigation’s popularity gradually dwindled among the medical community and equipment was removed from hospitals and nursing homes in favor of colostomy, fleet enemas, prescription drugs, and laxatives.

True StoriesBettty Glasser

While traveling in Oregon, I was admitted to a hospital for an inflamed gallbladder after going to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain. I was told that surgery to remove the gallbladder is the standard procedure in hospitals in the United States. My husband and I declined the surgery because my case was not life threatening. My husband suggested that I try colon hydrotherapy. I felt better after the treatment and I was so happy to have my gallbladder intact that I become a certified colon hydrotherapist. I thought that my training would help people to live new and healthier lives. I have colon hydrotherapy regularly and eat more healthily since I had my first treatment.

One of my clients was consuming amino acid protein shakes in an attempt to help build himself up in a program of body building. He drank these shakes every day for more than two months. One day, he suddenly felt cold and began shivering uncontrollably. He went to see his doctor, who sent him home because his blood tests were normal. One of his friends had to drive him to my office because he was very weak. He looked like a zombie because he didn’t have any healthy coloring to his face and he could barely open his eyes. After one session of colon hydrotherapy, he looked very much alive and happy. He had his pinkish color back in his face and he was able to smile and open his big bright eyes.

Other Studies

Dr. Morton Walker published “Value of Colon Hydrotherapy Verified by Medical Professionals” in 2000. The article is an accumulation of true stories of how some doctors are prescribing colon hydrotherapy to their patients and the professional views regarding colon hydrotherapy. Among those cited are Dr. Leonard Smith, a specialist in gastrointestinal surgery, Dr. Paul Flashner, a general surgeon and an emergency medicine specialist, and Dr. Sharda Sharma, a primary care physician; the article includes several more doctors’ testimonials.


Many gallbladder surgeries, other surgeries, and other gastrointestinal disorders might be avoided if the current American Medical Association would recognize the values of colon hydrotherapy. Experiments were performed and many articles were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in the early 1900s. Colon hydrotherapy might help reduce some colon cancer. Since colon cancer is the second-leading cancer in the United States and is predicted to cause 50,830 related deaths in 2013, it would certainly be worthwhile to investigate. Colon hydrotherapy is still a common treatment in some European countries in conjunction with current medicine.

Colon hydrotherapy is one of the most efficient methods to get rid of the accumulation of toxins in the colon. A properly maintained colon is more capable of healing itself and helping tone bowel muscles.


Dr. John H. Kellogg. “Should the Colon Be Sacrificed or May It Be Reformed?” JAMA 1917, LXVIII(26).

Douglas G. Richards, PhD, David L. McMillin, MA, Eric A. Mein, MD, and Carl D. Nelson, DC. “Colonic Irrigations: A Review of the Historical Controversy and the Potential for Adverse Effects.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2006.

Dr. Morton Walker. “Value of Colon Hydrotherapy Verified by Medical Professionals.” Medical Journalist Report, 2000.

Betty Glasser

Certified colon hydrotherapist