John Harvey Kellogg.

Colon hygiene, comprising new and important facts concerning the physiology of the colon and an account of practical and successful methods of combating intestinal inactivity and toxemia online

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Colon Hygiene

Colon Hygiene

Comprising New and Important Facts Con'
cerning the Physiology of the Colon and an
Account of Practical and Successful Methods of
Combating Intestinal Inactivity and Toxemia


SuS)erintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium; Author of "Neurasthenia,

Its Causes and Cure," "Rational Hydrotherapy," "The Art of

Massage," "Light Therapeutics," etc.

Twenty-eighth Thousand




Copyright 1917



K 2.3


That most despised and neglected portion of
the body, the colon, has in recent years been made
the subject of much scientific study and research,
with the result that a lively controversy has been
stirred up over the question as to w^hether this or-
gan should be permitted to remain a part of the
"human form divine," or w^hether it should be
cast out as worse than useless and unworthy of a
place in the anatomy of the modern genus homo.

Anatomists have declared the colon to be a
useless appendage, a vestigial remnant left over
from a prehistoric state. Bacteriologists have
charged it with being an incubating chamber of
poison-forming germs, a hold of unclean and hate-
ful parasites, a veritable Pandora's box of disease
and degeneracy. Surgeons have removed the offend-
ing organ, and thus proved that it may be dispensed
with, and have claimed wonderful advantages from
this abbreviation of the prima vite.

Barclay Smith, the great English anatomist, first
suggested the uselessness of the colon. MetchnikoflE
proved that animals that possess the longest
colons have the shortest lives, and announced that
the colon bacillus is the germ of old age. Sir
William Arbuthnot Lane, the eminent London
surgeon, cites a long list of grave maladies, ranging


from tuberculosis to rheumatism, cured by removal
of this offending organ.

The war still wages. There are pro-colon par-
tisans as well as anti-colon enthusiasts. One thing
is certain, however, the colon can no longer be
ignored. That this organ, or rather the morbid
conditions that develop in it, plays a dominant role
in the causation of a long list of the gravest and
most common disorders, can no longer be denied.

In the treatment of every chronic disease, and
most acute maladies, the colon must be reckoned
with. That the average colon, in civilized com-
munities, is in a desperately depraved and danger-
ous condition, can no longer be doubted. The
colon must either be removed or reformed. From
the beginning of the colon controversy and for
many years before, the writer has been a very
earnest student of the questions involved, and has
formed very definite opinions, the validity of
which he, together with his colleagues of the fac-
ulty of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, has had oppor-
tunity to test in the treatment of many thousands
of sufferers from colon and colon-caused maladies.
The writer believes that methods have been worked
out by means of which the colon may be reformed
and made to do its work efficiently, not only in
ordinary cases, but in by far the great majority of
those cases which are thought by enthusiastic colon
surgeons to be suitable subjects for surgical treat-


Until very recent years almost nothing has been
known of the physiology of the colon. This part
of the body has been almost a terra incognita. The
physiology of digestion stopped at the ileocecal
valve. How the colon dealt with its contents, how
the very necessary act of defecation was performed,
nobody knew. The discovery of the X-ray en-
abled Cannon and, later, Hertz to study the colon
while in action in animals and man. Elliot, Keith,
and other anatomists studied the intestine in dogs,
and finally Case, by perfecting the X-ray technic
of colon examinations, completed the physiologic
study of this previously neglected organ. The
combined result of the extensive labors of these
investigators has been a great flood of light upon
some of the most obscure questions in physiology.
These new facts, not yet known to the general
public, have rendered the greatest service in the
development of rational methods of dealing with
that most common and most destructive disease of
civilized peoples — constipation. The chief purpose
of this work is to present in a popular way these new
facts and the practical results to which they have

Forty years' experience and observation in deal-
ing with chronic invalids, and careful study of
the results of the modern X-ray investigations of
the colon, together with observations made at the
operating table in many hundreds of cases, has
convinced the writer —


1. That constipation with its consequences is
the result of the unnatural habits in relation to diet
and colon hygiene which prevail among civilized

2. That patients are not constipated on gen-
eral principles, but that there exists in every case
of constipation some particular condition which is
the immediate cause of the delayed intestinal move-
ment, and which must be removed before definite
relief can be obtained, and that in the great ma-
jority of cases this cause is mechanical in character,
a fold, a kink, a redundancy, a contraction — in
short, some real and tangible obstruction.

3. That practically every case of constipation
is curable, and in all but exceptional cases without
the aid of surgery. It must be added, however,
that by cure is not meant the working of such a
miracle that the colon will perform its function
normally without attention to diet or other means
which encourage colon activity, but rather that by
observing certain rules and the faithful and con-
tinuous use of safe and simple means, the colon
may be made to perform its functions in a regu-
lar and efficient manner, without the use of
irritating laxative drugs.

If some of our recommendations at first impress
the reader unfavorably, we ask only that judg-
ment be suspended until the suggestion has been
given a fair test in actual experiment. Every
measure presented has been tested in the crucible


of actual experience in hundreds of cases, and is
the result of a long series of practical tests made
for the purpose of determining the actual value of
individual remedies and perfecting practical methods
©f relief.

If the reader misses the usual list of laxative
drugs, old and new, the reason is simply that
the writer regards all medicinal agents that force
bowel action by irritation (wrongly termed "stimu-
lation") as pernicious and, without exception, harm-
ful, and to be used only as temporary or emerg-
ency measures. In the words of the eminent Pro-
fessor Von Noorden, "Nothing is so bad as the
chronic use of laxative drugs."

The reader is asked especially to note that no
panacea is offered for colon miseries; there is no
"cure all" for constipation. The way out of the
slough of intestinal toxemia with its "biliousness,"
headaches, neurasthenias, and multitudinous mal-
adies, is to be found only through living biolog-
ically, and making use of the "safe and sane" helps
which recent scientific progress has provided.

In attempting to put into semi-popular form the
scientific facts pertaining to the hygiene of the colon,
the writer does not desire to convey the impression
that the sufferer from severe constipation can
safely undertake to act as his own physician. The
purpose is rather to enable the patient who may
read this work to cooperate intelligently with the
wise up-to-date physician.


The reader's attention is especially called to the
chapter on "The Bowel Habits of Uncivilized
Man," which contains a fund of original informa-
tion obtained at the cost of much effort, w^hich is
both highly interesting and instructive. The author
desires here to acknowledge his obligations to some
hundreds of medical colleagues who have devoted
their lives to the noble work of carr}ang to heathen
lands the blessings of modern scientific medicine and
Christian civilization, and who have found time in
the midst of their arduous labors to answer the
questionaire and thus furnished the unique informa-
tion presented in this chapter.



The writer has made a feAv important additions
in this edition of "Colon Hygiene." The author
also desires to express his gratitude for the very
kindly reception which the book has received and
the hope that the revisions made in this fourth edi-
tion will render the volume still more useful and
acceptable to those of the great army of sufferers
from chronic ailments into whose hands the work
may fall.


The Colon 17

The Physiology of the Colon 23

The Ileocecal Valve and Its Function . . 37

Normal Bowel Action ... ... 40

The Feces 51

Influences Which Excite Movements of the

Colon ., 58

Influences Which Lessen Intestinal Move-
ments 73

The Causes of Constipation 78

Habits Which give Rise to Constipation . 87
Disorders of the Digestive Tube . . . . 135
Alimentary Toxemia, or Intestinal Autoin-
toxication 159

Important Discussion of Alimentary Toxemia

before the Royal Society 177

Forms of Constipation 195

The Treatment of Constipation .... 201

Diet in Constipation 218

Baths and Other Home Treatments for Con-
stipation 241

Exercises Which combat Constipation . . 272


Eflficient Electrical Methods 300

Special Treatment of Different Types of Con-
stipation 303

Treatment of Disorders Which Result from

Constipation 322

Bowel Habits of Uncivilized Man . . . 370

The Colon

Ignoring technical anatomical details the food
canal may be described as a muscular tube about
ten times the length of the body, measuring the
trunk from the top of the head to the end of the
spinal column. The chief part is coiled up in the
lower cavity of the trunk, below the diaphragm.
The upper end of the canal is controlled by the
circular muscle of the lips, which is brought strongly
into play in whistling. The lower end is controlled
by the anus, also a voluntary circular muscle. At
other points along the canal, circular muscles are
placed to regulate the movements of the foodstuffs
during the process of digestion. Both in health and
disease these "food gates," as they may be called,
have a most important relation to digestion that has
not been fully appreciated until very recent times.

The upper end of the food tube is provided with
a special apparatus, the mouth and teeth, for taking
in food and preparing it to undergo the various
processes which are carried on in the deeper parts.
At the lower end of the canal is found a mechanism
that is wonderfully designed to receive and discharge
from the body the unused remnants of the food and
other waste materials — the pelvic colon. Of this
we shall learn more later. <



The Structure of the Food Tube

In structure, the food tube consists chiefly of
muscle and gland tissue. There are two sets of
muscle fibres. One set, the outer, runs lengthwise
of the canal; an inner, circular muscle structure,
surrounds the canal throughout its entire length.

Between the muscle layers is a layer of nerve
cells and fibres. These are connected with the
central nervous sj^stem, the brain and spinal cord,
but are capable of acting independently.

The food canal is lined with mucous membrane,
which presents at various points special groups of
glands that produce some of the various digestive
juices which act upon the food. The canal is cov-
ered through most of its course with a delicate
membrane, the peritoneum.

The food tube is roughly divided into six parts —
the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine,
colon and rectum. The intestine is attached to
the spine by a membrane, the mesentery, in which
pass the nerves and blood vessels which supply the

The colon may roughly be described as a mus-
cular reservoir about five feet in length and an inch
and a half to three inches in diameter. This reser-
voir is divided mto four secondary reservoirs, the
cecum, the transverse colon, the pelvic colon, and
the rectum. The feces, in their preparation for
discharge from the body, are passed successively
from one to the other of these reservoirs, pausing




for a definite interval in each, with the exception of
the last.

Normal Position of the Colon

When in its normal position, the colon begins
at the lower right hand section of the abdominal
cavity; its head, a pouch much broader than the
rest of the colon, lies in the hollow of the right
iliac bone. This is the cecum. The small intes-
tine joins the cecum about an inch and a half
above its lower part, leaving a pocket, at the bottom
of which is attached the appendix.

From the cecum the intestine ascends along the
right side of the abdomen to the liver. This por-
tion is the ascending colon. At the liver a rather
sharp turn is made toward the left, the hepatic

From this point the colon passes across the body
above the umbilicus, sloping upward toward the
left side, where it lies in close contact with the
spleen. This section is the transverse colon.

At the spleen the intestine makes a short turn,
the splenic flexure, then passes downward along
the left border of the abdominal cavity to the hip
bone (crest of the ileum). This is the descend-
ing colon.

Passing obliquely across the hollow surface of
the left iliac bone, the large intestine, here called
the iliac colon, reaches the upper border of the
pelvic cavity. Here it forms a loop, the pelvic


colon, which has an average length of a foot and
a half, but which varies in length from six inches
to nearly three feet (in conditions of disease). The
pelvic colon and iliac colon together form the sig-
moid. The lower end of the pelvic colon joins
the terminal portion of the intestine, the rectum,
opposite the middle of the sacrum. The pelvic
colon varies in position according as it is empty or
filled. When empty, it falls over backward into
the pelvis, and lies upon the upper part of the
rectum. When it is in this position, a very pro-
nounced fold is formed at the junction with the
rectum, the pelvi-rectal fold, a factor in con-
trolling bowel movements. Wlien the pelvic loop
is full, it rises and thus gradually obliterates the
fold and so opens the passage to the rectum.

The rectum extends from the pelvi-rectal fold
to the internal anal sphincter, being about six inches
in length. In its upper part are two or three
projecting folds of membrane known as Houston's

The thicker muscular walls of the rectum are
ordinarily contracted so that no cavity exists in
the upper part, although some gas and often (in
cases of disease) a considerable amount of fecal
matter may be found in the lower part.

The distance between the internal and external
sphincter is about one inch. This is the anal
canal, which is ahvays tightly closed except dur-
ing defecation.

Ileocecal Valve of a Conger Eel.
A, Ileum; B. Ileocecal Valve; C, Colon.


Just above the internal anal sphincter is found
a series of raised points or papillae, first described
by Horner of Philadelphia many years ago. These
papillae are the terminal points of special nerves
which when excited cause powerful contraction of
the colon and the abdominal muscles and dia-
phragm, and at the same time a complete relaxation
of the anal sphincter.

Here are also a number of shallow pockets in
the mucous membrane, the follicles of Horner,
v/hose function is to secrete a lubricating mucus.
Both follicles and papillse sometimes become in-
flamed and a source of pain.

Behind the rectum are located two muscles
which act an important part in defecation, the
levator ani muscles. In contracting, these muscles
pull the anus upward and compress the rectum,
and so squeeze out the last particles of fecal matter,
leaving the rectum completely empty.

The small intestine is a smooth tube of uniform
size, but the large intestine is sacculated. By a
thickening of its muscular structures at intervals
shallow pouches are formed in its sides. Along the
outer surface of the colon run thick bands of
muscle tissue which act in defecation like gathering
strings. In contracting, these bands draw the lat-
eral pouches together, so as to empty them of their
contents. These sacs or pouches are well shown
in the accompanying stereoradiogram, a rare view
of the colon.


All parts of the large intestine, including the
rectum, are supplied with two sets of nerves, one
of which stimulates its muscles to contract, while
the other exercises an opposite influence.

In the accompanying plates will be seen represen-
tations of the colons of different animals. It is
especially interesting to note the close relation be-
twerai the form of the colon and the character of
the food in various classes of animals. In flesh-
eating animals the colon is always short; in Tege-
table eaters it is long as compared with the body

The Physiology of the Colon

The function of the colon is largely that of
a receptacle for unusable and waste matters, a sort
of human garbage box. On this account, perhaps,
this part of the food tube has been habitually neg-
lected. It has been regarded as of little conse-
quence. But modern studies of this part of the
intestine have shown that by neglect this temporary
reservoir of wastes may become a veritable breed-
ing place of miseries and maladies almost too num-
erous to mention. So many and so serious are the
disorders of mind and body which are now trace-
able to this part of the food tube, that not a few
eminent surgeons have advocated and practiced the
actual removal of the colon in cases of chronic
disease of various sorts, and in many instances with
surprisingly good results.

Professor MetchnikofE, of the Pasteur Institute,
Paris, Dr. Arbuthnot Lane, head surgeon of Guy's
Hospital, London, Dr. Barclay Smith, and numerous
other scientific men, eminent bacteriologists, physi-
ologists, anatomists and surgeons, have even an-
nounced the belief that the colon is a useless and
often dangerous structure and that it may be advan-
tageously dispensed with.

The writer does not accept this view, but holds
with Professor Keith, the eminent English anatom-
ist, that the evils attributed to the colon are really



due to the adoption by man of a dietary unsuited to
his anatomy. All vegetable-eating animals have
long colons, as has man. The presumption is that a
vegetable diet requires a long colon. Meat-eating
animals, as the dog, have short colons. The frog
while in the tadpole state is a vegetable feeder and
has a very long colon. The adult frog feeds upon
flesh and has a very short colon.

The Wrong Use to Which We Put the Colon

The trouble with the civilized colon is not that
it is too long, but that it is put to a wrong use.
Civilized man has adopted the dog's diet vvhile
having the colon of the chimpanzee. It may be ad-
mitted that if a man is to feed on the diet of the dog
he ought to have his colon abbreviated. This is, in
fact, the only way in which he could avoid a dan-
gerous biologic misfit.

It is hardly to be supposed, however, that Nature
has made so grave an error as to give to man an
organ which is not only a useless appendage, but
at the same time a prolific source of mischief. It
seems more rational to believe that if the colon,
an organ useful under normal conditions of life, is
found to be so great a source of mischief in our
civilized life, it is because of abnormal and pernic-
ious habits or other influences connected with the
life of the average civilized man.

The remedy is to be sought then, not in the

Diagram Showing Normal Colon and
Ileocecal Valve


extirpation of a portion of the body, but in a cor-
rection of those habits of life in which there has
been a departure from the condition normal to
the human species, and a return to practices and
conditions which are physiologically and biolog-
ically correct for the genus homo.

The First Function of the Colon

One important function of the colon is to re-
ceive and to discharge from the body the unusable
residue of foodstuffs. If these foodstuffs are of
such a nature that they readily undergo putrefac-
tion, as do meats of all sorts, the colon contents
will become highly putrescent, offensive and poison-
ous, while still in the body. A non-putrefying
vegetable diet on the other hand furnishes a residue
which cannot putrefy, but ferments, forming harm-
less acids which aid bowel action. Hence the colon
is not out-of-date, as its critics have suggested, but
is only made to appear as a misfit by the adoption of
a diet which belongs to short-colon animals. This
view maintained for many years by all advocates of
the biologic diet is so eminently reasonable that it
csnnot fail to be accorded due recognition since it is
now supported by so eminent an authority as the
world-famous anatomist, Professor Keith, of Eng-

Another important function of the alimentary
canal, one which is quite distinct from its function


as a digestive apparatus, is its excretory function.
The intestine is the outlet of the bile, from fifteen
to twenty ounces being poured into the upper end
of the small intestine every twenty-four hours. The
bile is the most poisonous of all the bodily secretions,
being, according to Bouchard, six times as poisonous
as urine. It is through the bile that the body rids'
itself of alkaline wastes, some of which are highly
poisonous in character.

Another fact of very great importance is that the
intestine is itself an excretory organ. Certain poi-
sons are excreted by the stomach, others find their
way out of the blood through the walls of the gall-
bladder and the small intestines.

The colon forms a receptacle for all these waste
and excretory substances, together with the un-
usable or undigested residues of the food. But
the collection of these waste matters is only an
incidental function of the colon, its really important
function being to conduct these waste and unusable
matters out of the body.

The food normally enters the first part of the
colon, or the cecum, in a nearly fluid state, its
composition being ninety per cent water, and only
one-tenth solid matter. During the passage of
the foodstuffs through the twenty-two feet of small
intestine, the digestible starches, fats, and proteins
are rendered soluble by the digestive fluids, and are
practically completely absorbed. The solid parts
left consist almost entirely of indigestible remnants



of foods, waste products excreted by the liver and
the intestinal mucous membrane and microbes which
are produced in great numbers in the lower part
of the small intestine as well as in the colon.
The small intestine is not only the seat of the
principal digestive processes, but is also the prin-
cipal organ of absorption of the digested foodstuffs.
The colon normally absorbs only about one-sixth of
the water which remains in the material received
from the small intestine, the amount of which is
estimated at about half a pint, and practically none
of the foodstuffs. The small intestine absorbs daily
five or six quarts of liquids and all the products of
digestion. It is, in fact, the one great avenue for
the intake of nutrients, both solid and liquid.

About four hours after a meal, bubbling and
squirting sounds may be distinctly heard when the
ear is placed over the right lower abdomen, and an
hour or two later it is easy to produce splashing
and gurgling sounds by intermittent pressure over
the colon low down in the right side of the abdo-
men, showing that a considerable amount of fluid
has passed from the small intestine into the cecum.
It should be remembered that this is not a mere
mechanical process. The fluid food does not pass by
gravity from the small bowel into the large intestine
as water might trickle from a pipe into a reservoir.
The opening of the small intestine into the colon is
controlled by a sphincter, the ileocecal valve. This
circular muscle holds the food in check in the lower


part of the small intestine long enough to make

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Online LibraryJohn Harvey KelloggColon hygiene, comprising new and important facts concerning the physiology of the colon and an account of practical and successful methods of combating intestinal inactivity and toxemia → online text (page 1 of 23)