History of the Enema
An enema is “a fluid injected into the rectum for the purpose of clearing out the bowel.” The enema has been called “one of the oldest medical procedures still in use today.” Tribal women in Africa, and elsewhere, routinely use it on their children. The earliest medical text in existence, the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, (1,500 B.C.) mentions it. The Greeks wrote of the fabled cleanliness of the Egyptians, which included the internal cleansing of their systems through enemas. Enemas were known in ancient Sumeria, Babylonia, India, Greece and China. American Indians independently invented it, using a syringe made of an animal bladder and a hollow leg bone. Pre-Columbian South Americans fashioned latex into the first rubber enema bags and tubes. In fact, there is hardly a region of the world where people did not discover or adapt the enema. Enemas are found in world literature from Shakespeare to Gulliver’s Travels.
It was an acceptable practice in Parisian society to have as many as three or four enemas a day, the belief being that an internal washing or “lavement” was essential to well-being. It was not only considered indispensable for health but practiced for good complexion as well. Louis XIV is said to have taken over 2,000 in his lifetime. For centuries, enemas were a routine home remedy.
John Harvey Kellogg, M.D. reported in the 1917 Journal of American Medicine that in the treatment of gastrointestinal disease, in over 40,000 cases, he used surgery in only 20 cases. The rest were helped as a result of cleansing the bowels, diet, and exercise.
Colon Hydrotherapy gained the attention of James A. Wiltse, M.D., who contended that “our knowledge of the normal and abnormal physiology of the colon, and of its pathology and management, has not kept pace with that of many organs and systems of the body”. He went on to say, “As long as we continue to assume that the colon will take care of itself, just that long will we remain in complete ignorance of perhaps the most important source of ill health in the whole body.”