It has been a while since the first enema, the precursor of colonic hydrotherapy, was performed. Researching history, one concludes that the first enema was used in the ancient Egyptian times, about 1400 BC.
On a medical papyrus, which is now stored in a medical museum in Berlin, the first enema was described. Â Historians tell us that this basic form of colonic hydrotherapy was passed down from the Gods to the Egyptians. But not only the Egyptians used colonic cleansing techniques. In the Amazon, Central Africa and remote parts of Asia, river water was used to cleanse the colon.
A Hippocrates, a well known Greek physician and founder of Western Medicine, prescribed and used enemas for colonic cleansing purposes. The abdominal massage, which is often used during the colonic therapy, stems from the Mayas.
Still there is a debate going on whether it was Avicenna (980-1036 A.D.) or Albucasis of Cordova (1013-1106 A.D.), also known for developing the first ear syringe, who recorded the first colonic apparatus. Before the first official apparatus, a wide variety of nature’s products were used to administer enemas, like calabash filled with water or a hollow cow corn.
A remarkable fact in royal history is that in 1480 the King of France, Louis XI became a disciple of colonic therapy after a successful treatment for apoplexy (Greek term for internal bleeding) that “he even had his dogs clysterized when he thought they required it”.
Enemas reached their top of fashion in the early years of the reign of King Louis XIV, who had over 2000 enemas during his career, mainly using a clyster syringe made of mother of pearl and silver. People who couldn’t afford such a fancy tool used clyster syringes made of porcelain or copper.
At the middle of the 18th century a widespread use of enemas had disappeared and at the same time the development of machines as we currently used started. Edward Jukes developed the first two colonic hydrotherapy systems. One using gravity as the driving power (?), the other one was a syringe-tool to give patients an enema. However, still there were no consistent standards in enema therapy.
This problem of inconsistent therapy was solved by Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1851), creating the first machine which looks similar to the machines we use nowadays. This machine has the principles of the enema and the clyster, incorporated into one therapy.
As in the 19th century a pharmaceutical approach to treat various conditions became more common, enemas experienced a temporary decrease in popularity.
However, as pharmaceutics had side effects and not always had the desired outcome, natural medicine came back in the picture.
Dr. Kellogg (1852-1943), an American doctor based in Michigan, was responsible for increasing usage of the therapy around 1917 by recommending and using the treatment for many different diseases, successfully. He treated almost 40,000 patients with gastro-intestinal diseases, only 20 patients required surgery. All other cases were treated by colonic hydrotherapy, diet and exercise. In 1940 the equipment for the therapy continued to improve and nowadays colonic hydrotherapy is one of the most popular holistic treatments available.