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John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943)

John Harvey Kellogg was an American health reformer inspired by the ‘gospel of health’ of the Adventists, a religious movement which advocated abstinence and vegetarianism.

Kellogg founded a health retreat, the Health Reform Institute, at Battle Creek, USA. The institute became very popular with wealthy Americans despite the fact that Kellogg subjected his patients to restrictions of diet, alcohol, tobacco and sexual activity, as well as to physical treatments including exercise, massage and hydrotherapy. Kellogg argued that clean intestines were the source of health, and prescribed daily yoghurt enemas to achieve it.

With his brother William Keith Kellogg, the health reformer developed foods that complemented his beliefs about the importance of a healthy diet, including corn flakes and a new method for making peanut butter. He wrote many popular self-help books, in which he advertised his method of healthy living. He was also a strong supporter of anti-masturbation measures, because he thought that masturbation caused a wide range of disorders such as cancer, impotenceepilepsy and insanity.

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Bibliography

J H Kellogg, Plain Facts for Old and Young (Burlington, Iowa: I F Segner, 1882)

Glossary:

Enema

A liquid injected into the anus. Enemas can be carried out for medical reasons, as a treatment for constipation, or as a way to give drugs.

Impotence

The inability to gain an erection, or for long enough to sustain intercourse. Around one in ten men are affected regularly, and most men experience erectile dysfunction at some point.

Epilepsy

A disorder of brain function characterized by seizures that occur suddenly. The seizures can be triggered by fast flashing lights, especially strobe lighting.