Seventh-day Adventists

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, MD

One of Ellen G. White's Wonder Children


Picture above  is of the well-known Hollywood star Anthony Hopkins in his role as Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, MD in the film titled:

"The Road to Wellville"


     "John Harvey Kellogg (February 26, 1852 – December 14, 1943) was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas, and exercise.      Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg."

John Harvey Kellogg, MD


  "Kellogg was born in Tyrone, Michigan,  to John Preston Kellogg (1806–1881) and Ann Janette Stanley (1824–1893).   Kellogg lived with two sisters during childhood.    By 1860, the family had moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where his father established a broom factory.   John later worked as a printer's devil  in a Battle Creek publishing house."

    'Kellogg attended the Battle Creek public schools, then attended the Michigan State Normal School (since 1959, East Michigan University), and finally, New York University Medical College at Bellevue Hospital.   He graduated in 1875 with a medical degree.     He married Ella Ervilla Eaton (1853–1920) of Alfred Center, New York, on February 22, 1879.     They did not have any biological children, but raised over 40 children, legally adopting seven of them, before Ella died in 1920.     The adopted children include Agnes Grace, Elizabeth, John William, Ivaline Maud, Paul Alfred , Robert Moffatt, Newell Carey, and Harriett Eleanor.     Kellogg died in 1943 and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Battle Creek, Michigan, along with his parents, James White and Ellen White, C. W. Post, W. K. Kellogg, his brother and his brother's wife, Uriah Smith, and Sojourner Truth.".

Battle Creek Sanitarium

      "Kellogg was a Seventh-day Adventist until mid-life and gained fame while being the chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.    The San was run based on the church's health principles.         Adventists believe in a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and a regimen of exercise, which Kellogg followed, among other things.    He is remembered as an advocate of vegetarianism and wrote in favor of it, even after leaving the Adventist Church.    His dietary advice in the late 19th century, which was in part concerned with reducing sexual stimulation, discouraged meat-eating, but not emphatically so."

     "Kellogg was an especially strong proponent of nuts, which he believed would save mankind in the face of decreasing food supply.     Though mainly renowned nowadays for his development of corn flakes, Kellogg also patented a process for making peanut butter and invented healthful, "granose biscuits."


      "At the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Kellogg held classes on food preparation for homemakers.    Sanitarium visitors engaged in breathing exercises and mealtime marches to promote proper digestion of food throughout the day. Because Kellogg was a staunch supporter of phototherapy, the sanitarium also made use of artificial sunbaths."

    "Kellogg made sure that the bowel of each and every patient was plied with water, from above and below.    His favorite device was an enema machine that could rapidly instill several gallons of water in a series of enemas.    Every water enema was followed by a pint of yogurt — half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema, “thus planting the protective germs where they are most needed and may render most effective service."      The yogurt served to replace the intestinal flora of the bowel, creating what Kellogg claimed was a squeaky-clean intestine."

     "Kellogg believed that most disease is alleviated by a change in intestinal flora; that bacteria in the intestines can either help or hinder the body; that pathogenic bacteria produce toxins during the digestion of protein that poison the blood; that a poor diet favors harmful bacteria that can then infect other tissues in the body; that the intestinal flora is changed by diet and is generally changed for the better by a well-balanced vegetarian diet favoring low-protein, laxative, and high-fiber foods; and that this natural change in flora could be sped by enemas seeded with favorable bacteria, or by various regimens of specific foods designed to heal specific ailments."

     "Kellogg was a skilled surgeon, who often donated his services to indigent patients at his clinic.    Although generally against unnecessary surgery to treat diseases, he did advocate circumcision, allegedly to prevent masturbation."

       "He had many notable patients, such as former president William Howard Taft, composer and pianist Percy Grainger, arctic explorers Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Roald Amundsen, world travelers Richard Halliburton and Lowell Thomas, aviator Amelia Earhart, economist Irving Fisher, Nobel prize winning playwright George Bernard Shaw, actor and athlete Johnny Weissmuller, founder of the Ford Motor Company Henry Ford, inventor Thomas Edison, and actress Sarah Bernhardt."

Breakfast Cereals

     "John Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg started the Sanitas Food Company to produce their whole grain  cereals around 1897, a time when the standard breakfast for the wealthy was eggs and meat, while the poor ate porridge, farina, gruel, and other boiled grains.    John and Will later argued over the recipe for the cereals (Will wanted to add sugar to the flakes).   So in 1906, Will started his own company, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which eventually became the Kellogg Company, triggering a decades-long feud.    John then formed the Battle Creek Food Company to develop and market soy products."

    "The Kelloggs did not invent the concept of the dry breakfast cereal.   That honor belongs to Dr. James Caleb Jackson, who created the first dry breakfast cereal in 1863, which he called, "Granula."    A patient of John's, Charles William Post, would eventually start his own dry cereal company, Post Cereals, selling a rival brand of corn flakes.    Dr. Kellogg later would claim that Charles Post stole the formula for corn flakes from his safe in the Sanitarium office."

Views on Sex

    "As an advocate of sexual abstinence, Kellogg devoted large amounts of his educational and medical work to discouraging sexual activity, on the basis of dangers both scientifically based at the time, as in sexually transmissible diseases, and those taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  He set out his views on such matters in one of his larger books, published in various editions around the turn of the 20th century under the title Plain Facts about Sexual Life and later Plain Facts for Old and Young.    Some of his work on diet was influenced by his belief that a plain and healthy diet, with only two meals a day, among other things, would reduce sexual feelings.        Those experiencing temptation were to avoid stimulating food and drinks, and eat very little meat, if any.     Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas."

"Warfare with passion"

      "He warned that many types of sexual activity, including many "excesses" that couples could be guilty of within marriage, were against nature, and therefore, extremely unhealthy.     He drew on the warnings of William Acton and expressed support for the work of Anthony Comstock.    He appears to have followed his own advice; it has been suggested he worked on Plain Facts during his honeymoon."

     "He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation; this was an orthodox view during his lifetime, especially the earlier part.     Kellogg was able to draw upon many medical sources' claims such as "neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism," credited to one Dr. Adam Clarke.    Kellogg strongly warned against the habit in his own words, claiming of masturbation-related deaths "such a victim literally dies by his own hand," among other condemnations.    He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but the moral health of individuals as well.     Kellogg also believed the practice of "solitary-vice" caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility; "dimness of vision" was only briefly mentioned."

 Drastic measures

       "Kellogg worked on the rehabilitation of masturbators, often employing extreme measures, even mutilation, on both sexes.      He was an advocate of circumcising young boys to curb masturbation and applying phenol (carbolic acid) to a young woman's clitoris.    In his Plain Facts for Old and Young, he wrote

'A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.'


'In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.'

He also recommended, to prevent children from this "solitary vice", bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages, sewing the foreskin shut and electrical shock."

In his Ladies' Guide in Health and Disease, for nymphomania, he recommended

'Cool sitz baths; the cool enema; a spare diet; the application of blisters and other irritants to the sensitive parts of the sexual organs, the removal of the clitoris and nymphae..'.

Later Life

      "Kellogg would live for over sixty years after writing Plain Facts.   Whether he continued to teach the "facts" in it is not entirely clear, although it appears from the later books he wrote that he moved away from this subject matter.     One source, taking a positive view of his nutritional and anti-smoking work, suggests he "dropped his obsession with the evils of sex" around 1920, which would be consistent with the last edition of Plain Facts being apparently published in 1917,  but another, highly critical source maintains he "never retracted his claims."    He did continue to work on healthy eating advice and run the sanitarium, although this was hit by the Great Depression and had to be sold. He ran another institute in Florida, which was popular throughout the rest of his life, although it was a distinct step down from his Battle Creek institute."

 Race Betterment Foundation

      "Kellogg was outspoken on his beliefs on race and segregation, in spite of the fact that he himself adopted a number of black children.     In 1906, together with Irving Fisher and Charles Davenport, Kellogg founded the Race Betterment Foundation, which became a major center of the new eugenics movement in America.     Kellogg was in favor of racial segregation and believed that immigrants and non-whites would damage the gene pool."

 Relationship with W. K. Kellogg

      "Kellogg had a long personal and business split with his brother after fighting in court for the rights to cereal recipes.   The Foundation for Economic Education records that the nonagenarian J.H.K. prepared a letter seeking to reopen the relationship, but that his secretary decided her employer had demeaned himself in it and refused to send it.     The younger Kellogg did not see it until after his brother's death."

Selected Publications

  • Kellogg, John Harvey (1877). Plain Facts for Old and Young: "Self Abuse ... After having duly considered the causes and effects of this terrible evil, the question next in order for consideration is, How shall it be cured? When a person has, through ignorance or weakness, brought upon himself the terrible effects described, how shall he find relief from his ills, if restoration is possible? To the answer of these inquiries, most of the remaining pages of this work will be devoted. But before entering upon a description of methods of cure, a brief consideration of the subject of prevention of the habit will be in order."
  • Kellogg, John Harvey (1888). Treatment for Self-Abuse and Its Effects.
  • 1893 Ladies Guide in Health and Disease
  • 1880, 1886, 1899 The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine
  • 1903 Rational Hydrotherapy
  • 1910 Light Therapeutics
  • 1914 Needed -- A New Human Race Official Proceedings: Vol. I, Proceedings of the First National Conference on Race Betterment. Battle Creek, MI: Race Betterment Foundation, 431-450.
  • 1915 "Health and Efficiency" Macmillan M. V. O'Shea and J. H. Kellogg (The Health Series of Physiology and Hygiene)
  • 1915 The Eugenics Registry Official Proceedings: Vol II, Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Race Betterment. Battle Creek, MI: Race Betterment Foundation.
  • 1922 Autointoxication or Intestinal Toxemia
  • 1923 Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills
  • 1927 New Dietetics: A Guide to Scientific Feeding in Health and Disease
  • 1929 Art of Massage: A Practical Manual for the Nurse, the Student and the Practitioner

Popular Culture

  • T. Coraghessan Boyle's 1993 comic novel The Road to Wellville is a fictionalized story about Kellogg and his sanitarium.
  • A filmed version of the book, directed by Alan Parker, was released in 1994. It starred Anthony Hopkins as Kellogg.
  • Mel Brooks' 1995 film Dracula: Dead and Loving It featured a sanitarium boss named "Dr. Jack Seward" (played by Harvey Korman), who would recommend enemas for every conceivable ailment.    The character was clearly based on Kellogg, and in one scene is seen eating corn flakes.   (Dr. Seward is the name of a character in the novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker.)
      NOTE by Dr. Bob Holt, MD.  I have listed Dr. John Harvey Kellogg as "One of Ellen G. White's Wonder Children" because they both shared somewhat of an obsession with sexual abstinence.    Sister White helped Dr. Kellogg with money for his education and they were in communication with each other while he was running the Sanitarium.   It is hard to determine this long after these events whether Dr. Kellogg influenced Ellen White's emphasis on sexual abstinence in her Testimonies series, or whether she, instead, encouraged his obsession with the subject.   Perhaps at one time in his early career Dr. Kellogg, like so many others among 19th century Sabbatarians and Adventists considered Ellen White's oral and written statements to be INFALLIBLE, but in Dr. Kellogg's case, he later obviously abandoned this idea.

     Dr. Kellogg became enamored with the idea that God was manifest in nature to an extent that was unacceptable to the Adventist church leaders, and Ellen White sided with the church leaders on this issue.   Dr. Kellogg wrote a book on his newest radical ideas, and talked the Review and Herald Press into publishing this as a way of raising money to rebuild the Sanitarium after it burned.    Soon afterward the Press burned also, and the superstitious among the church members saw these fires as an act of God's displeasure against both Dr. Kellogg and his "New Theology".    Kellogg left the church, never to return.

    More about the Battle Creek Fires:CLICK HERE.