One of the fathers of modern massage, John Harvey Kellogg, is best known today as a cereal magnate.
Born shortly before the Civil War, Kellogg spent his life in Michigan and died in 1943 at the age of 91. Although he and his wife of 67 years, Ella, did not have any of their own biological children, they fostered 42 of them and legally adopted seven.

Trained as a medical doctor, Kellogg ran a famous sanitarium that focused on vegetarianism, exercise, and abstinence from smoking and drinking. Kellogg invented the word “sanitarium,” and defined it as a place where people learn to stay well. He was one of the first famous American advocates for vegetarianism, and inventor of a cereal empire that still bears his name (and jumpstarted the health food industry).

He spent much of his life at the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he served as the chief medical officer; the health facility was owned and operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which still espouses this focus on health today.

Along with activities like regular walks, breathing exercises, hydrotherapy and sunbathing, clients of the sanitarium were encouraged to receive regular massage; Kellogg also wrote a textbook, The Art of Massage, that served to standardize and categorize techniques and “eliminate the unnecessary and inefficient, and to develop and perfect those methods capable of securing most definite and prompt results,” as he wrote.

Kellogg maintained that in order to be an effective massage therapist, one must fully understand anatomy and physiology, particularly of the nervous system. Rather than simply theorize, Kellogg became an avid researcher and practitioner, trying out various methods at the sanitarium in order to determine their efficacy.

He also sought to educate the public on how to avoid falling prey to “snake oil salesmen,” and trained in Europe with the best massage practitioners he could find, along with reading all the material on the topic that he could find from experts like Dowse, Graham, Ling, Murrell, Reibmayr, Schreiber and Tibbitts.

Kellogg was a longtime, albeit controversial, member of the Adventist Church, which still espouses their focus on health today. He was “disfellowshipped” from the church following publication of a book called “The Living Temple,” which contained what were considered to be “pantheistic” remarks, in which he stated that the spirit of God can be found in everything, including plant life.

After more than 65 years at the sanitarium, the Great Depression forced Kellogg and the Adventists to close its doors, and Kellogg opened another facility in Florida that never saw its predecessor’s fame.


3 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this useful information. I was doing a project and for that I was looking for related information. Some of the points are very useful

  2. Yes. Here it is. I have been looking for such post since very long. I liked the post. Some people opt for massage just to relax but only a few must be knowing about all the benefits and reasons behind getting a good massage. Great work, Keep it up. 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this article. Thank you for the great information. I have a practice in Lexington, KY and have recently been encouraging self-care between my clients visits. I have found that for low back and hips, many clients are able to use a tennis ball to help extend the benefits of their massage sessions.

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