In 1905, the New York Post reported on a miracle cure for tuberculosis (TB) that had been pioneered at the New York Post-Graduate Hospital. The juice of raw vegetables, including potatoes, carrots and celery, had been given to patients with advanced TB; 11 were completely cured and 50 others were progressing well. This amazing cure would be available at chemists soon, the newspaper report concluded.
Strangely, the remedy never appeared, although the work with raw food and juices as a treatment for TB carried on. In the 1950s, Dr. H.E. Kirschner was put in charge of 200 TB patients at the Olive View Sanatorium in Los Angeles, whose diet was mainly spaghetti, macaroni and other cooked foods.
Dr. Kirschner added a glass of a green drink, made up of the raw juices of alfalfa, spinach and parsley, to the patients’ diets every day. Some of the patients started to recover and were able to get out of bed for the first time in nine months.
In his private practice, Kirschner added raw carrot juice to the green juice mixture for his TB patients, which he said brought about a more rapid recovery than the green juice alone.
He also reported that other chronic ailments, including heart disease, prostate gland disease, cancer, neuritis (nerve inflammation) and hemorrhoids, could be treated with raw vegetable juices, sometimes given in amounts of more than two quarts a day.
Remarkable improvement was noted in a patient with diabetes within 21 days, and the insulin dosage was reduced from 15 units (U) to 5 U per day.
But perhaps Kirschner’s most outstanding case study was of a patient with a severe case of ‘splenic’ leukemia. The patient was given raw carrot juice—small quantities at first, gradually increasing to very large quantities—and her weight increased from 65 lbs (29 kg) to 135 lbs (65 kg). Recovery was complete within 18 months, and the disorder never recurred.
Unpalatable as it sounds, the value of raw liver in treating pernicious anemia has also been known for almost a hundred years. Drs William P. Murphy and George R. Minot were curing severe cases of the disease back in the 1920s. They claimed there was some unidentifiable factor in the food that stimulated the growth of red blood cells. At first, this was called the ‘red blood vitamin.’ It is now known that there are two factors at play, folic acid and vitamin B12, which are destroyed by the heat of cooking.
Other European physicians using raw beef juices (blood, essentially) for TB had similar success. Prof Charles Richet was among the first to use raw beef juice, and he reported excellent results. Later, other physicians used the same method, and coined the term ‘zomotherapy’ to describe the treatment of disease with raw meat or raw meat juice. They claimed success with zomotherapy for treating many conditions, including anemia, neurasthenia (now known as neurosis), debility, and latent, incipient or active TB.
The raw facts
So why should raw food have such curative effects? Cooking food destroys the life-giving enzymes that come with natural foods. Enzymes are responsible for thousands of different biochemical actions in the body and are destroyed at temperatures above 118 degrees F (48 degrees C). The pasteurization (intense heating) of milk, for example, occurs when the milk is heated to above 161 degrees F (72 degrees C).
All chemical functions in the body, both for normal metabolism and for detoxification, are dependent on enzymes. The more work to be done, the more enzymes are required. To make enzymes, the body needs colloidal minerals of all kinds, the best source of which, by far, are fresh raw fruit and vegetables.1
Virtually all processed foods—canned, packaged, bottled, etc.—have been heated in the process of becoming shelf-ready, and are deficient in enzymes. Enzymes are the catalysts manufactured by the living cells of plant and animal tissues to carry out the chemical processes that allow the cells to continue their existence as a living force.
When the enzymes within a seed are destroyed, the seed loses its potency for growth and is described as being dead. Whether a food can be declared ‘alive’ or ‘dead’ is dependent upon whether the enzymes are alive or have been destroyed.
Evidence of the unnaturalness of cooking our food is found in a process known as ‘leukocytosis,’ an increase in the number of white blood cells that happens only after we eat cooked foods.
In medicine, an increase in the number of white blood cells together with disturbances in the percentages of different kinds of white cells are a sign that some kind of disease process is going on. When there is infectious illness, or when harmful extraneous substances are introduced into our system, these changes in white-blood-cell development always happen. Leukocytosis following the consumption of cooked food is an indicator that our body is telling us that we are indeed doing something wrong.
Biologists have sometimes referred to it as ‘digestive leukocytosis’ and, unaware of the difference between eating cooked food or raw food, consider it a normal reaction in the digestive process.
However, the Nobel-Prize-winner Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, of the Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, Switzerland, conducted more than 300 detailed experiments, which indicated that leukocytosis was the specific effect of eating heat-processed foods and that it never occurred after a meal of raw food.2
Speaking at the First International Congress of Microbiology at Paris in 1930, Dr. Kouchakoff pointed out that temporary leukocytosis followed the consumption of foods heated to about 181–189 degrees F (83–87 degrees C). If certain types of raw food were added to the cooked meal, leukocytosis could be prevented, though when foods were heated above 212 degrees F (100 degrees C), no amount of raw foods could prevent the condition. Likewise, when heat-processed foods that had also been subjected to complex manufacturing processes were consumed, leukocytosis was unavoidable.
Over the past hundred or so years, there have been many studies and reports showing how raw diets can improve or cure the health of patients with longstanding complaints.
Multiple sclerosis is deemed incurable by modern medicine. But Dr. Joseph Evers, in Germany, treated 600 cases with diets containing no refined foods and consisting chiefly of raw fruits, raw nuts, raw vegetable roots, raw honey, raw grain sprouts, uncooked coarse rolled oats, wholegrain bread, raw ham, raw bacon and raw chopped beef.
His dietary treatment was also tested under the watchful eyes of recognized scientists at different universities, clinics, hospitals and sanatoriums. The results were surprisingly good, and 42 percent of all patients showed improvement or complete recovery.
If the simple addition of raw foods to a normal diet produces such startling changes in human health, it may be expected that a diet composed entirely, or nearly so, of raw foods would be much more beneficial, and achieve more rapid and far-reaching results. This has been shown to be true at the Pottenger Sanatorium in California, where a large variety of raw foods have been used to treat a range of health problems.
Dr. Pottenger writes that “the highest grade of raw milk, raw meat, raw vegetables, and fruit products obtained” are used in the clinical work.
He points out that “we have been able to improve
the physiologic response of children who have previously been developing in a deficient manner,” similar to the experimental animals that were fed
In 1897, the Bircher-Benner clinic and sanatorium opened in Zurich, where extensive use has been made of raw foods, and some patients have been placed on an exclusively raw diet.
The late founder of the institution, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, stated that “raw vegetable food is the most potent healing factor that exists.” Dr. Dagmar Liechti-von Brasch, who ran the clinic after his death, said raw food could “bring healing to very many widely spread disorders of health and serious diseases, in quite astonishing fashion, where all other curative measures have failed.”3
So astonishing was the recovery of one supposedly incurable patient suffering from Herter–Heubner disease (gluten sensitivity) that it attracted the attention of the children’s hospital in Zurich, which, in turn, introduced the raw diet to its celiac patients. The medical director of the hospital at the time published a monograph giving an account of the “staggering success” it achieved.
Other physicians and scientists who have studied raw diet cures include D.C. Hare, J.F. Kinderheilk, W. Heupe, I. Kanai and M. Kuratsune.4
Dr. Hare, of the Royal Free Hospital in England, placed arthritis patients on an exclusively raw diet for two weeks, followed by a predominantly raw diet for several weeks. Most of the patients began to feel better within one to four weeks, with marked improvement continuing afterward.
Kinderheilk demonstrated that a raw diet helped in the treatment of avitaminosis (vitamin deficiency), nephritis (kidney inflammation), diabetes and chronic constipation. In cases of cardiac disease, he noted that it promoted the excretion of fluids.
Dr. Heupe, working at the University Medical Polyclinic in Frankfurt, reported that the diet helped children with diarrhea, and heart and kidney diseases, obesity and diabetes.
Kanai, at the University of Berlin, studied the effect of raw and cooked vegetarian diets on oxidation (the body’s processing of oxygen). He noted that oxidation was impaired by cooked vegetarian foods. On the raw diet, the urinary output of nitrogen was greater, indicating better absorption, and weight increases improved.
Dr. Kuratsune, of Kyushu University, Japan, also tested raw and cooked vegetarian diets, and reported that results were decidedly better on the raw regime. Heated vegetables tended to produce anemia, which was cured when raw vegetables were eaten.
Dental surgeon Dr. Harold F. Hawkins has reported that correct dietary control, which is when half the diet is raw, is an important factor in treating pyorrhea (severe inflammation of the gums, or periodontal disease).
According to Dr. Hawkins, it is “essential” to work out a plan of eating that includes food that can be eaten raw, such as raw milk, raw eggs, oysters on the half shell, raw vegetable salads and raw fruit.
Dr. Hawkins states that, when an adequate diet is followed, “gum tone usually shows a definite improvement in 60 to 90 days, and the X-rays show an improvement in bone density in about a year.”4
For three years from 1929, Dr. Milton T. Hanke studied hundreds of school children in the city of Mooseheart, Illinois, to determine the effects of adding the raw juices of citrus fruits to a conventional diet. During the first year, the children were studied as controls, the second year was the test period, and the third was the recheck period.
Approximately 16 oz of freshly extracted raw orange juice, plus the raw juice of one lemon, were added to the diets of 341 children each day. This brought about a sharp increase in growth rate over the control period, as well as a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of dental caries and the almost complete disappearance of gingivitis (inflamed gums).
During the recheck period, when the quantity of juice was reduced to 3 oz a day, the children’s accelerated growth was maintained, though dental decay again increased and most of the gingivitis reappeared.5
The grape cure
Other fruits and juices also have therapeutic qualities. The ‘grape cure’ is well known in parts of Europe, and has been widely used in the sanatoriums and resorts of Merano, Italy, and in parts of France and southern Germany.
Patients are fed almost exclusively on raw grapes for four to six weeks at a time, starting with about a pound a day and gradually increasing to five to eight pounds.
Johanna Brandt, author of The Grape Cure, reported a number of cures from cancer with the raw grape diet, and others have used it successfully to treat constipation, rheumatism, catarrh, gallstones, eczema, jaundice, malaria, hemorrhages and other ailments. Grape cures are even recommended for some mental problems and in weakened conditions of the entire muscular system, including the heart.
Raw cabbage juice has been used with remarkable success in treating ulcers. Dr. Garnett Cheney, of Stanford University, treated 13 peptic ulcer patients with fresh cabbage juice: seven of them healed in an average of 10.4 days and six healed in only 7.3 days; the average healing time for all 13 patients was nine days. In most cases, the pain disappeared within a few days.6
Dr. Cheney’s experience was replicated by Dr. William Shive and his colleagues at the University of Texas. Dr. Shive found that raw cabbage juice—as well as the juices of other vegetables—tends to prevent ulcers and to cure them too.
He studied 100 cases in which the ulcerous condition was so severe that the use of the bland diet (the standard treatment for ulcers, consisting of foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber) and anti-ulcer drugs had failed. But the patients who drank a quart of fresh, raw cabbage juice every day reported an improvement in their condition.4
The ‘scraped raw apple’ diet is an old German remedy for both diarrhea and constipation. Modern scientists have used raw apple in the treatment of these conditions with success. Tobias L. Birnberg treated diarrhea in 52 children with ripe raw grated apple and had success in 88 percent of cases. He noted that relief from abdominal pain was achieved almost immediately, normal stools were achieved in 24 hours and a reduction in fever within 48 hours, and any mucus completely cleared in 60 hours.
The beneficial effects of raw apple in these cases were attributed to the hydrophilic colloids in the fruit, which absorb excess water and provide bulk to control peristalsis (intestinal contractions).7
It was concluded from a 1990 German study of raw food that it is “an integral component of human nutrition, and is a necessary precondition for an intact immune system. Its therapeutic effect is complex, and a variety of influences of raw food and its constituents on the immune system have been documented. Such effects include antibiotic, antiallergic, tumor-protective, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory actions.
In view of this, uncooked food can be seen as a useful adjunct to drugs in the treatment of allergic, rheumatic and infectious diseases.”8
In 1998, a team of researchers in Finland reported on their controlled study of the effects of raw food on rheumatoid arthritis. They showed that a raw vegan diet reduced pain, improved sleep and eased joint stiffness, according to the patients’ subjective assessment.
According to the Disease Activity Score, a greater number of patients had less disease activity and progression with the raw-food diet.9
In the 1950s, an exclusively raw diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts, cornmeal, sprouted grains and legumes, honey and milk was given to patients who visited the Humlegaarden sanatorium located near Humlebaek in Denmark. Dr. Kristine Nolfi set up the sanatorium after using a raw-food diet to reverse signs of cancer, as well as poor digestion and catarrh.
About 1,000 patients visited the clinic annually, and the successes achieved at Humlegaarden are said to be phenomenal. Dr Nolfi attributed this to the raw-food diet and, in particular, the use of raw garlic and raw potatoes.
Patients recovered from all sorts of diseases, including cancer, sterility, obesity, diabetes, heart debilitation, high blood pressure, rheumatism, epilepsy, asthma and many other conditions. In some cases, even gray hair darkened in color.10
Dr. Pottenger’s cats
Dr. Francis Pottenger, Jr, one of the world’s great physicians and food scientists, carried out some of the most important animal experiments with raw and cooked food at the Pottenger Sanatorium in Monrovia, California, over a 10-year period. The results are outlined in his book, Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition (Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1995).
A total of 900 cats were studied, and complete records were kept for nearly 600 of them. Generation after generation of the animals were fed on meat scraps (including muscle, bone and viscera), milk and cod liver oil.
Some of the cats were fed entirely on raw meat and raw milk; others were given two-thirds cooked meat and one-third raw milk. In some cases, raw meat and pasteurized milk were used. A number of cats were also fed sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk or raw metabolized vitamin-D milk with raw meat.
All of the cats fed entirely on raw meat and raw milk remained in excellent health. Their physical development was ideal, and the cats reproduced with no deviations from one generation to the next, maintaining large skulls and thoraxes, broad faces with prominent malar and orbital arches, broad and well-formed dental arches, adequate nasal cavities and large, long bodies.
Milk pasteurization was started in Germany in 1901 and was followed by a virtual epidemic of scurvy throughout Berlin. An investigation concluded that the new process of heating milk to kill most bacteria—called ‘pasteurization’—was responsible, and when the process was stopped, the scurvy disappeared just as rapidly as it had appeared.
In 1917, American scientist Dr. Alfred F. Hess, of Columbia University, published the results of his extensive research into the cause and remedy of scurvy.1 He indicated that scurvy could be produced or cured at will in infants simply by altering their diet, especially with the use of either raw or pasteurized milk.
Infants given only pasteurized milk tended to display evidence of scurvy within six months. Those taking raw milk were free of the disease, and when raw milk was added to the diet of those already afflicted, recovery was the general rule.
In the 1930s, Dr Evelyn Sprawson at The London Hospital studied the rate of dental decay among children in orphanages, and found that the percentage of decay varied in direct proportion to the amount of raw or pasteurized milk in their diets.2
The ‘grape cure’, whereby patients are fed almost exclusively on raw grapes for four to six weeks at a time, has been used successfully to treat:
Gerson therapy is perhaps the best-known raw-food treatment, and has become one of the major alternative treatments for cancer—but it didn’t start out that way.
Dr. Max Gerson was working at a tuberculosis (TB) clinic in Munich when he started to experiment with his diet to treat his migraines, which he’d suffered from since medical school. He avoided salt, fats, and pickled and smoked foods, and instead ate fresh fruits and vegetables. He discovered that when he stuck to the diet, he had no migraine attacks.
He started to share his migraine diet with patients at the TB clinic, and one of them insisted it had cured his TB of the skin.
The clinic’s head, Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbruch, investigated Gerson’s dietary approach and, in 1929, pronounced it a cure for skin TB in 12 of the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journals at the time. Sauerbruch told of one clinical trial of the treatment in which 446 out of 450 TB patients achieved lasting cures.
Gerson himself lectured in major cities across Europe until the pre-war political climate forced him to emigrate to America in 1933.
During this time, Gerson attracted the friendship of Nobel-Prize-winner Albert Schweitzer when he cured Schweitzer’s wife Helena of TB after she had failed to respond to all conventional treatments.
Schweitzer followed Gerson’s progress as the dietary treatment was applied successfully to a wide variety of pathologies, including heart and kidney failure, and even cancer. Schweitzer’s own adult-onset diabetes responded to Gerson’s dietary treatment.
In 1938, Gerson’s cured cancer patients appeared with him before the Pepper–Neely anticancer Senate subcommittee during hearings for S. 1875, a bill to authorize President Franklin D. Roosevelt to wage a war on cancer. Although only a few peer-reviewed journals were open to his revolutionary ideas, Gerson continued to publish in both the US and abroad.
After 30 years of clinical experimentation, Gerson published A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases (Gerson Institute, 1958), which details his theories, the treatment and the results achieved. A more up-to-date version has also been published by his daughter, Charlotte Gerson, together with Morton Walker (The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses, New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2001).
Gerson died in 1959. Soon after, treating cancer with nutrition was declared a criminal offence in the US, forcing the Gerson Institute’s doctors to move to clinics in Mexico and in Hungary.