As a researcher and practitioner of the healing arts I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to the study and application of what is variously referred to as “alternative”, “holistic” or “natural” healing, which embody most of the “modalities” currently in use. After many years I concluded that while the “alternative” approaches to illness and health are generally more organic in principle than conventional drug based allopathic medicine, many of them still treat symptoms rather than whole organisms. They often merely substitute herbs, supplements and other substances for drugs. It became apparent to me that neither medical science nor alternative medicine was going to resolve the issues of degenerative illness, radiant health, and longevity, in the laboratory.
The number of variables and the vast complexity of biological and subtle energy processes and reactions in the miraculous human “body mind” seem to defy any attempt by man or machine to ultimately “figure it out” at the biochemical level. Intelligent and talented men and women have devoted decades of their lives to researching tiny fragments of human biochemistry and still their conclusions are often contradictory, incompatible with one another, wrong, or limited in their healing applications. Although there have been remarkable advances in medical science, the foundational understandings necessary to resolve degenerative disease and produce radiant health and significant longevity are still not evident.
In the field of natural healing in the Twentieth century, the work of pioneers such as Bernard Jensen, Paul Bragg, Paavo Airola, and others, has led to a greater understanding of the single most fundamental principle of health and healing. These landmark health practitioners embraced food for detoxification, regeneration and rejuvenation. The human body is, after all, a “food body”, and although there are emotional, psychological and spiritual components to health, any system that does not incorporate food as a primary healing therapy is seriously negligent.
My investigation, therefore, led me to the confusing and contradictory world of diet and nutrition: vegetarianism, dairy-free veganism, macrobiotics, Chinese dietary therapy, raw foods, etc. In the course of studying and experimenting with each approach, a significant factor seemed to emerge (based on successful results): the health of living organisms is dependent on the use of live, organic food in raw form, rich in enzymes and other nutrients that have not been destroyed or reduced by heat or other processing. Consequently, I pursued the work of Ann Wigmore, Victor Kulvinskas and other advocates of vegetarian raw-foodism.
As time passed I observed that the completely raw vegetarian diet was not for everyone. While some benefited, many tended to become weakened by it. Some could not easily digest raw vegetables, even with enzyme supplementation, making it difficult or impossible for them to eat salads. In one instance I observed a rapid decline in the health of a cancer patient (who had been improving somewhat on a modified macrobiotic diet) when he switched to an all-raw diet. Doubts surfaced. The questions kept arising: Is there a fundamental dietary approach to prevention, healing, and longevity? If so, on what basis would that diet vary from one individual to another?
I decided to approach the matter in a different way; to start from the desired result and work backwards. This took two forms, 1) to seek out and research the work of health practitioners who were consistently (75-90%) reversing deep-seated pathology (cancer, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.) and evaluate and compare their methods, 2) to study the diets and lifestyles of cultural groups that enjoyed radiant health and significant longevity and look for commonalities. In phase one I found that such practitioners were hard to come by, for several reasons: a) they often work alone rather than in the context of a larger organization or clinic, b) they are generally not mainstream or even well known, and c) they generally maintain low profiles because of the political and economic dangers of curing diseases in a society controlled and policed by medical and scientific prejudices.
I began to hear about the work of Aajonus Vonderplanitz, a practitioner who had apparently facilitated 236 cancer remissions (of 240 cases) as well as many recoveries from heart disease, chronic fatigue and other serious illnesses. Even more remarkable was the fact that these healings were effected almost exclusively through diet. I contacted him immediately and ordered the manuscript We Want To Live. The book was a revelation. The first reading left me astonished.
After months of enjoying significant health improvements from the diet, I found myself involved in a week-long face-to-face apprenticeship with its creator. I was pleasantly surprised at my first encounter. His general appearance was that of a man ten years younger; his skin and hair possessed the healthful glow that develops from the inside rather than from the mere use of topical cosmetic products; his musculature exhibited a tone that results from regular work-outs, despite the fact he had not done any significant exercise in seventeen years. The most amazing characteristic was the clarity of his eyes. Iridologists will tell you how very rare it is to find a human being alive in today’s toxic world, whose irises show little or no signs of disease or toxicity. An examination of his irises revealed a complete circle of solid blue filaments radiating outward from the pupils. There were none of the yellow, green, brown, white or dark discolorations and telltale shapes that appear in most eyes and reveal states of less than optimal health. The man was a living testimony to the validity of his work.
His dietary approach postulates two fundamental principles:
- food of any kind is best eaten in its live, raw condition, rich in enzymes and other nutrients, and
- a diet resplendent in raw fats and raw meats taken from natural sources is essential to excellent health.
The latter may be hard for us to grasp since we live in a fat-phobic, meat-phobic, and bacteria-phobic society, where fats, meats and bacteria are blamed for just about everything short of the depletion of the ozone layer. When we speak of raw fat and raw meat, we must think of them as new food groups, utterly different in their biochemistry from the fats and meats we have been taught to avoid in cooked form. The diet primarily encompasses:
a) raw animal meats (beef, fish, poultry, organic eggs)
b) raw dairy products (unsalted raw butter, raw milk, raw cream, unsalted raw cheeses, raw kefir)
c) raw whole fruits and vegetables (especially vegetable juices)
d) unheated honey.
The idea of consuming raw meats and raw dairy products in raw diets has many historical precedents. Much of this history was brought to light by two pioneering doctors who researched the subject extensively in the first half of the Twentieth century. Francis Pottenger, Jr., M.D., was a physician and researcher who demonstrated that raw foods contain unique nutrients vital to health. His research included a now-classic series of controlled experiments that involved more than nine hundred cats for more than ten years. Pottenger proved that raw foods (including raw milk and raw meat) were required to maintain these animals in excellent health. He applied elements of this knowledge to the care of his patients with tuberculosis and other chronic diseases, with excellent and well-documented results. Unfortunately, while his work was initially well received by the medical profession, it has been ignored in the ensuing years.
Weston Price, DDS, was a contemporary of Pottenger who, during his years in practice, began noticing in the children of his patients problems which their parents had not experienced. Besides having more decay, in many children the teeth did not fit properly into the dental arch, causing them to be crowded and crooked. He noticed also that the condition of deformed teeth reflected the overall state of compromised health. Considering possible reasons, the idea occurred to him that perhaps there was some deficiency in modern diets. While others in his profession looked for causative factors in dental decay, Price searched among primitive people for one or more nutritional factors protecting them. His travels took him to the corners of the earth. He and his wife lived with and studied Swiss people in high Alpine valleys; Gaels on islands of the Outer Hebrides; Eskimos in Alaska; Indians in the far northern, western and central parts of Canada and western United States and Florida; Melanesians and Polynesians in the South Pacific; Africans in eastern and central Africa; Aborigines in Australia; Malay tribes on islands north of Australia; Maori in New Zealand; and descendants of ancient civilizations in Penn.
Fortunately, Price traveled and conducted his research during the 1930’s when the cultures he observed were still primarily indigenous, and groups of people still lived entirely on local foods that they mostly ate raw. He found entire cultures with neither tooth decay nor children with misshapen dental arches and crowded teeth. He interviewed an American medical doctor living among Eskimos and northern Native Americans who reported that in thirty-five years of observation, he had never seen a single case of cancer among natives subsisting on their traditional foods. When natives eating “civilized” man’s processed foods developed tuberculosis and other diseases, this doctor sent, them back to their native villages and foods. They usually recovered.
In the course of his travels, Price specifically searched for groups that maintained immunity to dental and chronic disease on diets consisting entirely of vegetable matter. He did not find any. Every healthy native culture he studied ate many animal foods raw; tradition often dictated which. The milk, cheese and butter of Swiss villagers and African herdsmen were seldom heated. Animal glands and organs, in every traditional culture, were often eaten raw. Eskimos of Arctic regions, where no plants were available much of the year, ate a lot of raw meat and fish. This tradition prevented scurvy; the vitamin C in meat and fish is destroyed by cooking. Islanders in the South Pacific and coastal Australian Aborigines ate most food raw, including shellfish. As Price’s studies progressed, it emerged ever more clearly that healthy, free-ranging animal life of the land and sea provided humans everywhere with essential nutrients apparently unobtainable in adequate quantities from plants alone.
It is useful and inspiring to study the diets of these indigenous people in order to break through the conditioning and fixed ideas that dictate what we should and shouldn’t eat. An obvious example is the objection to eggs as a food that contains cholesterol that is dangerous to the heart and arteries, particularly in individuals who already have high cholesterol levels. The fact is, however, that harmful cholesterol accumulations result from cooked fats; accumulations decrease when raw fats, including raw whole eggs, are eaten. To quote Edward Howell in his classic work, Enzyme Nutrition:
…when fats, either animal or vegetable, are eaten along with their associated enzymes, no harmful effect on the arteries or heart results. All fatty foods contain lipase in their natural state. Cooking or processing removes it. While similar to traditional diets, most of the principles and formulas contained in We Want To Live constitute a unique discovery, one which opens up an entirely new healing paradigm. The work of Aajonus Vonderplanitz, as presented in these two volumes, is truly a pioneering effort which should become a significant breakthrough in the healthcare revolution that looms on the horizon.