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From The Hygienic Dictionary
Category: The Nature and Cause of Disease
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Doctors.  In the matter of disease and healing, the people have
been treated as serfs. The doctor is a dictator who knows it all,
and the people are stupid, dumb, driven cattle, fit for nothing
except to be herded together, bucked and gagged when necessary to
force medical opinion down their throats or under their skins. I
found that professional dignity was more often pomposity, sordid
bigotry and gilded ignorance. The average physician is a
fear-monger, if he is anything. He goes about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may scare to death. _Dr. John. H. Tilden, Impaired
Health: Its Cause and Cure, Vol. 1, 1921._  Today we are not only
in the Nuclear Age but also the Antibiotic Age. Unhappily, too, this
is the Dark Age of Medicine--an age in which many of my colleagues,
when confronted with a patient, consult a volume which rivals the
Manhattan telephone directory in size. This book contains the names
of thousands upon thousands of drugs used to alleviate the
distressing symptoms of a host of diseased states of the body. The
doctor then decides which pink or purple or baby-blue pill to
prescribe for the patient. This is not, in my opinion, the practice
of medicine. Far too many of these new "miracle" drugs are
introduced with fanfare and then reveled as lethal in character, to
be silently discarded for newer and more powerful drugs. _Dr. Henry
Bieler: Food is Your Best Medicine; 1965._
I have two reasons for writing this book. One, to help educate the
general public about the virtues of natural medicine. The second, to
encourage the next generation of natural healers. Especially the
second because it is not easy to become a natural hygienist; there
is no school or college or licensing board.
Most AMA-affiliated physicians follow predictable career paths,
straight well-marked roads, climbing through apprenticeships in
established institutions to high financial rewards and social
status. Practitioners of natural medicine are not awarded equally
high status, rarely do we become wealthy, and often, naturopaths
arrive at their profession rather late in life after following the
tangled web of their own inner light. So I think it is worth a few
pages to explain how I came to practice a dangerous profession and
why I have accepted the daily risks of police prosecution and civil
liability without possibility of insurance.
Sometimes it seems to me that I began this lifetime powerfully
predisposed to heal others. So, just for childhood warm-ups I was
born into a family that would be much in need of my help. As I've
always disliked an easy win, to make rendering that help even more
difficult, I decided to be the youngest child, with two older
A pair of big, capable brothers might have guided and shielded me.
But my life did not work out that way. The younger of my two
brothers, three years ahead of me, was born with many health
problems. He was weak, small, always ill, and in need of protection
from other children, who are generally rough and cruel. My father
abandoned our family shortly after I was born; it fell to my mother
to work to help support us. Before I was adolescent my older brother
left home to pursue a career in the Canadian Air Force.
Though I was the youngest, I was by far the healthiest.
Consequently, I had to pretty much raise myself while my single
mother struggled to earn a living in rural western Canada. This
circumstance probably reinforced my constitutional predilection for
independent thought and action. Early on I started to protect my
"little" brother, making sure the local bullies didn't take
advantage of him. I learned to fight big boys and win. I also helped
him acquire simple skills, ones that most kids grasp without
difficulty, such as swimming, bike riding, tree climbing, etc.
And though not yet adolescent, I had to function as a responsible
adult in our household. Stressed by anger over her situation and the
difficulties of earning our living as a country school teacher
(usually in remote one-room schools), my mother's health
deteriorated rapidly. As she steadily lost energy and became less
able to take care of the home, I took over more and more of the
cleaning, cooking, and learned how to manage her--a person who feels
terrible but must work to survive.
During school hours my mother was able to present a positive
attitude, and was truly a gifted teacher. However, she had a
personality quirk. She obstinately preferred to help the most able
students become even more able, but she had little desire to help
those with marginal mentalities. This predilection got her into no
end of trouble with local school boards; inevitably it seemed the
District Chairman would have a stupid, badly-behaved child that my
mother refused to cater to. Several times we had to move in the
middle of the school year when she was dismissed without notice for
"insubordination." This would inevitably happen on the frigid
Canadian Prairies during mid-winter.
At night, exhausted by the day's efforts, my mother's positiveness
dissipated and she allowed her mind to drift into negative thoughts,
complaining endlessly about my irresponsible father and about how
much she disliked him for treating her so badly. These emotions and
their irresponsible expression were very difficult for me to deal
with as a child, but it taught me to work on diverting someone's
negative thoughts, and to avoid getting dragged into them myself,
skills I had to use continually much later on when I began to manage
mentally and physically ill clients on a residential basis.
My own personal health problems had their genesis long before my own
birth. Our diet was awful, with very little fresh fruit or
vegetables. We normally had canned, evaporated milk, though there
were a few rare times when raw milk and free-range fertile farm eggs
were available from neighbors. Most of my foods were heavily salted
or sugared, and we ate a great deal of fat in the form of lard. My
mother had little money but she had no idea that some of the most
nutritious foods are also the least expensive.
It is no surprise to me that considering her nutrient-poor,
fat-laden diet and stressful life, my mother eventually developed
severe gall bladder problems. Her degeneration caused progressively
more and more severe pain until she had a cholecystectomy. The
gallbladder's profound deterioration had damaged her liver as well,
seeming to her surgeon to require the removal of half her liver.
After this surgical insult she had to stop working and never
regained her health. Fortunately, by this time all her children were
I had still more to overcome. My eldest brother had a nervous
breakdown while working on the DEW Line (he was posted on the Arctic
Circle watching radar screens for a possible incoming attack from
Russia). I believe his collapse actually began with our childhood
nutrition. While in the Arctic all his foods came from cans. He also
was working long hours in extremely cramped quarters with no leave
for months in a row, never going outside because of the cold, or
having the benefit of natural daylight.
When he was still in the acute stage of his illness (I was still a
teenager myself) I went to the hospital where my bother was being
held, and talked the attending psychiatrist into immediately
discharging him into my care. The physician also agreed to refrain
from giving him electroshock therapy, a commonly used treatment for
mental conditions in Canadian hospitals at that time. Somehow I knew
the treatment they were using was wrong.
I brought my brother home still on heavy doses of thorazine. The
side effects of this drug were so severe he could barely exist:
blurred vision, clenched jaw, trembling hands, and restless feet
that could not be kept still. These are common problems with the
older generation of psycho tropic medications, generally controlled
to some extent with still other drugs like cogentin (which he was
My brother steadily reduced his tranquilizers until he was able to
think and do a few things. On his own he started taking a lot of B
vitamins and eating whole grains. I do not know exactly why he did
this, but I believe he was following his intuition. (I personally
did not know enough to suggest a natural approach at that time.) In
any case after three months on vitamins and an improved diet he no
long needed any medication, and was delighted to be free of their
side effects. He remained somewhat emotionally fragile for a few
more months but he soon returned to work, and has had no mental
trouble from that time to this day. This was the beginning of my
interest in mental illness, and my first exposure to the limitations
of 'modern' psychiatry.
I always preferred self-discipline to being directed by others. So I
took every advantage of having a teacher for a mother and studied at
home instead of being bored silly in a classroom. In Canada of that
era you didn't have to go to high school to enter university, you
only had to pass the written government entrance exams. At age 16,
never having spent a single day in high school, I passed the
university entrance exams with a grade of 97 percent. At that point
in my life I really wanted to go to medical school and become a
doctor, but I didn't have the financial backing to embark on such a
long and costly course of study, so I settled on a four year nursing
course at the University of Alberta, with all my expenses paid in
exchange for work at the university teaching hospital.
At the start of my nurses training I was intensely curious about
everything in the hospital: birth, death, surgery, illness, etc. I
found most births to be joyful, at least when everything came out
all right. Most people died very alone in the hospital, terrified if
they were conscious, and all seemed totally unprepared for death,
emotionally or spiritually. None of the hospital staff wanted to be
with a dying person except me; most hospital staff were unable to
confront death any more bravely than those who were dying. So I made
it a point of being at the death bed. The doctors and nurses found
it extremely unpleasant to have to deal with the preparation of the
dead body for the morgue; this chore usually fell to me also. I did
not mind dead bodies. They certainly did not mind me!
I had the most difficulty accepting surgery. There were times when
surgery was clearly a life saving intervention, particularly when
the person had incurred a traumatic injury, but there were many
other cases when, though the knife was the treatment of choice, the
results were disastrous.
Whenever I think of surgery, my recollections always go to a man
with cancer of the larynx. At that time the University of Alberta
had the most respected surgeons and cancer specialists in the
country. To treat cancer they invariably did surgery, plus radiation
and chemotherapy to eradicate all traces of cancerous tissue in the
body, but they seemed to forget there also was a human being
residing in that very same cancerous body. This particularly
unfortunate man came into our hospital as a whole human being,
though sick with cancer. He could still speak, eat, swallow, and
looked normal. But after surgery he had no larynx, nor esophagus,
nor tongue, and no lower jaw.
The head surgeon, who, by the way, was considered to be a virtual
god amongst gods, came back from the operating room smiling from ear
to ear, announcing proudly that he had 'got all the cancer'. But
when I saw the result I thought he'd done a butcher's job. The
victim couldn't speak at all, nor eat except through a tube, and he
looked grotesque. Worst, he had lost all will to live. I thought the
man would have been much better off to keep his body parts as long
as he could, and die a whole person able to speak, eating if he felt
like it, being with friends and family without inspiring a gasp of
I was sure there must be better ways of dealing with degenerative
conditions such as cancer, but I had no idea what they might be or
how to find out. There was no literature on medical alternatives in
the university library, and no one in the medical school ever hinted
at the possibility except when the doctors took jabs at
chiropractors. Since no one else viewed the situation as I did I
started to think I might be in the wrong profession.
It also bothered me that patients were not respected, were not
people; they were considered a "case" or a "condition." I was
frequently reprimanded for wasting time talking to patients, trying
to get acquainted. The only place in the hospital where human
contact was acceptable was the psychiatric ward. So I enjoyed the
rotation to psychiatry for that reason, and decided that I would
like to make psychiatry or psychology my specialty.
By the time I finished nursing school, it was clear that the
hospital was not for me. I especially didn't like its rigid
hierarchical system, where all bowed down to the doctors. The very
first week in school we were taught that when entering a elevator,
make sure that the doctor entered first, then the intern, then the
charge nurse. Followed by, in declining order of status: graduate
nurses, third year nurses, second year nurses, first year nurses,
then nursing aids, then orderlies, then ward clerks, and only then,
the cleaning staff. No matter what the doctor said, the nurse was
supposed to do it immediately without question--a very military sort
Nursing school wasn't all bad. I learned how to take care of all
kinds of people with every variety of illness. I demonstrated for
myself that simple nursing care could support a struggling body
through its natural healing process. But the doctor-gods tended to
belittle and denigrate nurses. No wonder--so much of nursing care
consists of unpleasant chores like bed baths, giving enemas and
dealing with other bodily functions.
I also studied the state-of-the-art science concerning every
conceivable medical condition, its symptoms, and treatment. At the
university hospital nurses were required to take the same pre-med
courses as the doctors--including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry,
and pharmacology. Consequently, I think it is essential for holistic
healers to first ground themselves in the basic sciences of the
body's physiological systems. There is also much valuable data in
standard medical texts about the digestion, assimilation, and
elimination. To really understand illness, the alternative
practitioner must be fully aware of the proper functioning of the
cardiovascular/pulmonary system, the autonomic and voluntary nervous
system, the endocrine system, plus the mechanics and detailed
nomenclature of the skeleton, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also
it is helpful to know the conventional medical models for treating
various disorders, because they do appear to work well for some
people, and should not be totally invalidated simply on the basis of
one's philosophical or religious viewpoints.
Many otherwise well-meaning holistic practitioners, lacking an
honest grounding in science, sometimes express their understanding
of the human body in non-scientific, metaphysical terms that can
seem absurd to the well-instructed. I am not denying here that there
is a spiritual aspect to health and illness; I believe there are
energy flows in and around the body that can effect physiological
functioning. I am only suggesting that to discuss illness without
hard science is like calling oneself a abstract artist because the
painter has no ability to even do a simple, accurate
representational drawing of a human figure.
Though hospital life had already become distasteful to me I was
young and poor when I graduated. So after nursing school I buckled
down and worked just long enough to save enough money to obtain a
masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of British
Columbia. Then I started working at Riverview Hospital in Vancouver,
B.C., doing diagnostic testing, and group therapy, mostly with
psychotic people. At Riverview I had a three-year-long opportunity
to observe the results of conventional psychiatric treatment.
The first thing I noticed was the 'revolving door' phenomena. That
is, people go out, and then they're back in, over and over again,
demonstrating that standard treatment--drugs, electroshock and group
therapy--had been ineffective. Worse, the treatments given at
Riverside were dangerous, often with long term side effects that
were more damaging than the disease being treated. It felt like
nursing school all over again; in the core of my being I somehow
knew there was a better way, a more effective way of helping people
to regain their mental health. Feeling like an outsider, I started
investigating the hospital's nooks and crannies. Much to my
surprise, in a back ward, one not open to the public, I noticed a
number of people with bright purple skins.
I asked the staff about this and every one of the psychiatrists
denied these patients existed. This outright and widely-agreed-upon
lie really raised my curiosity. Finally after pouring through the
journals in the hospital library I found an article describing
psycho tropic-drug-induced disruptions of melanin (the dark skin
pigment). Thorazine, a commonly used psychiatric drug, when taken in
high doses over a long period of time would do this. Excess melanin
eventually was deposited in vital organs such as the heart and the
liver, causing death.
I found it especially upsetting to see patients receive electroshock
treatments. These violent, physician-induced traumas did seem to
disrupt dysfunctional thought patterns such as an impulse to commit
suicide, but afterwards the victim couldn't remember huge parts of
their life or even recall who they were. Like many other dangerous
medical treatments, electroshock can save life but it can also take
life away by obliterating identity.
According the Hippocratic Oath, the first criteria of a treatment is
that it should do no harm. Once again I found myself trapped in a
system that made me feel severe protest. Yet none of these
specialists or university professors, or academic libraries had any
information about alternatives. Worse, none of these mind-doctor-gods
were even looking for better treatments.
Though unpleasant and profoundly disappointing, my experience as a
mental hospital psychologist was, like being in nursing school, also
very valuable. Not only did I learn how to diagnose, and evaluate
the severity of mental illness and assess the dangerousness of the
mentally ill, I learned to understand them, to feel comfortable with
them, and found that I was never afraid of them. Fearlessness is a
huge advantage. The mentally ill seem to have a heightened ability
to spot fear in others. If they sense that you are afraid they
frequently enjoy terrorizing you. When psychotic people know you
feel comfortable with them, and probably understand a great deal of
what they are experiencing, when they know that you can and intend
to control them, they experience a huge sense of relief. I could
always get mentally ill people to tell me what was really going on
in their heads when no one else could get them to communicate.
A few years later I married an American and became the Mental Health
Coordinator for Whatcom County, the northwestern corner of
Washington State. I handled all the legal proceedings in the county
for mentally ill people. After treatment in the state mental
hospital I supervised their reentry into the community, and
attempted to provide some follow up. This work further confirmed my
conclusions that in most cases the mentally ill weren't helped by
conventional treatment. Most of them rapidly became social problems
after discharge. It seemed the mental hospital's only ethically
defensible function was incarceration--providing temporary relief
for the family and community from the mentally ill person's
I did see a few people recover in the mental health system.
Inevitably these were young, and had not yet become
institutionalized, a term describing someone who comes to like being
in the hospital because confinement feels safe. Hospitalization can
mean three square meals and a bed. It frequently means an
opportunity to have a sex life (many female inmates are highly
promiscuous). Many psychotics are also criminal; the hospital seems
far better to them than jail. Many chronically mentally ill are also
experts at manipulating the system. When homeless, they deliberately
get hospitalized for some outrageous deed just before winter. They
then "recover" when the fine weather of spring returns.
After a year as Mental Health Co-ordinator, I had enough of the
"system" and decided that it was as good a time as any to return to
school for a Ph.D., this time at University. of Oregon where I
studied clinical and counseling psychology and gerontology. While in
graduate school I became pregnant and had my first child. Not
surprisingly, this experience profoundly changed my consciousness. I
realized that it had perhaps been all right for me to be somewhat
irresponsible about my own nutrition and health, but that it was not
okay to inflict poor nutrition on my unborn child. At that time I
was addicted to salty, deep-fat fried corn chips and a diet pop. I
thought I had to have these so-called foods every day. I tended to
eat for taste, in other words, what I liked, not necessarily what
would give me the best nutrition. I was also eating a lot of what
most people would consider healthy food: meat, cheese, milk, whole
grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
My constitution had seemed strong and vital enough through my
twenties to allow this level of dietary irresponsibility. During my
early 20s I had even recovered from a breast cancer by sheer will
power. (I will discuss this later.) So before my pregnancy I had not
questioned my eating habits.
As my body changed and adapted itself to it's new purpose I began
visiting the libraries and voraciously read everything obtainable
under the topic of nutrition--all the texts, current magazines,
nutritional journals, and health newsletters. My childhood habit of
self-directed study paid off. I discovered alternative health
magazines like Let's Live, Prevention, Organic Gardening, and Best
Ways, and promptly obtained every back issue since they were first
published. Along the way I ran into articles by Linus Pauling on
vitamin C, and sent away for all of his books, one of these was
co-authored with David Hawkins, called The Orthomolecular Approach
to Mental Disorders.
This book had a profound effect on me. I instantly recognized that
it was Truth with a capital "T", although the orthomolecular
approach was clearly in opposition to the established medical model
and contradicted everything I had ever learned as a student or
professional. Here at last was the exciting alternative approach to
treating mental disorders I had so long sought. I filed this
information away, waiting for an opportunity to use it. And I began
to study all the references in The Orthomolecular Approach to Mental
Disorders dealing with correcting the perceptual functioning of
psychotic people using natural substances.
In the course of delving through libraries and book stores, I also
came across the Mokelumne Hill Publishing Company (now defunct).
This obscure publisher reprinted many unusual and generally crudely
reproduced out-of-print books about raw foods diets, hygienic
medicine, fruitarianism, fasting, breathairianism, plus some works
discussing spiritual aspects of living that were far more esoteric
than I had ever thought existed. I decided that weird or not, I
might as well find out everything potentially useful. So I spent a
lot of money ordering their books. Some of Mokelumne Hill's material
really expanded my thoughts. Though much of it seemed totally
outrageous, in every book there usually was one line, one paragraph,
or if I was lucky one whole chapter that rang true for me.
Recognizing capital "T" Truth when one sees it is one of the most
important abilities a person can have. Unfortunately, every aspect
of our mass educational system attempts to invalidate this skill.
Students are repeatedly told that derivation from recognized
authority and/or the scientific method are the only valid means to
assess the validity of data. But there is another parallel method to
determine the truth or falsehood of information: Knowing. We Know by
the simple method of looking at something and recognizing its
correctness. It is a spiritual ability. I believe we all have it.
But in my case, I never lost the ability to Know because I almost
never attended school.
Thus it is that I am absolutely certain How and When to Be Your Own
Doctor will be recognized as Truth by some of my readers and
rejected as unscientific, unsubstantiated, or anecdotal information
by others. I accept this limitation on my ability to teach. If what
you read in the following pages seems True for you, great! If it
doesn't, there is little or nothing I could do to further convince.
I return now to the time of my first pregnancy. In the face of all
these new Truths I was discovering concerning health and nutrition,
I made immediate changes in my diet. I severely reduced my animal
protein intake and limited cooked food in general. I began taking
vitamin and mineral supplements. I also choose a highly atypical
Ph.D. dissertation topic, "The Orthomolecular Treatment of Mental
Disorders." This fifty cent word, orthomolecular, basically means
readjusting the body chemistry by providing unusually large amounts
of specific nutrient substances normally found in the human body
(vitamins and minerals). Orthomolecular therapy for mental disorders
is supported by good diet, by removal of allergy-producing
substances, by control of hypoglycemia, plus counseling, and
provision of a therapeutic environment.
My proposed dissertation topic met with nothing but opposition. The
professors on my doctoral committee had never heard of the word
orthomolecular, and all of them were certain it wasn't an accepted,
traditional area of research. Research in academia is supposed to be
based on the works of a previous researchers who arrived at
hypothesis based on data obtained by strictly following scientific
methodology. "Scientific" data requires control groups, matched
populations, statistical analysis, etc. In my case there was no
previous work my dissertation committee would accept, because the
available data did not originate from a medical school or psychology
department they recognized.
Due to a lot of determination and perseverance I finally did succeed
in getting my thesis accepted, and triumphed over my doctoral
committee. And I graduated with a dual Ph.D. in both counseling
psychology and gerontology. My ambition was to establish the
orthomolecular approach on the west coast. At that time I knew of
only two clinics in the world actively using nutritional therapy.
One was in New York and the other, was a Russian experimental
fasting program for schizophrenics. Doctors Hoffer and Osmond had
used orthomolecular therapy in a Canadian mental hospital as early
as 1950, but they had both gone on to other things.
The newly graduated Dr. Isabelle Moser, Ph.D. was at this point
actually an unemployed mother, renting an old, end-of-the-road,
far-in-the-country farmhouse; by then I had two small daughters. I
strongly preferred to take care of my own children instead of
turning them over to a baby sitter. My location and my children made
it difficult for me to work any place but at home. So naturally, I
made my family home into a hospital for psychotic individuals. I
started out with one resident patient at a time, using no
psychiatric drugs. I had very good results and learned a tremendous
amount with each client, because each one was different and each was
my first of each type.
With any psychotic residing in your home it is foolhardy to become
inattentive even for one hour, including what are normally
considered sleeping hours. I have found the most profoundly ill
mentally ill person still to be very crafty and aware even though
they may appear to be unconscious or nonresponsive. Psychotics are
also generally very intuitive, using faculties most of us use very
little or not at all. For example one of my first patients,
Christine, believed that I was trying to electrocute her. Though she
would not talk, she repeatedly drew pictures depicting this. She
had, quite logically within her own reality, decided to kill me with
a butcher knife in self-defense before I succeeded in killing her. I
had to disarm Christine several times, hide all the household
knives, change my sleeping spot frequently, and generally stay
sufficiently awake at night to respond to slight, creaky sounds that
could indicate the approach of stealthily placed small bare feet.
With orthomolecular treatment Christine improved but also became
more difficult to live with as she got better. For example, when she
came out of catatonic-like immobility, she became extremely
promiscuous, and was determined to sleep with my husband. In fact
she kept crawling into bed with him with no clothes on. Either we
had to forcefully remove her or the bed would be handed over to
her--without a resident man. Christine then decided (logically) that
I was an obstacle to her sex life, and once more set out to kill me.
This stage also passed, eventually and Christine got tolerably well.
Christine's healing process is quite typical and demonstrates why
orthomolecular treatment is not popular. As a psychotic genuinely
improves, their aberrated behavior often becomes more aggressive
initially and thus, harder to control. It seems far more convenient
for all concerned to suppress psychotic behavior with stupefying
drugs. A drugged person can be controlled when they're in a sort of
perpetual sedation but then, they never get genuinely well, either.
Another early patient, Elizabeth, gave me a particularly valuable
lesson, one that changed the direction of my career away from curing
insanity and toward regular medicine. Elizabeth was a catatonic
schizophrenic who did not speak or move, except for some waxy
posturing. She had to be fed, dressed and pottied. Elizabeth was a
pretty little brunette who got through a couple of years of college
and then spent several years in a state mental hospital. She had
recently run away from a hospital, and had been found wandering
aimlessly or standing rigidly, apparently staring fixedly at
nothing. The emergency mental health facility in a small city nearby
called me up and asked if I would take her. I said I would, and
drove into town to pick her up. I found Elizabeth in someone's back
yard staring at a bush. It took me three hours to persuade her to
get in my car, but that effort turned out to be the easiest part of
the next months.
Elizabeth would do nothing for herself, including going to the
bathroom. I managed to get some nutrition into her, and change her
clothes, but that was about all I could do. Eventually she wore me
down; I drifted off for an hour's nap instead of watching her all
night. Elizabeth slipped away in the autumn darkness and vanished.
Needless to say, when daylight came I desperately searched the
buildings, the yard, gardens, woods, and even the nearby river. I
called in a missing person report and the police looked as well. We
stopped searching after a week because there just wasn't any place
else to look. Then, into my kitchen, right in front of our round
eyes and gaping mouths, walked a smiling, pleasant, talkative young
woman who was quite sane.
She said, "Hello I'm Elizabeth! I'm sorry I was such a hassle last
week, and thank you for trying to take care of me so well. I was too
sick to know any better." She said she had gone out our back door
the week before and crawled under a pile of fallen leaves on the
ground in our back yard with a black tarp over them. We had looked
under the tarp at least fifty times during the days past, but never
thought to look under the leaves as well.
This amazing occurrence made my head go bong to say the least; it
was obvious that Elizabeth had not been 'schizophrenic' because of
her genetics, nor because of stress, nor malnutrition, nor
hypoglycemia, nor because of any of the causes of mental illness I
had previously learned to identify and rectify, but because of food
allergies. Elizabeth was spontaneously cured because she'd had
nothing to eat for a week. The composting pile of leaves hiding her
had produced enough heat to keep her warm at night and the heap
contained sufficient moisture to keep her from getting too
dehydrated. She looked wonderful, with clear shiny blue eyes, clear
skin with good color, though she was slightly slimmer than when I
had last seen her.
I then administered Coca's Pulse Test (see the Appendix) and quickly
discovered Elizabeth was wildly intolerant to wheat and dairy
products. Following the well known health gurus of that time like
Adelle Davis, I had self-righteously been feeding her home-made
whole wheat bread from hand-ground Organic wheat, and home-made
cultured yogurt from our own organically-fed goats. But by doing
this I had only maintained her insanity. Elizabeth was an
intelligent young woman, and once she understood what was causing
her problems, she had no trouble completely eliminating certain
foods from her diet. She shuddered at the thought that had she not
come to my place and discovered the problem, she would probably have
died on the back ward of some institution for the chronically
As for me, I will always be grateful to her for opening my eyes and
mind a little wider. Elizabeth's case showed me why Russian
schizophrenics put on a 30 day water fast had such a high recovery
rate. I also remembered all the esoteric books I had read extolling
the benefits of fasting. I also remembered two occasions during my
own youth when I had eaten little or nothing for approximately a
month each without realizing that I was "fasting." And doing this
had done me nothing but good.
Once when I was thirteen my mother sent my "little" brother and I to
a residential fundamentalist bible school. I did not want to go
there, although my brother did; he had decided he wanted to be a
evangelical minister. I hated bible school because I was allowed
absolutely no independence of action. We were required to attend
church services three times a day during the week, and five services
on Sunday. As I became more and more unhappy, I ate less and less;
in short order I wasn't eating at all. The school administration
became concerned after I had dropped about 30 pounds in two months,
notified my mother and sent me home. I returned to at-home
schooling. I also resumed eating.
I fasted one other time for about a month when I was 21. It happened
because I had nothing to do while visiting my mother before
returning to University except help with housework and prepare
meals. The food available in the backwoods of central B.C. didn't
appeal to me because it was mostly canned vegetables, canned milk,
canned moose meat and bear meat stews with lots of gravy and greasy
potatoes. I decided to pass on it altogether. I remember rather
enjoying that time as a fine rest and I left feeling very good ready
to take on the world full force ahead. At that time I didn't know
there was such a thing as fasting, it just happened that way.
After Elizabeth went on her way, I decided to experimentally fast
myself. I consumed only water for two weeks. But I must have had
counter intentions to this fast because I found myself frequently
having dreams about sugared plums, and egg omelets, etc. And I
didn't end up feeling much better after this fast was over (although
I didn't feel any worse either), because I foolishly broke the fast
with one of my dream omelets. And I knew better! Every book I'd ever
read on fasting stated how important it is to break a fast
gradually, eating only easy-to-digest foods for days or weeks before
resuming one's regular diet.
From this experiment I painfully learned how important it is to
break a fast properly. Those eggs just didn't feel right, like I had
an indigestible stone in my belly. I felt very tired after the
omelet, not energized one bit by the food. I immediately cut back my
intake to raw fruits and vegetables while the eggs cleared out of my
system. After a few days on raw food I felt okay, but I never did
regain the shine I had achieved just before I resumed eating.
This is one of the many fine things about fasting, it allows you to
get in much better communication with your own body, so that you can
hear it when it objects to something you're putting in it or doing
to it. It is not easy to acquire this degree of sensitivity to your
body unless you remove all food for a sufficiently long period; this
allows the body to get a word in edgewise that we are willing and
able to listen to. Even when we do hear the body protesting, we
frequently decide to turn a deaf ear, at least until the body starts
producing severe pain or some other symptom that we can't ignore.
Within a few years after Elizabeth's cure I had handily repaired
quite a few mentally ill people in a harmless way no one had heard
of; many new people were knocking at my door wanting to be admitted
to my drug free, home-based treatment program. So many in fact that
my ability to accommodate them was overwhelmed. I decided that it
was necessary to move to a larger facility and we bought an old,
somewhat run-down estate that I called Great Oaks School of Health
because of the magnificent oak trees growing in the front yard.
At Great Oaks initially I continued working with psychotics,
employing fasting as a tool, especially in those cases with obvious
food allergies as identified by Coca's Pulse Test, because it only
takes five days for a fasting body to eliminate all traces of an
allergic food substance and return to normal functioning. If the
person was so severely hypoglycemic that they were unable to
tolerate a water fast, an elimination diet (to be described in
detail later) was employed, while stringently avoiding all foods
usually found to be allergy producing.
I also decided that if I was going to employ fasting as my primary
medicine, it was important for me to have a more intense personal
experience with it, because in the process of reviewing the
literature on fasting I saw that there were many different
approaches, each one staunchly defended by highly partisan
advocates. For example, the capital "N" Natural, capital "H"
Hygienists, such a Herbert Shelton, aggressively assert that only a
pure water fast can be called a fast. Sheltonites contend that juice
fasting as advocated by Paavo Airola, for example, is not a fast but
rather a modified diet without the benefits of real fasting. Colon
cleansing was another area of profound disagreement among the
authorities. Shelton strongly insisted that enemas and colonics
should not be employed; the juice advocates tend to strongly
recommend intestinal cleansing.
To be able to intelligently take a position in this maze of conflict
I decided to first try every system on myself. It seems to me that
if I can be said to really own anything in this life it is my own
body, and I have the absolute right to experiment with it as long as
I'm not irresponsible about important things such as care of my
kids. I also feel strongly that it was unethical to ask anyone to do
anything that I was not willing or able to do myself. Just imagine
what would happen if all medical doctors applied this principal in
their practice of medicine, if all surgeons did it too!
I set out to do a complete and fully rigorous water fast according
to the Natural Hygiene model--only pure water and bed rest (with no
colon cleansing) until hunger returns, something the hygienists all
assured me would happen when the body had completed its
detoxification process. The only aspect of a hygienic fast I could
not fulfill properly was the bed rest part; unfortunately I was in
sole charge of a busy holistic treatment center (and two little
girls); there were things I had to do, though I did my chores and
duties at a very slow pace with many rest periods.
I water fasted for 42 days dropping from 135 pounds to 85 pounds on
a 5' 7" frame. At the end I looked like a Nazi concentration camp
victim. I tended to hide when people came to the door, because the
sight of all my bones scared them to death. Despite my assurances
visitors assumed I was trying to commit suicide. In any case I
persevered, watching my body change, observing my emotions, my
mental functioning, and my spiritual awareness. I thought, if Moses
could fast for 42 days so can I, even though the average length of a
full water fast to skeletal weight for a person that is not
overweight is more in the order of 30 days. I broke the fast with
small amounts of carrot juice diluted 50/50 with water and stayed on
that regimen for two more weeks.
After I resumed eating solid food it took six weeks to regain enough
strength to be able to run the same distance in the same time I had
before fasting, and it took me about six months to regain my
previous weight. My eyes and skin had become exceptionally clear,
and some damaged areas of my body such as my twice-broken shoulder
had undergone considerable healing. I ate far smaller meals after
the fast, but food was so much more efficiently absorbed that I got
a lot more miles to the gallon from what I did eat. I also became
more aware when my body did not want me to eat something. After the
fast, if I ignored my body's protest and persisted, it would
immediately create some unpleasant sensation that quickly persuaded
me to curb my appetite.
I later experimented with other approaches to fasting, with juice
fasts, with colon cleansing, and began to establish my own eclectic
approach to fasting and detoxification, using different types of
programs for different conditions and adjusting for psychological
tolerances. I'll have a lot more to say about fasting.
After my own rigorous fasting experience I felt capable of
supervising extended fasts on very ill or very overweight people.
Great Oaks was gradually shifting from being a place that mentally
ill people came to regain their sanity to being a spa where anyone
who wanted to improve their health could come for a few days, some
weeks or even a few months. It had been my observation from the
beginning that the mentally ill people in my program also improved
remarkably in physical health; it was obvious that my method was
good for anyone. Even people with good health could feel better.
By this time I'd also had enough of psychotic people anyway, and
longed for sane, responsible company.
So people started to come to Great Oaks School of Health to rest up
from a demanding job, to drop some excess weight, and generally to
eliminate the adverse effects of destructive living and eating
habits. I also began to get cancer patients, ranging from those who
had just been diagnosed and did not wish to go the AMA-approved
medical route of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, to those with
well-advanced cancer who had been sent home to die after receiving
all of the above treatments and were now ready to give alternative
therapies a try since they expected to die anyway. I also had a few
people who were beyond help because their vital organs had been so
badly damaged that they knew they were dying, and they wanted to die
in peace without medical intervention, in a supportive hospice cared
for by people who could confront death.
Great Oaks School was intentionally named a "school" of health
partially to deflect the attentions of the AMA. It is, after all,
entirely legal to teach about how to maintain health, about how to
prevent illness, and how to go about making yourself well once you
were sick. Education could not be called "practicing medicine
without a license." Great Oaks was also structured as a school
because I wanted to both learn and teach. Toward this end we started
putting out a holistic health newsletter and offering classes and
seminars to the public on various aspects of holistic health. From
the early 1970s through the early 1980s I invited a succession of
holistic specialists to reside at GOSH, or to teach at Great Oaks
while living elsewhere. These teachers not only provided a service
to the community, but they all became my teachers as well. I
apprenticed myself to each one in turn.
There came and went a steady parade of alternative practitioners of
the healing arts and assorted forms of metapsychology:
acupuncturists, acupressurists, reflexologists, polarity therapists,
massage therapists, postural integrationists, Rolfers, Feldenkries
therapists, neurolinguistic programmers, biokinesiologists,
iridologists, psychic healers, laying on of handsers, past life
readers, crystal therapists, toning therapists in the person of
Patricia Sun, color therapy with lamps and different colored lenses
a la Stanley Bourroughs, Bach Flower therapists, aroma therapists,
herbalists, homeopaths, Tai Chi classes, yoga classes, Arica
classes, Guergieff and Ouspensky fourth-way study groups, EST
workshops, Zen Meditation classes. Refugee Lamas from Tibet gave
lectures on The Book of the Dead and led meditation and chanting
sessions, and we held communication classes using Scientology
techniques. There were anatomy and physiology classes, classes on
nutrition and the orthomolecular approach to treating mental
disorders (given by me of course); there were chiropractors teaching
adjustment techniques, even first aid classes. And we even had a few
medical doctors of the alternative ilk who were interested in life
style changes as an approach to maintaining health.
Classes were also offered on colon health including herbs, clays,
enemas, and colonics. So many of my client at Great Oaks were
demanding colonics in conjunction with their cleansing programs,
that I took time out to go to Indio, Calif. to take a course in
colon therapy from a chiropractor, and purchase a state of the art
colonic machine featuring all the gauges, electric water solenoids
and stainless steel knobs one could ask for.
During this period almost all alternative therapists and their
specialties were very interesting to me, but I found that most of
the approaches they advocated did not suit my personality. For
example, I think that acupuncture is a very useful tool, but I
personally did not want to use needles. Similarly I thought that
Rolfing was a very effective tool but I did not enjoy administering
that much pain, although a significant number of the clients really
wanted pain. Some of the techniques appealed to me in the beginning,
and I used them frequently with good results but over time I decided
to abandon them, mostly because of a desire to simplify and lighten
up my bag of tricks.
Because of my enthusiasm and successes Great Oaks kept on growing.
Originally the estate served as both the offices of the Holt
Adoption Agency and the Holt family mansion. The Holt family had
consisted of Harry and Bertha Holt, six of their biological
children, and eight adopted Korean orphans. For this reason the ten
thousand square foot two story house had large common rooms, and
lots and lots of bedrooms. It was ideal for housing spa clients and
my own family. The adjoining Holt Adoption Agency office building
was also very large with a multitude of rooms. It became living
space for those helpers and hangers-on we came to refer to as
"community members." My first husband added even more to the
physical plant constructing a large, rustic gym and workshop.
Many "alternative" people visited and then begged to stay on with
room and board provided in exchange for their work. A few of these
people made a significant contribution such as cooking, child care,
gardening, tending the ever-ravenous wood-fired boiler we used to
keep the huge concrete mansion heated, or doing general cleaning.
But the majority of the 'work exchangers' did not really understand
what work really was, or didn't have sufficient ethical presence to
uphold the principle of fair exchange, which is basically giving
something of equal value for getting something of value and, perhaps
more importantly, giving in exchange what is needed and asked for.
I also found that community members, once in residence, were very
difficult to dislodge. My healing services were supporting far too
much dead wood. This was basically my own fault, my own poor
Still, I learned a great deal from all of this waste. First of all
it is not a genuine service to another human being to give them
something for nothing. If a fair exchange is expected and received,
positive ethical behavior is strengthened, allowing the individual
to maintain their self-respect. I also came to realize what an
important factor conducting one's life ethically is in the
individual healing process. Those patients who were out exchange in
their relationships with others in one or more areas of their life
frequently did not get well until they changed these behaviors.
Toward the end of 1982, after providing a decade of services to a
great many clients, many of these in critical condition, I reached
to point where I was physically, mentally, and spiritually drained.
I needed a vacation desperately but no one, including my first
husband, could run Great Oaks in my absence much less cover the
heavy mortgage. So I decided to sell it. This decision stunned the
community members and shocked the clientele who had become dependent
on my services. I also got a divorce at this time. In fact I went
through quite a dramatic life change in many areas--true to pattern,
a classic mid-life crisis. All I kept from these years was my two
daughters, my life experiences, and far too many books from the
enormous Great Oaks library.
These changes were however, necessary for my survival. Any person
who works with, yes, lives on a day-to-day basis with sick people
and who is constantly giving or outflowing must take time out to
refill their vessel so that they can give again. Failure to do this
can result in a serious loss of health, or death. Most healers are
empathic people who feel other peoples' pains and stresses and
sometimes have difficulty determining exactly what is their own
personal 'baggage' and what belongs to the clients. This is
especially difficult when the therapy involves a lot of 'hands on'
After leaving Great Oaks it took me a couple of years to rest up
enough to want to resume practicing again. This time, instead of
creating a substantial institution, Steve, my second husband and my
best friend, built a tiny office next to our family home. I had a
guest room that I would use for occasional residential patients.
Usually these were people I had known from Great Oaks days or were
people I particularly liked and wanted to help through a life
At the time I am writing this book over ten years have passed since
I sold Great Oaks. I continue to have an active outpatient practice,
preferring to protect the privacy of my home and family life since I
was remarried by limiting inpatients to a special few who required
more intensive care, and then, only one at a time, and then, with
long spells without a resident.
Next: From The Hygienic Dictionary 2
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