Historical Archives Subject: Digestive Health

The Acid-Alkaline Balance and Patient Management

By Dr. George Goodheart

Summary: If you’ve read anything at all about nutrition, you’ve likely heard of the importance of proper pH balance in the body. But what is meant by proper, and where in the body should one assess acid-alkaline balance? Blood, urine, saliva, gastric juices, intestinal fluids—each of these has its own ideal pH range varying from highly acidic to highly alkaline. Just how does a nutritionist make sense of pH and apply it practically? That’s the subject of this outstanding primer from 1965 by renowned chiropractor Dr. George Goodheart, who presents some of his clinical observations in balancing pH in patients. While “pH” does ultimately refer to the acid-alkaline balance of an individual’s blood, he says, one can assess that value simply be measuring the pH of the saliva, which mirrors blood pH. (Urine pH, on the other hand, does not reflect the pH of the blood.) And contrary to popular belief, he adds, diet alone is seldom sufficient to alter a person’s pH, which is far more dependent on the functioning of the endocrine system and the ability of the body to digest fats than it is on the foods the individual is eating. Dr. Goodheart discusses both chiropractic and nutritional means of addressing these issues while presenting some of the classic symptoms of hyperalkalinity—such as allergies, insomnia, and arthritic pain—as well as those of hyperacidity, including breathlessness, dry skin, and hard stool. By addressing endocrine imbalances and poor fat digestion in the patient, he says, these often mystifying symptoms can be readily resolved. From the Digest of Chiropractic Economics, 1965. Reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research

Acidophilus Yeast

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this primer on the benefits of lactic acid to digestion, Dr. Royal Lee explains the science behind his remarkable bowel-normalizing product Acidophilus Yeast (known today as Lactic Acid Yeast), which has the special distinction of being able to convert any dietary carbohydrate into lactic acid within the colon. Not only does this action acidify the bowel, thus killing potentially dangerous microorganisms and promoting balanced gut flora, but the yeast also releases enzymes that aid digestion, and it provides bulk to stool—all of which help ensure proper bowel function. Dr. Lee backs up his comments by presenting a clinical study showing Acidophilus Yeast’s impressive results in combating constipation, the researchers stating unequivocally the chief reason for the yeast’s effectiveness: “It has been demonstrated time and time again that the stools of patients who are constipated are, in a very large majority, alkaline…The lactic acid acts as a stabilizer of the hydrogen ion concentration in the colon.” With many alternative health practitioners today promoting indiscriminate alkalization of the body, the words of these investigators are well worth remembering. Published by Vitamin Products Company, circa 1940.

The Effects of Vitamin Deficient Diets on Rats, with Special Reference to the Motor Functions of the Intestinal Tract In Vivo and In Vitro

By Louis Gross

Summary: Historically significant British study from 1924 on the pathological lesions appearing in the nervous system and digestive tract of rats fed vitamin deficient diets. This article demonstrates the seriousness and excellence of early vitamin research. From The Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 1924. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 24.

The Commoner Forms of Pruritus Ani Considered Eutrophically

By N. Philip Norman, MD

Summary: Pruritus ani is a condition marked by intense and chronic itching in the anal area. Here, Dr. Philip Norman, celebrated New York City physician and author of Chronic Idiopathic Ulcerative Colitis, explores the various nutritional causes and treatments of this difficult condition. This is a splendid example of how far back some medical doctors embraced a holistic approach to difficult health problems and applied nutritional solutions to great success. Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1965.

Postulating a New Concept of the Etiology, Pathology, and Treatment of Chronic Idiopathic Ulcerative Colitis

By N. Philip Norman, MD

Summary: A classic, definitive work on ulcerative colitis. Dr. Royal Lee described this remarkable book, which his foundation published in its entirety in 1950, as “worth its weight in gold.” Groundbreaking in its understanding of the lesions of malnutrition, the book makes a cogent case that ulcerative colitis is closely related to scurvy, the result of a deficiency of the vitamin C complex, along with additional nutrient deficiencies and other ill effects of a processed-food diet. 1950.

View PDF: Postulating a New Concept of the Etiology, Pathology, and Treatment of Chronic Idiopathic Ulcerative Colitis

Studies of a New Type of Yeast in Chronic Constipation

By Chester H. Lyon and James P. Hart

Summary: Perhaps the first published study of a probiotic supplement for the treatment of constipation and related bowel disorders. The researchers fed their subjects a special mycelium-type of yeast—developed by Dr. Royal Lee and known today as Lactic Acid Yeast—that converts carbohydrate foods into lactic acid in the colon. (The normal pH of the colon is acidic; this promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.) Unlike lactobacillus-type bacteria, which can convert only lactose into lactic acid, Lactic Acid Yeast is able to convert any carbohydrate source into lactic acid. This efficient conversion restored the lower bowel to its normal pH and function and provided improvement in every parameter that was studied. Clinical Osteopathy, 1940. Reprint by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. 

The Need for Vitamins

By L. Stambovsky

Summary: In this article, written amidst the Great Depression and the outset of World War II, the author describes the vitamin-poor state of the typical American citizen in terms that still apply today. “Quantitatively, most Americans get enough calories in the form of [refined] carbohydrates…But refined sugar and starch, while they are energy sources, provide little or no accessory or vital food factors [i.e., vitamins and minerals].” This basic message sums up the work of many of the early nutritionists, who tried in vain to communicate the fact that nutrient deficiencies are at the root of most modern degenerative illness. Includes an illuminating chart listing various vitamin deficiencies and their associated diseases. From Drug and Cosmetic Industry magazine, 1942. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 31.

Vitamins and Their Relation to Deficiency Diseases of the Alimentary Tract

By Edward A. Johnston, MD

Summary: This excellent report, a reprint from the Journal of the American College of Proctology, starts with a clear description of the all-important connection between vitamin complexes (as they are found in whole foods) and the endocrine system. “When we consider that vitamins in the food are the substances with which the endocrines are able to secrete their active principles, it is apparent that a glandular insufficiency may take place in the absence of vitamins….All of the ductless glands, the thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pineal body, pituitary, adrenals, gonads, pancreas, islets of Langerhans, and spleen must have one or more of the vitamins in order to secrete their vital fluids, and if deprived of the vitamins, will atrophy and cease to function.” Such events, Dr. Johnston says, are obviously bound to weaken the body and make it more susceptible to disease. “Stomach ulcers are probably the best instance of bacterial invasion primarily due to a lowered resistance resulting from a vitamin deficiency. Other instances of vitamin A deficiency, and often found in conjunction with infections of the intestinal tract, are infections of the eyes, tonsils, sinuses, lungs, buccal and lingual mucosa, and the skin.” This is the Royal Lee philosophy writ large. From Journal of the American College of Proctology, circa 1940. Lee Foundation of Nutritional Research reprint 2.

Vitamin U Therapy of Peptic Ulcer

By Garnett Cheney, MD

Summary: While it was never accepted as a vitamin by the FDA, “vitamin U” from raw cabbage juice was successfully used by pioneering holistic physicians in the treatment of stomach ulcers. Here Dr. Cheney gives some background and clinical applications of this officially unaccepted vitamin in a presentation before the 80th Annual Session of the California Medical Association in 1951. This file includes a supplementary document from a 1957 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association on the subject of cabbage juice for digestive problems. From California Medicine. Reprint 91, 1952.

The Use of Raw Potatoes

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Dr. Lee discusses the nutritional value of potatoes, explaining that much of that value is lost when they are cooked. “We may estimate that 25 percent of the vitamins are lost in cooking either by heat or leaching. The loss of vitamin C is particularly fast….” In addition, he says, “the cooked potato contains no enzymes, as all enzymes are destroyed by heat.” One such enzyme, studies showed, helps relieve constipation, while others are even more precious. “One of the enzymes found in raw potatoes is phosphatase, which promotes assimilation of calcium and iron in particular; another is tyrosinase, an essential component of the vitamin C complex and associated directly with the function of the adrenal glands.” (Dr. Lee often referred to raw potatoes and raw mushrooms as the best food sources of tyrosinase available.) Lee gives tips on conserving potatoes’ nutrients when cooking them and instructs readers to be sure to add lemon juice to freshly extracted potato juice, which keeps the juice from oxidizing and turning black. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.

A Turning Point in Nutritional Science

By Dr. Ralph Bircher

Summary: In this 1953 lecture, celebrated nutritional and medical authority Dr. Ralph Bircher of Switzerland touts the virtues of raw foods. He begins by discussing a seldom-mentioned but universal reaction to eating cooked food known as digestive leukocytosis: “Some message sent by the palate to the marrow through the vegetative [autonomic] nerve system releases a deployment of leucocytes which swarm out to the walls of the intestines, especially of the colon, as if to defend a frontline.” In other words, eating cooked foods sets off the immune system. Bircher then cites the work of Dr. Paul Kouchakoff who showed that “digestive leukocytosis does not happen whenever a meal consists of, or even begins with raw vegetable food.” (See Dr. Kouchakoff’s seminal study, “The Influence of Food Cooking on the Blood Formula of Man.”) Bircher also addresses the subject of enzymes in raw foods, saying there are “specific enzymes in fresh and living plant cells which are very delicate” and which the “human organism knows how to protect and escort…throughout the digestive tract, so that they can reach the colon without harm.” (This is in direct contrast to conventional belief that all enzymes in food are broken down during the course of human digestion.) Once in the colon, Bircher adds, these special raw-food enzymes “perform a basic change in the bacterial flora by attracting and binding what oxygen there is. Thus, they remove the aerobic condition which is responsible for putrefaction, fermentations, dysbacteria and intestinal toxemia.” Historical note: Bircher’s father, the famous Maximilian Bircher-Benner, developed the raw Swiss breakfast food muesli for patients at his clinic. In Europe it is often still called Birchermuesli. Reprint 80, 1953.

Protective Colloids Found in Ancient Remedies

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: The word hydrophilic means water loving, and in this 1958 article, Dr. Royal Lee discusses the digestive benefits of substances known as hydrophilic colloids, which are found in foods such as apples and okra but also in nonnutritive materials such as clay. In the gastrointestinal tract, these compounds draw up liquid, creating bulk that initiates peristalsis and fosters bowel regularity. At the same time, they also soak up irritants, making hydrophilic colloids uniquely effective against both diarrhea and constipation. The modern use of nonnutritive hydrophilic colloids such as kaolin and bentonite to ameliorate digestive woes affirms the wisdom of ancestral cultures that used similar clays to combat dysentery and food infections, says Dr. Lee, a claim he supports with the following remarkable quote by Dr. Weston A. Price, from Price’s his classic 1939 text on traditional human diets and health, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: “Among the groups (natives) in the Andes, Central Africa, and Australia…each knapsack contained a ball of clay, a little of which was dissolved in water. Into this they dipped their morsel of food while eating. Their explanation was to prevent ‘sick stomach’.” While modern science has elucidated much when it comes to food and health, it is important to remember that eons of human trial and error have much to teach us about nutrition as well. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.

The Prevention of Recurrence in Peptic Ulcer

By D.T. Quigley, MD

Summary: Daniel Thomas Quigley was a prominent physician at the Nebraska College of Medicine who gained national recognition with his 1929 book, The Conquest of Cancer. As his career progressed, Dr. Quigley became convinced that nutritional deficiencies play a fundamental role not just in cancer but in most of the degenerative diseases that curse modernity, as he details in his 1943 tour de force, The National Malnutrition. In the following lecture, delivered a year after publication of that book, Dr. Quigley discusses the treatment of peptic ulcer, a disease caused by the long-term consumption of refined foods, he says, such a diet inducing shortages of not just a single vitamin or mineral but of multiple nutrients. In fact, he says, degenerative illnesses are almost never due to the lack of a lone nutrient but are “in varying degrees deficiencies of all of the necessary vitamins and minerals.” This is an important point that has been virtually ignored by conventional nutrition science since its inception. In an attempt to perform experiments isolating a single variable, researchers have created a model of debatable worth in illuminating practical truths about the relationship between diet and health. As Dr. Quigley sums sardonically, “None but the laboratory animal…has a deficiency of iron alone.” Thus his therapy for ulcer, like the answer for most degenerative illnesses, is to “use natural, high-vitamin, high-mineral foods” such as milk, eggs, seafood, and raw fruits and vegetables, and to “reject non-vitamin, non-mineral foods” such as white sugar and white flour. And how long should the patient keep this up? “For life,” he says, not kidding. From The Nebraska State Medical Journal, 1945. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 17.

Nutrition in Health and Disease

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: In this 1936 article from the British Medical Journal, nutrition pioneer Sir Dr. Robert McCarrison lays out some of the basic principles of nutrition—principles that have long been lost by a modern world that has convinced itself that processed foods are sufficient substitutes for whole natural foods. In addition to the fundamental truth that only whole foods can properly nourish the body, McCarrison discusses specific dysfunctions that occur in the two body systems affected most immediately by a poor diet—the gastrointestinal tract and the endocrine system. From the British Medical Journal, 1936.