The Vitamins in Medicine, Part 1 (Vitamin A and the B Complex)

By Franklin Bicknell, MD, and Frederick Prescott, MD

Summary: Nutrition and medicine have seldom seen eye to eye. Though the discovery of the vitamins in the early twentieth century did cause some physicians to grasp the profound connection between vitamin deficiencies and degenerative disease, medicine as an institution never truly embraced this idea. Ultimately, the American Medical Association declared—in concert with the industrial food industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—that most Americans do not suffer vitamin deficiencies of any consequence. This position, however, contradicts decades of scientific study, as famed natural nutritionist Dr. Royal Lee argued throughout his career. One of the books Dr. Lee cited most often in making his case was the text here, The Vitamins in Medicine, by British physicians Drs. Franklin Bicknell and Frederick Prescott. Backed by over 4500 scientific references, the text sums the totality of scientific knowledge about the vitamins at the time of its publication in the mid-twentieth century. While the book does take some typically medical views of vitamins, e.g., that they are single chemical substances and not synergistic biochemical complexes, as Dr. Lee taught, it nevertheless supports strongly the notion that many, if not most, of our modern ailments stem from partial (or “subclinical”) vitamin deficiencies. “This book not only tells of the ravages caused by ignoring nature’s ways,” Dr. Lee said, “but it also shows us the way to prevent these bodily damages.” In the first part of the text (see link to PDF below), the authors discuss vitamin A as well as the various B vitamins. In Part 2, Bicknell and Franklin go on to address vitamins C, D, E, and K and a host of other vital nutrients. Though the information in this book is over seven decades old, it is still incredibly valuable today, when so few health practitioners actually know what the vitamins do—or what a lack of them can cause. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1953. Original publisher William Heinemann, London.

The GP and the Endocrine Glands

By Dr. Louis L. Rubel

Summary: What might have been history’s great link between nutrition and medicine. This 200-page book by medical doctor Louis Rubel, published originally in 1959 and reproduced in its entirety here, details the clinical symptomatology of various dysfunctions of the endocrine glands and links these dysfunctions to inadequate nutrition. “Many patients would not be suffering from ill health [as a result of glandular dysfunction] had their nutritional intake throughout their formative and adult years been adequate in each of its constituents,” Dr. Rubel writes. Rubel stresses in particular that many conditions encountered daily by the general medical practitioner and considered “mental or emotional aberration” are really the result of endocrine disruption. The causal connection between malnutrition and endocrine dysfunction had first been revealed decades earlier by the great nutrition pioneer Sir Dr. Robert McCarrison, who showed that the endocrine system is actually the first bodily system to feel the effects of malnutrition. While this truth has been observed by nutrition-minded practitioners for almost a century, the medical establishment still tragically fails to recognize it or consider its profound implications. Louis L. Rubel, 1959.

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Introductory Pages of Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Volume I

By Mark R. Anderson

Summary: The mid-twentieth century was a time of unprecedented discovery in the science of nutrition. At the head of the field was Dr. Royal Lee (1895–1967), a Milwaukee dentist who combined an uncanny grasp of the physical sciences, agriculture, physiology, biochemical manufacturing, and clinical application of nutrition to lead a revolution in our basic understanding of food and health. Dr. Lee spent much of his time—and money—disseminating the truths he unearthed to the public, his audience ranging from homemakers to healthcare practitioners of every stripe. In the book Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Volume I, Selene River Press presents thirty-seven of Dr. Lee’s most notable talks, the titles of which are shown here along with the prefatory pages of the the book, including Mark R. Anderson’s stirring introduction on “The Lee Philosophy”—one of the most insightful commentaries ever written on the life and work of the twentieth century’s foremost nutritionist. From Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Volume I (Selene River Press, 1998).

The Direct Effect of Malnutrition on Tissue Degeneration

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this 1949 address to the Seattle chapter of the American Academy of Applied Nutrition, Dr. Royal Lee touches on some of the major findings of early nutrition history that are still, incredibly, ignored to this day. Topics include the importance of calcium, phosphorus, and raw protein to tooth health; the total destruction of nutrients in bread caused by bleaching; the connection between vitamin E deficiency and heart disease; the dependency of connective-tissue integrity on adequate vitamin C levels; and the various lesions of B vitamin deficiencies. Dr. Lee explains that most of the health problems caused by nutrient deficiency are the result of the consumption of overcooked and processed foods and concludes with perhaps the most important edict for good health: “We must take the trouble in our homes to prepare our foods from the basic materials as far as possible, even to the extent of growing our vegetables and fruits on properly composted soil if we can. The dividends will be quite possibly twenty years added to our life span, to say nothing of the life added to our years.” 1949. Reprinted by Selene River Press in Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Volume I

Clinical Uses of Small Doses of Insulin

By Samuel M. Beale Jr., MD

Summary: Dr. Samuel Beale Jr. was a practicing physician in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, for nearly fifty years, from 1914 to 1964. Spurred by a discovery made early in his career, he applied low doses of insulin therapeutically to a breadth of conditions ranging from high blood pressure, head trauma, and liver disease to syphilis and cancer, all with remarkable success. In this 1937 lecture, Dr. Beale shares clinical observations of his insulin therapy, emphasizing the critical role played by nutrition in his treatments. “The use of insulin should be considered only in conjunction with the securing of a diet complete in all the food essentials, including fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and sterols,” he declares, adding that “predisposition to disease appear[s] to be secondary to endocrine deficiencies or imbalances, and these seem associated with dietary deficiencies…” Dr. Beale’s words echo the notion popular among some of nutrition’s greatest pioneers—including Drs. Royal Lee, Weston A. Price, and Sir Robert McCarrison—that endocrine damage resulting from malnutrition is the basic mechanism behind most disease in the modern world. (Dr. Beale attributed much of the nutritional success of his practice to Dr. Lee’s famous raw-food concentrates, as he tells Dr. Lee in this poignant 1962 letter.) From Transactions of the Forty-Third Annual Meeting of the American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society, Inc., 1937Reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.

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

Fluorine and Dental Caries

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Dr. Royal Lee was one of the earliest and most outspoken opponents of water fluoridation, which he described as “wholesale drugging of the population.” In this address to a group in Florida, Dr. Lee delves into the dangers of ingesting fluorides and speculates as to the commercial interests behind the adoption of water fluoridation. Also included is testimony by U.S. Representative Arthur L. Miller, Chairman of the Special Committee on Chemicals in Food, who candidly explains that water fluoridation had been adopted as official policy by the U.S. Public Health Service despite the fact that long-term studies of the effects of fluoridation had yet to be completed. Miller calls into question the motive of the Health Service’s approval and speculates that the aluminum industry, for which fluoride is a waste product that could now be sold for pure profit, had perhaps influenced the agency’s decision. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 53B, 1952.

Factors Favorable and Unfavorable to Cancer

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this brief but poignant passage, Dr. Royal Lee observes that cancer tends to develop only in people with a weakened or imbalanced endocrine system. Healthy thyroid function in particular, he says, is critical in defending against the disease. This includes optimizing the effect of the gland’s hormone thyroxine by ensuring adequate levels of vitamin F, a complex of fatty acids that was recognized in the early days of nutrition as an essential nutrient in food but is inexplicably unacknowledged today. While vitamin F works synergistically with thyroxine to help prevent cancer, Dr. Lee says, one substance that should be avoided is anterior pituitary growth hormone, or “human growth hormone” (HGH). This compound, popular among bodybuilders and athletes today for its performance enhancement, is a “most potent stimulator of cancer,” he warns, and any product that might contain it should be categorically avoided in treatment of the illness. Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1955.

Tragedy and Hype: The Third International Soy Symposium

By Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD

Summary: Reflections on the Third International Soy Symposium by two of the most outspoken critics of processed soy products. “Far from being the perfect food,” Fallon and Enig write, “modern soy products contain antinutrients and toxins, and they interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.” The authors also cite the infamous letter of Drs. Dan Sheehan and Daniel Doerge, two members of the FDA’s toxicology department who tried in vain to stop their agency from awarding soy an official health claim. From Nexus Magazine, 2000.

Royal Lee, DDS: The Father of Natural Vitamins

By Dr. David Morris

Summary: “One of the intellectual giants who contributed to our contemporary high standard of living and knowledge of human nutrition was Dr. Royal Lee,” writes Dr. David Morris in this excellent biography of the twenty century’s foremost natural nutritionist. “Even though his name is known to only a small number of Americans,” Morris adds, “Dr. Lee was a researcher, inventor, scientist, scholar, statesman, businessman and philanthropist of the first order.” Indeed. From the Weston A. Price Foundation, 2000.

Royal Lee—The Man

By Don C. Matchan

Summary: The Herald of Health was a popular natural foods and lifestyle magazine in the 1950s and 1960s. This biographical sketch, published by the magazine in 1959, recounts events of Dr. Lee’s life from the earliest days of his childhood through the time the story was published, about a decade before his death. 1959.

Nutrition and Glands in Relation to Cancer

By F.E. Chidester, PhD

Summary: The interaction between the nutrients and the endocrine glands comes into sharp focus in this exceptional book, published in its entirety by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Dr. Chidester wonderfully compiles and synergizes a wide scope of knowledge concerning cancer research and its relationship to nutrition, in particular with respect to the endocrine glands, discussing specific lesions caused by deficiencies of various vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals. His presentation on iodine alone is worth its weight in gold. While iodine and cancer research is coming into focus only now in the twenty-first century, Dr. Chidester enlightened his readers over six decades earlier. 1944.

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The Systemic Causes of Dental Caries

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Amazingly, Dr. Royal Lee presented this paper in 1923, to his senior class at Marquette University Dental School. In it he brilliantly ties together different lines of research showing a correlation between tooth decay and both systemic vitamin deficiency and susceptibility to infectious disease. The key connection, he says, is the malfunctioning of the endocrine system, brought about by the consumption of a diet high in cooked and processed foods. Such a vitamin-deficient diet, he explains, sets up a vicious cycle: Vitamin deficiency weakens the endocrines; weakened endocrines diminish the body’s ability to resist infection and tooth decay; fighting infection creates a greater need for vitamins; increased lack of vitamins further weakens the endocrines; etc. To avoid this downard spiral and combat cavities in the process, Lee recommends a diet with “as much uncooked food as possible,” including raw milk. This paper, remarkable for its time and just as remarkable today, put Dr. Lee on the map as one of the true giants in nutrition history. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 30A. 

Why Dental Caries?

By John Courtney

Summary: For thirty years John Courtney was the head of Research & Development for Standard Process, Inc., the raw-food supplement company founded by Dr. Royal Lee in 1929. In this article, Courtney explains how early nutrition researchers such as Dr. Weston Price showed beyond doubt that tooth decay is the result of a diet deficient in vitamins and minerals. Yes, Courtney says, bacteria attack teeth to cause cavities, but those bacteria wouldn’t get anywhere if the teeth weren’t weakened in the first place by poor nutrition. Moreover, malnutrition also diminishes the bacteria-killing action of the saliva bathing the teeth. Thus, he summarizes, cavities are “due to a deficient diet and a vitamin and mineral imbalance, which in turn, by starving the endocrines, renders them unable to secrete sufficient amounts of the germicidal ferments to prevent dental caries [cavities] and other infectious diseases.” From The Clinical Nutritionist. Publication date unknown. 

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.

Prenatal Nutrition and Birth Defects

By Mark R. Anderson

Summary: “The first words spoken by a woman upon learning she is pregnant should be, ‘Am I well nourished?'” writes nutrition researcher and educator Mark Anderson. In this sweeping article, Anderson recounts the findings of some of the giants of early nutrition research—Sir Robert McCarrison, Dr. Weston Price, Dr. Royal Lee—to show that the key to being well nourished is a diet of whole, unprocessed foods prepared “in obedience to time-honored dietary traditions.” Indeed, regardless of which of the many tribal societies these intrepid pioneers observed, it appeared that “isolation from Western civilization and its foods of commerce…afforded a diet that protected health.” Unsurprisingly, birth defects among these societies were virtually nonexistent. And how did these traditional diets compare with the current recommendations of our public health officials? “[They] looked nothing like our modern USDA Food Pyramid,” Anderson writes, “unless, perhaps, if it is turned upside down and all the foodstuffs are consumed in their unrefined state.” This is an incredibly important document about not just prenatal nutrition but the core of nutrition in general: what to eat. From Whole Food Nutrition Journal, circa 2000.

Obesity and the Physiology of Osmotic Transfers

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: “Most overweight people have an obviously disordered endocrine balance,” writes Dr. Lee in this speculative paper on the nature of weight gain and loss. While historically the thyroid has always been considered the main dysfunctional endocrine gland when it comes to obesity, Dr. Lee points to another player, one “higher up the chain” of the endocrine system—the pituitary gland. With some modern researchers claiming the cause of obesity to be resistance of the pituitary to the hormone leptin, Dr. Lee appears to have been on the right track—once again years ahead of his time. 1954.

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.

Studies in Deficiency Disease

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: The complete classic of 1921, as republished by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research in 1945. Dr. Robert McCarrison was knighted in England for his groundbreaking research while serving as a British army surgeon in India during the first two decades of the twentieth century. His landmark investigations into the connection between the diets of various populations in India and their patterns of disease and health gave new insight into the cause and effect of nutrition on health and introduced the world to the amazingly healthy and long-lived Hunza people of the Himalayas. McCarrison set up laboratories in which he studied the effect of various local diets on animals, reproducing nearly the same health and disease patterns in the animals as displayed in the particular populations. Diet, he concluded, was the determining factor in the specific health patterns of each population. McCarrison was also the first researcher to inform the medical world that the endocrine system is the first system in the body to succumb to the effects of malnutrition, carefully demonstrating the lesions in the endocrine glands caused by specific adulterated foods. His work inspired the likes of Royal Lee, Weston A. Price, Francis Pottenger, Jr., and J. I. Rodale. Still remarkably relevant today, this book should be part of the corpus of all colleges of the healing arts. Originally published by Oxford Medical Publications, 1921.

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Practical Endocrinology

By Henry R. Harrower, MD

Summary: The complete book, originally published in 1932 and reprinted by the Lee Foundation in 1957. In 1916, Dr. Harrower founded the Association for the Study of the Internal Secretions, the first society in the United States dedicated to the study of the endocrines, while also inaugurating Endocrinology, the first periodical of its type. Harrower was a major force in the development of endocrine therapy using glandular extracts and a leading light in the practice of organotherapy. To further this therapy, he founded the Harrower Laboratories Company in Glendale, California. Dr. Royal Lee would later build on Harrower’s work in developing the Protomorphogen. In the preface to the 1957 reprint by the Foundation, Lee writes, “No student of the healing arts can fail to consider this book of Harrower’s an indispensable reference work, and of absorbing interest in getting the proper diagnosis of the multiple illnesses of a people who are trying out the mass experiment of starving their endocrine glands by the use of foods depleted of essential minerals and vitamins through processing, refining and the progressive depletion of soils.” Note: This is a large file. Give it a minute or more to load. Original publication date 1932; republished by the Lee Foundation in 1957.

View PDF: Practical Endocrinology