Guanidine, Cider Vinegar, and Health

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Dr. Royal Lee lauds Vermont physician Dr. D.C. Jarvis, author of the classic book on holistic health Folk Medicine. In particular, Lee praises Jarvis’s recommendation of apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy for a host of disorders, from guanidine toxicity as a result of the overconsumption of meat to a dysbiotic gut to constipation to low thyroid to overweight. (Two teaspoons of cider vinegar in a glass of water at each meal dependably effected gradual weight loss, Dr. Jarvis observed.) Dr. Lee discussing Dr. Jarvis is a must for any fan of nutrition, history, or both. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.

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Guanidine, Cider Vinegar, and Health[spacer height=”20px”]

The famous Vermont physician Dr. D.C. Jarvis should be honored for his pioneering work in the nutritional field. His teachings are founded on solid, irrefutable facts. Our new knowledge of foods and their functions merely permit us to go deeper into the facts and find why the folk medicine used by Dr. Jarvis in the treatment of many chronic diseases was effective in the beginning. For every effect there is a cause, and perhaps a cause for a cause.

The recently published book Folk Medicine, by Dr. Jarvis, expounds the value of vinegar (specifically, apple cider vinegar) in the treatment of allergies, burns, shingles, migraine headaches, hypertension, and other conditions.

Thinning the Blood

He states, “Disease does not come upon us unprovoked, like a thief in the night. Before harmful microorganisms can attack, multiply, thrive, and destroy, they must get into the cells; our first thought when sickness appears, therefore, is to come to the rescue of the body cells. One way this can be done is by increasing the intake of fluid that is acid in reaction, such as apple juice, cranberry, or grape juice; for Vermont folk medicine knows that acid thins the body fluids, keeping them liquid, while alkaline fluids thicken them, impeding circulation.”

Guanidine Toxicity

Guanidine is a toxic end product of metabolism, and the control of it would help explain the results obtained by Dr. Jarvis’s recommended use of cider vinegar in the diet. T.R. Robertson tells us that a high-meat diet can create the symptoms of guanidine poisoning (i.e., the various reactions of alkalosis and calcium depletion—muscle twitching, cramps, neurotic pains of the migrating type, aggravation of all allergic reaction).

Organic Acids

The acetic acid of vinegar is an organic acid, like the citric acid of oranges, lemons, or grapefruit and the tartaric acid of grapes. It differs from these, however, in that it can act to correct systematic alkalosis by its reaction with toxic guanidine to form harmless creatine. The other organic acids, such as sugar [sic], are disposed of by oxidation; they act as fuel, not as do the mineral acids (phosphoric, hydrochloric, sulfuric), which are permanently in the body until eliminated. If we need the mineral acids to correct a tendency to alkalosis from too much meat in the diet, vinegar may be specifically required.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Dr. Jarvis recommends only apple cider vinegar, and we concur. It carries the mineral and vitamin content of the apple and seems far superior to any other in its “clinical effect.” We normally get phosphoric acid from cereals, but refining methods remove the minerals, so white bread fails to protect us. Cereals carry phytin—known chemically as calcium-magnesium inositol phosphate. Phosphatase, an enzyme found only in raw foods, breaks this up into phosphoric acid, inositol, and calcium and magnesium phosphates. Inositol, in one of the B complex vitamins, provides the methyl donor to cooperate with the vinegar (acetic radical) in regenerating guanidine into creatine.

Weight Reduction

The disposal of guanidoacetic acid by methylation is catalyzed by the thyroid, as demonstrated by Stuber, Russman, and Proebstring in 1923. So it may be possible that vinegar, long reputed to reduce weight, does so by releasing thyroid activity. Dr. Jarvis tell us that two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water with each meal will produce a progressive and consistent loss of weight.

“The loss of weight will be gradual,” he says. “If a woman between five feet and five feet six inches tall weighing 210 pounds takes two teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water at each meal, she will weigh about 180 pounds at the end of two years. If a man has a paunch, he will lose the paunch at the end of two years. The apple cider vinegar will have made it possible to burn the fat in the body instead of storing it and increasing the bodyweight.”

If continued day after day, this treatment for excess weight is completely simple and effective. If the daily routine happens to be such that it is not practical to take it at each meal, a dose can be taken in the morning and another at bedtime, with the third dose at some convenient time in between.

Acidophilic Organisms

The control of the flora of the bowel may also be part of the mechanism of apple cider vinegar. Guanidine is an organic alkaline base that we have reported as being one of the products of unfavorable bacterial activity in the colon. Sour milk, yogurt, and acidophilus yeast have long been known to be beneficial in correcting the local environment; they favor the friendly bacteria and block the growth of toxin-producing organisms. The common syndrome of constipation, calcium-deficiency symptoms, and a drift to arthritis is obviously a situation calling for acidophilus yeast, a whole wheat regimen, raw foods containing phosphatase (all nuts, bran, and cereals, only if uncooked), soaked whole wheat or rye as breakfast cereal, raw fruit and juices, and raw vegetables and juices.


The prevention of pain and discomfort is a reward in itself. We may never know what we avoid by the application of the wisdom of simple folk medicine. We can recommend Dr. Jarvis’s book as a valuable guide to some of the first principles of folk medicine.

By Dr. Royal Lee. Let’s Live, 1958.

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