How I Became a Hygienist

From The Hygienic Dictionary

Doctors. [1] 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 pomp
sity, 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._ [2] 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

taking too).

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

of organization.

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

mentally ill.

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.