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There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
which is proof against all argument,
and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance.
That principle is condemnation without investigation.
(Herbert Spencer)

If I assert that you can probably accomplish more with raw foods then you can with laser surgery, you'll likely call me some kind of a nut.

 Terri certainly thought I was, and no mistake. Terri was going blind, and she was miserable. She had a somewhat rare condition where her eyesight was tunneling. That is, Terri's peripheral vision was fading, and fast. She was still in her thirties. In the last year it had gotten severe enough that she came to me. 

 "What has your ophthalmologist told you?" I asked.

 "That there is nothing he can do, at all, except monitor how much vision I've lost," she said "A lot of good that does me."

 "Surgery? Medications?"

 "He said none are any help with what I've got," she said, with her mouth firmly set. "I don't suppose you have any great ideas?"

 This was just the start of what would be one jolly client relationship. And I did have an idea or two. She was not going to like them.

 "Well, yes," I said. "Naturopaths have accumulated decades of therapeutic evidence about the food enzymes in uncooked foods, especially sprouted beans and sprouted grains. The idea is that cooking temperatures as low as 130 degrees Fahrenheit destroy these enzymes, which are said to be essential to keeping us youthful and healthy."

 "That sounds pretty cutsey," said Ms. Congeniality.

 "It does to me, too. But I cannot discount the possibility, since you have been offered nothing else, that this research might apply to you. Some pretty big names are attached to the study of raw foods: Ralph Bircher-Benner, J. Evers, Herbert M. Shelton, Bernarr McFadden, Bernard Jensen, Paavo Airola, Edward Howell, Victoras Kulvinskas, Weston Price, Royal Lee..."

 I was waiting for her jaw to drop in hushed amazement, but nothing doing. She stared at me, quite unmoved.

 So I rattled off some more names. 

 "...N.W. Walker, Max Warmbrand, Christopher Gian-Cursio, John H.Tilden, Russell Thacker Trall, Max Gerson, James Caleb Jackson, Harvey Kellogg, Ann Wigmore... and there are others."

 "And just how many of them have cured blindness?" said Terri.

 "I'm not sure of the statistics, but keep in mind that you're not blind, either."

 "Not yet, but it's happening," Terri said. "This has just gotten worse and worse. My sight is limited just to what is in front of me, and that's not very clear either. My vision has gotten so bad that I can't drive; I can hardly even read any more."

 And mostly to herself, she muttered, "Now what am I going to do?"

 That is technically a question, although it didn't come out much like one. Still, any port in a storm.

 "You could try a 90% raw food, mostly sprouts diet for a few months," I said.

 "A few months?"

 "At least. What I have read emphasizes that while nature heals, it takes time. The nature-cure authorities generally agree that it took years for our body to develop an affliction, and it will take us months to get out of it."

 "If it works at all," said Terri.

 "Yes, if it works at all."

 There was a long silence.

 Counseling training at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1974 plus years of teaching had eventually taught me when to shut up. "Wait time," as it is called in education lingo, is a pause after you ask a question, or allowing a pause after the student gives an answer. Such planned silences frequently get more students to respond, or gets the responding student to elaborate on their initial answer. Normally, a count of five is plenty, but Terri was a tough cookie.

 The wait went on. Seemed like hours.

 "I'll try it," she finally said, "But this had better be worth it. How much of this stuff do I have to eat?"

 Familiar question to a health nut who raised two kids on sprouts.

 My children will readily tell you that I gave them sprouts for breakfast, carrot-zucchini juice for lunch, and borsht for supper. While that is mainly true, it is not the complete truth. My motto was, "Eat this good-for-you item first, and than you can have what you want, within reason." My kids had plenty of ice cream, brownies, cookies, chocolate candy and other goodies on a regular if not daily basis. I get a lot of heat from purists who think I was a sell-out to nature-cure philosophy. But I got far more heat from their mother and my out-laws, er, in-laws, on the weird health foods I fed those "poor children!" Compromise is a fact of life. If you hold too, too firmly to your principles, you risk them being discarded lock, stock and barrel.  You can't let the baby be thrown out with the bathwater.

 This philosophy of the golden mean was to be given the acid test by Terri.

 "You'll need to eat at least two jars full of sprouts a day," I told her. "By jars, I mean mayonnaise-sized or mason jars, about a quart and a half each. By sprouts, I mean a variety of alfalfa, wheat, lentil, radish, cabbage, clover, and mung bean. You can grow your sprouts yourself. That will save a lot of money, and they will be fresher, better for you, and taste better, too."

 "Ugh," replied Terri.

 "Actually, sprouts are better tasting than you might think. A lot of salad bars have alfalfa sprouts. Radish sprouts taste exactly like radishes. Mung bean sprouts are used in Chinese food. Try different varieties and mixtures. Any health food store or food co-op will have the seeds. Soak them overnight, and then rinse and drain twice a day.  Start two of three jars a day, and harvest them in rotation as they mature. That's it."

 "Eat them how?" asked the impatient patient.

 "Raw, except perhaps for mung sprouts. Build your salads on a base of sprouts instead of lettuce. Eat sprouts in a sandwich instead of lettuce.  Top sprout salads with tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, cashew nuts, onion, salad dressing, anything."

 "Dressings?" said Terri, with a glimmer of optimism. "I can have dressings on them? I thought they were full of salt and fat and additives."

 "Put anything you want on your sprouts to make them taste good. You want this to be as enjoyable as possible. I'll look the other way on whatever it takes to get you to consume as great a volume of sprouts a day as you can. The value of the sprouts far outweighs any drawbacks of dressings.  You can always make your own homemade ones, if you really want to do it up right."

 "Like oil and vinegar?" said Terri, with a very slight increase in interest.

 "Yes," I said.  "And, you know, it really isn't that hard to eat a lot of sprouts. You can take nearly a jarful and press them down between two pieces of bread and make a sproutwich."


 "The best natural health writers say that you will also want to have fresh vegetable juices daily for all the carotenes, lots of vitamin B-complex, vitamin C and vitamin E, a good multivitamin, extra zinc, and a little selenium."

 We went over the recommended therapeutic dosages, gleaned from my various sources.

 "I'll be taking pills all day," she grumbled.

 "All these nutrients have a especially vital role in the health of the eye. Carotenes, C, E, zinc and selenium are all involved with the antioxidant cycle.  Macular degeneration, cataract and diabetic retinopathy are two distantly related conditions that have responded to such nutrients. Don't take too much selenium; 400 micrograms a day is abundant, and half that will probably be sufficient.  The other nutrients have a safety record a mile long."

 Off she went, certainly no more miserable than she was when she came in, but that isn’t saying much.

 The phone calls started almost immediately.

 "How many sprouts?" "How do you rinse them again?" "What vitamins?" "Is this OK to eat?" "How long to I have to keep this up for?"

 And those were the nice questions. Terri also fundamentally questioned what she was doing, as you or I would, too. But driven by a lack of options, with that bare desperation that can do more than words can tell, she did it. Kicking and screaming, perhaps, but she did it.

 One phone conversation five weeks into it, I dared ask her if she was noticing anything good happening.

 "No," she said. "I went to the eye doctor this week, and he said there was no change."

 "But isn't that actually a good sign, Terri? Every other visit, didn't he say that your vision was diminishing?"

 "Well, yeah, he did."

 "Then 'no worse' is an early sign of real progress," I said.

 "Maybe. I hate eating sprouts."

 "Look, Terri, I give you permission to hate my guts if it will keep you on the wagon and help you see."


  She asked if she could have rye bread. She asked if the bread could be toasted. She wanted some yogurt. The other day she had a piece of chicken.  It was a dietetic confessional each time she called.

 And she called often.

 Another month later, she had been to the ophthalmologist again. "He looked and said things were a bit better. He tested my vision and confirmed it.  He asked what I was doing, and I told him you'd call him and explain it."

 So I did, hoping for the best.

 The ophthalmologist was actually very interested. He noted some of my references, expressed his pleasure that Terri was improving with a condition that never improved, and said whatever she was doing, she shouldn't change it a bit. End of conversation.

 Terri, knowing full well that she was doomed to following both of us now, and  seeing better every week, was still no easier to deal with.

 Months went by, and her eyesight got better and better. In the end, two near miracles happened: Terri's eyesight was restored nearly 100%, and she thanked me for what I'd made her do.

 I will never forget what a wonderful feeling it was to have been the educational and motivational link that stopped Terri from going blind. 

 Don't take this next section too far out of context; just give it a moment.

 A fellow who was born blind was once treated by a man who was said to be some sort of healer. The treatment was a bit strange: the healer mixed dirt with his saliva and applied the resulting mud to the man's eyes. He told the blind man to go wash it off in a local pond.

 The man did that, and came home, seeing.

 Everybody, of course, asked him what had happened. He told them. This was all pretty unusual, so they brought the man to the authorities, who also asked him what happened. The man told them, too.

 There was considerable, but inconclusive, debate at this point. The man was asked what kind of a person could have done this. He responded that it was perhaps some kind of holy man. Nobody bought that, either. 

 So they brought in the man's father and mother, to identify him and verify that he had truly been blind all his life. This they confirmed.

 Then, the man was brought in for yet another round of questioning, which focused on the doubtful credentials of the supposed healer who did all this. The authorities said that the healer was a phony and a fraud.

 The man replied, "Whether that is true or not, I don't know. But one thing I do know: I was blind, but now I see." 

 It does not matter how a person gets their sight back. By divine healing from above, or by sprouted seeds of the earth: whatever works and restores something as precious as eyesight must be taken as genuine, and good.

Copyright  C  2005, 2003 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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