Down Syndrome: The Nutritional Treatment of Henry Turkel, M.D.

Down Syndrome Treatment


If you have been told that nutritional treatment is of no value for Down syndrome children, you may want to read this.


Dr. Turkel had the nerve to make his claims when everyone ‘knew’ that children with genetic defects could not possibly be treated successfully.

(Abram Hoffer, M.D.)


I know Dr. Turkel, and I can testify to his sincerity and conviction. The results that he reports are striking. There is evidence that the patients would receive significant benefit.

(Linus Pauling, Ph.D.)

“Vitamin therapy in Down syndrome began in 1940, when Henry Turkel, MD, of Detroit became interested in treating the metabolic disorders of Down syndrome with a mixture of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lipotropic nutrients, glutamic acid, thyroid hormone, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, and a diuretic. By the 1950s he had devoted his practice almost entirely to Down syndrome patients, of whom he kept exceptionally detailed records, including serial photographs of their progress. Conventional medicine ignored Dr. Turkel and he eventually retired and moved to Israel. Turkel clearly demonstrated that one of the ‘worst’ genetic defects - trisomy, leading to Down syndrome - could be modified though what is largely a nutritional program with moderately high-dose supplements. The program never corrected the basic genetic defects in Down syndrome, of course, but it did correct much of the collateral biochemical consequences, leading to improvements in cognition, physical health, and appearance. Turkel was probably the first to show that nutrition could improve genetic programming, and that genetic predeterminism was limited.” (Jack Challem)


Turkel H. Medical amelioration of Down's syndrome incorporating the orthomolecular approach. J Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 1975. 4:102-115.

Turkel H. Medical amelioration of Down syndrome incorporating the orthomolecular approach, in:  Diet Related to Killer Diseases V. Nutrition and Mental Health. Hearing before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the United States Senate, 1977. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., p 291-304.


Turkel H. Medical treatment of Down syndrome and genetic diseases, by Henry Turkel, M.D. Foreword by Bernard Rimland. Southfield, MI: Ubiotica; Fourth Revised Edition edition, 1985. Paperback, 402 pages.  ASIN: B000MT64KE


Turkel H.  New hope for the mentally retarded: Stymied by the FDA. 241 pages. NY: Vantage Press, 1972. ISBN-10: 0533001064 and ISBN-13: 978-0533001064. Revised edition, 1980: 296 pages, ASIN: B0006E1UWW.


Dr. Ruth Harrell’s Successful Nutritional Treatment of Down Syndrome

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by Andrew W. Saul


Dr. Ruth Flinn Harrell spent her life demonstrating that "megavitamin" doses are safe and remarkably effective, even offering improvement in Down Syndrome children. Her trials were successful because her team gave LD kids much larger doses of vitamins than other researchers: over 100 times the ADULT (not child's) RDA for riboflavin; 37 times the RDA for niacin (given as niacinamide); 40 times the RDA for vitamin E; and 150 times the RDA for thiamin.  Dr. Harrell anticipated that her use of megadoses would result in "controversy and brickbats."  She was right. A number of well-publicized studies conducted to "replicate" Dr. Harrell's work seemingly could not do so. Yet Harrell's "replicators" failed to adhere to her protocol, and consequently but not surprisingly, failed to get her results. F. Jack Warner, MD, writes: "Even today many medical professionals scoff at the validity of Dr. Ruth Harrell's study with nutritional supplements and the important addition of thyroid medication. Dr. Harrell pleaded with her replicators to use exactly the same chemical values of supplements and medications. To date, this still has not been accomplished."


What a loss for children. May I share with you the story of one Down syndrome child:


This seven year old child was still wearing diapers, didn't recognize his parents, and had no speech. In forty days, after some of the supplements were increased, his mother telephoned . . . saying, "He's turned on, just like an electric light. He's asking the name of everything. I think he saw us for the first time." This little boy went on to do very well in his learning, and eventually tested with an IQ of ninety, which an average IQ." I have seen a beautiful photo in Medical Tribune of Dr. Harrell being hugged by one of the study group children. The kids noticed their own improvement.


Dr. Harrell noted that “when there was a ten point rise in IQ, the family noticed it. When there was a fifteen point rise in IQ, the teachers noticed it. When there was a twenty point rise in IQ, the neighborhood noticed it.”


Perhaps Harrell's dramatic IQ gains were merely due to the placebo effect. If so, I want every school district on earth to lay in a stock of sugar pills. Harrell colleague Dr. Donald Davis writes, "No amount of matching or variable control with Harrell's subjects could change their large IQ gains which are the crucial and so far unexplained difference between the Harrell group and others."


Ruth Flinn Harrell's approach yielded smarter, happier children. Ruth Harrell found IQ to be proportional to nutrient dosage. This may simultaneously be the most elementary and also the most controversial mathematical equation in medicine. Dr Harrell was a truly great woman, full of courage, brilliance, and compassion.


For further reading:

Craft D. Can nutritional supplements help mentally retarded children? 1998.  Accessed August 2003. This page has been taken down.


Davis DR. and Capp RH. Vitamins and minerals in Down Syndrome. J Pediatr. 1985 March;106(3):531.

Davis DR. The Harrell study and seven follow-up studies: A brief review. J Orthomolecular Medicine, 1987. 2:2, 111-115.

Harrell RF, Capp RH, Davis DR, Peerless J, and Ravitz LR. Can nutritional supplements help mentally retarded children? An exploratory study. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 1981. 78: 574–8.

Horwitz N. Vitamins, minerals boost IQ in retarded. Medical Tribune. Vol 22, No 3. Wednesday, 21 January, 1981. Pages 1 and 19.

Saul AW. Taking the cure: The pioneering work of Ruth Flinn Harrell, champion of children. J Orthomolecular Med, 2004. Vol 19, No 1, p. 21-26.

Thiel R.J. Facial effects of the Warner protocol for children with Down syndrome. J Orthomolecular Med, 2002;17(2):111-116

Warner FJ. Metabolic supplement for correction of raging free radicals in Trisomy 21: A noncomparative open case study. .

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 )


Andrew W. Saul


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