Diabetes - A Few Case Histories
( Originally Published 1954 )
Medical literature on diabetes is rich in facts and theories. This is one disease in which the physician makes an effort to teach the patient how to treat himself or herself to a certain necessary extent.
It has been my privilege to treat diabetes in young patients as well as older people, in fact in all age groups. My diabetic patients have not come to me in the early stages of the disease. In the case of some of them I discovered that they suffered from diabetes only when they came to be treated for other ailments.
Some patients resist giving up their insulin and their ordinary dietetic management. In some cases I found it necessary to insist on a change in their haphazard diet because of such complications as skin eruptions, infected and ulcerated toes and actually gangrenous limbs. This chapter will deal briefly with my experiences with a number of diabetics.
In one case, a girl, age 15, had been treated in a well-known diabetic institution in an eastern city. She came with her mother to spend a summer vacation at my Health Rest.
The mother insisted on managing her insulin administration and her diet. That case taught me a very important lesson, namely, that I must be in full charge when I treat this disease. My method cannot be mixed up with conventional haphazard feeding and medication.
The mother managed the insulin administration in the way she had learned to do it at the diabetic institution. I noticed that she fed the girl lumps of sugar soon after insulin administration, particularly in the evening. When I asked her why she did so, her answer was that she was following instructions received in the previous institution in order to prevent "insulin shock."
This mother of my patient was somewhat diet-minded and she counted the calories in my foods at the Health Rest kitchen. Nevertheless about two weeks after they arrived, I observed the girl's urine specimen as it was being tested by boiling. It looked orange-red, and that, of course, indicated that it was high in sugar percentage. I suggested my taking over the case, but the mother refused to let me.
The next morning the girl was in a deep coma. I forthwith contacted her previous institution and the doctor in charge of her case.
The good doctor very graciously instructed me to give the patient 40 units of insulin as often as necessary in order to make the catheterized urine sugar-free. I proceeded to do so. It took 145 units of insulin within twelve hours to accomplish that result.
While the patient was in coma, she was nevertheless given the following nursing treatment: Her body was bathed by the sponge method. A cold pack was kept to her head and an electric pad to her feet. The bowels were cleansed every four hours by means of the port-able colonic irrigation at the bedside. (The juice of two lemons in a gallon of warm water was used for an irrigation.)
The parents of that patient were amazed at the fecal debris that was evacuated; it was mixed with pus and mucus and also tinged with blood. The girl was given six high colonic irrigations within two days. The fifth and sixth were almost clean. Nevertheless, the parents moved that patient to a nearby allopathic medical hospital, where the girl recovered from her coma in another twenty-four hours.
That case apparently was a kind of "Waterloo" for me. I did my best and perhaps I even saved the girl's life by my intensive treatment aiming to eliminate toxic debris from the colon, a procedure which is not usually included in the ordinary management of diabetic coma cases. This case also taught me the lesson that I must insist on complete charge and complete responsibility when undertaking the treatment of a diabetic case.
Soon afterward I treated a young man, a high school student, with pronounced diabetes. He had been on insulin for about eight years. He thrived quite well with a daily dose of 40 units of insulin. I modified the young man's diet to some extent and was successful in reducing his insulin to 20 units every other evening instead of 40 units every morning.
The general principles of my approach in the treatment of diabetes is as follows.
I feed the patient a minimum of sugar- and starch-containing foods. Breakfast for the above-mentioned young man, for example, consisted of the juice of a lemon in a half glass of cold water as the first thing in the morning, followed by a whole grapefruit (which had to be thoroughly masticated). An hour after the grapefruit he was given two ounces of cottage cheese, sliced tomato, and a quarter head of lettuce, and raw fruit or berries—fresh raw strawberries—alternated with fresh raw peaches.
The noon meal included a pint of buttermilk or homemade clabber milk, and again raw salad consisting of grated raw cabbage, sliced cucumber, radishes and half an alligator pear seasoned with the juice of half of a lemon. Other foods consisted of two or three vegetables of the varieties that ripen above ground. String beans, cauliflower, squashes, broccoli and okra are my favorite diabetic foods.
The evening meal consisted of combinations similar to the noon meal with the addition of one egg and two ounces of nutmeat. Between meals, in the morning and afternoon, the young man was instructed to rest after moderate basketball playing and other outdoor athletics.
The urine was tested three times per day, before each meal. My test is an easy one, and anybody can perform it.
A teaspoonful of Benedict's Qualitative Reagent and four drops of the urine specimen are brought to the boiling point. The reaction to indicate the amount of sugar is as follows: A slight change in the bluish green of the boiled specimen indicates between 1 and 2 per cent sugar in the urine. A moderate change to brick red is usually considered to be between 3 and 4 per cent positive for sugar. Orange-red is dangerous because it is above 4 or 5 per cent and may indicate a high blood sugar content. Even a low sugar content in the urine may also be a warning that the blood sugar content is too high.
Unfortunately the laboratory facilities and services available to me for doing blood sugar tests were not very adequate at that time. While there were a few laboratories in the vicinity which could test a blood specimen for sugar, it was not always possible to do the tests, because I myself could ill afford to pay laboratory fees and patients usually refused to pay.
The young man whom I was treating gained weight and strength and was convinced that it was better for him to take his insulin before retiring every other evening rather than before breakfast every morning. Twenty units of the cloudy or protamine zinc insulin were found to balance his metabolism with his diet. For his evening meal, or rather a couple of hours afterwards, he was permitted to have two slices of bread and butter and some raw fruit. Before bedtime, he was allowed to have a grapefruit and the juice of a lemon in a half glass of cold water. This young man had much energy—he gained weight (eight pounds in about a month) on my lower carbohydrate and high-protein diet plus a maximum of raw foods.
The raw foods served the special objectives of buffering out cellular wastes. The reader will note that not much fat was allowed. Fats break down into fatty acids which are not wholesome for diabetics.
Another case will be briefly described. Mrs. M. was a woman of about 58 years of age. One of her symptoms was a rash in the genital organs which had been persistent for about five years. She was also rather stout.
She was on 30 units of insulin per day when she came to me for treatment. I put Mrs. M. on a diet of grapefruits and lemons for breakfast, dinner and supper—and for bites between meals and when she was hungry—for the first three days. During that period she was also instructed to douche twice a day with a tablespoonful of sodium bicarbonate and a cake of Ivory soap floating in the water of the douche. Within a week her rash and itching had subsided completely.
Her diet, after the first three days on grapefruits and lemons, included a raw vegetable salad for lunch and dinner. The salads consisted of lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, celery, cabbage, a dinner-plateful of mixed raw vegetables, in addition to a glassful of freshly made grapefruit juice: nothing else.
After one week the urine was sugar-free. It was tested three times per day, as is my rule in all cases of diabetes. During the first week of this diet the bowels were emptied daily by means of two enemas, each consisting of three pints of water with the juice of a lemon.
After one week of this treatment the diet was modified as follows. Breakfast remained the same, consisting of grapefruit and lemon juice with water only. To the noon meal, a glass of buttermilk and one slightly steamed green vegetable without any seasoning was added, and raw fruit such as a couple of apricots or a peach. The evening meal consisted of four similar courses, that is, a mixed raw vegetable salad, buttermilk, steamed vegetables and raw fruit. Before bedtime: same as for breakfast.
Before the discovery of insulin and its manufacture for medicinal purposes, the great internists treated diabetes by resorting to lemon juice in order to oxidize or burn up excessive sugar content in the blood.
Normal healthy blood may contain a hundred or 130 milligrams of sugar to a hundred cubic centimeters of blood. Diabetic blood contains between 200 and 400 milligrams of sugar, or even above 400. When the sugar content in the blood becomes dangerously high the tissues of the entire body, including the brain, may be saturated with sugar and acidosis wastes and other types of acid wastes from fatty foods, from excessive amounts of cooked foods, or from cadaverous protein foods.
The ordinary diabetic diet is still based on poorly applied knowledge. The diabetic must be fed raw fresh foods that are low in sugar and low in acid-forming elements. The raw foods are alkaline in their end-products of digestion and absorption. They therefore have the power to soak up tissue waste elements.
I have applied this principle in the treatment of such cases as necrosed soft tissues of the leg in a patient 59 years of age, and an infected penetrated deep ulcer in the big toe of a male patient 53 years of age. In both cases amputation of the limb was recommended. I saved both patients by a regimen of rigid dieting according to the above plan.
The case with the diabetic leg required three months to regenerate new healthy tissue over a ten-inch surface which had been denuded and infected to the bone. The second case, the case of the male patient with the infected penetrated ulcer of the big toe, took four weeks to heal completely. Perhaps at a future time these cases will be described in detail.
One more case will be dealt with now. Mrs. S. had been known to me for about 10 years. She came from time to time for "reducing." She was a poor patient because after three days or so of rigid dieting she would go to the kitchen and help herself to food. Nevertheless, every time she became desperate she would return for treatment.
Four years ago she came with three boils in the area between the rectum and the front. The urine and the blood were tested for sugar. They were negative. She was treated by my general procedure of simple hygiene. Within three weeks her boils were healed and she had lost 15 pounds in weight. She might have lost about 20 if she had not stolen some cheese sandwiches from the kitchen.
Last summer, in June, the same patient phoned in desperation. She had boils on her back in the lumbar area or below the ribs, two boils that were pointing and were very painful, and around them was an area of congestion of about six inches.
Mrs. S. promised this time not to go to the refrigerator for cheese or other things to eat. The urine revealed "over 5 per cent" of sugar, according to laboratory analysis. Mrs. S. was given the alternative of being treated with a strict diet or with insulin. She preferred the strict diet.
During the first week her diet consisted of the juice of a lemon in a half glass of water every hour and a half grapefruit whenever she was hungry. She was also given daily high colonic irrigations once, and an enema a second time. She was instructed to take a hot bath twice a day, in order to relieve the terrible backache resulting from the congestion around the boils. Four days after her arrival it was easy to cleanse those boils with a solution of boric acid. After another week of dieting-on four grapefruits per day and two raw salads—Mrs. S. was discharged.
She was overweight about 70 pounds at the beginning of last June. At this date Mrs. S. is 50 pounds lighter, with no apparent trace of diabetes, and she is happier and healthier for it. The blood and urine are periodically tested and have been negative.
I could write many more pages about the diabetic cases I have treated-for example, the case of the woman whose muscles and other soft tissues of the leg were a gangrenous mass. It was not easy to treat an infected diabetic ulcerated limb, at least for the first six weeks to two months. Because the patient had no other alternative except amputation of her limb, she cooperated.
The reward was so gratifying that her surgeon, who had recommended amputation, expressed interest in seeing what had happened after two months treatment. He came up from New York City to my Health Rest and apparently was impressed enough, for he asked me: "Did you accomplish this with your fresh air?"
I think my work has shown that food as medicine can do so much good, that it should be studied and applied in the treatment of all diabetics. Even in the case of this serious disease the body can be regenerated to eliminate or to reduce insulin medication.
The case histories that I have described in this chapter point to the fact that orthodox medicine has not spoken the last word on the diabetic problem. I feel that my clinical application of the New Knowledge of Nutrition and of the principles of biochemistry to this serious ailment deserves scientific investigation and study by open-minded men and women of research. I hope I will succeed in attracting the attention of the scientific and government agencies concerned with finding a more satisfactory solution of the problems of the diabetic.