Let Food Heal Your Body — An interview with Dr. Brian Clement
For close to four decades, Brian Clement, Ph.D, NMD, LN, has stood at the forefront of the progressive health movement through his pioneering research on disease recovery and prevention at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. New Englanders might remember the original Hippocrates Institute founded by Ann Wigmore, located first in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and then in downtown Boston for over twenty years.
Hippocrates moved to its present Florida location in 1987, with Dr. Clement as the Director, to take advantage of the warm weather and year round growing season to supply all those healthy organic vegetables that fuel the remarkable recoveries their health program is so famous for. Over the course of their sixty-year history Hippocrates Institute has guided tens of thousands of people back from stage four cancer and other allegedly incurable death sentences to living healthy lives again without surgery, drugs, radiation or chemotherapy. Their remarkable success rate with simple, healthy lifestyle changes calls into the question the necessity for today's harsh cancer treatments and the validity of its genetic origins. And Dr. Clement is not afraid to say so: "If you can release yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically from the chains of oppressive diets, lack of movement, all the things that make stagnation remain, you can liberate disease."
Carol Bedrosian: How did you become interested in using food as medicine?
Brian Clement: I was a pioneer in the field of American obesity. I was big and fat before other Americans were. By the time I was 20 years old I recognized that I had a problem. I was walking up and down stairs — I was panting, I couldn’t breathe — and a very weird thing happened. My girlfriend’s best friend’s boyfriend was 30, and we were about 20. He was a weirdo as far as we were concerned. He ate plant-based foods, and I’d never heard of anyone in my life that didn’t eat meat, especially a male. But when my other friends were not around I would say to my girlfriend, “Let’s try some of that.” And before you know it, we fell in love with it. I started to feel a change in my body, but ultimately why I moved in this direction was I found a change in my consciousness.
Carol Bedrosian: Your consciousness?
Brian Clement: That’s right. By eliminating death and dying from my menu, I started to get light and awareness — and without even trying. I certainly wasn’t on any pathway to awareness. I had never felt anything like that before. At that point I was in school for science and I ran into my very first mentor. She was a woman from New York who had decades earlier reversed catastrophic cancer from eating a good diet. She took me under her wing and said to me, “You know, we need you to work in this field.” She said you’re not going to make money, but you’re going to help people. And most importantly, I could actually work at something I love.
Before that, I was married and living in Oregon and we were about to seriously consider opening a health center on the Oregon coast. It was going to have plant-based diets, a lot of hiking and outdoor activities. My wife and I at that time had only lived in Oregon and we decided that before we go through this endeavor — we were both relatively young — why don’t we move to the East Coast for a year and then we’ll come back?
My wife chose the state of Maine, and looking back I know why, because the people are very much like Oregonians — down to earth, nature lovers, truth tellers, simple people. And when I was there I was full blast a raw foodie because the summer before I was actually gravitating to 100% raw food. The part of Oregon that I lived on was actually on the border of California and Oregon, and it was literally 100 degrees every day from May until September. I just didn’t want to eat anything. I recognized after about two months that I hadn’t put a morsel of cooked food in my mouth and I felt a whole different level of awareness that I hadn’t felt before.
I remember reading this really weird book by a person who lived in Boston, Massachusetts, called Be Your Own Doctor. That person was Ann Wigmore. Ann, back in 1952, was told by a Harvard doctor that she had only several months to live because she had advanced stage four colon cancer. The good news for her, and us, and this conversation we’re having, was that she was brought up in Europe — Eastern Europe, Lithuania — and her grandmom, her surrogate grandmom, I should say, was a village doctor.
Doctors back 100 years ago and before that were all natural doctors. There was no such thing as the pharmaceutical industry then, no pushing drugs just for the heck of it. Her grandmom used herbs, food, tree barks and love. Lithuania was occupied for about 100 years during that period, first by Germany and then Russia. So grandmom wasn’t just taking care of baby births or common colds, but taking care of sewing arms back onto people. And this little girl Ann was watching this entire process.
Ironically she was the sickly member of her family. Her mom and dad had left her in that village anticipating her death, and they got on a boat and came to Boston to become bakers, literally saying good-bye to her, never thinking they’d see her again. But the surrogate grandmom asked a wealthy person to fund Ann coming to Boston. In a matter of weeks from the time she came to the United States, she mangled her legs in a horse and carriage accident. She had a horrible life, her parents abandoned her, she mangled her legs, and then at 50 was told, “You’re going to die; the gig is up.”
But in 1956 after reversing stage four colon cancer, she had the chutzpah, as they say, to survive and talk about it, because people have been told they must die by someone who is seemingly well educated. They don’t have to. I have to let people know. She opened the doors to Hippocrates in Stoughton, Massachusetts, 22 miles outside of downtown Boston, and that was the beginning of Hippocrates Health Institute nearly 60 years ago. It was the very first alternative health center in the United States, and the first one that talked about what we call today the self care movement, not the health care movement.
Ann’s mantra and our current mission statement throughout our 60 years has been “Help people help themselves.” Not heal people. Not tell people lies. Not say that we have some magic bullet. But to tell people if you’re into tools that have made hundreds of thousands of people well, that reverse disease and premature aging, then by using these tools you can prevent and reverse disease.
Carol Bedrosian: How did the Hippocrates Institute relocate down to Florida?
Brian Clement: Let’s first get from Stoughton to Boston. Ann was bringing only the poorest people out there because most of the people in the middle of the 20th century thought science was going to take care of everything and that by the year 2000 there would no longer be disease. All of us in the middle class and certainly those who were in the upper class would never have considered old-fashioned medicine. Modern medicine was the only way to go. So the only people that would come to Ann out in Stoughton were the very poorest who were really sick, who would consider doing this back in the 50’s and 60’s as they were dying and told there was no other option.
At one point a woman came out with early stage multiple sclerosis, Ann gave her the tools, she reversed that, and her symptoms went away. It turned out her best friend owned a brownstone on Commonwealth and Exeter Street. She went out to see Ann and she said, “Why don’t you come and use the top floor of my brownstone?” So we resided there from ’63 until the late 80’s when our Board of Directors said, “Let’s find a location that’s more natural, possibly warmer, so that people can really make this transformation that’s radically changing their diets and their minds and everything else in a more peaceful place, and not on Exeter Street next to Boylston and Newbury Street.”
So we settled on West Palm Beach. In 1987 we moved the Institute down here and we’ve been here for about 28 years now. As you know, the field of complimentary health care, has become mainstream, so it’s wildly different than in 1975 when I joined the staff and actually resided on Exeter Street, and the only people that came in were given days to live. “Okay, okay, everything else failed so I’ll do it.” Now about half the people who come are what I call serious health seekers, that have had enough experience watching their mothers and fathers suffer and die. From every corner of the globe they come, not only people sick, but today people come for prevention and longevity because of our 60-year long reputation for helping tens of thousands of people reverse diseases they were told were incurable. We still have those people coming too.
We were doing a seminar last week and a woman stood up, and in this very filled room said, “You know, when I came to you three and a half years ago, they actually told me to go home and die. I went home and packed my bags, and I went to you because my neighbor had come in 1962 and reversed cancer, and I did too. So I want to tell you, I apologize for not writing to you and telling you, but I’ve been well from cancer for a year and a half.” Stage four cancer, we see this every day.
Carol Bedrosian: Is this a residential program?
Brian Clement: Yes, it’s an in-house residential program. We built a resort, so it’s not a hospital setting; it’s comfortable. What’s wonderful is many of these people come back every year for holidays now. It’s an educational process. Ann Wigmore was a genius in realizing that we couldn’t heal people, but people had to heal themselves.
Right now we’re in the middle of a project with the University of California to disprove genetics have anything at all to do with cancer. They approached us two or three years ago and said, “You’re the epicenter of proof that genetics have nothing to do with cancer because if genetics cause cancer, lifestyle couldn’t change that.” And look what has happened from lifestyle change. What we’re trying to prove is the validity of self care. The validity of food as medicine. The validity of mind as powerful. The validity of natural, non-invasive treatments that help to boost the immune system, be it a positive mind or exercise or attitude or diet or therapies that are supportive. Your body heals itself through the immune system. There’s no magic in this process, it’s biochemistry.
Carol Bedrosian: What is an average length stay if someone has stage four cancer?
Brian Clement: The program is 21 days, so if people are ill they have to be there 21 days, which was a learning curve for us too. Every rehab program in the world knows it takes 21 days to break and change habits. If you want to get rid of a disease, or prevent a disease, or be educated, you need to go from A to Z, not get off the train at M. People can come for less time but those who do are generally alumni.
Carol Bedrosian: It must be such a relief for people to come there under a death sentence and then find this reversed. It must be a place of incredible joy.
Brian Clement: It is and the opportunity to do this extraordinary work — to watch human potential in action every second of my life. There’s no disease, no problem that a person cannot reverse. This whole mythology about it’s too bad, it’s severe, it’s very serious, look at what the diagnostics say. And we’re not lucky like the hospitals. We don’t get people in early stage anything. Most people have to be on the carousel and spun around in circles and then eventually someone bothers enough to say there’s nothing more we can do. And then they come here to us.
Carol Bedrosian: Even though these people have been ravaged with chemotherapy and radiation and overloaded with pharmaceuticals, their bodies are still able to heal themselves with natural medicine and foods?
Brian Clement: Absolutely, absolutely. It gets increasingly harder the more you assault the body, the sicker you are. There’s not magic in this process, so recognize that the human body completely, thoroughly, 100% regenerates in seven years. As we’re sitting and listening, pinch your skin because that will not be here six months from now. Your entire anatomy, including your bones, will be completely renewed within seven years. The human brain has parts that change in two and a half days. The human stomach lining, five days. The human heart, completely regenerated in 30 days. Human lungs, 70 days. So the snapshot approach of medicine, we have to rethink this thing. If we take a snapshot, in that very second we assume that it’s permanent, it’s etched in stone. When you have this body that is transforming, it’s part of the universal continuum of change. If you can release yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically from the chains of oppressive diets, lack of movement, all the things that make stagnation remain, you can liberate disease.
Carol Bedrosian: What is the Hippocrates diet?
Brian Clement: It’s the most nutritious and highest protein diet in the world. It’s fresh, raw, plant-based food. All life on planet Earth comes from the sun. Every single drop of life on this earth including you was generated from the sun. And what comes from the sun is called a proton. Every second as we speak protons are being born in the middle of the sun. They take 100,000 years to get to the surface. Why is that? As it starts to make its way to the sun’s surface, hitting on neutrons all the way, it bounces back and forth. So one step forward, two steps backward. Once it reaches the surface of the sun, it takes eight and a half minutes for the light proton to get to planet Earth. What evolved on planet Earth to capture all light? It’s called a green leaf. All light from the sun, which is where all life comes from, is captured on a green leaf. Do you think it would make sense that we should be consuming fresh, unprocessed green leaves? So that’s what we’ve been feeding people for 60 years.
Carol Bedrosian: So no animal products at all — just plant products — is a complete diet?
Brian Clement: 50%, of all pollution, all greenhouse gases, comes from humans choosing to consume animal-based food. Somehow, along the way we thought that we should be drinking the milk from another species. So if you think organic milk and organic cheese is really a healthy food, I challenge you to get under the cow and suck from its breast.
But the real authorities, the truth tellers, like Dr. Colin Campbell, after 55 years of research showed that the number one dietary cause for cancer wasn’t meat — that was number two — it was casein from milk. Organic milk and homogenized milk. We’ve taken 100% of the people off milk and dairy and all forms of meat including fish. Six out of ten people on the planet Earth are pretty much plant-based eaters; if they eat any meat, it’s minimal or none. Watch what happens when you get rid of these horrific non-human foods. We are not carnivores.
Carol Bedrosian: Can you talk a little bit about fruit and the evolution of fruit?
Brian Clement: Yeah this is a scary thing. The easiest diet to be on was called raw food when it contained lots of fruit. The one thing we all want is sugar; we’re all sugar addicts. What the health industry has learned to do is make white sugar the bad guy, but somehow leads you to believe that other forms of sugar, like fructose, are perfectly healthy.
A woman who came to us with stage four breast cancer, reversed it and wrote a book called How I Conquered Cancer Naturally. She would come to Hippocrates and speak, and one day she called to say her tumors were growing back, but not the cancer. It took her three years to figure out that it was all the dates she was eating in her desert part of Southern California, over a pound a day. When date season was over, her tumors shrunk. The fruit was causing the growth of the cancer, so we removed fruit from the diet of anyone with cancer. I had to go out and tell people not only do you have to give up meat and dairy and eat mostly raw food, but you have to stop eating fruit. I was like the Grim Reaper!
Here’s a funny story. I’m flying to Los Angeles, and this guy sitting next to me asks, “What do you do?” “Director of an alternative health center in Boston,” I said. “It’s not Hippocrates, is it?” he asked, and told me his aunt had lived there, had pancreatic cancer and had recovered from it. I asked him what he did, and he said he was an expert in fruit. He was sorry he ever opened his mouth to me! I almost jumped on top of him and I pushed him for an hour.
What I got out of him was really remarkable. I was stunned. He said 85% of the fruit we eat today has all been hybridized. Just to give you an example he said, “What’s your favorite orange?” Well, that was easy because it’s the sweetest one. It’s called the Honeybell. He said that was developed back 30-some years earlier as a splicing between a tangerine and a grapefruit. He asked what my favorite apple was. “Red Delicious,” I said. He said Red Delicious has 50 times more sugar than the original apple. “Was the original apple sour?” I asked. He replied, “Do you like crab apples?” “Too sour,” I said. The original apple was more sour than a crab apple, he said!
The average amount of sugar increase in fruit is 30 times across the board, some are 50, some are 20, and 85% of the fruit you’re now eating is hybrid. No fruit is picked ripe. Even organic fruit — unless you’re at the organic farm and the wind blows and the fruit falls and you get it before the birds and the bugs, or you shake the tree gently and it falls — all fruit sold commercially, even organic, is picked unripened because they cannot ship ripe fruit. So you now have the secondary problem — acid sugar — because this unripened fruit creates acidity in the body, rots your bones and your cells, weakens your immune system, and pits your teeth.
Now the third issue is that your pancreas doesn’t work. If you go back only a century ago, most likely our families would not have eaten processed sugar. The only people that ate processed, white sugar in those days, were the very elite wealthy. In a year those people ate about 2 pounds — a kilo of sugar a year — at Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter or celebrations. Today it’s just the opposite: the poorer you are, the more sugar you’ve eaten. So the average person who’s poor in the United States eats 160 pounds of sugar in a year. Better educated, wealthier people consume 120 pounds a year, but here’s the real problem: The average American child below 16 consumes double their weight in sugar a year, and a hundred pound child would consume 200 pounds of sugar.
We broke the pancreas. The pancreas regulates sugar and now you’re putting massive sugar in it, and so the whole idea of “fruit is normal” – yes, it was normal hundreds of thousands of years ago. It’s no longer normal. So we pulled it out from our diet and took it away from people with viruses, molds, yeasts, fungus, bacteria, certainly low and high blood sugar, hypoglycemia and diabetes, but we were the oddballs then. Now every major institute that has legitimate doctors in it for cancer, be it Sloan Kettering or Mass General, the doctors are telling people not to eat fruit.
Carol Bedrosian: So all the fruit juices and smoothies that people are eating that are mostly fruit are actually not very healthy?
Brian Clement: Not healthy. They’re all unripened, even if they’re organic. Now, let me not go completely nuts here either. I’d much rather see you take a fruit smoothie with organic fruit that’s unripened than a soda, yes. But it’s not a real option. It’s like asking, “Do you want to be stabbed by a knife or an axe?”
A little bit of ripe organic fruit when you don’t have a disease is perfectly fine. We did the work at Tufts University when we were still in Boston. We found out that a healthy person can eat up to 15% of their diet by weight as ripe organic fruit and you won’t have extra sugar in the bloodstream. Once you get over a disease, which is your objective, you can eat that much fruit, but you always have to make sure it’s ripe.
Some of the fruits that we know are almost always picked ripe are apples, but now the latest thing is they’re making genetically modified apples that ripen way ahead of time so you’ve got to watch for that. Choose organic food or you’ll be eating genetically modified food. So there is a time when a little bit of fruit is okay, but you can live without it; you don’t need it.
Carol Bedrosian: I’d always heard that fruit is supposed to be nature’s perfect food for the human being, but perhaps that was the original forms of fruit and not the hybrids we’re eating now.
Brian Clement: You hit it. I honestly believe the original diet of man was fruit. Geological anthropologists tell us that we had seven times more oxygen than we’re breathing now. Can you imagine if they gave us seven times, or six times, or four times more, we’d all pass out. It was a totally different environment on the planet then and people were also different than we are today. The other thing you have to understand is that all the original fruit had little to no sugar in it, plus you were expending massive amounts of energy. Primal people were constantly moving. They were either laying down sleeping or moving. Even 700 years ago we were nomadic, moving.
Carol Bedrosian: Is exercise a part of the lifestyle retraining?
Brian Clement: Oh yeah. You cannot be healthy without exercise. I hated exercise. First I hated the diet when I started it because I had never eaten anything but meat and dairy and junk food. I also believed that the only people who exercise were dumb jocks. So this was really a difficult transition for me, but I’ve never looked back. Even if you eat a perfect diet, you cannot be healthy without exercise.
At this point, humanity on the planet has to change. The air, the water, every drop of water on Earth that people drink is contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs, even the water in the North and South Poles. Every bit of the water has plastics in it. The largest dump in the world is now floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s larger than the state of California, and it’s a plastic dump. They have to navigate ships around it.
The citizens are no longer served by government, corporate interests are served by government. I think there are some people who are really authentic in government, but to get reelected they have to have dirty money. And the only people who have that level of money, they have to do favors for. I know some of these people — honorable, good people that I trust and think have integrity. They say that if they want to stay where they are and do a little bit of good, they have to agree to do two bad things to get one good thing done. So you are on your own. We’ve got to understand that; it should empower you rather than scare you. You are on your own but part of the human race.
Dr. Brian Clement is the director of Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. Visit www.hippocratesinst.org or call 888-228-1755.