An interview with Jesse Mercer Gehman, N.D., M.N., D.C. by Ruth Sackman
I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman and had long conversations with him about health matters. He was extremely knowledgeable and dedicated, serving during his younger years as president of the American Naturopathic Association; Secretary and Executive Director of the Interstate Narcotic Association; campaigning against smoking long before official recognition of the carcinogenicity of cigarettes. He was the prime organizer of the First Vegetarian Convention at Lake Geneva and served as chairman of the event. The convention drew speakers and participants from all over the world.
He was a most prolific writer. Hundreds of his articles appeared in health magazines and other publications with national circulation. At the age of 23, he was runner-up as the Olympic Middle Weight wrestler. His interest in Naturopathy started with Bernard Mc Fadden’s Physical Culture movement and continued as a leader and supporter until his death in 1976.
Q: How long have you been teaching health and how to overcome disease?
A: Almost 50 years I started when I was 16. That was 57 years ago.
Q: Have you given much thought to the serious affliction of cancer?
A: Yes. The more civilized we become, the more cancer we seem to have. My first case of cancer 45 years ago was overcome by changing the food pattern.
Q: What do you believe causes cancer?
A: The complex habits of eating and civilized living in general; the kind of living accepted without question by people who seem to think it is good.
Q: How do you think civilization has anything to do with its appearance in human beings?
A: By removing us from the simplicity in living, yes, the simple natural life, and making us slaves to unnatural, bad habits which sap the vitality and undermine the health.
Q: How would you list the causes of cancer in their order in your opinion?
A: Wrong food, i.e., white flour, white sugar and all denatured foods, which all cause irritation, poor elimination and constipation.
Q: Would you say that cancer is a disease of civilization?
A: Yes, by all means it certainly is. All who have made a serious investigation of the problem agree on this point.
Q: What experience have you personally had with cancer?
A: When I first came in contact with cancer, having been in a position to study the various theories and cures advanced and knowing of the remarkable recoveries accomplished by Lucius Donald Bulkley, M.D., and also the marked influence of water applications of Preissnitz and Kneipp, I combined these in my approach to the problem.
Q: What do you think of the cancer research over the last 45 years?
A: It has accomplished nothing, because most is in the wrong direction. To learn the cause of cancer, the total man and his habits have to be studied.
Q: You referred to the work of Dr. L. Donald Bulkley as being highly successful Would you care to comment?
A: Yes. He developed a remarkable dietary regime insuring all the vitamins and minerals of the foods he served. His success was brilliant. He was the founder of the New York Skin and Cancer Hospital.
Q: Who do you think were the outstanding men of the medical profession who contributed most to the knowledge on the cause and cure of cancer?
A: Dr. L. Duncan Bulkley, Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, M.D., and Kristine Nolfi, M.D. Of course, there were others.
Q: Why were Sir William Arbuthnot Lane’s theories not accepted by the rank and file of the profession, and why were Dr. Bulkley’s theories not accepted in the face of the great success he had treating cancer dietically, and why was not the work of Dr. Nolfi formally investigated and accepted by the profession?
A: That question can be answered much better by organized orthodox medicine, i.e., allopathy, and our so-called Public Health Service. It seems
orthodox medicine would rather have people remain ill than to have them find the road to recovery through methods they do not approve of or accept.
Q: In your opinion, which are the most harmful as a possible cause of cancer – poor eating habits, inoculations, cigarettes, or environmental factors?
A: All of these causes seem to hang together. While these are unquestionably important causes, there are many other causes. Long ago I stated that inoculations have been polluting the nation’s bloodstream for too long, and not only have these helped to produce cancer, but many other conditions. The bad part about any of this questionable mass medication is the compulsory feature, as for instance, our Armed services, and as a requirement for the admission of our children into school. Let those who want these things have them, but the wishes of those who want to avoid inoculation should be respected. After all, the ones who are protected by inoculations should have no fear of the unprotected. As for cigarettes they do have a very definite connection with cancer, especially cancer of the lungs. It was long since shown by leading authorities on lung cancer that of the 20,000 deaths in this country every year, a large number developed the condition because of cigarette smoking.
Q: How do you think our food supply at the present time is compared to the nineteenth century or even 50 years ago so far as cancer is concerned?
A: Our food is far worse today of course. Fifty years ago the food was more simple, more natural, less processed, and people suffered less from constipation. One of the chief causes of cancer today, according to a report of the Joint Senate Committee, which sat in Washington, investigating chemicals and adulterants in food, found that there are 842 different chemicals and adulterants used in food. Most of these had never been fully tested. Surely all this processing helped to prepare the soil of the body for cancer as well as many other diseases. We are beginning to test for the harmfulness of these chemical additives to our food supply.
Q: What processes used in food do you consider the worst?
A: They are all bad. Any process which makes the food less nourishing and hence more irritating to the system is bad, very bad. For instance, refining sugar, bleaching and refining flour, in all of which chemicals are used, putting all sorts of chemicals into so many of our foods to make them keep longer or look better. I thing milling and refining our grains is one of the worst sins our manufacturers commit. There is not one logical reason for it. It is done only because the grains with pericaps broken will not keep as long. And the next horror is refining our sugar, for children seem to all have a sweet tooth. And even more important is pasteurizing our milk. Milk is a definite basic food. All of these processes destroy basic vital minerals in these foods.
Q: Has the Government done anything to protect us from such practices?
A: Well, yes, but only to a small extent. The government moves far too slowly, the while our peoples suffer and perish.
Q: What do you mean “to an extent”?
A: For instance, whole wheat flour must now be a 100 percent product, but now much of our whole wheat bread is made from bromated whole wheat flour, and the white flour may not be bleached as it used to be; but white sugar is still flooding the market and making millions of people ill. Milk that is pasteurized must be so marked. In fact, in many cases, it is the only kind obtainable.
To my mind there would be far less cancer today if these three basic foods, bread, sugar and milk, would not have been robbed of their vital elements by refining and preservative processes.
Q: What about other foods?
A: There is only the reasonable measure of protection for the consumer afforded by the Government. The Pure Food and Drug Law, passed when Paul V. McNutt was Social Security Administrator, years ago, provides that the ingredients of all foods be marked. On the whole this was carried out, but the required notice of ingredients was in such very fine print and in poorly contrasting colors that it was scarcely readable.
Q: What foods would you suggest avoiding to protect the body against cancer?
A: Any foods containing artificial flavoring and artificial coloring, for in these colorings, in many cases, lies the danger of irritating the system. In many cases both flavoring and coloring are derived from coal-tar products. So any foods artificially colored or flavored should be avoided. Coal-tar derivatives have been proved to be carcinogenic, i.e., cancer-producing. This applies to any foods so treated.
Q: What foods would you suggest eating to prevent cancer?
A: Whole grain products, whole milk, raw unrefined sugar, an abundance of fruits and vegetables, either raw or cooked. But eat all of the raw food possible, and when foods are cooked, they should be properly cooked and all the juices preserved and eaten. The outer skins of all tuber vegetables, the outer leaves of all leafy vegetables containing the protective elements should be used; and no meat, as this is the most altered of all foods both when the animals and fowls are alive, via medicated foods, and again after slaughter by the use of various chemicals for preservation and appearance.
Nuts of all kinds, grain and the legumes in place of meat are best. Many investigators assert that cancer is not found where the people do not eat meat. If there must be meat in the diet, it should be kept to a bare minimum, and the source fully known.
Q: Some people claim that cooking in aluminum causes cancer. What is your opinion?
A: I have heard that said, but I have never seen such a case. I do believe, however, that probably there are much better means of cooking, as for instance, glassware, enamelware, pyrex, stainless steel, etc.
Q: What is your opinion of cooking foods generally and its relation to cancer?
A: I believe that such foods as can be eaten raw should be so eaten, for example, fruits, nuts, many vegetables, and when foods are cooked, then they should be either baked or broiled or steamed or cooked in as little water as possible, and the water remaining after cooking used with the food. Thus
in raw foods and cooked foods the vitamins and minerals so necessary to prevent and overcome cancer are assured. Civilization makes us slaves to unnatural,bad habits which sap the vitality and undermine the health.
Q: What is your opinion of the exclusive grape dietary for cancer?
A: From glowing reports of its effectiveness one can regard it of value, but I have not seen the actual bona fide results. Johanna Brandt of South Africa focused attention upon it, though it was used as an exclusive regimen centuries ago. I firmly believe that any exclusive raw fruit dietary will have a beneficial effect.
Q: Would you say there is a specific cause or cure for cancer?
A: No, I do not think so. I think the orthodox doctors are wasting their time, and all of the monies collected in the cancer fund-raising campaigns are wasted on useless research. The only specific cure I know of for cancer is for the sufferer to get back to a simple natural life in every way, thereby giving the vital healing power of his own body a chance to restore vital power and thereby overcome the disease. These apparently are methods of arresting the condition.
Q: What do you think of fasting for cancer sufferers?
A: Fasting is “Nature’s” grand remedy. Most people eat without hunger. Therefore, they are also eating food they do not need. A good fast balances the system if it is carried on under care. Reckless fasting is not to be encouraged, but fasting alone does not overcome cancer.
Q: To sum up in a few words, what would you say is the cause and cure of cancer?
A: The cause in one phrase is “civilized living.” Our poor habits of eating, taking of drugs, inoculations, lack of use of lungs, lack of exercise, use of the common addictives, as alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, chocolate and cola drinks. The cure is in getting away from all these poor habits and a `.`return to nature” or “physical culture” living, whichever you choose to call it. This will add years to anyone’s life and life to anyone’s years. The bloodstream must be purified by natural living from every standpoint.
The cause of cancer is in civilized living. The cure of cancer is in simple natural physical culture living. Before cancer can be overcome, we must first of all remove the cause. Orthodox medicine has not done that up to this time. The natural approach has proven itself.
Q: Have you any suggestions for improving cancer research?
A: Yes, I firmly believe that the allopathic physicians of America, and the American Cancer Society, are duty bound to the public they serve to investigate and determine the merits of every cancer remedy which appears, irrespective of where or whom it comes from.