I’m currently scrambling to finish up all that is required to complete my Family Herbalist certification through the School of Natural Healing (SNH). I’ve been necessarily delayed by the delight of family responsibilities, especially because I’ve chosen to savor the fleeting moments of watching my newborn blossom into an active baby. Take them or leave them, study materials remain unchanged; not so with children. Sometimes I get stranded in my room when the baby wants to nurse down, but there’s always a book or two lying around that I’ve been meaning to get to… and they never seem to be the books that I’m studying for my herbalist class. I’m not sure why.
Anyway, while I was marooned with my little nursing vampire last weekend, I noticed the dusty copy of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS, just sitting there. My friend Ann gave it to me, then my friend Jim recommended it to me, but while I knew I should read it, I just hadn’t mustered up enough interest. Well, it must have been my moment in time. Somehow I was finally prepared for further edification because I haven’t been able to put the book down. A great deal of what I am learning in my Family Herbalist studies has to do with proper nutrition. Sadly, most Americans don’t look much past their taste buds for direction. Dr. Christopher’s writings repeat over and over again that pretty much all disease stems from improper diet. Not only is the Standard American (SAD) diet deficient in assimilable vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, but the SAD food we eat is also clogging up our lower digestive systems.
My Dad used to tell a story about how the body got in a fight one day. The eyes said they were more important than the hands. The nose refused to smell and the feet became very insulted that they carried the whole load of the body without any thanks. (This goes right along with the scriptural example from 1 Corinthians 12: 14-27) Every part of the body kept arguing and arguing, getting angrier and angrier, until the anus spoke up. The rest of the body really didn’t want to listen to the anus. After all, it was the lowliest member, with the worst job of all. The anus simply said, “We’ll just see who the most important one of us is” and that little sphincter muscle group immediately refused to work. Very soon the body found out just how important the anus was. My Dad’s punchline went something like this: “So, if anybody ever calls you a butt hole, take it as a supreme compliment… because without you, they’d all drown in their own sewage anyway.”
When the lower bowel becomes coated with the products of our denatured Standard American Diet (SAD) – white flour goods; white sugar goods; canned fruits and vegetables; commercial vegetable fats and foods cooked in them; highly sweetened fruit (jams, marmalade, syrups) – it’s just like building a pinata, only this one’s inside our gut; shaped like a hollow tube. This pinata, made of flour and white sugar and water perfectly lines the gut in a custom-fit, following every curve and crook, covering all the villi. It’s so nice and warm in there that this pinata tube then bakes on. Yes!! Fiesta!! Unfortunately, beating ourselves in the gut won’t break this pinata, and what’s inside it is anything but sweet. Our now-hardened goopy-fecal tar is pretty much spoiling the party for the rest of the body by blocking most of the ingested nutrition from even reaching your body. This is far worse than just the anus shutting down. It’s a train-wreck, my friends; a serious congestive threat to the whole system! According to my SNH studies, with our clogged colons, only 10% of what SAD-dieters eat is even absorbed!
As I read further, I began to realize that there was a huge correlation between my SNH studies and Dr. Price’s writings. In the 1920’s and 30’s this dentist actually went out there, physically, and obtained empirical data on human nutrition. This was in a time when there were still pockets of native populations who were still eating their traditional diets, and had not yet turned from them to the white man’s SAD diet. He took pictures of family members – all full-blooded members of their racial or tribal group – who nevertheless had startling facial differences! It all boiled down to what they ate. Over and over again, in population after population, he demonstrated the decimating effects upon the health of hale and hearty peoples when they adopted the Western diet. World over, again and again, the pattern repeats itself: Individuals who partake exclusively of the traditional diet had few cavities, sterling health, broad faces, wide noses and wide dental arches. Those who switched over to the SAD Western diet had rampant tooth decay, sinking health, narrower faces and noses, with cramped dental arches that no longer had room for all the teeth. He also pointed out a couple of things I’d never considered before:
1. It was being forwarded during his time that emotional or behavioral problems had much to do with poor environmental factors and bad parenting. He asserted that the brain functioned on a nutritional level just like the digestive system did. He pointed out what had already been discovered in his time: that delinquent behavior was connected to poor nutrition, sometimes even to the point of physical defect in brain composition and/or skull shape and structure. I’m talking about the shape of the head and sinuses, including the oral cavity and throat. The defects of the yet unconceived child begin with the nutrition of his parents! This corresponds exactly to what Dr. Christopher teaches about the importance of pre-conception nutrition for both parents.
I have a friend whose husband works with adolescent drug addicts. I asked her if this nutritional factor was true. She assured me that it was – she said a very large part of the recovery and healing of these youth came about when they were provided with exercise, sunshine, clean water and proper nutrition. Having worked with addicts myself, I can also say that there is a certain look in the countenance and the eyes of a person who is struggling with an addiction, and it’s physical effects are accentuated even more when it’s a multi-generational problem. Why the nutritional factor had never occurred to me before, I don’t know why. The healing potential of this discovery is very significant to me, personally.
2. Early on in the book, Dr. Price defines the profession of orthodontia, or orthodontics, as a specialty of dentistry that corrects dental arch deformities and thereby improves facial form. WHAT? Suddenly the blindfold was off and I realized that this was just another allopathic band-aid over a bleeding artery. The orthodontists job, essentially, is to correct the effects of poor nutrition; poor nutrition which reaches back one, two, three generations or more. When they had the chance, back in the 30’s, to reverse this trend, did they? NO! Instead of teaching people about better nutrition, what did the medical establishment do??? Once again, they ignored the cure and followed the money! What a fantastic fortune there is to be made from poor nutrition! Braces! Retainers! Mouth casts! X-rays! Panorex films! WOOT! WOOT! I never realized before that it wasn’t just genetics. I never knew that bad teeth and poor bone structure could be rooted in poor nutrition.
The more I looked at picture after picture in his book, the more I got to thinking about my own family. I have the fortune of coming from native Hawaiian stock. I also have the further blessing of having photographs of some of my ancestors. If what Weston Price and John R. Christopher were teaching was really true, then some of this would have to show up in pictures, wouldn’t it? So I scurried to my computer and opened up the genealogical files. Family history is one of my hobbies… but I’d never done a family search quite like this one before: based on nutrition and not on names, dates or places.
This is my great-grandmother. She and her mother before her were both skilled and knowledgeable Hawaiian herbalists. She has the healthy wide nostrils that Weston Price talks about in native peoples. I would assume that she had already been exposed to Western foods because haoles (white men) had already been on the islands for nearly a century by the time she was born. As a member of the Ali’i (royal class), I can also assume that she more ease of access to and contact with SAD foods… but my supposition is that her herbal knowledge assisted her in maintaining a good level of nutrition. Racially, she was of pure Hawaiian stock. She was the youngest of nine children, and had eleven children herself.
This is my grandmother. Notice that she still has the healthy facial features of traditional peoples that Dr. Price outlined: A wide dental arch with adequate space for the teeth, healthy wide nostrils and a round face are all established by nutritional factors during the time frame of pre-conception to the age of 16. I recall that she consumed the SAD diet with gusto – white sugar, white flour, pasteurized/homogenized cow dairy, sweetened fruits, bad fats (margarine, shortening)… everything. She also adopted Western medicine. While she still knew about traditional Hawaiian foods, they were served for special occasions, not everyday meals. I suspect that because she turned from the native diet, she may have developed a severe nutritional deficiency, especially in terms of iodine consumption. This may be where the root of my hypothyroidism began because, remember… a baby girl is born with her eggs already intact. In this case, one of her baby girls was my mother. My grandmother had eleven children total. When I look at pictures of my aunts and uncles, I can begin to see the narrowing of the face, nose and dental arches. I used to suppose this was all due to my grandfather’s contribution to the genetics, but now I believe nutrition may have played the greater factor. My grandmother was at least 75% Hawaiian stock.
This is my mother. I’ve seen her face all my life; I never supposed I could get shocked, at my age, by seeing it again. Yet, last night, I could not get over the great difference between my mother’s face and my grandmother’s face. It was just like in Weston Price’s photographs of multi-generational native families. This is the “after” picture of what happens to a native stock once it’s been exposed to the Western diet on a daily basis. The lengthening and narrowing of the bones of the skull (chin, nostril), the narrowing of the dental arch. I grew up knowing my mother had had a lot of dental work, which caused her pain… which is why our nutrition and our dental health was of such importance to her. Our church has a dietary health code, the prohibitions of which she followed, so she provided herself and her six children with better nutrition than she had had. However, it was still, for the most part, SAD nutrition. She is at least 5/8ths, or just over half native Hawaiian stock.
This is me. Prenatally, my dad really went gung-ho on the vitamin supplementation, so between his genetics and all the nutrition, maybe that’s partly why there’s a return appearance of the wider nostril and a healthy wide dental arch. I did not have to have extensive orthodontic work like many of my siblings, nor did I have teeth crowding or gaps in teeth. I did have missing teeth; never developed any wisdom teeth. My dental problems have gone from a solitary childhood cavity (and mercury filling!) to more serious problems in the mandible. While I continue to struggle to change it, I have to confess that my diet up to this point – except for fits and starts – has been on the healthier end of SAD, but still SAD. Having never been taught them, I have lost the Hawaiian dietary traditions entirely. I don’t know how else to eat, other than SAD, and learning to prepare healthier whole foods in unfamiliar ways of healthier preparation continues to be the biggest personal challenge of my life. It’s like moving to another planet. (I don’t know how to fix the food I’m suppossed to eat… all I can remember is what I can’t eat.) I’ve also struggled with infertility issues, which is yet another symptom that Weston Price and Dr. Christopher contributed to poor nutrition. Feeling myself therefore very blessed to be the mother of 4 children, I’ve noticed that none of them have teeth as good as mine. I am at least 3/8 Hawaiian stock, or just over a fourth.
This is my daughter. She is just over one-eighth Hawaiian stock. She was raised on a SAD diet, many years of which I was a poor single mother. Because of the divorce, she has been indulged with more fast food, junk food and sweets than I’ve ever had in my life. While she still retains a wider nostril, her dental arch is more narrow than mine and her permanent teeth are crowded. She had a few “peg” baby teeth and has missing permanent teeth. Like almost every single one of her cousins, she will also need to have orthodontic work to hide the malnutrition behind the perfect smile. I wonder how she’d react if suddenly taken back to a Native Hawaiian diet? Wish that I could give it to her.
Waking up this morning and looking at my children’s faces, I am sobered. My daughters already carry my grandchildren in their ovaries. The only thing I can do is turn to the woman in the mirror and ask myself what I can do to return to the nourishing traditions… today. There’s still nutritional hope, even for my oldest child. I realize this morning more than I ever understood before, that my actions today, and tomorrow and next week will have lasting consequences. These consequences will play out in later, in quality of the physical temples yet to be built, which will someday house the spirits of my posterity. That is the creepy thing about the writings of Weston Price, especially where he mentions the dying out and eradication of nations, races and tribes during his day. He continues on to mention “the coming world order.” In the wrong hands, his book is the perfect handbook for the elimination of the human species… and I’m afraid there are some who have already discovered that fact. What did government institutions in Canada and the United States feed native peoples then? What do most of them feed our public school children now? It’s so SAD, SAD, SAD.
By examining my own family photographs and reviewing our nutritional history, I’ve come to be even further convinced that Dr. John Christopher taught correct nutritional principles. Because of all that I’m learning and realizing, my education with the School of Natural healing grows in value every day. I also believe that the work of Dr. Weston Price and my own family photographs corroborate each other and what Christopher taught. While I do not completely agree with the present-day use and interpretation of Dr. Price’s legacy, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration stands on it’s own as compelling proof of the power of our choice to obey or disobey correct nutritional principles.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. – Isaiah 58:12