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  Muscle Testing

 

 

What I Learned from Cancer

It started innocuously enough: a persistent itching on my back, near the top of my left shoulder blade. After a while, I noticed some discoloration, but I ignored it — I thought it was eczema. It may be hard to believe, but this went on for several years, getting slowly worse.

Eventually it broke open and began to ooze, then bleed. By this time, it was about the size of a silver dollar. I wasn’t interested in conventional medicine, so I finally went to see a homeopath. Homeopathy is based on the idea of treating “like with like,” to stimulate the body’s defenses. It’s a respected discipline that’s been around for over a century, and it can be powerful when it works. You take a highly diluted form of the substance causing the problem, diluted sometimes to the point where theoretically no molecules of the original substance are left — just the energy.

However, the way it’s generally done is that the practitioner takes a history and matches the symptoms with those in a reference book. Each group of symptoms has a particular remedy. You try that remedy, and if it doesn’t work after a few weeks, you go on to another one. Unfortunately, this is mostly guesswork, which limits its effectiveness.

The practitioner I went to did mention that the lesion looked like cancer. It can’t be cancer, I thought — I’d been a vegetarian for over fifteen years, macrobiotic for most of that time. People took up macrobiotics to get rid of cancer and had written books about it. After trying a couple of homeopathic remedies for a month or two and seeing no change, I looked elsewhere.

I consulted a Tibetan doctor a couple of times. She gave me some of her own herbal remedies, but they didn’t help.

The next practitioner I found was in New York, recommended by a friend who lives there. Because I live in the Boston area, it involved travel in addition to the consultation, but I went because my friend extolled the practitioner’s virtues, saying she used a technique called muscle testing. I’d heard about it before but had no idea what it was — couldn’t even imagine it.

I want to talk a little about muscle testing, also known as applied kinesiology, because much of what I subsequently learned is related to it — and because it’s hard to imagine if you’ve never seen it done. Even people seeing it for the first time can have a hard time believing it. The basic idea is that the body can communicate its needs if we know how to ask it in the right way.

Based on the concept of internal energy fundamental to traditional Chinese medicine, kinesiology is a noninvasive way of evaluating the body’s imbalances and assessing its needs. It involves testing the body's responses when slight pressure is applied to a large muscle, to provide information on energy blockages, the functioning of the organs, nutritional deficiencies, and food sensitivities, among other things. It can also be used to test the body’s responses to herbs and other remedies.

In a typical example of kinesiology, you’re given an herb to hold (or a food, if testing for an allergy). You extend the other arm and are asked to keep it straight. The practitioner presses down on this arm and the opposite shoulder with equal pressure (to facilitate balance). If the herb is something you need, you’ll be able to resist the downward pressure and hold your arm rigid. If not, you won’t. The same procedure can be used to determine how often you should take each herb and how much each time. It can also be used to test the body’s responses to foods (for allergies), thoughts, sounds, colors, and emotions. 

Some practitioners test with your arm straight out to the side, which relates only to the lung meridian. (The meridians are energy channels recognized by Chinese medicine.) Others use the central meridian for testing, with your arm toward the front and at an angle below horizontal. All the meridians intersect with the central meridian, so testing this way encompasses more body systems than testing just the lung meridian and is less fatiguing for both parties. Testing can also be done while you’re sitting or lying down.

Although kinesiology is simple, responses may be inconclusive if your energy is blocked. Testing your polarity before doing anything else reveals whether energy in the central meridian is flowing in the right direction. If not, it must be corrected before proceeding. The same polarity check is used with each product tested, to make sure the product doesn’t interfere with your polarity. The selected products are also tested as a group, because a product may test well individually, but combining it with others may produce a synergistic effect that reduces or eliminates the need for it.

Applied kinesiology originated with the work of Dr. George Goodheart, a chiropractor, in the sixties, based on earlier work by others. Offshoots of this technique, referred to as “specialized kinesiologies,” have also been developed. Perhaps the best known is a program called Touch for Health, created by a colleague of Goodheart’s, Dr. John Thie, which is taught worldwide. (Thie’s illustrated book, Touch for Health, has sold over half a million copies. Another classic in the field is Your Body Doesn’t Lie, by John Diamond, M.D.) 

Touch For Health involves a specific series of tests with each limb in different positions, to ascertain how well each of the organ systems is communicating with the brain. It also involves balancing energy flow in meridians that are deficient, by holding pairs of points on the body and working lymphatic massage points. The International College of Applied Kinesiology, in Switzerland, promulgates the Touch For Health curriculum, which consists of several levels, and certifies instructors and their students.

By contrast, “muscle testing” often refers to a technique of testing points on the body to ascertain particular vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Donald Lepore, a naturopathic doctor, explains some of this in The Ultimate Healing System. It’s also possible to learn a simple technique for self-testing.

In Power versus Force, David Hawkins, a psychiatrist, says,

    When this author was on the lecture circuit, for instance, in audiences of one thousand people, five hundred envelopes containing artificial sweetener would be passed out to the audience along with five hundred identical envelopes containing organic vitamin C. The audience would be divided up and would alternate testing each other. When the envelopes were opened, the audience reaction was always one of amazement and delight when they saw that all had gone weak in response to the artificial sweetener and strong in response to the vitamin C. (p. 42)

He also says,

    a mere image of a substance held in mind produced the same response as if the substance were in physical contact with the body. As an example, we would hold up an apple grown with pesticides and ask the audience to look directly at it while being tested; all would go weak. We would then hold up an organically grown apple, free of contaminants, and as the audience focused on it they would instantly go strong. Inasmuch as no one in the audience knew which apple was which, nor, for that matter, had any anticipation of the test, the reliability of the method was demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction. (p. 46)

It works for thoughts as well as objects: people were asked, “eyes closed, to hold in mind the memory of a time when they were angry, upset, jealous, depressed, guilty or fearful; at that point everyone universally went weak. We would then ask them to hold in mind a loving person or life situation, and all would go strong.” (p. 45) Overall, the book is a fascinating discussion of philosophical issues arising from kinesiology and this technique’s transformative potential for society.

Kinesiology works because an herb or anything else we hold or focus on gives off a characteristic energy — in the case of an herb, even through the capsules and plastic bottle. The human body is remarkably sensitive, to a degree most people aren’t consciously aware of, and can perceive this energy. (This is why the proliferation of devices that interfere with our energy, particularly cell phones and cell towers, cordless phones, and other microwave devices, are so pernicious. They have a subtle long-term effect that most people are blithely unaware of — and often don’t want to hear about.)

Much later, I came to see that the practitioner I consulted in New York didn’t really test correctly — she tested my lung meridian, with my arm straight out to the side. Consequently, by the end of the (long) session, both she and I were exhausted. Nevertheless, my introduction to kinesiology was a revelation, even though the results were less than a rousing success. Testing indicated that the lesion contained two nasty fungus infections and allowed her to identify them precisely, using a collection of samples. It also allowed her to determine the potency of the homeopathic remedies, how much I should take each time, how often, and for how long.

The remedies did a spectacular job of getting rid of the funguses. Unfortunately, I still had the lesion, the oozing, bleeding, and itching. Moreover, the consultation was expensive — $200 an hour. I went a second time, and for the two consultations and the remedies and supplements, I spent about $1500 plus train fare. Although the practitioner was clearly competent in some ways, I later came to question the value of some of the things she did, not to mention the fact that she was addressing the wrong problem. She claimed, in her promotional literature, to address causes, but she really didn’t. I also feel that holistic treatment should be affordable.

Like the homeopath, she suggested that the lesion might be cancer, and at this point, I was willing to believe it. She also recommended an herbal product applied topically, called black salve, that’s effective in getting rid of skin cancer, although she said it would be painful and would leave a scar. She gave me the name of a person in Arizona I could buy it from.

I knew that the conventional medical approach to cancer consisted of only three options: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (otherwise known as slash, burn, and poison). I had no interest in any of them: they treat the symptoms, not the causes; they’re painful, debilitating, and expensive; and their success rate is indifferent.

I decided to research the subject on the Internet. This turned up a number of alternatives, including black salve, which was available from various sources. The most promising seemed to be Alpha Omega Labs (www.altcancer.com). I liked their money-back guarantee as well as their philosophy, which is that their products have to be effective, safe, and relatively inexpensive.

The main ingredient in black salve is chaparral, a traditional cancer remedy. Alpha Omega’s product is called Cansema salve, and they also sell two products that can be taken internally, Cansema tonic and capsules. (The tonic is now called Tonic I, to differentiate it from a newer type, Tonic III.) I ordered the tonic as well as the black salve, reasoning that the cancer might have metastasized and that it couldn’t hurt to take something internally along with the topical application.

I was surprised at how quickly and well the black salve acted, and it wasn’t unduly painful. In a day, the external lesion came off, leaving a raw but clean wound. The chief feature of the tonic is its awful taste — it’s an emetic and must be taken with meals, because taking it on an empty stomach can induce vomiting. They also recommend taking it in a cup of hot water with a tablespoon of honey, to make it more palatable. (I found barley malt preferable — honey has too abrupt an effect on blood sugar — but ultimately decided I preferred it with just a little hot water or pau d'arco tea in the bottom of the cup, which makes it easier to get down. I held my breath and drank it in three swallows.)

Although the lesion got smaller, it wouldn’t close up completely, so after a month or so I started looking around for something else. I called a holistic practitioner out West whom the New York practitioner had mentioned. He asked if I’d tried apricot pits.

“Laetrile?” I said, recalling the condemnation it had received from the medical profession. “Does it work?”

Yes, he said, it worked. “The cure is out there,” he added. I just needed to find it.

Apricot pits contain vitamin B17, which has helped a number of people with cancer. It’s also been produced synthetically, as amygdalin, which is available as tablets or an injectable solution. Its success has resulted in the proposition that cancer is a vitamin deficiency disease, and there seems to be some basis for this, although perhaps not limited to B17. (Toxicity is another significant factor.) B17 is not produced in the U.S.—the only source is a Mexican pharmaceutical company, Cyto Pharma. It’s available from other sources on the Internet, but ultimately it all comes from Cyto Pharma, which also happens to be the least expensive — the resellers just mark it up. (Tablets are not the ideal way to take this — apricot seeds themselves are preferable, but I hadn't perceived this at the time.)

At the time, I acquired B17 tablets and apricot seeds from a U.S. reseller who also offered other products and information. The proprietor was an honest fellow who did a good job, and, predictably, the FDA put him out of business. I also bought one or two other non-animal-derived products from him that I wasn’t sure I needed, and a B-vitamin supplement from a health-food store — I wanted to cover all bases.

Soon after starting with these products, the lesion closed up. I gave thanks and went about my life, thinking that had I known about and taken the Cansema tonic at the beginning, before the cancer broke through the skin, I wouldn’t have had the scar I now have.

A year or so later, I mentioned to a friend that I’d had skin cancer. I knew he’d been involved with herbs and wondered if he knew of anything that might be useful. He consulted a couple of books, one of which was Lepore’s Ultimate Healing System, and recommended several, most notably pau d’arco (pronounced “powdy arco”), also known as taheebo tea—a blood purifier and immune booster often used for cancer.

I acquired Lepore’s book, which does in fact contain an innovative approach based on kinesiology. And as it happened, when I stopped at an herb store to buy some pau d’arco, I found that the owner, an herbalist, did consultations and used kinesiology as part of her practice. I was surprised to discover this—although I had, over the years, learned about various types of holistic practices, I had heard practically nothing of kinesiology and didn’t know of any practitioner closer than New York — or any way of finding one.

I made an appointment and went to see her the following week. She seemed as competent as the woman in New York — more so, I came to find — and I was amazed at what she was able to ascertain. One thing she found was that my digestive system wasn’t functioning optimally, which is common as we age. She recommended a few herbs, including pau d’arco, which I took as a tea.

After a month or two, I felt much better and realized that my overall condition was improving. I later came to see that without being aware of it, I had been seriously run down. Because it happens over a long period, we don’t perceive it and think this is just the way we’re supposed to feel. Although previously no particular advocate of herbs, I came to see that they were helpful and even necessary now, to compensate for the low nutritional content in much of our food and many people’s difficulties with digestion. Drugs were originally herbs, but the tendency to isolate the “active ingredient” in an herb and synthesize it has led to a situation where we’re consuming chemicals that are often harmful and that lack the other elements in an herb that provide a synergistic effect.

I returned for consultations on a regular basis and thought my problems were over — until one day, after a couple of years, I felt that familiar itching sensation on my back. Cancer causes the formation of blood vessels to supply itself, and when I had gotten rid of the external lesion previously, it had left a bump next to it, where a blood vessel had protruded to feed it. This bump was where the cancer had returned.

At least this time I knew what to do, and I did it right away. I applied the Cansema salve and started taking the tonic, vitamin B17, pau d’arco tea, and a B-vitamin supplement. All of this got rid of the cancer right away — the salve turned the bump into an inert black mass overnight, which subsequently came off. When I took the tonic, I could feel the itching stop the same day.

I’d met and interviewed some colleagues of the herbalist I’d been consulting, one of whom, Gene Fitzpatrick, had mentioned that several of his clients had been medically diagnosed with cancer. (Herbalists and other nonmedical practitioners can’t diagnose or prescribe — they can only evaluate and recommend.) Because of his experience, I decided to consult him about the matter.

Gene has over a decade’s experience as an herbalist, and a clientele in several surrounding states. He speaks eloquently and with dry wit of what he does and what the medical profession doesn’t do. As he puts it, “I don’t argue with the designer. I don’t replace body functions. I enhance your ability to heal by supplying you what you need to accomplish that.”

Gene points out, as do his colleagues, that illness typically arises for any of three reasons: nutritional deficiency (which most people have now, because of the prevalence of refined, chemicalized foods in the conventional Western diet and the poor nutritional quality of conventional produce, which is grown in depleted soil with chemical additives); toxic overload (which most people also have, for similar reasons, as well as from environmental toxins); and stress, which is common. Under these assaults, the body often breaks down. But the problem can be reversed.

It’s been observed that many Americans are overweight but undernourished. Gene emphasizes the importance of adequate nutrition — not only obtaining nutrients we need but also making sure the digestive system is working properly, because in most people it isn’t (typically a result of age, improper diet, sedentary living, and / or physical trauma). The body is like any machine — if it doesn’t get tuned up periodically, it goes out of adjustment, which is how problems get started.

What I’ve found after twenty years of macrobiotics is that diet alone is not enough. It may have been at one time, and it may still be for some people, but many are so far out of balance that food isn’t enough. We can’t eat enough food to obtain certain nutrients, because our stomachs aren’t big enough and/or the nutrients just aren’t there. Nevertheless, a vegetarian diet is an important prerequisite, because it at least allows us to stop taking in toxins and return to a more balanced state. As a celebrated sixth-century Chinese physician, Sun Simiao, said, “First try food; resort to medication only when food fails to effect a cure.” Food includes herbs, the original pharmaceuticals.

Gene also emphasizes the importance of eliminating toxins, saying, “If you can’t properly dispose of your waste, it’s pointless to build.” We generally don’t give waste disposal much thought, but it’s fundamental to staying healthy or getting well. Most of it is the result of the conventional refined, chemicalized, low-fiber Western diet. Aside from overprocessing, most animal products and conventional produce contain actual poisons that build up in the organs and other tissues, causing problems.

Produce contains residues of herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. For example, a New York Times article mentioned that conventional potato farmers apply many chemicals to their crops, one of which is so toxic that they don’t go into the fields for four or five days after applying it.1 Is it realistic to believe that the plants don’t absorb any of it? This is just one crop.

Meat has the same problems, and more. Animals eat grain grown with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, and they’re given antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids (which also end up in their milk and dairy products). About half the antibiotics produced in the U.S. go into animal feed.2 Most people receive far more antibiotics in meat and dairy than they ever do by prescription. Genetically modified foods, irradiation, and microwaving are all sources of toxicity in food.

This doesn’t even begin to take into consideration external sources, such as chemical spills, water contamination (or chlorination / fluoridation), vaccinations, PCBs, DDT, MTBE, mercury, lead, arsenic, and exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones and towers, portable phones, computers, TVs, power lines, electric blankets, and so on. Is it any wonder that one out of two men and one out of three women develop cancer?

The good news is that most toxicity will discharge over time if we stop taking it in, which is a powerful incentive to adopt a vegetarian / vegan diet and organic produce. Exercise and herbs can also accelerate the discharge.

Perhaps because Gene is a certified Touch for Health instructor, his approach is to begin with Touch For Health and balancing, with muscle testing of points (to determine vitamin and mineral deficiencies) afterward — unlike some of his colleagues, who do the reverse. He also has a highly developed ability to see how one organ system influences another and can therefore ascertain the cause of the problem.

One way kinesiology helps with this is by indicating an organ’s relative functioning, in percent. Gene ascertained that my gallbladder was functioning at only 16% efficiency. He suspected gallstones.

“I can’t have gallstones,” I said — “I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty years.”

On the contrary, he replied — the liver is always producing cholesterol (which is the cement that holds gallstones together), so anyone can have gallstones. Testing confirmed it and indicated how many: thirty-five.

The gallbladder is a storage tank for bile produced by the liver (much as the urinary bladder is a storage tank for urine produced by the kidneys). When we eat fats or oils, the gallbladder squeezes bile into the small intestine to help digest them.

One result of the gallbladder problem was dried lymph deposits in my upper back. The area above the shoulder blades contains four pressure points energetically related to the gallbladder. The lymph deposits indicated decreased energy flow in those points and were no doubt part of the toxicity that produced the cancer. Gene started to break them up by massaging them. (I later saw him do this on someone else — “Rice Krispies” was his comment, because he said they felt like little pieces of gravel under the skin.) In my case, they were so extensive that he reached under the table and pulled out a machine that vibrated against my back and did the job for him. I joked about a Sears orbital sander.

The significance of the gallstones, Gene pointed out, is that the body produces, on average, one mutant cell per hour. Cancer is an example of a mutant cell. Ordinarily, the liver, which removes toxins from the body, can handle this load and take care of incipient cancers by itself. But if the gallbladder isn’t functioning optimally because of gallstones, not only was I missing out on needed nutrients from the food I was eating (a common situation, according to Gene), but the functioning of the next organ upstream, the liver, was also impaired. When he explained it, it was perfectly obvious — like listening to Sherlock Holmes elucidate a seemingly incomprehensible mystery.

The medical approach to gallstones is surgery. The holistic approach is a two-day gallbladder cleanse. Gene wrote it down, and I later found variations of it on the Internet, although his was among the simplest. On the first day, eat only applesauce, apple juice, pears, pear juice, and / or water. The purpose of this slightly acidic but no-fat diet is to stimulate bile production in the liver and to pass readily through the digestive tract, to facilitate eliminating the stones. Bile has a twofold job: it breaks down fats and oils in the small intestine, and it neutralizes acids in the blood, to help keep the pH balanced. Therefore, the acidity of the fruit stimulates bile production.

Just before bed the first night, drink a quarter cup of olive oil with a quarter cup of grapefruit or lemon juice. This isn’t as bad as it sounds — the citrus cuts the oil, and the oil coats the stomach, protecting it from the acidity of the citrus. (Some recipes on the Internet call for as much as a cup of each.) Immediately lie down on your right side for at least half an hour, to facilitate absorption, and preferably fall asleep.

The olive oil softens the gallstones, allowing them to pass through the bile duct and into the small intestine without discomfort. Lying down on the right side arranges the plumbing so that the bile duct descends vertically from the small intestine. This causes oil to pass into the bile duct and the gallbladder rather than being digested in the small intestine.

The next morning, upon arising, repeat the oil/citrus drink and continue with the apple/pear menu for the day. Sometime that day, the gallstones should pass in the bowel movement and be visible as small pieces of green or black gravel.

Gene said that people sometimes need to do more than one gallbladder cleanse, at intervals of about a week — because after the first stones are cleared out, others may descend from the liver into the gallbladder. (One very overweight client, he said, had passed 1700 stones in multiple cleanses over a period of six months and had gone on to lose 150 pounds, presumably because his digestion had improved.) Testing indicated that I should do two cleanses a week apart, take the Cansema tonic for two more days, and that if my gallbladder were functioning at 100%, my liver would be able to take care of the cancer by itself. Gene mentioned that it’s also possible to do a liver cleanse, which turns the bowels to water. Fortunately, I didn’t need it.

Gene said that liquid lecithin is helpful in passing the stones — like the olive oil, it helps soften the bile sludge. I tested for it, as well as for morinda, or noni juice, and a digestive enzyme — Proactazyme, made by Nature’s Sunshine. I would need the lecithin only for the gallbladder cleanse, but Gene said clients often need Proactazyme for as much as two years. Proactazyme contains digestive enzymes we should be getting from raw produce but aren’t — because we don’t eat enough raw produce and because what we do eat doesn’t contain enough enzymes (a result of the poor quality of the soil, the chemical toxins added to it, and, in some cases, food irradiation, which extends shelf life but destroys nutritional content).

I can’t need digestive enzymes — I’m a vegetarian was my response, but testing clearly indicated that I did, so I agreed. As a macrobiotic I eat mostly cooked food, but I thought the Cansema tonic I had been taking, which is a powerful viricide and bactericide, might have been destroying the enzymes in my digestive tract.

I did the cleanse the next two days, taking the lecithin and the Proactazyme, both of which come in gelatin capsules. As a vegetarian, I don’t consume gelatin. The Proactazyme was no problem — I just pulled the capsules apart and poured the contents on my food. The lecithin capsules were sealed, so I had to cut them open with a single-edged razor blade. It was messy and slippery, and if I were going to do it again, I’d get liquid lecithin in a bottle.

I didn’t much care for the acidity of the apple/pear diet, and I didn’t pass any stones. I began to wonder whether this was for real, whether it worked for everyone else but me, whether I was missing something, and so on. I called Gene, who suggested I take the lecithin with each meal for a week and try again. The following week, I did pass the gallstones on the second and third days. As Gene says, it beats the scalpel.

By then I had stopped taking the Cansema tonic and had also stopped taking the Proactazyme, because I didn’t think I needed it. Within a few days, I was dismayed to feel the familiar itching sensation on my back. The cancer had returned—or perhaps it had never gone away.

I saw Gene again a couple of days later. He tested me briefly and ascertained that the gallstones were gone. The problem was my liver. He began running through the litany of various herbs for liver support and found that I needed iron — but not directly. Just taking an iron supplement wouldn’t do it. I needed it indirectly. He started going through other products when I piped up.

“I stopped taking the Proactazyme—do I need that?”

“Why did you stop?”

Because ...

“You thought you didn’t need it.”

“Right.” Evidently he’d heard this before.

Was Proactazyme what I needed? Testing indicated yes. The iron I needed and wasn’t getting was in my food. This emphasized again that digestion, along with toxicity, is a big problem for people these days and that even being a vegetarian for twenty years is no guarantee of adequate digestion. I started taking the Proactazyme again and, with trepidation, discontinued the Cansema tonic, which I had resumed. Within a few days, the cancer went away.

At my next appointment, Gene found that my gallbladder functioning had increased to 52% and my liver was at 76% — better, but they still needed help. I also pointed out that I had trouble digesting beans — which, for a vegetarian, especially one who eats no dairy, is a problem. He ascertained that my hydrochloric acid was low and that this and an acidophilus supplement would help (although I probably wouldn’t need the latter for very long). Again, because these came in gelatin capsules, I opened them up and poured them on my food. I still needed the Proactazyme — testing indicated that my digestive system wasn’t ready for more raw food yet.

The hydrochloric acid I mixed with applesauce, because I didn’t know if it would burn my throat. After about two weeks, I learned that the most common source for digestive hydrochloric acid is pigs. The company confirmed that this was what they used, so I stopped taking it. The only other source is beets, and I found a supplement of this type — Quest Enzyme Digest, made in England but available from Canadian health food stores. 

Another week or two went by ... and then I felt that familiar itching sensation on my back.

This time, I had an idea what the problem was. I had noticed, on the Internet, an online supplement store that didn’t sell acidophilus. They didn’t sell it, they said, for several reasons, one of which is that stomach acid kills acidophilus. Therefore, the capsules must be enterically coated, to allow absorption in the small intestine rather than in the stomach. I had been opening the acidophilus capsules and dumping them on my food. Apparently I needed enterically coated capsules — and not just enterically coated gelatin capsules but enterically coated Vegicaps.

At first it appeared no one made such a thing, but again I found a British brand, Kordel’s. I was about to order a bottle from England, but I went to see Gene, and testing showed that I no longer needed the acidophilus. Theoretically, I should have been able to get rid of the cancer with what I was taking, but it wasn’t happening. I still needed the Cansema tonic and B17.

I decided to experiment a little, to see if one of them alone would do it or if I needed both. I tried taking apricot seeds and B17 tablets but no Cansema tonic. By the end of the first day, I felt a slight burning at the lesion, a precursor to the itching. I resumed the Cansema tonic and waited a few days, then dropped the B17 tablets but continued with the apricot seeds. I wondered if I could get enough B17 from a nonsynthesized source — not to mention the fact that the seeds were a lot less expensive than the tablets. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I then tried just B17 tablets and Cansema tonic.

It was working, but I didn’t know how long I’d have to continue with it, and I was getting tired of taking these preparations, which aren’t easy on the stomach. I finally lost my appetite and decided I would fast until the cancer was gone, which is a time-tested remedy. I didn’t think it would take too long, because the cancer was small and had been pretty much eliminated by the herbs and the improved functioning of my gallbladder and liver. Twenty years earlier I had done a two-week juice fast and had no reason to believe I couldn’t do it again, although this time I planned to do a water fast.

Fasting kills cancer for several reasons. It deprives the cancer cells of nutrition and, because it also deprives the body of nutrition, alkalizes the blood. Cancer can’t grow in an alkaline environment. The pH of the blood is supposed to be slightly alkaline, but because the typical Western diet includes meat, sugar, caffeine, and other acid-forming foods, most people’s blood is acidic, which is conducive to disease. It’s not as much of a problem for a vegetarian who eats a grain-centered diet, but even whole-food desserts can acidify the blood. Salt or salty foods can counteract this, but I have a low tolerance for salt. Fasting would make my blood as alkaline as it was going to get.

Another reason fasting kills cancer is that it unburdens the digestive system, which frees up the portion of our energy ordinarily used for digestion, which can then be used for healing.

I fasted for four days, taking only water and an occasional cup of pau d’arco tea, mostly for warmth in the cooler weather. On the third day the itching stopped, and I was pretty sure the cancer was gone. On the evening of the fourth day I was hungry again, so I ate. 

I thought that was the end of it, but a few months later I noticed a lump in a different place. It gave me a bad few hours — then I remembered something from Anthony Sattilaro’s book Recalled by Life. Michio Kushi had told him, after the cancer was gone, that he should continue being careful about his diet (avoiding flour, oil, fish, and fruit) for at least six months, because it takes the body seven years to replace all its cells and completely discharge the cancer. I concluded that I had resumed those foods (not the fish, of course) too soon.

I eliminated them from my diet, and the lump immediately began to diminish. A few days after finding it, I went to see Gene. Muscle testing indicated that I did have cancer and that macrobiotics alone would eliminate it. However, we also tested for paw paw, an herb Nature’s Sunshine had recently begun producing that had been shown to reduce tumors. Testing indicated that it wasn’t essential but that it would accelerate elimination of the cancer.

I also tested for apricot seeds — two a day — which I assumed I needed for the vitamin B17. However, Gene mentioned that apricot seeds also contain zinc. Testing indicated that I needed the zinc, not the B17. Therefore, pumpkin seeds were just as good (and taste a lot better).

Over the next few weeks the lump decreased and got to be very small but again didn't disappear completely. I started taking Cansema Tonic, and after several more weeks it went away. About this time I also found out that many common body-care products, such as the toothpaste and shampoo I'd been using, contain certain  carcinogenic ingredients. As I result, I switched brands.

The whole experience reminded me of the words of Sant Darshan Singh, a twentieth-century Indian mystic, in Spiritual Awakening: “Once a man went to a saint and complained, ‘Sir, my meditations are not good.’ The saint replied, ‘Look to your stomach.’ Another man came to this saint and said, ‘I can’t control my mind.’ The saint replied, ‘Look to your stomach.’ A third man came and said, ‘I am not having good health.’ And the saint again replied, ‘Look to your stomach.’ ” Although the context of the story is about not overeating, what we eat and how well we digest it are clearly too important to be taken for granted.

What I learned from cancer is that illness is a very individual thing. In my case, I came to see that it arose from toxicity issues dating to before I became a vegetarian. Nevertheless, some generalizations can be made. The important things are detoxification (by means of a vegan diet and making sure the gallbladder, liver, and eliminative organs are working well) and adequate nutrition, by means of diet and herbs. Keeping the blood alkaline is important. Something to kill the cancer may be needed until the body can manage on its own. Reducing exposure to electromagnetic radiation (computers, TVs, cell phones, portable phones, electric blankets, etc.) is always desirable. Meditation can help reduce stress and promote healing.

Taking responsibility for our own health is important. This doesn’t mean not consulting healthcare practitioners — just that we have to take an active part in preventing problems rather than waiting until we get sick, then going to a doctor and saying “Fix me.” And if a problem develops, we need to take an active part in finding what works for us rather than doing only what the practitioner (whether medical or holistic) knows. It helps to learn how the body functions — where the organs are and how they work together in terms of energy flow. When we do this, we no longer see illness as a random misfortune, because we understand how it arose and how to counteract it. When we demystify illness, we lose our fear of it, and we can say goodbye to slash, burn, and poison.


1 Michael Pollan, “Playing God in the Garden,” New York Times Sunday Magazine, October 25, 1998.

2 Orville Schell, Modern Meat, New York: Random House, 1984, and www.mindfully.org/Farm/Antibiotics-Factory-Farming-Facts.htm.