Healthy Health Education

Yes, let’s not wink at pious stupidity. (We’ll get some of that, inevitably, since churches are refuges for outsiders, many of them under-educated.)

But let’s do celebrate what’s right about Adventist health education. Pick just about any newspaper, including the NYT, and you’ll find lots of recipes in the food sections whose effects would be quite nearly toxic. The good news is that healthier food is coming into vogue, too, and we need to be the leading edge even as world outside of Adventists is beginning to catch on.

I should add, though, that Elder Wilson’s focus on health loses a good bit of its sheen when you consider his complete indifference to message of the Hebrew prophets (echoed in Jesus’ Gospel) regarding justice and peace.



The fundamental “ah ha” of science came with the need for repeatable experiments backing claims, rather than quotations of ancients and anecdotes. It is this need that splits medicine from folk remedies.

Many of the folk remedies do work, and when refined into medicine work much better. Many of the simple rules of thumb for choosing how to live do work, but taking them to extremes without the rigorous experimental verification based on whether things “sound plausible” has led to bad ideas.

Even within medicine, it has only been in the last few decades that some of the most fundamental “of course this is the right treatment” ideas have been disproven by rigorous experiments. “Sacred cows make the best hamburger” is the slogan my brother-in-law recently passed on to me.

That “chemical poison” is exactly the same chemical that is in the sea salt that you are advocating. It is also exactly the same chemical found in your blood at 0.9%. It is no more a poison than water is - get the % too wrong and you die.

This is a very dramatic claim. It requires dramatic proof. Instead a quick search reveals it to be a widely disseminated falsehood - Sadly the internet makes it easy to spread such nonsense, fortunately the same internet easily lets the cautious mind find the truth

Sugar is sugar is sugar - a little is good, lots is bad. Have you ever wondered why honey doesn’t go off? Because it kills ANY and ALL cells that land on it. Honey is a poison. Like water. Like salt. You need the right ratio’s of things.

Tobacco, tomato leaves, marijuana, cyanide, …

Plants in the natural world are full of poisons there to discourage animals eating them.

Almost all of the “natural” foods that are grown in people’s gardens are the result of thousands of years of genetic manipulation - crossbreeding, and selecting mutants that were taster or hardier than the natural plant. GMO is nothing more than the acceleration of this process.


Awesome. I must remember that one :smile:


Regarding Cooking Schools.

  1. If it is not affordable to prepare most will not fix it at home. [think food stamps, minimum wage earner]
  2. If it takes a lot of time to prepare most will not fix it at home.
  3. If it requires “special” ingredients most will not fix it at home.
  4. If it requires adopting “new tastes” for the ethnic group it will probably not be accepted by the family at home.
  5. If it doesnt taste good, look good it will probably not be accepted by the family at home.
  6. Think just simple, plain foods fixed in a tasty way, that take little time for a busy parent, or can be fixed by an older child of age 11 or 12.
  7. One dish meals.

I agree, Chuck, that there are things to celebrate in Adventist health education. Especially if you live in a place where there is a lot of information about good health: a hospital community. I have no doubt that Kettering’s health education is the best there is. I invite you again: ride with me some morning to the churches I pastor, and you’ll get quite a different look at Adventism. It’s a church you probably haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. Lovely people, but we don’t have the resources you’re used to.

There are things that our GC president says that I disagree with. However, I do want to be generous, and give credit where it’s due. Don’t you agree that one should reward another’s good impulses, even if some of his others are ill-advised?


When I let my wife read this piece, she said, “Most people will agree with you in principle, but disagreements with your specific examples will take over the comments.”

And so it is. Why didn’t I listen to my wife? :wink:

But as they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.

I know that there is a strong herbal lobby, and they’ve bought the US legislators so that there is now no oversight of herbal “cures”. This is a fact. The herb packagers make tons of money on this rubbish. Many take their list of conditions addressed by a specific herb straight from Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss, our own SDA herb quack. No one tests this stuff in actual clinical trials. No one knows if the herbs said to be in the capsules are even in the capsules.

I say again: you may do whatever you like with your own health. But you’re on very dangerous ground when you tell others to treat themselves with treatments that you take on faith, that are recommended neither by the Bible nor the Spirit of Prophecy, and surely not by the health establishment.

I was making the argument for conservative, proven, middle-of-the-road health principles. I still stand by that. If you want to pour money into the pockets of herbalists who are laughing all the way to bank at your naiveté, that’s your privilege. Just don’t do it under the banner of my church.


Exercise Class.

  1. Out of doors. Teach incentives for getting outside. Such as Tree Identification, Flower and Plant Identification, Bird Identification.
  2. Yoga. This is great for developing joint range of motion, developing muscle strength, improving cerebellum functioning and improved balance. There is even Yoga for the Wheelchair person to improve their independence.
  3. Use of “rubber bands” attached to door knobs, or under foot to improve muscle strength, cor body strength. Perhaps 1 to 5 pound weights [can use can goods, flour and sugar in 1 to 5 pound bags] to stimulate muscle tone.
  4. Encourage use of stairs to improve leg and thigh and hip muscles.
  5. Search out neighborhoods that can be recommended for walking that have beautiful yards in various seasons of the year. Even cemeteries are good places to recommend for walking. There is an old one in Chattanooga that when the azalias and dogwood are in bloom it is literally packed with walkers on the weekends.

Afternoon tea anyone?

Clotted cream , scones made from white flour and white sugar. Strawberry preserve with a minimum 50% sugar. Fully caffeinated tea.

This is the only way to spend an afternoon with friends.

And to the Vegans out there, I hope this doesn’t make you green with envy.

Then its off to Tony’s BBQ


Andrew. Notice. Everything, every ingredient is All Natural. No additives, no preservatives. Blueberries would also be good as an alternative.
After going to an Indian restaurant in St. Pete, FL a few years ago, I do enjoy my spiced tea with a little cream in it.

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@Closure (Danna), inasmuch as it was your group that brought Mamon Wilson to my attention when you brought him to Bismarck to recommend these astonishing “cures”, I’m wondering what your credibility is to criticize a middle-of-the-road approach to health education. Do you stand by what Wilson said? Would you treat necrotizing fasciitis with used motor oil (on the grounds that, as Wilson said, if it works on your pig it will work on you, too)? Do you believe HIV can be cured with pokeweed? What will you say if one of your followers chooses to lay eggplant on his melanoma rather than getting it excised, and it metastasizes?

I’m wondering if you have thought through the implications of what you’re advocating, and how it could harm people.


I think we would be naïve to think that monetary interests are NOT at stake here. But the big pharmaceutical companies are making exponentially more under the guise of being FDA approved. Their drugs with more serious side effects than benefits kill far, far more people on a daily basis than harmless (and sometimes, admittedly ineffective) herbal supplements. So I would not jump on the big pharma wagon so eagerly just because some fanatics are ruining the reputation of natural remedies.

On the other hand, there are serious herbal companies which are investing heavily on clinical studies of their products. Take for example, NEW CHAPTER which has done serious clinical trials of Zyflamend, an anti-inflammatory cancer inhibitting formula. Check it out here

So, the bottom line is, no generalizations, please. ;o)


I agree, @petersomerset, that this is an example of good health education.

But surely you realize, as you tell me about all the resources you have, that your well-equipped, well-informed, physician-resourced congregation isn’t the norm in the denomination. You need to ride along with some of your pastors who minister out on the edges, and see what people are saying about health under the SDA banner there.


No generalizations, @areis74. Two articles from the New York Times, another from the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

Quote: "Mr. Hatch has been rewarded with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, political loyalty and corporate sponsorship of his favorite causes back home. His family and friends have benefited, too, from links to the supplement industry. His son Scott Hatch, is a longtime industry lobbyist in Washington, as are at least five of the senator’s former aides. Mr. Hatch’s grandson and son-in-law increase revenue at their chiropractic clinic near here by selling herbal and nutritional treatments, including $35 “thyroid dysfunction” injections and a weight-loss product, “Slim and Sassy Metabolic Blend.” And Mr. Hatch’s former law partner owns Pharmics, a small nutritional supplement company in Salt Lake City."

Quote: "Of 44 herbal supplements tested, one-third showed outright substitution, meaning there was no trace of the plant advertised on the bottle — only another plant in its place. Many were adulterated with ingredients not listed on the label, like rice, soybean and wheat, which are used as fillers… ‘This suggests that the problems are widespread and that quality control for many companies, whether through ignorance, incompetence or dishonesty, is unacceptable,’ said David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. ‘Given these results, it’s hard to recommend any herbal supplements to consumers.’"

Quote: “The acting head of the dietary supplement division at FDA, Cara Welch, is a former official with the Natural Products Association, a supplement trade association.”

But in the case of most herbal supplements, even if the advertised herb was in the pill, the evidence that the herbs provide the advertised benefit ranges from inconsistent to flimsy to non-existent. That’s certainly true in the case of ginkgo biloba, which is marketed to improve memory. It doesn’t. In fact, there’s stronger evidence that that particular herb causes harm. … Black cohosh is purported to have benefits for women experiencing menopause, but that herb may promote liver failure.”


Anything you say against “big herbal” can be said about “big pharma”. Not sure my point is coming across…


I agree, André, that the pharmaceutical companies are also in bed with legislators. Impossible to deny. And they, too, have made some big mistakes. But it’s still hard to compare: at least their products have been tested, and most work. There is no equivalent testing yet of herbs, and I still stand by the assertion that most are placebos at best, and may steer people off into the realm of health superstition, where they substitute faith-based medicine for good science.


Your point is not clear. Why are the problems of the pharmaceutical industry a recommendation for herbalism? Or are you denouncing the former per se? You sound as if you’re rejecting that there are truly helpful mainstream medicines. You emphasize that there are some cases of promising clinical trials in herbals, but express distrust of pharmaceutical clinical trials. The more you write, the more that a bit of conspiracy flavor comes across, & that the escape is herbal supplements because they are “harmless.” That they are all harmless is incorrect, btw.

Many prescription medications are derived from botanical sources. These are not separate universes.


@elmer_cupino, I have often noted that while we maintain one of the largest administrative teams of any denomination, when there is something where top-down leadership could really make a difference, it is rather too tepid.


This is, frankly, nonsense

When you give someone a medicine, there are four possibilities, loosely modeled in terms of the probability of a cure (call it “a”) and the probability of a bad side effect (call it “b”)

It cures the disease_______________It doesn’t
It causes another problem a*b
It doesn’t_______________________a

Now, if the disease is costing you C and the other problem will cost you D then your expected return on investment is

(C-D)Ab + (-D)(1-a)b + Ca(1-b) + 0*(1-a)*(1-b)

Doctors who prescribe medications are well aware of the need to consider the probabilities and the costs in this formula.

A drug that kills more than it saves would simply not be allowed on the market. Doctors would not prescribe it. So we know that drugs SAVE lives. Almost all the ones you hear about being pulled SAVE lives. They are pulled because, after even more data has been gained, it turns out there are better alternatives that SAVE MORE LIVES.

On the other hand herbal supplements kill people because, as happened with a patient I took into the hospital one day, her confidence in herbs caused her to avoid main stream medicine AND SHE DIED because of that decision.

Do all herbal supplements kill people quickly? No, of course not. Heck - there is no difference between eating some herbal supplements and drinking distilled water LITERALLY - apart from the cost of course…


Really substantive rebuttal. The miraculous healing is the norm in your book, and should be in ours? Tell us the next time a fig poultice saves your life. Not how it usually works in real life. Not how God works the vast majority of the time. Isaiah and Hezekiah are not the norm, and can’t be made to be.



I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to converse with such manifest lack of faith. I have no further comments for this article or for this magazine.