Foods That Heal

Foods That Heal

by Bernard Jensen


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In Foods That Heal, Dr. Bernard Jensen uses the teachings of Hippocrates and VG Rocine, as well as his own research and theories, to offer compelling evidence that what we ingest has a profound effect on our health and wellbeing.

Part One may change the way you look at your next meal. The section contains a host of helpful troubleshooting advice: health cocktails for common ailments, herbal teas, tonics, vitamin- and mineral-packed food combinations, and detailed data on the roles foods play in the optimum efficiency of specific bodily systems, functions, and overall health.

Part Two provides an easy-to-understand guide to fruits and vegetables. Each listing in this section presents a history of use, a buyer’s guide, therapeutic benefits, and nutrient information.

Part three contains easy-to-prepare recipes utilizing the “Foods That Heal.” Each recipe makes use of the freshest and most natural ingredients – ingredients that are not processed or altered by chemical preservatives, food colorings, or additives.

Both those looking to improve their health and those interested in taking an active role in enhancing their overall wellbeing will find this book interesting, informative, and full of common-sense suggestions for attaining good health through proper nutrition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780895295637
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1988
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 356,171
Product dimensions: 5.99(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Dr. Bernard Jensen was one of America’s pioneering nutritionists and iridologists. Beginning his career in 1929 as a chiropractor, he soon turned to the art of nutrition for his own health problems. He observed firsthand the cultural practices of people in more than fifty-five countries, discovering important links between food and health. In 1955, Dr. Jensen established the Hidden Valley Ranch in Escondido, California as a retreat and learning center dedicated to the healing principles of nature where he saw firsthand the value of nutrition and iridology.

Over the years, Dr. Jensen received many honors and awards, including Knighthood in the Order of St. John of Malta; the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Award of the Pax Mundi Academy in Brussels, Belgium; and an award from Queen Juliana of the Netherlands for his nutritional work. In 1982, he also received the National Health Federation’s Pioneer Doctor of the Year award.

Read an Excerpt

What’s in This Book . . .

Can foods heal?

Does what we eat really affect the way we feel and function?

Inside, the writings of three teachers and healers—Hippocrates, V.G. Rocine, and Bernard Jensen—offer compelling evidence that what we put in our mouths has a profound effect on our health and well-being.

Based upon three lifetimes of observation, study, and research, the fascinating principles presented by these men in Part One may change the way you look at your next meal. In addition to these basic concepts, the first part of the book contains a host of helpful troubleshooting advice: health cocktails for common ailments, herbal teas, tonics, vitamin- and mineral-packed food combinations, and detailed data on the roles foods play in the optimum efficiency of specific bodily systems, functions, and overall health.

Part Two of Foods That Heal provides an easy-to-understand guide to fruits and vegetables. Each listing in this section presents a history of use, a buyer’s guide, therapeutic benefits, and nutrient information.

Both those looking to improve their health and those interested in taking an active role in enhancing their overall well-being will find this book interesting, informative, and full of common-sense suggestions for attaining—and maintaining—good health through proper nutrition.

Part Three contains easy-to-prepare recipes for soups, salads, appetizers, entrees, and desserts utilizing the “Foods That Heal”. Each recipe utilizes the freshest and most natural ingredients—ingredients that are not processed or altered by chemical preservatives, food colorings, or additives.


I am not the kind of physician who performs surgery, prescribes or administers drugs, or practices medicine the way most modern physicians are generally thought to do. Rather, for the past fifty-five years, I have been a different kind of physician. I have counseled patients, striving to guide and uplift them by building their health and teaching them that there is a right way and a wrong way to live.

This does not mean I have not taken care of sick people. Hundreds of thousands of patients have entered my sanitariums—many with serious chronic disease—some in wheelchairs, several on stretchers. I have had the privilege of seeing the great majority of them leave free of the symptoms and conditions that brought them into my care.

I have treated these patients using a combination of proper nutrition, exercise, positive thinking exercises, water treatment, and other natural methods. Though I believe in the scientific merit of certain therapeutic drugs, I do not advise their use nor do I use them myself. Though I believe surgery has its place in the treatment of certain life-threatening diseases and extreme conditions, I advocate the use of less invasive, more natural methods in most cases.

I do not regard the healing art lightly. On the contrary, taking care of people has been both my life’s ideal and its privilege. I sincerely feel that each person I treat is a living soul and a member of the family of man and, as such, is entitled to love and respect. As a physician, I feel a humanitarian responsibility to respond to suffering and its needs.

The story of how I developed my philosophy begins in 1926 when I was a young man of 18. It was then that I entered the West Coast Chiropractic College, supporting myself by working at a local dairy. Long hours of study, followed by long hours of work, combined with poor nutritional habits, posed a triple threat to my health. Shortly after my graduation from college I collapsed.

Physicians diagnosed my condition as bronchiectasis, an incurable lung disease, often fatal in those days before antibiotic treatment. I had inherited weak lungs from my mother, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 29. Lung weakness ran in my family, and now it had run into me.

It was about this time that I was introduced to a Seventh-Day Adventist physician who enlightened me on the differences between a poor food regimen and a healthy one. Sadly, his name escaped me over the years. I certainly owe him a debt of gratitude because of the path he set me upon. This doctor declared that a root of my problem was my nutritional deficiencies. I was, he said, starving myself with a “junk food” diet. In its place he prescribed a diet full of healthy foods. Combined with breathing exercises given by Thomas Gaines who once worked for the New York Police Department, my condition improved. I began to gain weight, put several inches of flesh back on my chest, and found renewed energy. I was back on the road to health.

Though I began my career in the health arts as a chiropractor, my remarkable experience with the regenerative abilities of proper nutrition and exercise spurred me to incorporate these healing methods in my growing practice. In addition, I continued my postgraduate education to keep abreast of new developments in natural health care. I worked alongside Dr. Ralph Benner of the Bircher-Benner Clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. I studied bowel management with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan; iridology with Dr. R. M. McClain of Oakland, California and Dr. F. W. Collins of Orange, New Jersey; homeopathy with Dr. Charles Gesser of Tampa, Florida; and water cure treatment at Bad Wörishofen, West Germany, home of nineteenth-century water therapy pioneer Fr. Sebastian Kneipp.

Now, at the age of 80, I often reflect on what it was in my life that allowed me to live this long—to come this far. For though I had cured bronchiectasis with nutrition and exercise, I continued the frantic pace of work and study that, combined with my bad habits, had made me so ill so long ago. Looking back, I have concluded that wellness is as much a satisfying relationship with life as it is a consequence of dietary and lifestyle changes.

I believe the secret of my good health is that I am always good to myself mentally. I am convinced my longevity is due to my mental philosophy, my joyous contentment with life. I have always loved people. I have always loved seeing people who came to me for help return home healed. And these people loved me in return. I uplifted them to the best of my ability, and it always came back to me.

Perhaps it was the warmth of this kind of gratitude that provided the incentive and energy for me to do so much more than I had to do. When the people you take care of want to take care of you, life becomes a blessing. I feel I had blessings that uplifted me constantly.

For this reason I have come to believe that loving your work is one of the great secrets of health and high-level well-being. On most of my twelve-to-fourteen-hour-long days at sanitariums, including my ranch in California, I have never felt overworked or “burned out” at the end of the day. And each morning I awake eager to get going again because I love my work.

I have received many honors and awards during my lifetime, but the greatest gift I have ever been given is the gratitude, love, and respect of the thousands of patients whose lives have been changed by what I have been able to share with them. It is through serving them that I have found the greatest portion of my own life’s happiness.


From the time of Hippocrates, it has been known that certain foods have disease-preventing and disease-healing benefits. Yet, for some reason this knowledge has remained one of history’s best-kept secrets—until its resurgence in very recent years.

Despite the growing body of documented medical evidence that diet both causes and cures disease, nutritional awareness remains far from a twentieth century world ideal. According to Stuart M. Berger, M.D., in What Your Doctor Didn’t Learn in Medical School, currently a mere 24 of this country’s 130 medical schools require future doctors to take courses in nutrition. By omitting the subject of nutrition, 80 percent of America’s medical schools are not only perpetuating a nutritional “knowledge vacuum,” they are sending out a negative message about the importance of nutrition in health, as well.

With our doctors ill-educated on nutrition, it’s no wonder the public continues to lag in its own nutritional awareness. For instance, a recent survey of 12,000 Americans by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) revealed a majority continues to practice poor eating habits, despite strong evidence that diet can reverse the course of some forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and learning disorders—to name a few. Asked by NCI what they had eaten in the last 24 hours, more than 40 percent of the respondents said they had not had even one piece of fruit, and about 20 percent said they had not eaten even one vegetable. Just as discouraging, some 55 percent of the NCI survey group said they had eaten red meat, and more than 40 percent had at least one serving of luncheon meat or bacon that day.

Results like these lead me to believe that the message of good nutrition is not getting out there. Because of this, it is my hope that this book becomes a nutritional guidebook for the common man’s journey toward disease-free living through proper nutrition.

Far from a “bandage” approach like medicine applied to a wound, proper nutrition changes the course of disease at its source: tissue structure. No therapy or drug known to modern medical science can rebuild tissue that has been damaged by disease or trauma. Food alone can accomplish this feat. It is for this reason that nutrition is an indispensable weapon against disease.

But the story of nutrition is not simply one of cure. It is also a story of life-enrichment and well-being. Sadly, many people are living at only 50 percent of their full health potential, not really sick, but not truly well either. These people need to understand that the same foods that heal by rebuilding damaged tissue will enhance wellness by increasing the efficiency and energy level of underactive endocrine glands, and all other organs, glands, and tissues—including the skin, the muscles, the nerves, the joints, the veins, and the arteries. The message is clear: You can feel wonderful—if you will simply eat healthful foods and avoid harmful foods.

For 55 of my 80 years, my life has centered on the application of foods to healing and wellness. In this book, I discuss all I’ve learned about nutrition, healing, and wellness so that you will have an opportunity to enjoy your own life and health as I am enjoying mine.

Chapter One of this book is dedicated to a discussion of the great physician Hippocrates’ influence on modern health care from a nutritional standpoint. Before Hippocrates’ lifetime during Greece’s Golden Age, health care was still a hodgepodge of superstitious rituals. Indeed, after his time, much of the medical knowledge he gave Western civilization sank back into obscurity for centuries. (Some claim the nutritional knowledge he pioneered remains there still.) Hippocrates was probably the first physician to employ observation, analysis, and practical procedures such as diet change to promote healing in his patients. In addition, this greatest of physicians was committed to ethics in the physician-patient relationship. I use many of Hippocrates’ practices and principles in my own work.

Though less well-known than Hippocrates, Dr. Victor G. Rocine was equally influential in my work. Rocine emigrated from Norway to the United States after studying the work of pioneer European food chemists—work that had not yet been introduced to this country. To Rocine, all illness and disease could be traced to either nutrient deficiencies or excesses in the human body. Rocine “rediscovered” the preventive approach to disease first advocated by Hippocrates more than 2,000 years before. For this reason, I have dedicated Chapter Two to the work of Rocine.

Much of Chapters One and Two comes from the original works of Hippocrates and Dr. Rocine.

The impact of these two great teachers on my own work is discussed in detail in Chapter Three, a discussion of my work in the health arts. A brief concluding chapter suggests how to get started making changes.

Following Part One’s narrative chapters, which deal with the basis of my work, I have included Part Two, entitled A Guide to Fruits and Vegetables. This section will provide you with a handy home reference guide to the actions and importance of scores of foods. I am sure you will find it a valuable tool to gain better understanding about the way foods can help us and heal us. Combined with the knowledge in Part One, it is my hope that this book as a whole will serve as a nutritional source book to guide you and your family towards better health.

Part One

Three Pathways to Health

“Let food be thy medicine.”

–Hippocrates circa 431 B.C.


Hippocrates and His Work

It is because Hippocrates laid the cornerstone for modern medical and nutritional science that I discuss his work here first. I have been fascinated with the teaching of Hippocrates for as long as I can remember. The reason is not only that he believed in foods and natural cure, but also that he was committed to serving his fellow man, and that he applied wisdom and integrity to his art. In other words, I like his philosophy as well as his methods.

Hippocrates believed in the power of positive thinking. “Some patients, though conscious that their condition is perilous, recover their health simply through their contentment with the goodness of the physician,” he wrote.

Over the years I have found, as Hippocrates taught, that my relationship with patients is just as important as the attention I give to their health. This is because when people trust you, they seem to get well more consistently. But the physician’s concern must be genuine, Hippocrates wisely observed. For the patient will only trust the physician fully when he or she feels the physician is giving his very best.

Hippocrates taught that the physician must be full of personal integrity. “Sometimes give your services for nothing,” Hippocrates advised his students. “Unless the doctor values doing what is right more than he values money, the ideal of service to humanity is corrupted and the high purpose of the health art is compromised.”

Called the Father of Medicine by historians, Hippocrates is believed to have been born on the Greek island of Cos around 460 B.C. One biographer suggests he was practicing medicine by 431 B.C., at the age of 29. Historians believe that Hippocrates continued practicing his art well into his eighties, to about 377 B.C., traveling to various parts of the Greek world.

The real greatness of Hippocrates was not only in turning the healing arts away from magic and superstition to a more scientific approach, but in recognizing that therapy must be consistent with nature and the design of the human body. He knew that effective health care could not be separated from nutrition as part of the therapy. Because he has been widely respected through the ages, some of his writings, such as the Aphorisms, were used in medical schools throughout the world until as recently as the 1800s. Curiously, however, Hippocrates’ writings on foods have been all but ignored by the American medical mainstream.


The main instruments of value available to Hippocrates were his own eyes and a thoughtful mind. No stethoscope or thermometer was around in his time. Yet his comments on disease and symptoms are still considered advanced wisdom in the health arts.

“Every disease has its own nature and arises from external causes,” Hippocrates wrote. He believed in the importance of methods of natural cure, such as diet. “Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease . . .  Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity . . .  Everything in excess is opposed to nature . . .  To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.” We are often surprised at how closely his philosophy parallels that of the modern wholistic health perspective.

“Unprovoked fatigue signals the presence of disease,” he observed. “Overeating causes sickness, as the cure shows,” he noted. One of his most well-known aphorisms is “Life is short, (the health) art is long, opportunity is elusive, experiment is dangerous, judgment is difficult. It is not enough for the physician to do what is necessary, but the patient and attendant must do their part as well, and circumstances must be favorable.”

Hippocrates stressed prevention of disease by strongly recommending not only a balanced diet but a moderate and sensible lifestyle, as well. His essay on “Regimen” is the first known work on the preservation of health by a proper way of life—in other words, it is the first work on the value of preventive medicine. In addition, there were other unusually accurate observations. Hippocrates described air as entering the lungs, then the blood vessels, pioneering the concept of oxygenation of the blood.

Conversely, on some things Hippocrates was a bit off the mark. In his time, the identification and classification of what we call disease was not very far along. As a result, some diseases were named, some were not. Hippocrates was mainly interested in acute diseases, although he also recognized chronic stages of disease. For the most part, however, he limits his disease descriptions to chest conditions and fevers.


We find that Hippocrates possessed considerable insight into human nature. This is evident in his argument for medicine. “Sheer necessity has caused men to seek and to find medicine because sick men did not and do not profit by the same regimen as do men in health,” he taught. There are some who refuse to follow standards of right living, so they lose their health, while others with weak constitutions and inherent weaknesses have to follow more intricate health guidelines than the average healthy person, simply to avoid disease, he indicated.


Hippocrates is perhaps most famous for his authorship of the Hippocratic Oath, adopted by the medical profession as a standard of ethical conduct. The most significant part of the oath, following its introduction, is:

I will follow that method of treatment, which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from what is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such counsel; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce an abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut a person who is suffering with a stone, but will leave this to be done by practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter I will go into them for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption, and further, from the seduction of females or males, bond or free. Whatever in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with my professional practice, I may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of my art, respected always by all men, but should I trespass and violate this oath, the reverse be my lot.


Following, in an easy-to-read format, are paraphrased and updated selected portions of the works of Hippocrates to illustrate his philosophy and viewpoints in the health arts. As you read through these sections, it may be helpful to view them in their historical context: the Golden Age of Greece, circa 431 B.C.


Some people easily deal with strong foods. To others, strong foods bring pain. The discovery that some foods cause harm while others are beneficial can be considered the art of medicine, since it emerged from a desire to promote the health, well-being, and nourishment of man. Those who study athletics and physical development are constantly making new discoveries concerning which foods or drinks are best to strengthen a person.

No one would have attempted to discover medicine if the same foods and lifestyle had been used both by the sick and the well. But the fact is, any careful observer will find a difference.

The first medical treatment was probably a reduction in the amount of food and drink allowed, without a change in diet. But, although this treatment was beneficial to some patients, it was not helpful in all cases, because some were in such poor condition that they could not take even small amounts of food. Such patients were thought to need weaker nutrients. “Soups” were formulated by diluting full-strength foods with water and boiling them together. Still others could only take clear liquid and no solid nutriment.

The amounts of food taken have as much of an effect on health as the number of meals one takes. Some persons get along best with one meal a day, others require two. Some, who take lunch when food at this time does not suit them, become heavy and sluggish in body and mind, yawning and becoming drowsy and thirsty. If a healthy man takes insufficient food, there is just as much harm done as if he takes excess. Nutritional deficiencies are the cause of many evils, different from the problems caused by chronic gluttony, but just as harmful to the body.


One common mistake in food customs is to eat too much too frequently, taking the next meal before the previous one has been assimilated. This overworks the digestive organs. Others space their meals too far apart, depleting their energy stores, and bringing about fatigue before taking the next meal. This, too, places a strain upon the body and the health.

Persons with susceptible constitutions are more likely to experience ill effects from the preceding dietary mistakes than others, weakening more quickly than most other persons. And a weak person is only a step away from being a sick person, although a sick person is weaker still.

If the cook prepares every food the same way, there is no pleasure in the food. Nor would there be pleasure if he mixed all the foods together and served them in one dish.

The physician should be able to properly judge the differing effects of various foods and drinks. Some are astringent or laxative, others diuretic. Many foods are binding, drying, or moistening.

Barley is naturally cold, moist, and drying but contains a purgative in the juice of the husks. When unwinnowed barley is boiled and used, it is purgative. If winnowed barley is used, it is more cooling and astringent. When parched, the moist and purgative quality is eliminated by heat, and the remainder is cool and dry. Barley meal used with the bran passes better by stool.

A decoction of boiled bran is light and passes well by stool. Meal boiled in milk passes better by stool because of the whey, especially if mixed with laxatives.

Turnips are heating, moistening, and disturbing to the body. Pennyroyal and marjoram warm, as does savory, while thyme is hot. Hyssop is warming and expels phlegmatic humors. Diuretics include the juices of celery, garlic, clover, fennel, leeks, and maiden-hair. Cooling foods include mint, endive, bar-parsley, hypericum, and nettles. Juices that stimulate the bowel or purging are the juices of the chick-peas, lentils, barley, beet, cabbage, or elder.

Most physicians, like laymen, are likely to consider anything unusual done by a patient on the day of outbreak of an illness to be the cause. Extreme care should be used when drawing such conclusions. If the patient has taken a bath or a walk or has eaten some strange food, one of these may be mistakenly considered as the cause. Ignorant of the real cause, the physician must guard against assigning some treatment that is completely inappropriate.


There are two kinds of diseases. Endemic diseases are always to be found, but epidemic diseases may come through the change in the seasons. Men with epilepsy are likely to live longer than others.

Women may become barren through the waters being hard, unassimilated, and cold. Their menstrual discharges become scanty and foul. Childbirth is difficult, although spontaneous abortion is seldom found. After birth of the child, the mother’s milk dries up and she often develops tuberculosis.


I believe it is worthwhile for a doctor to be able to predict the course of a disease. A doctor who can declare to his patient the present state, past symptoms, and what is yet to come in a disease will have the full trust of his patient for treatment.

Now, to restore every patient to health is impossible. Men do die—some because of the severity of the disease before the doctor is called, others dying before the doctor can apply his art. It is necessary, therefore, to learn the nature of the diseases, how they may exceed the strength of men’s bodies, and how to predict them. By doing so, you will win respect and high regard as a physician.

In acute diseases (those that are brief but severe), the doctor must examine his patients carefully. First, examine the face, then inquire whether the patient has been able to sleep, whether his bowel movements have been loose, and whether he still has an appetite. If any of these are present, the danger is less. In all cases, a healing crisis signifies the end of the disease.

Concerning chest conditions, good respiration must be considered to greatly improve the chance of recovery in acute diseases with fever in which a crisis is reached in forty days.

Heavy perspiration on critical days can completely get rid of fever in an acute condition. It is best when the whole body perspires. The worst sign is when perspiration breaks out only around the head and neck.

The patient ought to remain awake during the day and sleep only at night. It is bad if this order is not observed. The worst case is inability to sleep either day or night.

Bowel eliminations should be soft and uniform in texture, coming at the usual time of day as in health. The patient should eliminate from the bowel two or three times a day, depending on the amount of food taken, and once at night. The largest stool should be in the morning.

The best sign regarding the urine is when the sediment is white, smooth, and even throughout the illness to the time of crisis. This indicates a short sickness and a certain recovery.

Hardness and pain in the bladder are always bad, but they are worse when accompanied by constant fever. In such cases, stools will often be hard and constipation may be present.

Fevers come to a crisis on the same days, both those from which patients recover and those from which they die. The mildest fevers cease on the fourth day, or earlier. In all cases where fevers stop without sign of recovery or crisis, a relapse is indicated. When a disease shows signs of irregularity such as with a relapse, it is likely to be a long one.


Always try to get the best doctor available for the most dangerous diseases. Many laymen are prone to judge as excellence an incompetent doctor’s strange remedies.

There are many treatments available. Be cautious in your choice. For example, some doctors treating acute diseases prescribe unstrained barley gruel, while others consider that only the juice strained from the gruel may be taken, and still others withhold all food until the disease reaches a crisis.

Concerning nourishment, I think barley gruel is better than all other cereal foods in taking care of acute diseases. The finest barley should be used.

Concerning fasting, I am persuaded that doctors who fast their patients for two, three, or more days at the outset of a disease are doing the opposite of what they should. Perhaps they think it is natural to counteract one violent change in one’s body—the disease—with another violent change—starvation. I do not agree.

When a patient, contrary to his usual routine, fasts for a day, he should avoid heat, cold, and fatigue, and he should break the fast with a small amount of moist food and a proportionate drink to go with it.

A physician must seriously study what is beneficial in a patient’s diet and lifestyle while he is in good health. It is easily verified that a simple diet of food and drink, if persistently followed, is safer for health than a sudden violent change.

After fevers, those who get joint pains or tumors are taking too much food.

A proper regimen may include fermentations, baths, enemas, suppositories, and compresses. Some use is made of water and such drinks as hydromel (honey and water), oxymel (honey and vinegar), and wine, but the most common liquid used in acute diseases is barley gruel. Sometimes the pure strained juice is used, sometimes the solid barley is used, but nothing else is given until after the healing crisis.

The chief causes of diseases are violent changes in our usual life regimen and habits.

The physician should always consider the strength and character of each illness, the constitution of the patient and the customary regimen of the patient—his food and drink.

Many doctors lack experience in distinguishing the various causes of weakness that occur in diseases—due to starvation, inflammation, pain, or the acuteness of the disease. The knowledge of such things may mean the difference between life and death.

It is one of the most serious blunders when a patient is weak through pain or the acuteness of the disease, to give food and drink under the impression that the weakness is from lack of nourishment. It is equally a shame when the physician fails to recognize weakness due to lack of nourishment. The latter is dangerous, although not as dangerous as the former.

Either resting too long or too much exertion while under treatment for a disease is injurious to the patient.

After long fasting, it is necessary to break the fast with a modest amount of food. If more than a modest amount is taken, there may be harm to the bowels.

Sleeplessness interferes with digestion, while too much sleep predisposes the body to flabbiness and the mind to stupefaction.

The drink oxymel (honey and vinegar) is often effective in acute diseases. It eases the breathing and brings up phlegm.

Water given in acute conditions neither soothes a cough nor brings up phlegm, as well as other things, in cases of pneumonia.

The bath will be good for many patients, long baths in some cases, short baths taken at regular intervals in other cases.


In developing a healthy lifestyle and diet, consider age, season, habits, land, and physique. Walking should be fast during winter and slow during summer. Bathe more often in summer, less in winter. The slender person should bathe more often than the heavier person. Overweight persons should eat their meals after exercise while they are still panting, before they have cooled off. They should have only one meal a day, refrain from bathing, sleep on a hard bed, and dress lightly. Thin people who want to gain weight should do the opposite of these things.

In no case disturb a patient while he is going through a crisis or just after one. Don’t try to introduce purges or enemas, but leave the patient alone.

Nutrition can be harmful to a toxin-laden body.

When a patient has a strong appetite but his condition has not improved, that can be an indication of a turn for the worse.

People with healthy bodies lose strength when they take purges, as do those on a bad diet.

Excess and suddenness in bowel elimination, in taking foods, in warming or cooling the body, or in any other way disturbing it, is dangerous. “Little by little” is a good rule of thumb.

Left to themselves, patients lose hope during their painful suffering, give up the fight, and no longer resist death.


The physician must have at hand a sense of wit and humor, for a sour disposition is unwelcome among both the healthy and the sick. He must avoid gossip, fuss, or showiness, to avoid criticism.

A physician is justified if, in difficulty with a patient and in lack of experience, he urges the calling in of others to learn by consultation the truth about the case.

It is necessary to develop skill in palpation, anointing, washing, gracefulness in using the hands to place lint, compresses, bandages, ventilation, purges, and other things. Have ready beforehand the instruments, appliances, knives, and so on.

Make frequent visits. Be careful in your examinations, being prepared to deal with changes in the condition of the disease.

Keep a watch on the faults of patients who may try to avoid taking medicines repugnant to the taste, to their own harm.

Perform all tasks calmly and efficiently. Give orders calmly and cheerfully, reprove if necessary, and comfort the patient, if appropriate.

Physicians consulting with one another on a case must never quarrel or jeer at each other. I believe it is very important that a physician should never be jealous of another.


The dignity of a doctor requires that he should look healthy, or people will think he is unfit to care for patients. He must be clean, well-dressed, and anointed with a scent that is pleasing to patients.

A doctor must be a gentleman, grave in manner, and kind toward all. In appearance he should be serious but not harsh, neither should he be a man of uncontrolled gaiety, but avoiding vulgarity. Patients greatly trust their doctors, so toward women and maidens—and toward all—self-control must be used.


When we recall that Hippocrates lived at the beginning of an era preceded by a good deal of reliance on superstition and magic, it is a wonderful thing to see how the ancient physician was able to discover the healing and life-changing properties of foods. For his time, Hippocrates’ wisdom created a beacon of reason that shone over the centuries that followed.

Hippocrates is not so much known for his originality, as he is known for his wisdom in making sense of much of the basic knowledge of his time, and in putting it all together.

In my view, his knowledge of the healing crisis—that point in the disease where symptoms recur along the pathway to cure—makes him an advanced and perceptive doctor, not only for his own time but for ours as well.

Hippocrates was aware that many things contribute to disease—climate (weather, heat, coldness, dampness, dryness), unbalanced diet, nutritional deficiency, nutritional excess, and events and emotions that affect our lives and our bodies. He knew the importance of elimination and emphasized being aware of any differences from normal in the urine or stool.

Hippocrates believed that each patient was unique and that the patient, not the disease, had to be taken care of. He even warned against using the same treatment for the same symptoms in all cases. He used nutrition, fasting, juices, soups, and rest to bring patients with various conditions to a healing crisis.

I often say, “Nature heals, but sometimes it needs a helping hand.” I think Hippocrates would have been right at home with that saying. Hippocrates also believed in and loved his work—as I do mine—and that kind of dedication leads to the very best results with patients, I can tell you.

We need to take Hippocrates seriously when he says, “Food should be our medicine, and our medicine should be our food.” I certainly do.

“If we eat wrongly,

No doctor can cure us;

If we eat rightly,

No doctor is needed.”

Victor G. Rocine circa 1930


Rocine and His Work

In the 1930s in Oakland, California, I attended a lecture given by Dr. Victor G. Rocine, a Norwegian homeopath. The lecture deeply impressed me. Our first meeting there set the groundwork for a long-lasting professional relationship and personal friendship.

Dr. Rocine had studied the works of a variety of contemporary European biochemists who had begun to analyze and measure the amounts of the chemical elements in many of our common foods. This growing body of nutritional knowledge had hardly been noticed in the United States at the time. But Rocine had digested it thoroughly.

Rocine proposed that deficiency or excess of any of the primary chemical elements needed in human nutrition was at the root of most human diseases, maladies, and mental problems. In addition, he wrote and lectured extensively on his theory of chemical dominance, that is, the dominance of any particular chemical in a person’s makeup—such as calcium, silicon, or sulfur—creates in that person a particular and identifiable temperament type. Though interesting, this is an area of study too extensive for us to give more than a brief mention here.

Like Hippocrates, Rocine believed that food, together with exercise, rest, sunshine, and positive attitudes, is man’s best medicine. Rocine became my greatest teacher; he was certainly the man who taught me most of what I know about foods and nutrition. During a period of ten years I studied with him in Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois. Rocine once wrote to me in a letter that I was his best student and I felt deeply honored. Because of what I learned from Rocine, I made the decision to focus my sanitarium work on the principles of nutrition.

I was particularly impressed by Rocine’s teaching that particular foods have particular effects upon the body. This, in turn, helped me understand how particular foods could be of help in reversing the course of certain diseases. For example, it was obvious, Rocine taught, that in the case of overactivity or underactivity of the thyroid glands, iodine foods would be needed to restore chemical balance in the thyroid gland. Not as obvious, Rocine taught, in cases of joint troubles or digestive system troubles, sodium-rich foods would be needed. Underlining this observation, Rocine stressed an important distinction: much of the population understands sodium to mean table salt. However, this form of sodium is inorganic and useless to the body. The type of salt the body needs is bio-organic sodium salts, which are formed in plants by the internal processes of living cells. Sodium salts are crucial to replenish the sodium used in the joints, stomach, and bowel to neutralize acids and to aid in other metabolic functions. A detailed discussion of the importance of various chemical salts is provided in this chapter.

Hippocrates first proposed that food could be our medicine. With his knowledge of the chemical elements in foods, Rocine furthered food ideas far more broadly. From my training with Rocine, I was inspired to take what I had been given, refine it, and share it with a wider world.


The following selections from the works of V. G. Rocine have been chosen to illustrate the main themes of nutritional wisdom he taught and to show parallels with my own work in nutrition, which is based on many of Rocine’s teachings.


According to Rocine, foods may be classified by function—what they do for us. The following four categories provide an easy-to-understand explanation.

1.Vitality producers, or nerve and brain food.

2.Strength producers, or foods that feed the muscles, ligaments, and bones.

3.Heat producers, or fats and oils.

4.Carriers and eliminators, or juices used in stimulating formation of secretions, digestive juices, or vital fluids at large.

Foods that nourish the brain, nerves, and bone are the phospholipids, phosphate-rich fats and proteins, and sulfur-containing proteins. Foods that supply muscles with strength are the nitrogen-rich proteins. Foods that supply heat are the fats and lipids. Foods that supply energy are the carbohydrates.


The discussion of the function of chemical salts fascinated Rocine. Much of his work is focused on the effects of balancing salts in the body.

Common table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride (a form of chlorine) in equal proportions. It is inorganic sodium and chloride. For that reason, it is not as valuable as that sodium which we find in organic foods. The human being is organic, or organized. The sodium that we get from plants and vegetables is organized sodium; it is organic. On the other hand, sodium in ordinary table salt, or manufactured salt, is inorganic. When inorganic salt is taken into your system, it will overtax it. As a result, your body will have to work harder in order to throw off the inorganic chemicals introduced. When Rocine spoke about salts, he referred not to the commercial, inorganic variety but, rather, to the organic varieties found in food.

Rocine taught that we must be careful about preserving the chemical salts in foods we eat. This is because when we remove chemical salts from foods, we are likely to alter the other chemicals in those foods. When extracted from food, certain chemical salt may even become poison. For instance, potash (potassium salts, such as potassium carbonate) by itself is a poison, whether it comes from food or from the drug store. This is also the case with phosphorus.

One of the food laws taught by Rocine is that when we are sick we should eat foods that contain the salts made deficient in our bodies prior to or as a result of the sickness.

We should eat food the way God manufactures it for us, Rocine taught. For instance, we should obtain sodium from spinach, strawberries, and carrots. And, when we need an abundance of sodium, such as when a lack of it causes disease in our bodies, we should eat an abundance of those foods that are rich in sodium salts. And we should be careful to eat the proper serving whether well or ill: when we cook spinach and pour its juice into the sink, we are serving the spinach minus the salts. The salts needed were poured down the drain. Similarly, a great deal of sugar and cream on our strawberries may tempt our appetites, but God did not intend for us to eat this way. God did not make sugar. The sugar that people buy in boxes from the grocery store has been refined. God had nothing to do with it. Likewise, when He made wheat, God did not intend for us to eat it in the form of white flour and doughnuts. If God intended for us to eat doughnuts and coffee, He would have made doughnuts and coffee for us. They would have been provided for in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve would have had coffee and doughnuts—and just think of where that would leave us!


Alkaline foods are most valuable for the sick person. Conversely, every food that is acidic, or creates an acidic reaction in the body, is bad for the sick person. (You may wish to consult the Appendix Food Analysis Chart for a breakdown of alkaline and acid foods.) Every acidic food that generates gas in the alimentary tract is bad for the sick person. Coffee, for instance, may have a good taste, but it makes the stomach acidic. Likewise, tea generates acid and gas—and yet there are people who drink twelve cups a day. Then they wonder why they suffer from nervousness and gas in the stomach!

On the other hand, if you take sodium-containing foods or drinks in abundance when you are sick, your cells become purified. This is because sodium makes the cells alkaline and helps other cleansing elements do their jobs more efficiently. Think of sodium as a power-booster in your body.


There is a strong affinity between sodium, chlorine, and oxygen in nature. Foods rich in sodium are often rich in chlorine and oxygen, as well. Oxygen foods are often rich in chlorine, and also in sodium and potassium. Chlorine is the “laundryman” of the body. Sodium neutralizes acids, and chlorine helps to carry impurities off.

Together with sodium, chlorine is used to make commercially-sold soap products. Similarly, a type of “soap manufacturing” is going on in the healthy body. The “soap” manufactured by our bodies by the combining of sodium and chlorine is used to “scrub” fats out of the cells of the body.


The production of this type of “fat-scrubbing soap” in our bodies is a physiological process called saponification. The process is fueled by the proper quantity and mix of available organic nutrients, including organic salts. In other words, if you take these chemical nutrients out of the body, saponification stops. Without the process of saponification, your body is unable to break down and assimilate fats.

Though this may sound convenient to those who would like to lose weight, stalling saponification does not work to one’s advantage. Rather, it will accentuate your present body type. If you are lean, the more fatty food you eat without sufficient organic nutrients, the more lean you will become. Conversely, if you are fleshy, you will grow fleshier without the proper chemical balance. You will swell up with fluids and fatty substances, become food-drunk, and will not be able to get all those fermented substances out of your body without rededication to proper nutrition.


The more sodium the tissues take up, the more alkaline and stronger they become. Muscular people who eat sodium-rich foods are the strongest people we have. They are strong because they have a great deal of sodium in their tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. All the sodium foods they eat go into the tissues, so that the spleen, the digestive system, digestive juices, and the blood, are robbed of sodium. Thus, their internal organs may suffer from sodium starvation, although their tissues are full of sodium. Muscular women with sodium-rich diets are also powerful, in the majority of cases.

The synovial membrane secretes sodium. If there is a lack of sodium in the joints, the joints crack. Cracking joints show that there is too much calcium, and that there is a lack of sodium in the joints. There is probably a low supply of sodium in the person’s diet. Creaking or cracking in the joints is a calcium-excess symptom. Sodium deficiency encourages calcium to emerge from the blood and deposit in the joints.

You can digest albumin well if you have plenty of sodium and chlorine. When you eat the white of an egg and you put plenty of salt on it, you can digest it better. Albumin is usually toxic to sensitive nerves. Nervous people should never eat the white of an egg, nor other foods that are rich in albumin. Tired nerves cannot handle albumin. A man who is pulling heavy loads like a mule can eat albumin foods such as the white of an egg.

If you eat too much calcium in foods, and there is not enough sodium in the system, you are likely to suffer from rheumatism and stiffness.

If you bleed easily, there is not enough of fibrin in the blood circulation system. It means that you are not able to manufacture fibrin because there is a lack of certain chemical salts.

A person who suffers from albuminuria lacks chlorine and sodium. Breathing is difficult without sodium. There is sodium salt in the ear and even in the big toe. Because of the great quantity of calcium in the bones near the ear and big toe, those parts are often calcium deposit sites. Hence, gout begins in the big toe and sometimes in the ear. If you suffer from gout, fall back upon a correct diet. Drink distilled water in abundance, and fall back upon a low calcium diet. Gout is a disease that proves conclusively that there is not enough sodium to keep the calcium in the body in solution.

Lack of sodium results in catarrh, the mucus formed in irritated tissue. If you suffer from catarrh, you need foods that are rich in sodium, such as celery, spinach, and lettuce.

Sodium is important to digestive and eliminative functions. Saliva is rich in sodium. Saliva mixes with food each time we eat. It is important to chew food fully, mixing it with saliva before we swallow, to allow proper digestion. Lack of various types of sodium may cause constipation by limiting the amount of fluid incorporated in stools.


People between the ages of seven and twenty-one do not require very much sodium, for between those ages the body is usually alkaline. However, in 99 out of 100 adults, there is a lack of sodium, rather than an excess.

Both hot and cold climates use up sodium salts in the body, in both cases from perspiration. Being in love enables a person to take up more sodium salts. Under favorable emotions, sodium is more rapidly assimilated or utilized. But under unfavorable emotions of passions (such as fear or anger), sodium salts are eliminated in urine. This is just one more example of how a loving state of mind is favorable to health. Temper, excitement, jealousy, and ugly melancholy passions always have an unfavorable effect upon the chemistry of the body and upon health.

The sick person should have sodium salts or a high-sodium diet. When sodium runs low it signals malnutrition and this malnutrition may occasionally be associated with tuberculosis.

A sodium-deficient person feels well one day, and the next day is sick. He feels that something wrong is going to happen all the time. He is sleepy during the day, and at night his brain is active, very active after midnight. At night he plans and feels as though he can accomplish great things, but during the day he is always sleepy, always tired, always drowsy.

Sodium excess is usually excess of sodium in the tissues, not in the secretions. There is never an excess of sodium in the blood and secretions, but there may be an excess of sodium in the tissues or in the joints.

When sodium is lacking, the nerves are on fire, judgment is unreliable, concentration is poor, and there is a greater tendency to sunstroke or heat stroke.

Sodium is lowered by drinking water, which washes the sodium salts out of the system. People drink too much liquid for their own good. They drink coffee, tea, ice-cold water, chocolate milk, sodas—drinks that not only are not good for the stomach, but are not good for the health in general.

Sodium is lowered through temper and excitement, as well. The more high-tempered you are, the more sodium you burn. At some point, you will suffer from indigestion because of your temper. Again, for this reason, it is much better to cultivate affection than to cultivate temper. If you cultivate love, you will cure your indigestion, but if you cultivate temper, you will fill your system with toxins and impurities.


An expectant mother needs calcium, sodium, iron, and silicon in abundance because her growing unborn baby uses those salts and a great many others.

Morning sickness is an indication of a lack of sodium. Supply sodium in abundance to the pregnant woman, and morning sickness disappears. Chicken and turkey gizzards contain an abundance of sodium. The pregnant woman suffering from morning sickness can cure it by eating large portions of chicken and turkey gizzards.

Difficulty in menstruation (or its absence) may be associated with extreme deficiency of sodium and iron salts.


When there is a lack of sodium, the gastrointestinal system walls become impregnated with calcium salts. To get the calcium out of the walls of the stomach, arteries, and gastrointestinal system, it becomes necessary to eat sodium foods in abundance. The very best way to prevent fatty deposits from accumulating on the walls of arteries is to eat plenty of foods that are rich in sodium.

There are two types of sodium in your body—tissue-bound and free sodium. Tissue sodium is more or less “locked” in the structures; free sodium circulates in the blood and lymph, and is present in the spaces between cells.

Sodium, potash, chlorine, and fluorine are needed when germs are prolific to perform as an antiseptic.


Chlorine, another organic salt, is found almost everywhere in the body. It is found in the tissues to the extent of 1.75 pounds. Chlorine is needed by the nerves, bones, and tissues; by the sex glands, the sweat glands, and the liver. It is needed in the joints, above all. You can never build strong joints without a heavy chlorine diet, nor can you do it without sodium. You need both of these elements for the building of joints. However, it is chlorine principally that builds joints. Bones cannot be built without chlorine and iron.

If you want healthy children, it is more important to include an abundance of chlorine-containing foods in the diet than almost anything else. You will have healthier offspring if you have all of the salts needed in your body in normal quantities. When you cry, you use up chlorine. Tears are always salty; perspiration is salty.


If starvation of chlorine prevails in your system, you are likely to experience albuminuria—excess protein in the urine. If you find that you have this condition, go to a doctor who understands nutrition and who knows the value of chlorine foods. Inert and toxic settlements must be cleaned out of the tissues and new nutrients must be supplied. If there is a lack of sodium chloride and potassium chloride, the old settlements cannot be taken out of the body. New nutrients can’t be used to rebuild tissue because old material is in the way. This results in tissue congestion. Chlorine is, so to speak, the “laundryman” of the body, as was mentioned previously. It helps remove dead material from the tissues.

If there is an insufficiency of sodium chloride in the system or in the blood, the red corpuscles cannot maintain their shape, nor can they move as fast. If they lack iron, they cannot carry as much oxygen as is necessary. That is the reason that God put important food salts into the body, so that the body may be supplied with oxygen and with all of the powers so essential for self-repair and self-efficiency in all structures and functions. This is also the reason why we should study nutritionally-important chemical elements, both as we find them in the body, and as we find them in food. We should study God’s laws of life, and introduce them into our everyday actions, thoughts, and studies.


It does not matter so much how much water there is in a certain food, or how much protein, fat, or carbohydrate. Rather, it is exceedingly important to know how much of the various organo-metallic salts you are receiving in your everyday diet.

When the food chemist in his laboratory has burned up a certain food, the ash is left. It is this ash that is very important to study, Rocine noted. This is because the ash contains all of the chemical salts found in the original food. If you wish to cure a sick man, it is the minerals found in the ash that cure. (In speaking of mineral salts, it should be remembered that they appear in the ash as oxides, as sodium oxide, for example.) We should know in which foods we can find those salts. We should know what those salts in foods are good for, so we can supply them when they are needed, especially to those with ailments and diseases.

When we study the chemical composition of carrots, for example, we find that a nutritionist might describe the carrot as having 8 percent silicon. Usually he means the ash of the carrot contains 8 percent silicon. To find out the amount of silicon in milligrams, we’d have to make a further calculation.

Suppose we find that goat’s milk reduces to 1.74 percent ash, and 31 percent of the ash is chlorine. Since 1.74 percent is the same as 1.74 grams (g.) ash per hundred g. of goat’s milk, and 31 percent of that is chlorine, the .31 multiplied by 1.74 is .54 g.. To convert grams to milligrams, we multiply .54 by 1,000 to get 540 milligrams, or mg. That gives us 540 mg. of chlorine per 100 grams of goat’s milk.

Vitamins are found in abundance in fresh goat’s milk, but in boiled goat’s milk many of them are destroyed. Most seeds are rich in vitamins. In fact, any living, growing thing—whether it is a carrot or spinach leaf or chicken—contains vitamins.

No food contains as much of the chemical salts as whey cheese made from goat’s milk whey. The second best source is fresh, warm goat’s milk. If you can’t get fresh goat’s milk, you will have to use evaporated goat’s milk to get the salts you need. Evaporated goat’s milk contains the salts needed by the blood and the heart, as does regular goat cheese. Goat’s milk is better for infants than canned milk because it is nearer to human milk in chemical balance.


Potassium is used by soap manufacturers. The human body is also a soap factory. The function that physiologists call saponification, which we mentioned earlier, means soap-making. It is a physiological process in the human organism. When there is a lack of potassium salts in the body, fats are not converted into the proper compounds. Improperly processed fats may result in a certain form of rheumatism.

The organic food elements are not well taken care of when there is a lack of potassium in the body to neutralize acids. The organic food elements are converted into acids so that the entire body becomes acid. Because of those body acids, some foods will be converted into gases, leading to ailments and diseases. If you do not have enough potassium salts in the body, you had better leave fat alone. Sodium and potassium salts are absolutely imperative in order to take care of fat. Potassium salts are also needed for sugar metabolism.


There is one brain center that is essential in order to take care of fatty products. That is the sex brain. If this brain area has become weakened it is almost impossible for fats and oils to be utilized by the system. Then the spinal marrow, the marrow in the bones, the brain, the lung substance, the joints, and a great many other parts, as well as the secretions of the body, will suffer.

A certain substance called neurolin is needed in the brain and nerves. When the sex brain is weak, neurolin cannot be assimilated nor utilized by the nerves nor by the brain. When the brain is not supplied with this important fat substance, memorization is about impossible, or at least difficult.

A person will experience a peculiar sensation when sodium and potassium are lacking in the system, and when the faculty of affection is weak. When neurolin is lacking, the membranes of the brain cannot function efficiently.

The arachnoid membrane of the spinal cord and of the brain normally secretes a fatty substance needed by the brain, spinal fluid, and male generative fluid. If there is a lack of potassium in the system, this important substance is not secreted.


Deficiency of the potassium element in the body produces certain positive symptoms, and perhaps also disease. How do we know this? If you are a scientific person and want to find out for yourself, cut out from your general diet all foods that are rich in potassium and watch the results in from two to six months. You will then know not only the characteristics, but also the symptoms and ailments peculiar to potassium deficiency.

There is a state of low tissue oxidation, as a general symptom, when potassium is lacking. This means that the tissues cannot function perfectly. Water builds up in the tissues. This accumulation of water indicates the start of kidney problems, and finally the kidneys cannot perform their function. A usual symptom is swollen ankles, which is a sure indication of low tissue oxidation. When potassium is in low supply, the cerebellum cannot function as efficiently. Hence, the individual feels like falling. Mental work and physical movements become difficult.


Excerpted from "Foods That Heal"
by .
Copyright © 1988 Bernard Jensen.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Foods That Heal 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
justmeRosalie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent reference lists foods in alphabetical order and explains why they are important, Also lists their unique values. Well presented and easy to use.
Guest More than 1 year ago
my mom was following dr jensens books and his care since 1950's she had blood clots in her leg and followed his juice diet and it went away. we were doing health foods before it was popular. i am 55 now and still follow his books. my mom is alive and no meds at 93