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Pernicious Anemia & Vitamin B-12


By Dr.Herbert M.Shelton

It has long been known that fasting results in a rapid blood regeneration in anemia.

Two and three weeks of fasting are often enough to double the blood count, even in far advanced cases of progressive pernicious anemia. For instance, a case of this kind with the blood count of 1,500,000 will often show a count of 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 in two to three weeks of fasting. Restore the nutritive powers of the body and it will be able to derive all the needed minerals, vitamins, proteins etc. from a well balanced diet of natural foods. Without the removal of impairing causes and the restoration of normal nerve energy, no diet will give satisfactory results. Nothing is to be gained by stuffing more food into an organism that is unable to utilise what it is already taking. Nor do we gain anything by overfeeding one or two elements. The whole body, and not just one or two parts, must be fed, so that the total diet must meet the ensemble of the body’s nutritive needs. The amount of any particular food element that is taken can be utilised in proportion to the amount of correlated elements present, so that any excess of one element over the others will prove of no value.

Dr.William Howard Hay recorded 101 cases of pernicious anemia and only eight of them failed to recover, and these were dying when they arrived for his care. It is not news to Hygienists that these cases get well; most abnormalities of the blood are corrected through fasting. We know that patients who have been on vitamin B12 injections for years without much benefit can take a fast and get well. This would seem to indicate that they still had the power to secrete the so called intrinsic factor. It would also indicate that, perhaps, they were suffering with a simple gastritis, and that after fasting the inflammatory condition healed, leaving them better able to secrete the necessary enzymes for good digestion. We do know the anemic get well while fasting and stay well if they continue to live properly. Why they get well could be due to a number of factors. The picture improves while fasting, though no extraneous vitamin B-12 is available.

Highly important, I believe, is the elimination of the toxic factor while fasting. This removes a great inhibiting influence from the blood forming tissues. After the fast, these subjects are fed properly combined foods of vegetable origin. Properly combining their foods enables them to digest and absorb all elements in the diet. If their gastric mucosa is damaged or atrophied, as in long standing cases, feeding food in compatible combination will not place a burden on the impaired organ and better nutrition is maintained despite the handicap.

Hygienically, it is thought that toxemia plays an important role in the production of pernicious anemia. Toxemia itself causes lowered functioning power, not only of the secreting glands of the stomach, but of every organ in the body, including the blood-forming organs. Lowered functioning power of the gastro intestinal system hinders digestion causing much fermentation and putrefaction. This in turn interferes with absorption of nutriments necessary for the production of blood and also causes the absorption of toxic products of indigestion, producing more toxemia which in turn causes more lowered functioning power and consequently less digesting and blood forming power.

Under Hygienic care, Weger says, "The only cases of pernicious anemia that fail to respond favourably to Hygienic methods are those in which the heart muscle has degenerated and in which a general dropsical condition has existed for a long time, accompanied (as is often the case) by cerebral manifestations or mania and profound hemolytic jaundice. These advanced symptoms indicate that the organism has passed beyond the power of recuperation because of nutritional devitalisation."

Dr.Hay in his ‘Health via Diet’ tells of his 101 cases of anemia where only eight failed to recover. Dr.Hay says of these: "The blood during a fast undergoes no visible changes as to cell count unless markedly abnormal when the fast is begun in which case there is a return to normal. For most of two weeks (in progressive pernicious anemia) the red erythrocyte count continues to fall before there is a regeneration in the blood making organs; then the microscopic picture begins to show round erythrocytes with regular edges, no crenelations or irregularities, and soon there is noticeable increase in the number of these with gradual disappearance of the adventitious cells present in the beginning. Not unusually there is a gain during the succeeding two weeks that brings the total back to normal five million erythrocytes count, even though this may have been at or below one million in the beginning".

At the Tilden Health School, 75% of the cases of pernicious anemia recovered and of the deaths he says "The deaths which represent the 25%, occurred within a few days of the admission to the institution. These cases were so far gone that nothing could be done, and no treatment was attempted, as they were dying when admitted".

Speaking of pernicious anemia Tilden says: "A fast of two weeks without anything at all except water, will improve anemia condition by increasing the blood corpuscles sometimes by five hundred thousand in that length of time".

There is poisoning from the digestive tract in all of these cases and it seems most likely that this befoulment of the blood with sepsis from this source is the cause of the failure of the blood making organs. A similar septic befoulment seems to exist in cancer, causing anemia in this condition. It should be emphasised strongly that no person suffering with anemia should undertake a fast except under competent supervision.

The body has wisdom in its very cells, and can heal itself, if we will give it the chance to heal. The fast is one way of cleansing the physical self, of giving rest to the body’s organs, often overtaxed by our own wrong living and wrong eating and over-activity.

Fast itself is not cited as a cure for anything. It is only a way of rest whereby the body – this complex and tremendous organism – will have a chance to perform its self-restoration to health and well-being, without strain or interruption, in quiet and peace and healing calm.

The improvement seen in the blood in anemia and in bones in rickets while fasting and the effect of sunshine in preventing the development of rickets in spite of a faulty diet, show unmistakably that in a great majority of cases of deficiency, factors other than dietary inadequacies are involved. In many cases these extra dietary factors are the sole cause, the diet being adequate.

In anemia it is not sufficient to supply iron to the body; it is essential that the patient shall be able to appropriate and use the iron supplied. His digestive and assimilative functions being much impaired, it is not possible that he can appropriate the iron supplied until these are restored to functioning efficiency. The failure of digestion and assimilation from whatever cause is the most common cause of deficiencies. This is true of both mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

If a few people out of a community of well-fed, healthy looking people, living on very much the same foods from the same sources, show evidences of deficiency, while rest of the people of the community enjoy ordinary health, there must be something else than diet in the lives of the few who show deficiency to account for the deficiency.

After rest and a correct mode of life have restored normal nerve energy, and fasting has occasioned a removal of toxins from the fluids and tissues of the body and as a consequence, functional efficiency and structural integrity have been restored in all the organs and parts of the body, a programme of correct eating, exercise, sunbathing, emotional poise and daily rest and sleep will build a state of positive health that will be the envy of the sick people that surround us on every hand.


By John T. Richter (Nature the Healer)

Meat eating in  itself is one of the chief causes of anemia. The only remedies that will cure you of pernicious anemia are the ones that get the poisons and dead matter out of your body. When the body is clean, you are not only well, but are immune from any disease.

By John Wynne –Tyson (Food for a Future)

The matter has not been simplified by the realisation that B-12 deficiency is even more prevalent among meat-eaters than among vegans. [Note: Vegans do not use any animal products, not even milk or milk products.]

It is interesting and possibly very relevant that lifelong vegans seldom suffer B-12 deficiency. Where deficiency has been established, it has been mostly in people who have switched, perhaps too abruptly, from a diet based on animal products.

From Mind and Body
The New Family Health encyclopaedia
(A Medical Dictionary)

Undeniably it is more natural to be a vegetarian, in that for the majority of people during most of man’s history, meat has been a rare item of the diet and vegetarianism as an economic necessity…. Even medical authorities often insist that vegetarianism is unhealthy and veganism certain to result in dietary deficiencies. The evidence does not support these assertions. Careful studies have shown that the most likely deficiencies to occur- vitamin B-12 and iron-are not found even in strict vegans.

From the leading article in the Lancet

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a commoner cause of mental illness among omnivores than is generally believed, and screening of all psychiatric patients for pernicious anemia associated with deficiency has been advocated.

By   V. Kulvinskas
Former director of research
Hippocrates Health Institute, Boston

It seems that vitamin B-12 needs of human and animal is adequately supplied by the intestinal tract bacteria. The best source of vitamin B-12 is the intestinal tract bacteria. They will be the major source of this nutrient as long as one follows good eating habits which discourage the growth of the putrefactive intestinal bacteria.

By Benerjee D.K. (British Journal of Nutrition 17:385,1963)
Vitamin B-12 content of some articles
of Indian diet and effect of cooking on it

Many nutritionists base their criticisms of vegetarianism on the dietary absence of the anti-pernicious vitamin B-12. They overlook the fact that this vitamin is heat sensitive and over 85% of its effectiveness can be lost under normal cooking conditions.

By V.E.Irons (There is a Difference)

Orthodox nutrition depends on chemical analysis to determine food values but it is fundamental that live organic natural foods must be killed (and thus rendered dead and inert) to be chemically analyzed. Hence, they may show up as chemically identical to a synthetic food or vitamin, but the chromatogram shows the difference. It is wrong to think that dead refined foods, dead synthetic vitamins and inert materials are as beneficial as live natural foods with their live vitamins and organic minerals, all organized by the sun, air, rain, water, minerals, and the soil’s living bacteria. There is a vast difference and the chromatograms show it.

By Harvey Lisle (Chemist in foods)

Nature does not produce a food product with just vitamin A or Vitamin D or any other individual vitamin in it. Rather, nature produces a balance of vitamins in each of her many food products. Vitamins may be likened to an orchestra which is composed of many musical instruments all working in concert. To take an individual vitamin such as vitamin-C violates the law of nature. There has been more research work done on vitamins than any other component of food and yet the basic facts of vitamins are almost lost by both the researchers and laymen. It is impossible to analyze or separate out vitamins.

By Dr.Virginia Vetrano
American Natural Hygiene Society

Berg states that vitamin B complex is present in a large number of foodstuffs and Best and Taylor state that vitamin B-12 is found in every food which has vitamin B complex in it. So vegetables have vitamin B-12 in them even if in small amounts. Vitamin B-12 is necessary in minuscule amounts. This, regardless of what the "authorities" say, we can get in our vegetable foods. We can store enough vitamin B-12 in the liver to last approximately two years or more. Some people who have had a total gastrectomy for one reason or another do not develop pernicious anemia until seven or eight years after the operation. The question is: can we get it from vegetables? I say yes. We need it in infinitesimal amounts and if one is eating a diet predominating in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and nuts in the uncooked state, he will get sufficient vitamin B-12 to maintain him in good health for a lifetime.

By M.M.Wintrobe and G.R.Lee
Harrison’s principles of Internal Medicine

Probably because of its less efficient storage, foliate deficiency is relatively common among the malnourished. In contrast, even in the strictest vegetarians (vegans), vitamin B-12 deficiency of a degree sufficient to produce megaloblastic anemia is very rare. Other factors being equal, folic acid deficiency is likely to develop more readily than lack of vitamin B-12 because storage of folic acid is less efficient than that of vitamin B-12.

The total vitamin B-12 content in the normal adult is about 5000 micro grams (range 2000 to 10,000 micro grams), of which 1700 micro grams is stored in the liver. Since bio-chemical evidence of deficiency is not seen until the total body content drops to less than 500 micro grams, the surplus of 4500 micro grams constitutes a large storage pool. The average daily requirement for vitamin B-12 in the normal adult is approximately 2.5 micrograms, but the requirement no doubt is increased during periods of rapid growth and in pregnancy.

Vitamin B-12, a reddish compound possessing a cobalt containing tetrapyrrolic ring, is synthesized by certain microorganisms. Efficient absorption of dietary vitamin B-12 (extrinsic factor) requires its interaction with a thermolabile glycoprotein with a molecular weight of about 70 000 (intrinsic factor), secreted in the gastric fundus. This substance has an unusually strong binding affinity for vitamin B-12. By attaching to specific receptors on the intestinal wall, intrinsic factor facilitates absorption of vitamin B-12 by the ileum. In the presence of intrinsic factor, about 70 per cent of ingested vitamin B-12 is absorbed; less than 2 per cent is absorbed in its absence.

Both vitamin B-12 and folic acid are essential to DNA synthesis. A deficiency of one or both vitamins is the underlying abnormality in the overwhelming majority of patients with megaloblastic anemia. Supplementary therapy with various vitamins is unnecessary. These can be and should be furnished in the diet in the form of food.

By Dr. Jack Goldstein (USA)
(Triumph over Disease – by fasting and natural diet).

There seems to be much concern about pernicious anemia in people who don’t eat animal products, particularly vegetarians. The fact is that anyone can suffer a nutritional imbalance through ignorance, neglect or as a result of the fast pace of living. Doctors’ offices are full of people with pernicious anemia, almost all of whom eat meat and other animal products.

The present day diet of Americans is largely denatured. It is made up of white bread, white rice, demineralised cereal grains, pasteurised milk, white sugar, canned fruits and canned vegetables, cakes, pies, and thoroughly cooked foods, all eaten in abominable combinations. There is also the unlimited use of ther harmful "foods" such as salt, condiments, coffee, tea, deep-fried foods, alcoholic beverages, pastas, spaghetti, macaroni etc, food substitutes (i.e. egg substitutes, non-dairy creamers, etc.), and an endless list of items which denote "gracious living". I have always said that man will eat almost anything, even if it makes him sick or kills him. I venture to say that someone would eat it. The motto seems to be, "If it tastes good- eat it."

People have forgotten the taste of plain, wholesome, natural food. In Natural Hygiene, a vegetarian diet is followed. The diet consists mainly of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and sprouts which are eaten, for the most part, unfired – raw. These foods supply the richest source of minerals, vitamins, and enzymes when eaten raw. Heat (cooking) destroys the enzymes, certain vitamins, and in general the life in the food. Many people maintain that they can’t handle raw foods. I couldn’t either, but after a fast to let the digestive apparatus heal itself, I am living on foods my doctors said I could never eat again. So it is with others, which indicates that a fast may be necessary.

[Note: Dr. Jack Goldstein was treated medically for six years for a debilitating disease – ulcerative colitis – which under standard medical care by qualified and respected physicians progressed to a point close to death. His only hope, he was told, lay in agreeing to submit to one of the most radical and drastic operations known to medical science – a total colectomy, or a complete removal of the large intestine and rectum. For the rest of his life he would be forced to wear a bag attached to his abdomen for the collection and elimination of waste. At this point, tortured by the thought of becoming a physiologic cripple and even contemplating suicide, he was led to a natural way of life which incorporated fasting and a vegetarian diet that actually allowed his body to heal itself. He undertook a six-week fast in a controlled environment and under the supervision of a doctor – which literally saved his life.]



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This article was published on Wednesday 27 September, 2006.
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