Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Hazards of a Health Fetish Part 1

Years of dedicated study explain the reasons why feeding raw food is not only necessary but advantageous; in honor of Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD. Dr. Pottenger was an original thinker and keen observer whose imagination, integrity and common sense gave him the courage to question official dogma. Dedicated to the cause of preventing chronic illness, he made significant contributions to the understanding of the role of nutrition in maintaining good health.
In his classical experiments in cat feeding, more than 900 cats were studied over 10 years. Dr. Pottenger found that only diets containing raw milk and raw meat produced optimal health: good bone structure and density, wide palates with plenty of space for teeth, shiny fur, no parasites or disease, reproductive ease and gentleness.
Cooking the meat or substituting heat processed milk for raw resulted in heterogeneous reproduction and physical degeneration, increasing with each generation. Vermin and parasites abounded. Skin diseases and allergies increased from 5% to over 90%. Bones became soft and pliable. Cats suffered from adverse personality changes, hypothyroidism and most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine. They died out completely by the fourth generation. The changes Pottenger observed in cats on the deficient diets paralleled the human degeneration that Dr. Price found in tribes that had abandoned traditional diets.

Ron Schmid, ND, writes in “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish"”:
“The impact of quoted work is often influenced by the reputation of the person quoted. But what makes a reputation, in particular that of a person who died many years ago? Certainly in part the accuracy and importance of the written work left behind. But when a person's life and work are ignored by most of society, much less maligned by prestigious segments, reputation suffers. What yardstick may we use then to evaluate the import of the life? We may be left with only our judgment of the work itself. If the work is complex and perhaps not readily available, as is Dr. Pottenger's, making that judgment may be difficult.
Thomas Hotchkiss knew Francis M. Pottenger from the time Thomas was eleven years old in 1912. His "Personal Memoir" of Francis, written after his death in 1967, provided me with the following details about Francis's life.

Genius & Service
Two years before his death, Pottenger received the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Otterbein College in Ohio. In presenting the citation, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees praised Pottenger's distinguished career in medicine and public service.
Service indeed. By the time he received that award, Francis M. Pottenger, MD, had published over fifty peer-reviewed articles in the scientific literature, mainly in the fields of medicine, chronic disease and nutrition. He had served as president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, the American Therapeutic Society and the American Academy of Applied Nutrition. "Francis was among the first in his profession to recognize the hazard to health caused by air pollution in Los Angeles County. He worked indefatigably over a period of many years to mitigate its deleterious effects upon human health. His efforts were widely recognized and as a result he became a member of the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District's Scientific Committee on Air Pollution."
Pottenger received a rather unusual accolade for a medical doctor. In 1951, the Texas State Dental Association honored him with an award for the Advancement of the Science of Dentistry in Texas. He had written a number of brilliant articles on the effect of raw versus cooked foods, including pasteurized milk, on the dental and facial structures of animals and human beings. The articles had a powerful and lasting impact on the many American physicians and dentists who were actively interested in the effect of nutrition on human health and disease.
In 1940, Francis founded the Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., Hospital at Monrovia, California, for the treatment of asthma and other nontubercular diseases of the respiratory system. And beginning in 1945, he was Assistant Clinical Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Pottenger also served as Medical Service Chief for the Civil Defense Area surrounding his home during World War II. Japanese invasion of the West Coast of America was considered a real threat in the dark days just after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The project to set up the first portable hospital in Los Angeles County under simulated disaster conditions was directed by Pottenger.
In 1940 he began what became known as the Pottenger Cat Study, the work that brought him fame. There's no money these days in making famous a man who proves the value of raw foods; in the last forty years or so, Pottenger's fame in the conventional medical and nutritional establishment has faded as surely
as the stocks of processed food companies have risen. Yet he remains an icon to those who understand his work and its importance, particularly in relationship to the work of Weston Price. Let's look now at what Francis had to say in one of his many professional papers, and an example of how his work has not only been misunderstood and ignored, but indeed sometimes deliberately misrepresented.

A fetish
is defined as 1) a thing abnormally stimulating or attracting sexual desire and 2) an inanimate object worshipped by primitive peoples for its supposed inherent magical powers or as being inhabited by a spirit. b. a thing evoking irrational devotion or respect.
For many years, advocates for raw milk have pointed to Pottenger's work as perhaps the most important research that proves raw milk's benefits. Those who would outlaw the sale of all raw milk have meanwhile disparaged and distorted his work. An example of the latter is found in an article titled "Unpasteurized Milk The Hazards of a Health Fetish" that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association on October 19, 1984.
The authors refer to a 1946 Pottenger article from the American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, "The Effect of Heat-Processed and Metabolized Vitamin D Milk on the Dentofacial Structures of Experimental Animals."
The authors of the "Health Fetish" article state: "Numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk have been conducted in animals and humans, and no differences were detectable. One animal study deserves particular attention because a misrepresentation of the results has become prominent in the raw milk folklore. In 1946, Pottenger published a report about his observations on cats fed varying combinations of raw and heat-treated milk and raw and cooked meat. In his first and largest series of experiments, Pottenger observed many diseases in cats fed raw milk and cooked meat. Raw milk advocates have erroneously cited this article as having reported that disease occurred in cats fed pasteurized milk. Smaller experiments in the same article showed that a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds milk (pasteurized or not) did not provide adequate nutrition for the cats."
Based on this quote, one might reasonably think that perhaps the diseases Pottenger observed in the first series of experiments were caused by raw milk, and that the smaller experiments showed that raw milk was not superior nutritionally to pasteurized milk. Publication in so prestigious a journal by two medical doctors and two veterinarians lends further weight to the pronouncements.”
Stay tuned for the conclusion in part 2 when we take a closer look at Pottenger’s Cat Studies, discuss some word games and talk about misleading truths. Animal Food Services AFS inspired me to this article.

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