Why Nutrition Matters To Me

John W. Cartmell, MS


From an early age, I learned to appreciate good nutrition.  My grandparents raised much of their own fruits and vegetables and every summer we enjoyed fresh cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currents, pears, apples, corn, carrots, peas, beans, parsnips, Swiss chard, cabbage and lettuce. 

When any of us kids had the stomach flu, my mother gave us ginger ale, Jell-O, and black tea.  It was years later that I learned the logic of this mode of treatment; ginger and black tea counteract nausea, Jell-O melts and passes through the stomach quickly providing sugar and some protein.

I really became interested in nutrition during my undergraduate studies at the University of Washington in the early 1970s when the health food industry was still in its infancy, Dr. Linus Pauling had recently published his theory on Vit. C and The Common Cold, and Dr. Abram Hoffer had published his work Nicotinic acid and/or nicotinamide for treating schizophrenia: A compilation of Saskatchewan research information.

In 1972, there was an epidemic of the London Flu in Seattle.  Students who caught it were typically out of school for two weeks, returned to classes for two days, had a relapse of the flu and were out of class for another two weeks.  When I contracted the London Flu, I was so sick I had to crawl on my hands and knees to go to the bathroom.  Following the suggestions of Linus Pauling I took several grams of vitamin C a day, and also took four high-potency multivitamins each day.  I recovered from the flu in five days, continued taking two multivitamins a day for another five days and was able to continue classes without relapse.  I noticed that instead of my urine turning bright yellow as normal when I took a single multivitamin, my urine had virtually no color at all when taking four multiples a day during the flu.  When a classmate friend contracted the flu a week later, I suggested he try the same course of vitamin C and four multivitamins a day.  He recovered similarly without relapse.  He too reported no color in his urine until after the flu broke.  I have been an advocate of clinical nutrition ever since.  I eventually devised a protocol for viral infections based on this observation that effectively decreases the severity and duration of viral infections.

Since those early years, my knowledge of nutrition has helped me survive three major breaks in health.  In 1984, during a routine physical, I was diagnosed with CML, a type of leukemia which progresses very slowly for approximately three years, then accelerates and kills the patient in a matter of weeks.  I was able to stabilize my condition for four years using alternative nutritional protocols including coffee enemas, juicing, and the lipid therapies of Dr. Emanuel Revici, but eventually I ran out of time and the only option left was to undergo a bone marrow transplant in 1988.  During the transplant, I strictly avoided taking any nutritional supplements, especially antioxidants, which would protect the diseased bone marrow from being killed off by the toxic effects of radiation therapy.  I did however keep my intestinal tract functional by regularly eating yogurt (partially digested milk) so that I only needed to be on Intravenous feeding (total parenteral nutrition) for 3 days rather than the usual week to 10 days.  Out of 32 transplant patients, only two of us survived more than a few weeks.  I am now the only survivor of that group and have had no further problems with cancer.  In 1997, I published the paper, Cancer: A Patient's Perspective.

In the mid 1990s, I developed chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, a soft tissue pain syndrome that causes pain in all four quadrants of the body with at least 11 or 18 common tender points.  Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, when I corrected for long term digestive problems, the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia cleared up.  Having recovered my health, I applied to graduate school to pursue a master's degree in nutrition.  In 2000, I published the paper, Nutritional Considerations in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I recently completed a book, "Why Nutrition Matters in the prevention, treatment and cure of fibromyalgia", which is expected to be published and available to the public sometime in 2008.

In 2003 I ruptured my bowel while helping lift a heavy outboard motor and had to undergo emergency surgery for peritonitis.  During recovery I discovered two foods that caused intestinal distress.  Eliminating these foods not only helped speed my recovery from surgery, but also significantly improved long term problems of knee arthritis and elevated blood pressure.

Problems with digestion can make it more difficult to meet normal nutritional needs, particularly after middle age.  In recent years, I have found that resolving problems of maldigestion has helped me maintain proper body weight, normalized my blood pressure and stabilized problems of arthritis, enabling me to avoid taking conventional medications to address these common middle age symptoms.

It's easy to take one's health for granted until a major break in health occurs.  I've lost my health in three major medical crises and regained it largely through addressing issues of nutrition.  This is why nutrition matters to me and why I never take my health or that of others for granted.


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