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Catherine Kousmine (September 17, 1904 in Hvalynsky, Russia - August 24, 1992 in Lutry, Switzerland) was a scientist who devoted her entire life to showing that good health depends on a healthy diet. She was an outstanding physician of Russian origin and is a pioneer in nutritionally based medicine. Kousmine focused her research on the following diseases: Cancer, Multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and other auto-immune diseases.
Born in 1904 into a well-to-do family in Russia, Catherine Kousmine and her parents fled the country in 1918 during the Russian revolution. They settled in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva. The young Catherine went to the Ecole Supérieure of Lausanne where she graduated in sciences. She then went on to medical school. Upon graduation in 1928 with mention, she moved to Zurich, in professor Guido Fanconi's unit, to specialize in pediatrics, then worked in Vienna, Austria, where she got her degree in pediatrics.
Back in Switzerland, she had to resume her work as a general practitioner because her degree in pediatrics was not recognized by Swiss authorities. Dr. Catherine Kousmine spent most of her life in Switzerland. She set up a foundation in her name in Lutry, Switzerland, to promote her methods (Fondation Catherine Kousmine). This foundation has sister foundations in France, Germany and Italy. There is also a Kousmine Medical Center in Vevey, Switzerland.
She decided to conduct research in cancer, mostly because of the death from it of two children in her care while she was working as a general practitioner. For seventeen years, working in a makeshift laboratory in her kitchen, she studied a special breed of mice that develop mammalian cancer at four months of age. She discovered a striking correlation between a healthy diet and a remission of their cancer and became convinced that the cure for diseases sometimes labeled "incurable" involves the return to a healthy feeding habit - one that provides all the nutrients that the organism needs to function properly. Consequently, she focused her attention on healthy diet. In 1949, she treated with success her first of many cancer patients, this one suffering from reticulo-sarcoma, thanks in part to the use of a healthy diet.
Her work on cold pressed (virgin) oils
Catherine Kousmine took a particular interest in vegetable oils because their quality had been greatly altered during World War II. Producers used new methods of oil extraction with heat (320°F - 392°F), the only goal of which was to produce half again the quantity of oil. The extraction with hexane, a hydrocarbon solvent with carcinogenic properties,citation needed allowed the production of almost twice the amount of oil.
The major problem with these methods, compared to the cold pressed method that produces what is commonly called virgin oil, is that the quality is poor in every respect: many of the cis molecules are transformed into the infamous trans molecules.
Dr. Kousmine became a strong opponent of processed food, white sugar, refined flour and refined oil, margarine and butter, each of them being harmful to the body cells and providing only "empty calories", as she called them.
Following up on work of the Foundation Catherine Kousmine, the trans-fatty acids have been the object of several studies worldwide. These studies showed that, even at small doses, the trans molecules are a health hazard. These studies lead some countries (Canada, USA, France for example) to make health recommendations. In 2003, Denmark reduced the proportion of trans-fatty acids to 2 grams per 100 grams of cooking oil. Trans-fatty acids were forbidden in New York in 2006. In the Netherlands, following an advertising campaign in the eighties, the amount of trans-fatty acids in margarine went from 50% down to 2% today.
Theory about cancer
Her novel approach was to understand what would cause a tumor to form and invade healthy cells, and NOT HOW TO DESTROY a tumor. After many extensive studies on mice, she came to the conclusion that cancer is a need of the organism to ward off a toxic aggression (1).
Briefly put, a tumor, first benign, then malignant, is just a particular form of a defense mechanism of the body. A tumor is not a freak and isolated accident, but a coherent reaction to a state of alarm. Her method focuses on how to disengage the source of the cancer and make it useless.
"The measures that I recommend start to be effective after about two months, and develop their full benefits only after two years,"² Dr. Kousmine said.
Dr. Kousmine noted that by consuming RAW virgin vegetable oil, such as cold pressed flaxseed and sunflower oil rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and in vitamin E, it is possible to reduce the permeability of the intestinal membrane and to prevent toxins from invading the blood and overloading the kidneys and the liver, thus preventing the formation of a tumor and reducing the severity of any degenerative disease, like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
She proclaimed the importance of organic sunflower oil and of whole grains. Her prescriptions for her patients included: Dr Johanna Budwig's "crème Budwig" (Budwig Cream, a mixture of freshly ground cereals, flax and sunflower seeds, fruit, cold pressed sunflower or flaxseed oil and cottage cheese) along with essentials vitamins (C, E, F, etc.), alkalizing minerals to restore immunologic balance in ill patients, all of them suffering from acidic blood, chamomile enemas to clean the intestines followed by an instillation of organic sunflower oil, and in some cases (rheumatoid arthritis), vaccines.
"If the patient is too ill, it is better to prepare him for surgery over a few weeks or months with the described measures. We then observe that the tumor stops growing, that it even shrinks in size, and that the general state of the patient improves, sometimes dramatically. Then, the result of delayed surgery or radiotherapy can be excellent."''³
On one hand, her diet approach generally seems quite easy and pleasant to follow to ensure a daily hygiene and nutrition for a healthy person. On the other hand, for a patient with a sever pathology, doctors and patients agree that the whole treatment requires a tremendous personal investment and a life-time of strict discipline.
"It is important that the treatment that I recommend is a beneficial COMPLEMENT to current medical treatments."(4)
Dr. Kousmine herself stated many times that eating Budwig Cream and taking vitamin pills weren't the magic bullet to cure a disease like cancer. Contrary to what some critics have said, she always insisted that her method was a complement to, and not a substitute for mainstream treatments. Advocates of her method claim that it dramatically improves the results of chemotherapy and reduces its side-effects.
Even though countless people have benefited from her method, providing they follow the treatment to the letter for the rest of their lives, the orthodox medical community scoffed at her for many years, inaccurately reducing her theory and methods to Budwig Cream and vitamin and mineral pills. Some cancer specialists even went so far as to state that their critically ill patients who followed her treatment and then went into complete remission, some of them for more than thirty years, had been simply "misdiagnosed". Today, physicians who treat patients with her method are still not well viewed by the orthodox medical community. Dr. Kousmine repeatedly stated that the dramatic results (long - term remission, dramatic improvement of the quality of life for the most desperate patients) were not miraculous, but instead the result of a holistic approach to the disease, compared to the limited approach in orthodox medicine that focuses on the symptoms of the disease, providing the patients only with palliative treatments.
At the time of her death, criticism included that the benefits of raw, whole foods and cold pressed vegetable oils were not supported by scientific literature at all and that her theory has never been scientifically proven. Other critics say that her monitoring of patients with MS was not scientific. Her study rested on no control group nor did she ever test her diet on healthy people to determine any protective effect.(5)
In 1985, the Société d'Encouragement au Progrès - whose headquarters are in Paris (France) - gave her the Médaille de Vermeil for her outstanding accomplishment with multiple sclerosis.
Her books contain remarkable and detailed, easy-to-read for the non-specialist, accounts of patients with severe pathologies, documented with complete clinical and anamnesis of the patients and their kin, the treatment provided and its results, successes as well as failures.
These books also provide explanations about intestinal flora and processed food, with chapters about instinct and ancestral feeding habits and an hypothesis on the connection between cancer, toxins and stress.
Critics say that the explanations are too simplistic and complain that some rants against chemical products are caricatural and/or lack any solid data (for example aspartame and milk). Experts also complain that her books give the feeling that doctors don't understand anything "except me". (6)
These books, that include a full description of her method, are available in French but have not yet been translated into English.
Soyez bien dans votre assiette jusqu'à 80 ans et plus (Be well till 80 and beyond), éditions Sand, 1980, ISBN 2710701588
Here is the translation from French of the testimony of one of her students. It gives a good overview of the Kousmine method and Dr. Kousmine's commitment and personality.
"Back then, I was a young doctor, newly installed in my practice. Confronted with mainstream medicine, I was frustrated by the lack of answers to numerous questions that bothered me: the essential motivation of the physician and, above all, the natural history of diseases. Then, I had allowed myself to imagine less conventional approaches as possible and acceptable, approaches that had been simply abandoned or underestimated because they were deemed obsolete.
I had a sharp critical sense, and I was using it in my research on alternative therapeutical approaches. I always disallowed a priori assumptions about a new approach that I didn't know. While a student at medical school, I took part several times in contradictory debates on alternative medicine. I had been shocked by the attitude of some of my fellow students who didn't hesitate to make negative, peremptory and definitive judgments on methods such as homeopathy, for example. But after having questioned them on the method that they stigmatized so vehemently, I came to the understanding that they knew nothing about it.
One day, one of my patients walked into my practice: a woman whom I had tried to help with her rheumatoid arthritis many times earlier, to no avail. She was feeling well and for the first time, she wasn't complaining about her condition. I asked her: what have you done? She told me that she had gone to Switzerland to see a certain doctor, Catherine Kousmine. Dr. Kousmine had prescribed her a diet, vitamins and given her some shots. Obviously, my patient felt a lot better. I thought to myself: "Interesting. Why not?"
Several weeks later, I found myself in Dr. Catherine Kousmine's practice in Lutry, Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, to learn about her method. For four consecutive days, I watched Dr. Kousmine work. The majority of her patients had severe pathologies, for which current medicine had only palliative and symptomatic remedies. Since the first consultation, I realized she obtained, most of the time, spectacular therapeutical results.
Dr. Kousmine was extremely scrupulous, doing every time a complete clinical examination, and writing down certain details. Among them: skin quality, color of the tongue, state of nails, regularity of intestinal transit.
She asked her patients to test the pH (acidity) of their urine every single day and to write it down in a little notepad they brought along with them at each consultation. In this notepad were also written all the medicine used and their respective posologies.
Her first approach when confronted with a life-threatening disease was to modify as soon as possible the intestinal flora. Dr. Kousmine believed that a modern diet has a toxic action on this flora: modern, processed food would transform it into an aggressive flora that would allow the toxins secreted by this flora to permeate the intestinal wall.
First, Dr. Kousmine imposed a hypo-toxic diet, preceded by a short period of half-fast (fruit and vegetable juices were allowed), and then enemas twice a week. During this period, she would systematically prescribe essential vitamins, both orally and by injection. Dr. Kousmine believed that an organism that has reached an advanced state of chronic pathology is in much greater need of a daily supply of vitamins and minerals than a healthy one.
Finally, she prescribed alkaline salts as a complement to a healthy diet to correct the chronic acidity in her patients' blood. This last prescription quickly diminished the fatigue and the pain. This phase corresponded, as she put it, "to uncouple the engine of the disease".
Dr. Kousmine prescribed only conventional medicine. During this first part of the treatment, which could last from a few weeks up to four months, depending on the individual, she would stick to essential and indispensable medicines, in order to avoid overloading the organism with superfluous medicines, and so as not to tamper with the liver's detoxification.
It is true that when the precepts were followed to the letter, the symptoms would start to disappear quickly and the general condition of the patients would improve dramatically.
It was only at this point that she would start the second phase of her method: administration of vaccines for the rheumatic pathologies, autoimmune pathologies, migraines, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery for cancer. She used to say that, except in few cases, if we do a rush job to remove malignant tumors, metastases would undeniably come back. But if we take time to prepare the patient, the latter doesn't risk seeing a secondary evolution of the disease. In general, chemical treatments have a better and lasting effect, and surgery goes without complications.
Dr. Kousmine was very strict with her patients. When one of them didn't follow the rules of her method to the letter, he or she was severely reprimanded: "If you are not ready to do exactly what I am telling you to do, don't bother coming back! There are other doctors you can go to and there are other patients who are waiting to see me! I don't want to waste my time with people who don't want to be cured!"
The message was crystal clear! It is true that following each single stage of her method could give results. To omit just one meant, in her opinion, to compromise the whole treatment.
Until her death, I saw her many times and I could observe that her method was capable of curing pathologies that were known as incurable, despite the very progress of modern medicine. Other pathologies were stabilized for several years, as long as the patients followed her nutritional rules and lifestyle to the letter.
Its biggest handicap might be that her method requires a tremendous personal investment. The return to health demands a big effort, and this effort is perhaps difficult to make when one is in a state of extreme fatigue and, above all, in a state of distress when one learns that he/she has a life-threatening illness.
To this effect, the most psychologically fragile patients are advised to join structures put in place by Kousmine associations in France, Italy, Germany or Switzerland that can help them put into practice the Kousmine method."
18.104.22.168 Sauvez votre corps (Save your body), éditions Robert Laffont, 1987
5. MS Quebec, vol.28, no.105, June 2004, Nutrition and MS, 
6. Le régime de la Doctoresse Kousmine (The diet of Dr. Kousmine), in EcoEtSanté2010, .
- Centre médical Kousmine
- Multiple sclerosis international federation
- Power breakfast recipe
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Lic. Nut. Miguel Leopoldo Alvarado