Ellen G. White Writings

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Messenger of the Lord, Page 320

Chapter 28—Health Principles-Part 5: Reviewing a Century of Health Reform Principles

“The health and lifespan advantages of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have been traced to the way they live and eat. Since the 1800s, Seventh-day Adventists have practiced eight secrets of health that reduce their risk of heart disease and cancer ... the two leading causes of premature death. By keeping these two killers at bay, Seventh-day Adventists enjoy greater health and a longer life than the general population.... The scientific confirmation has just been available in recent years, so how did they know before the scientists? From a woman named Ellen G. White. This visionary said God did not want people to suffer unnecessary illness and death and He inspired her to tell people how they could enjoy maximum wellness. Ellen G. White wrote with amazing simplicity and accuracy what has since been proved to be the best formula for health and longevity.” 1Stoy and Leilani Proctor, “Searching for the Fountain of Youth” (Hagerstown, Md.: The Health Connection, 1991).

In reviewing Ellen White’s health reform principles, readers should first place themselves in the middle of the nineteenth century. Without any more information about the future than the prevailing notions that governed medical practice at that time, think of how strange the unfolding, synthesizing, integrating health principles of Ellen White must have seemed. Of course, some of these principles had been promoted by contemporaries, but in no place were they so complete or so integrated. No other writers were so free from those errors that subsequent research contradicted. 2See Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s introduction to Ellen White’s Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene. See pp. 290, 291.

For the average person, even for physicians, in the middle of the nineteenth-century, the germ theory was unheard of. Physicians were still using opium, calomel, mercury, arsenic, and strychnine to “heal” disease. Aspirin was unknown, along with the X-ray machine, antibiotics, pasteurization, immunizations, and blood transfusions.

People generally saw no connection between their life style and disease. Fresh air in the home, night or day, aroused qualms for fear of catching a cold or being bitten by an invasion of flies or mosquitoes. 3“In summer if they opened their windows to avoid suffocation they were eaten alive by insects. And in winter if they closed the windows to avoid freezing they choked on smoky air.” Bettmann, The Good Old Days, p. 53. People seldom bathed. 4“In one area of personal care, the Victorians appeared untroubled. They seldom bathed. Glorification of the bathroom is a modern fetish. In 1882 only 2 percent of New York’s homes had water connections.... Bathing was considered harmful by some doctors, and one, C. E. Sargent, described it as a ‘needless waste of time.’” Bettmann, Ibid., p. 35.

Headlines shouting the deteriorating impact of high-fat, low-fiber diets and the sheer necessity of exercise were a century away. 5In 1996 it was said that “about one-third of the 500,000 cancer deaths that occur in the United States each year is due to dietary factors.” CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 46:6, November/December 1996. Hereafter, cited as CA /1996. The profound linkage between the mind and body seemed far-fetched. Birth defects due to drugs and alcohol were not to be understood for another hundred years. The concept of cancer germs was a thought that was cross-grain with the medical world. Prenatal influences were considered of little importance.

In many of these areas, as recently as a few decades ago, Ellen White seemed not only extreme but even fanatical. Imagine how she could have been viewed in 1863! The record is in, however. Those who believed in her role as God’s messenger, those who faithfully put her health principles into practice, became healthier, stronger, more productive people. To the extent that people picked and chose which principles they would incorporate into their life style, to that extent they fell short of reaching their full potential.

Dietary Aspects of Health Reform

Has anyone ever become sick or sicker by following these health principles? Have the health reform principles advocated by Ellen White proved to be unfounded or dangerous?

Yeast germ in bread. Ellen White

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