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Charlotte's Digest: A Book Review on "Strong Medicine"

“We humans have always been and always will be interested in two vital things: food and reproduction. In this country food and reproduction seem to be quite similar in two respects – the quantity is too high and the quality too low.” –Dr Blake Donaldson from Strong Medicine, 1962, p201

Last year, I was privileged to attend the PaleoFX conference here in Austin. I had never heard Dr. Michael Eades speak before, who is a well-known medical doctor and author of Protein Power, so my husband and I went to one of his lectures. In his talk, he mentioned a book titled Strong Medicine by Blake F. Donaldson. He identified it as a very influential book in his life. I was intrigued and of course, added it to my Amazon cart. Now I know why Dr Eades recommended it.

Strong Medicine was published in 1962 at the latter end of the author’s life. He wrote of how interns would encourage him to write down his experiences, realizing that:

“When opportunities have been great in medicine some sort of accounting of stewardship is in order. It isn’t right to have so much of what you think you have learned die with you (p10).”

I agree, which I why I feel compelled to draw attention to his work.

Dr. Donaldson was a medical doctor in New York in the early 1900s. His calling was to find a solution to obesity, which he felt was the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease. He accomplished this through a controversial dietary intervention of a half a pound of fatty meat per meal with a half a cup of black coffee, only drinking water between meals, and a 30-minute walk upon waking.

Intriguing, yes?

Well, I think so because I happen to love eating fatty meat, and a good cup of coffee isn’t far behind. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading his clinical adventures with this diet. He started out using the diet for obesity, but then shortly thereafter, others found him: cases of allergies, osteoarthritis, gall bladder disease, and my personal favorite, a desperate mother whose son had severe eczema. He was about to refer her to a “specialist” when she said something to the effect of, “I’ve already been to see everyone else in town. I want to work with you.” And yes, he gave it a try, which proved to be successful.

Wouldn’t it be revolutionary to our medical system if research actually started with clinical experience versus what is happening now where biased research ends up dictating the clinical practice?

Dr. Donaldson admits that he is not a writer (and that is obvious), but it doesn't matter. His observations are clear, astute, and very useful. Once you get past his racial slurs and misogynistic comments, which are both simply signs of times past, this book is filled with pearls of wisdom. In fact, his honesty and frankness are extremely entertaining. There was plenty of nights reading when my husband would ask me: what are you giggling about? Well, I think you will see. At any rate, here are more than a few of the pearls of wisdom that stand out to me from this book:

#1 “I had learned that many of the troubles in life can be walked off (p24).”