A Veterinary Surgeon who goes on to train as a Doctor is a rare animal indeed, but in the 1970’s Joel Wallach from Missouri in the USA did just that. This gave him a new perspective when treating human patients as he realized early in his career as a doctor that many of the diseases suffered by both animals and human beings were the same, and were brought about by deficiencies in the diet. The big difference was that these deficiencies were instantly recognised and treated in animals, whereas in humans this was rarely the case and treatment was often long, complicated and unfortunately quite often unsuccessful.
,BROUGHT UP ON A FARM
Wallach was brought up on a farm and he saw for himself how his father made sure that his livestock was always in tip top condition. After all, his father was in business and obviously could not afford to keep sick animals that not only involved costly veterinary fees but greatly reduced their profitability. As a young lad, Wallach tells the amusing story in his book Dead Doctors Don't Lie, of how he recognized his own calcium deficiency by comparing his symptoms with what he had observed in his father’s farm animals, and successfully treated himself with the calcium pellets that they routinely gave to the veal calves.
CONGENITAL BIRTH DEFECTS AND THEIR PREVENTION
While a student at veterinary college Wallach studied animal husbandry and nutrition. He learned how to design vitamin, mineral and trace mineral supplement programmes for livestock. His professor at that time was researching the effects of mineral deficiencies during animal pregnancy and the resulting congenital birth defects. He created spina bifida in laboratory animals way back in 1956, by feeding the pregnant females with diets deficient in zinc, vitamin B12 and folic acid, long before folic acid was recognised as such a vital ingredient in the diet for pregnant women. Wallach was excited to discover that up to 98% of birth defects in animals could be prevented by supplementing the female with the proper nutrients prior to conception. The very fact that veterinarians could prevent and cure diseases in a whole herd or flock with nutritional supplements was a great fascination to him. He reasoned that if only this concept could be successfully applied to humans it would eliminate an enormous amount of unnecessary misery, add many healthy years to people’s lives and save the health service vast sums of money.
IMPORTANCE OF MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
Whilst vitamins, enzymes and hormones were important to health, Wallach noted that mineral deficiencies in particular caused expensive diseases and livestock losses. Plants eaten by livestock cannot provide minerals, so to prevent disease a supplement of all known essential minerals was added to the animals’ diet. Nothing was left to chance. If only the same could be done for the human “herd”!
Wallach learned that copper deficiency caused aneurysms. A turkey farmer lost hundreds of his turkeys due to ruptured aortic aneurysms which was found at autopsy. The pathologist suspected copper deficiency and so the following year the amount of copper in the feed pellets was doubled, resulting in not a single turkey in the flock of 500,000 dying from a ruptured aneurysm on that farm.
According to Wallach, all copper deficiency diseases have been eliminated in the animal industry with commercially prepared pellets, whereas in humans these same copper deficiencies are treated symptomatically at great expense, involving unnecessary pain and misery and sometimes even death.