Hello – I’m contacting you to let you know how extremely important Adelle Davis was to me and my family. I decided to drop in on the subject of her life recently, and have been dismayed to find how much cynicism is floating around on the web regarding her work and life. So I’m very happy to see there is foundation in her name.
I began to read her books in the mid ’60’s, and to apply her theories and information immediately to myself and children. I won’t bore you with long stories, but will say I was able to deal far more effectively with my children’s illnesses from the instant I understood the importance of what I was reading. Eventually I adopted several children with various ailments, and was able to handle them thanks to Ms. Davis’ information about nutrition, and just as much, from her faith in human beings generally.
At this point my children are having children, and one of them, Dr. Helen Tilley, who teaches at Northwestern University, recently adopted a daughter from Ethiopia. During Helen’s time in Ethiopia, while she and her sister, my daughter Terry, waited out a long pre-adoption period with no running water, in a ramshackle nursery, they used the fundamentals of Adelle Davis nutrition to keep themselves healthy, and soon, to help their new daughter, Siyamo, to regain her health as well.
The formulas in Ethiopia were whatever was rejected by other countries, and to that the caretakers added a thick cereal to fill the children’s stomachs. Two children became ill and died during the time my daughters were there. Finally it became clear that the parents had to take over, or lose more children to malnutrition and slow starvation. At that point, Helen and Terry went out into Addis Ababa scouring shops and markets for safe milk. They found sterilized cream from Denmark, and used that as a basis, along with the trusty supply of brewers yeast they’d taken with them (it filled half their luggage) to mix up a formula for Siyamo. At that point, Siyamo, who was 2 months old, had begun to experience projectile vomiting after every bottle. It was an hour by hour battle just to keep her hydrated. The formula my daughters put together contained the sterilized milk, yeast, vitamins A, E, a bit of calcium/magnesium and water. In one feeding, I am not exaggerating, there was no more vomiting, and Siyamo began to thrive. We were all somewhat surprised, even with all the experience we’d had with other children. In fact, so was everyone else there, including the (part-time) physician, who warned us that in his opinion Ethiopian children were ‘lactose intolerant’ and would not be able to handle the milk.
I have no idea why that physician would come to such an odd conclusion, given that when the babies come in to the orphanages (and this is a well concealed secret) they’ve usually been breast fed up that point. It’s only once they’re in the (American run) orphanages that the slow starvation starts, with the poor formulas and cereal stuffing to keep them quiet. Thankfully we had Adelle Davis’ spirit and research burning bright in our minds when we blew off that physician and proceeded with the formula. Needless to say not only did Siyamo tolerate the formula, she blossomed from it. There was no trace of the mythical ‘lactose intolerance’ and soon her blooming health was so conspicuous it became almost embarrassing. Other parents begged for information from us, and one of them with whom Helen still corresponds, is still using yeast now, four years later, with her Ethiopian son.
I’m so happy to be able to share this typical Adelle Davis story with you. I have countless others but what was wonderful was to be able to do this under such awful circumstances. Siyamo has been the absolute picture of health since that day – she’s been sick much less than other children here in the US – just like all my other children. Terry, the daughter who went with Helen to Ethiopia, and is now the mother of a new son herself, has never once had antibiotics in her whole life, though I would and did use them (rarely) if necessary with my children, and she too would sensibly use them if necessary.
I’m aware that nutritional theories have progressed, and that Ms. Davis would have been the first to acknowledge this. But I have to say we’ve changed our general diets and approach to health less than you would imagine for people who keep up with these things. Perhaps changes in the use of oils (switching to olive oil and coconut oil from soy for instance) being the most salient.
Thank you again for keeping the spirit of Adelle Davis alive and well. I’m sending two pics – one of Helen and Siyamo in Addis, and another very recent of Siyamo in her pre-school.
Susan Solomon (Berkeley, CA)