Let’s Celebrate an Independent Mind on Independence Day


A peek at my calendar tells me that Independence Day, my third favorite holiday, is rapidly approaching. Have you noticed that independent thought is a bulwark of the Selene River Press Historical Archives? I sure have. It is an especially strong current in Dr. Royal Lee’s Applied Trophology newsletter, which he published every month from 1957 up to his death in 1967. In that decade, Dr. Lee wrote the majority of the articles himself. (Applied Trophology later resumed publication as a quarterly newsletter from 1970 to 1977.)

Thinking of Independence Day, I started bopping around in the July issues of Applied Trophology that were written by Dr. Lee, looking for signs of that independent current. And the signs were everywhere.

For the July 57 issue, Dr. Lee wrote “The Sedimentation Rate—Its Significance.” I’m not going to lie. This one is a bit…clinical. For example, in the first paragraph we learn that the sedimentation rate does not refer to soil but to the rate at which red blood cells settle out “when  a citrated blood specimen stands over a period of time.” We further learn that “it is known that increased fibrinogen increases the sedimentation rate, while an increase in serum albumin decreases it.”

I admit, I still cannot decipher the significance of the sedimentation rate, or even fully comprehend its definition. But I can spot an independent mind at work, expounding on the dangers of everything from cooked-protein diets to deep-freeze fruit juices. If you are a clinician, this is a deep read. Dare I say, a must read.

Skipping to the July 1959 issue, I had no trouble diving into “Notes on Mineral Metabolism.” Consider that the following was written decades before the phrase “refined foods” entered the mainstream lexicon:

“We are warned today of the dangers of too much salt. Yes, we all know that too much sugar is bad. But we have not yet become properly aware that the reason they are both nutritionally bad is that both have been robbed by refining.”

Dr. Lee concludes this one with a wonderful shout out of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price:

“If you have not added this book to your library, you are not deserving of respect from your deficient patients.”

A bit cheeky, don’t you think?

In the July 1960 issue, we catch the heat and passion of the article before we get to the first sentence. It emanates from the title alone: “Despotism as Practiced in the USA.” The following article does not disappoint, with passages like this making for an enjoyably fiery read:

“Certainly, the white flour millers do not want the people to ever learn that bleaching flour destroys any trace of vitamin E that may remain in it or that they develop heart disease as a result of E deficiency…

“And you may be sure it never will. A multimillion dollar industry is at stake, an industry that built its success on its ability to make a product worse and sell it for less, thereby destroying all competition from the small local mills that once supplied each community with fresh, perishable, stone ground flour, with the germ ground into each particle, even after it was bolted and the bran was sifted out.”

Unfortunately, the July 1962 issue has been lost to time, so I’ll skip ahead again to the combined July/August issue from 1963, titled “FDA—Protector of the Drug Industry.” Dr. Lee doesn’t waste any time before announcing what a kickass article you’re about to read:

Here is a documented story that will make you think more than twice about taking drugs, after realizing that your very life may lie in the hands of the FDA.”

Go off, Dr. Lee.

The final July issue written by Royal Lee ran in 1965. Though the language in “Should Food Be Our Medicine?” is again more clinical and dense, note how Dr. Lee all but dares the drug industry to put some respect on Hippocrates’ name:

“Due to the ill-repute of some modern-day drugs, the medical image has definitely suffered. Perhaps some respect could be regained by again subscribing to the philosophy of Hippocrates. This new trend in medicine indicates that medical science cannot depend on drugs to cure disease, that it is easier to prevent than cure, and that prevention depends on a proper diet of nondevitalized foods.”

What can I say? He was a baller. Dr. Lee’s words could be dry and clinical. They could be fierce and fiery. And they could be downright cheeky. But they are all alight with fierce independence and a resolute commitment to speak truth to power.

Happy Independence Day, Dr. Lee.

Main image from SRP. Post image from iStock/RusN (flour).

Heather Wilkinson

Heather Wilkinson is Senior Editor at Selene River Press.



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