United States Senate Document #264
"MODERN MIRACLE MEN"
Presented by Rex Beach, June 1936
United States GPO
Washington, D.C., 1936
This document is reproduced here in its entirety from
a copy obtained from the United States Government Printing Office in
Washington, D.C. Some editorial comments have been added and some text
bolded for emphasis. All editorial comments are placed within brackets
and italicized for identification. Senate Document 264 was written in
1936, and submitted as part of a Congressional investigation into U.S.
farming practices. The leading authorities of the day had been sounding
the alarm that depleted soils were causing a significant decline in
the nation's health, evidenced by a steady increase in degenerative
diseases. But when Congress saw the price tag on repairing the nation's
farm and range soils, they swept their own investigation under the carpet.
Concerning Dr. Charles Northen: "This quiet, unballyhooed pioneer
and genius in the field of nutrition demonstrates that countless human
ills stem from the fact that impoverished soil of America no longer
provides plant foods with the mineral elements essential to human nourishment
and health! To overcome this alarming condition, he doctors sick soils
and, by seeming miracles, raises truly healthy and health-giving fruits
and vegetables." - Rex Beach
Do you know that most of us today are suffering from certain
dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until the depleted
soils from which our foods come are brought into proper mineral balance?
The alarming fact is that foods, fruits and vegetables and grains, now
being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough
of certain needed minerals, are starving us - no matter how much of
them we eat! This talk about minerals is novel and quite startling.
In fact, a realization of the importance of minerals in food is so new
that the textbooks on nutritional dietetics contain very little about
it. Nevertheless, it is something that concerns all of us, and the further
we delve into it the more startling it becomes.
You would think, wouldn't you, that a carrot is a carrot
- that one is about as good as another as far as nourishment is concerned?
But it isn't; one carrot may look and taste like another and yet be
lacking in the particular mineral element which our system requires
and which carrots are supposed to contain. Laboratory tests prove that
the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs, and even the milk
and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago
(which doubtless explains why our forefathers thrived on a selection
of foods that would starve us!). No man of today can eat enough fruits
and vegetables to supply his system with the minerals he requires for
perfect health, because his stomach isn't big enough to hold them! And
we are running to big stomachs.
No longer does a balanced and fully nourishing diet consist
merely of so many calories or certain vitamins or a fixed proportion
of starches, proteins, or carbohydrates. We now know that it must contain,
in addition, something like a score of mineral salts. [We now know
that the number is closer to four score.]
It is bad news to learn from our leading authorities that
99 percent of the American people are deficient in these minerals, and
that a marked deficiency in any one or more of the important minerals
actually results in disease. Any upset of the balance, any considerable
lack of one or another element, however microscopic the body requirement
may be, and we sicken, suffer, shorten our lives.
This discovery is one of the latest and most important
contributions of science to the problem of human health. So far as the
records go, the first man in the field of research, the first to demonstrate
that most human foods of our day are poor in minerals and that their
proportions are not balanced, was Dr. Charles Northen, an Alabama physician
now living in Orlando, Florida. His discoveries and achievements are
of enormous importance to mankind.
Following a wide experience in general practice, Dr. Northen
specialized in stomach diseases and nutritional disorders. Later he
moved to New York and made extensive studies along this line, in conjunction
with a famous French scientist from the Sorbonne. In the course of that
work, he convinced himself that there was little authentic, definite
information on the chemistry of foods and that no dependence could be
placed on existing data.
He asked himself how foods could be used intelligently
in the treatment of disease, when they differed so widely in content.
The answer seemed to be that they could not be used intelligently. In
establishing the fact that serious deficiencies existed and in searching
out the reasons therefore, he made an extensive study of the soil. It
was he who first voiced the surprising assertion that we must make soil
building the basis of food building in order to accomplish human building.
"Bear in mind," says Dr. Northen, "that
minerals are vital to human metabolism and health - and that no plant
or animal can appropriate to itself any mineral which is not present
in the soil upon which it feeds.
"When I first made this statement I was ridiculed,
for up to that time, people had paid little attention to food deficiencies
and even less to soil deficiencies. Men eminent in medicine denied there
was any such thing as vegetables and fruits that did not contain sufficient
minerals for human needs. Eminent agricultural authorities insisted
that all soil contained all the necessary minerals. They reasoned that
plants take what they need, and that is the function of the human body
to appropriate what it requires. Failure to do so, they said, was a
symptom of disorder.
"Some of our respected authorities even claimed that
the so-called secondary minerals played no part whatever in human health.
It is only recently that such men as Dr. McCollum of Johns Hopkins,
Dr. Mendel of Yale, Dr. Sherman of Columbia, Dr. Lipman of Rutgers,
and Drs. H.G. Knight and Oswald Schreiner of the Untied States Department
of Agriculture have agreed that these minerals are essential to plant,
animal, and human feeding.
"We know that vitamins are complex chemical substances
which are indispensable to nutrition, and that each of them is of importance
for the normal function of some special structure of the body. Disorder
and disease result from any vitamin deficiency. It is not commonly realized,
however, that vitamins control the body's appropriation of minerals,
and in the absence of minerals they have no function to perform. Lacking
vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals, but lacking minerals,
vitamins are useless.
"Neither does the layman realize that there may be
a pronounced difference in both foods and soils - to him one vegetable,
one glass of milk, or one egg is about the same as another. Dirt is
dirt, too, and he assumes that by adding a little fertilizer to it,
a satisfactory vegetable or fruit can be grown.
"The truth is that our foods vary enormously in value,
and some of them aren't worth eating as food. For example, vegetation
grown in one part of the country may assay 1,100 parts per billion of
iodine, as against 20 in that grown elsewhere. Processed milk has run
anywhere from 362 parts per million of iodine and 127 of iron, down
"Some of our lands, even in a virgin state, never
were well balanced in mineral content, and unhappily for us, we have
been systematically robbing the poor soils and the good soils alike
of the very substances necessary to health, growth, long life, and resistance
to disease. Up to the time I began experimenting, almost nothing had
been done to make good the theft. The more I studied nutritional problems
and the effects of mineral deficiencies upon disease, the more plainly
I saw that here lay the most direct approach to better health, and the
more important it became in my mind to find a method of restoring those
missing minerals to our foods.
"The subject interested me so profoundly that I retired
from active medical practice and for a good many years now I have devoted
myself to it. It's a fascinating subject, for it goes to the heart of
The results obtained by Dr. Northen are outstanding. By
putting back into the foods the stuff that foods are made of, he has
proved himself to be a real miracle man of medicine, for he has opened
up the shortest and most rational route to better health.
He showed first that it should be done, and then that
it could be done. He doubled and redoubled the natural mineral content
of fruits and vegetables. He improved the quality of milk by increasing
the iron and the iodine in it. He caused hens to lay eggs richer in
the vital elements. By scientific soil feeding, he raised better seed
potatoes in Maine, better grapes in California, better oranges in Florida
and better field crops in other states. (By "better" is meant
not only improvement in food value but also an increase in quality and
Before going further into the results he has obtained,
let's see just what is involved in this matter of "mineral deficiencies,"
what it may mean to our health, and how it may affect the growth and
development, both mental and physical, of our children. We know that
rats, guinea pigs and other animals can be fed into a diseased condition
and out again by controlling only the minerals in their food.
A 10-year test with rats proved that by withholding calcium
they can be bred down to a third the size of those fed with an adequate
amount of that mineral. Their intelligence, too, can be controlled by
mineral feeding as readily as can their size, their bony structure,
and their general health.
Place a number of these little animals inside a maze after
starving some of them in a certain mineral element. The starved ones
will be unable to find their way out, whereas the others will have little
or no difficulty in getting out. Their dispositions can be altered by
mineral feeding. They can be made quarrelsome and belligerent; they
can even be turned into cannibals and be made to devour each other.
A cage full of normal rats will live in amity. Restrict
their calcium and they will become irritable and draw apart from one
another. Then they will begin to fight. Restore their calcium balance
and they will grow more friendly; in time they will begin to sleep in
a pile as before. Many backward children are "stupid" merely
because they are deficient in magnesia. [Magnesium] We punish them for
our failure to feed them properly.
Certainly our physical well-being is more directly dependent
upon the minerals we take into our systems then upon calories or vitamins
or upon the precise proportions of, protein, fats or carbohydrates we
It is now agreed that at least 16 mineral elements are
indispensable for normal nutrition, and several more are always found
in small amounts in the body, although their precise physiological role
has not been determined. Of the 16 indispensable salts, calcium, phosphorus
and iron are perhaps the most important.
[Today, many nutritionists, scientists and health care
professionals insist that as many as 76 minerals are essential to achieving
and maintaining optimal health, longevity and resistance to disease.
Some of the most convincing evidence of the essentiality of minerals
has come from research conducted by the Department of Agriculture.]
Calcium is the most dominant nerve controller; it powerfully
affects the cell formation of all living things and regulates nerve
action. It governs contractility of the muscles and the rhythmic beat
of the heart. It also coordinates the other mineral elements and corrects
disturbances made by them. It works only in sunlight. Vitamin D is its
buddy. Dr. Sherman of Columbia asserts that 50 percent of the American
people are starving for calcium. A recent article in the Journal of
the American Medical Association stated that out of 4,000 cases in New
York Hospital, only 2 were not suffering from a lack of calcium.
What does such a deficiency mean? How would it affect
your health or mine? So many morbid conditions and actual diseases may
result that it is almost hopeless to catalog them. Included in the list
are rickets, bony deformities, bad teeth, nervous disorders, reduced
resistance to other diseases, fatigability, and behavior disturbances
such as incorrigibility, assaultiveness and nonadaptability. [Cancer,
heart disease, and more.]
Here's one specific example: The soil around a certain
Midwest city is poor in calcium. Three hundred children in this community
were examined and nearly 90 percent had bad teeth, swollen glands, enlarged
or diseased tonsils. More than one-third had defective vision, round
shoulders, bowlegs and anemia.
Calcium and phosphorus appear to pull in double harness.
A child requires as much per day as two grown men, but studies indicate
a common deficiency of one or the other as the cause of serious losses
to the farmers, and when the soil is poor in phosphorous their animals
become bone-chewers. Dr. McCollum says that when there are enough phosphates
in the blood there can be no dental decay.
Iron is an essential constituent of the oxygen-carrying
pigment of the blood: iron starvation results in anemia, and yet iron
cannot be assimilated unless some copper is contained in the diet. In
Florida, many cattle die from an obscure disease called "salt sickness."
It has been found to arise from a lack of iron and copper in the soil
and hence the grass. A man may starve for want of these elements just
as a beef "critter" starves.
If iodine is not present in our foods the function of
the thyroid gland is disturbed and goiter afflicts us. The human body
requires only fourteen-thousandths of a milligram daily, yet we have
a distinct "goiter belt " in the Great Lakes section, and
in parts of the Northwest the soil is so poor in iodine that the disease
So it goes, down through the list, each mineral element
playing a definite role in nutrition. A characteristic set of symptoms,
just as specific as any vitamin-deficiency disease, follows a deficiency
in any one of them. It is alarming, therefore, to face the fact that
we are starving for these precious, health-giving substances.
Very well, you say, if our foods are poor in the mineral
salts they are supposed to contain, why not resort to dosing?
That is precisely what is being done, or being attempted.
However, those who should know assert that the human system cannot appropriate
those elements to the best advantage in any but the food form. At best,
only a part of them in the form of drugs can be utilized by the body,
and certain dietitians go so far as to say it is a waste of effort to
fool with them. Calcium, for instance, cannot be supplied in any form
of medication with lasting effect.
[Remember, this research comes before the new paradigm
as defined by Marine Bio Co., Ltd.'s Coral Calcium™,
76 ionic mineral complex - even before the advent of the old paradigm:
colloidal and chelated mineral supplements.]
But there is a more potent reason why the curing of diet
deficiencies by drugging hasn't worked out so well. Consider those 16
indispensable elements and those others which presumably perform some
obscure function not yet understood. Aside from calcium and phosphorous,
they are needed only in infinitesimal quantities, and the activity of
one may be dependent upon the presence of another. To determine the
precise requirements of each individual case and to attempt to weigh
it out on a druggist's scale would appear hopeless.
It is a problem and a serious one. But here is the hopeful
side of the picture: Nature can and will solve it if she is encouraged
to do so. The minerals in fruit and vegetables are colloidal; i.e. they
are in a state of such extremely fine suspension that they can be assimilated
by the human system: It is merely a question of giving back to nature
the materials with which she works.
[Actually, we now know that colloidal minerals can not
be assimilated until they have been broken down by the digestive system
into ionic form.]
We must rebuild our soils: Put back the minerals we have
taken out. That sounds difficult but it isn't. Neither is it expensive.
Therein lies the short cut to better health and longer life.
When Dr. Northen first asserted that many foods were lacking
in mineral content and that this deficiency was due solely to an absence
of those elements in the soil, his findings were challenged and he was
called a crank. But differences of opinion in the medical profession
are not uncommon - it was only 60 years ago that the Medical Society
of Boston passed a resolution commending the use of bathtubs - and he
persisted in his assertion that inasmuch as foods did not contain what
they were supposed to contain, no physician could with certainty prescribe
a diet to overcome physical ills.
He showed that the textbooks are not dependable because
many of the analyses in them were made many years ago, perhaps from
products raised in virgin soils, whereas our soils have been constantly
depleted. Soil analyses, he pointed out, reflect only the content of
samples. One analysis may be entirely different from another made ten
"And so what?" came the query.
Dr. Northen undertook to demonstrate that something could
be done about it. By re-establishing a proper soil balance he actually
grew crops that contained an ample amount of desired minerals.
This was incredible. It was contrary to the books and
it upset everything connected with diet practice. The scoffers began
to pay attention to him. Recently, the Southern Medical Association,
realizing the hopelessness of trying to remedy nutritional deficiencies
without positive factors to work with, recommended a careful study to
determine the real mineral content of foodstuffs and the variations
due to soil depletion in different localities. These progressive medical
men are awake to the importance of prevention.
[Those "progressive medical men" would be
shoved into obscurity by the large-scale development of antibiotics
and the belief that we could produce a drug for every illness. Preventative
medicine was relegated to the back seat by pharmaceutical politics.]
Dr. Northen went even further and proved that crops grown
in a properly mineralized soil were bigger and better; that seeds germinated
quicker, grew more rapidly and made larger plants; that trees were healthier
and put on more fruit of better quality. By increasing the mineral content
of citrus fruit he likewise improved its texture, its appearance and
He experimented with a variety of growing things, and
in every case the story was the same. By mineralizing the feed at poultry
farms, he got more and better eggs; by balancing pasture soils, he produced
richer milk. Persistently he hammered home to farmers, to doctors, and
to the general public the thought that life depends upon the minerals!
His work led him into a careful study of the effects of
climate, sunlight, ultraviolet and thermal rays upon plant, animal and
human hygiene. In consequence he moved to Florida. People familiar with
his work consider him the most valuable man in the state. I met him
by reason of the fact that I was harassed by certain soil problems on
my Florida farm which had baffled the best chemists and fertilizer experts
He is an elderly, retiring man, with a warm smile and
an engaging personality. He is a trifle shy until he opens up on his
pet topic; then his difference disappears and he speaks with authority.
His mind is a storehouse crammed with precise, scientific data about
soil and food chemistry, the complicated life processes of plants, animals,
and human beings - and the effect of malnutrition upon all three. He
is perhaps as close to the secret of life as any man anywhere.
"Do you call yourself a soil a or a food chemist?"
"Neither. I am an M.D. My works lie in the field
of biochemistry and nutrition. I gave up medicine because this is a
wider and a more important work. Sick soils mean sick plants, sick animals,
and sick people. Physical, mental, and moral fitness depends largely
upon an ample supply and a proper proportion of the minerals in our
foods. Nerve function, nerve stability, nerve cell-building likewise
depend thereon. I'm really a doctor of sick soils."
"Do you mean to imply that the vegetables I'm raising
on my farm are sick?" I asked.
"Precisely! They're as weak and undernourished as
anemic children. They're not much good as food. Look at the pests and
the diseases that plague them. Insecticides cost farmers nearly as much
as fertilizer these days.
"A healthy plant, however, grown in soil properly
balanced, can and will resist most insect pests. That very characteristic
makes it a better food product. You have tuberculosis and pneumonia
germs in your system but you're strong enough to throw them off. Similarly,
a really healthy plant will pretty nearly take care of itself in the
battle against insects and blights - and will also give the human system
what it requires."
"Good heavens! Do you realize what that means to
"Perfectly. Enormous savings. Better crops. Lowered
living costs to the rest of us. But I'm not so much interested in agriculture
as in health."
"It sounds beautifully theoretical and utterly impractical
to me," I told the doctor, whereupon he gave me some of his case
For instance, in an orange grove infested with scale,
when he restored the mineral balance to part of the soil, the trees
growing in that part became clean while the rest remained diseased.
By the same means he had grown healthy rosebushes between rows that
were riddled by insects.
He has grown tomato and cucumber plants, both healthy
and diseased, where the vines intertwined. The bugs ate up the diseased
and refused to touch the healthy plants! He showed me interesting analyses
of citrus fruits the chemistry and the food value of which accurately
reflected the soil treatment the trees had received.
There is no space here to go fully into Dr. Northen's
work but it is of such importance as to rank with that of Burbank, the
plant wizard, and with that of our famous physiologists and nutritional
"Healthy plants mean healthy people," said he.
"We can't raise a strong race on a weak soil. Why don't you try
mending the deficiencies on your farm and growing more minerals into
I did try and I succeeded. I was planting a large acreage
of celery and under Dr. Northen's direction I fed minerals into certain
blocks of land in varying amounts. When the plants from this soil were
mature I had them analyzed, along with celery from other parts of the
state. It was the most careful and comprehensive study of the kind ever
made, and it included over 250 separate chemical determinations. I was
amazed to learn that my celery had more than twice the mineral content
of the best grown elsewhere. Furthermore, it kept much better, with
and without refrigeration, proving that the cell structure was sounder.
In 1927, Mr. W.W. Kincaid, a "gentleman farmer"
of Niagara Falls, heard an address by Dr. Northen and was so impressed
that he began extensive experiments in the mineral feeding of plants
and animals. The results he has accomplished are conspicuous. He set
himself the task of increasing the iodine in the milk from his dairy
herd. He has succeeded in adding both iodine and iron so liberally that
one glass of his milk contains all of these minerals that an adult male
requires for a day.
Is this significant? Listen to these incredible figures
taken from a bulletin of the South Carolina Food Research Commission:
"In many sections three out of five persons have goiter and a recent
estimate states that 30 million people in the United States suffer from
Foods rich in iodine are of the greatest importance to
Mr. Kincaid took a brown Swiss heifer calf which was dropped
in the stockyards, and by raising her on mineralized pasturage and a
properly balanced diet made her the third all-time champion of her breed!
In one season she gave 21,924 pounds of milk. He raised her butterfat
production to 410 pounds in 1 year to 1,037 pounds. Results like these
are of incalculable importance.
Others besides Mr. Kincaid are following the trail Dr.
Northen blazed. Similar experiments with milk have been made in Illinois
and nearly every fertilizer company is beginning to urge use of the
rare mineral elements. As an example I quote from statements of a subsidiary
of one of the leading copper companies:
Many states show a marked reduction in the productive
capacity of the soil
in many districts amounting to a 25 to 50
percent reduction in the last 50 years
Some areas show a tenfold
variation in calcium. Some show a sixty-fold variation in phosphorous...
see soil depletion, barren livestock, increased human
death rate due to heart disease, deformities, arthritis, increased dental
caries, all due to lack of essential minerals in plant foods.
"It is neither a complicated nor an expensive undertaking
to restore our soils to balance and thereby work a real miracle in the
control of disease," says Dr. Northen. "As a matter of fact,
it's a money-making move for the farmer, and any competent soil chemist
can tell him how to proceed.
"First determine by analysis the precise chemistry
of any given soil, then correct the deficiencies by putting down enough
of the missing elements to restore its balance. The same care should
be used as in prescribing for a sick patient, for proportions are of
[Marine Bio Co., Ltd.'s Coral Calcium™
is a complete complex of 76 ocean minerals in proper ionic form and
"In my early experiments I found it extremely difficult
to get the variety of minerals needed in the form in which I wanted
to use them but advancement in chemistry, and especially our ever-increasing
knowledge of colloidal chemistry, has solved that difficulty. It is
now possible, by the use of minerals in colloidal form, to prescribe
a cheap and effective system of soil correction which meets this vital
need and one which fits in admirably with nature's plans.
[Okinawa is the largest of the Ryuku Islands, just
south west of Japan. The islands are made of Sango Coral reefs, a type
of coral unique to the area. Okinawan farmers discovered over 500 years
ago that feeding coral sand that is produced from the weathering of
the reefs to chickens and cows resulted in twice as many eggs and twice
as much milk, and when the coral sand was added to the soil, their crops
as much as tripled. When they began to consume the coral sand themselves,
all the doctors were forced to leave the islands for the mainland in
search of employment. This is known in Japanese History as the "Japanese
Exodus." Today, the average life expectancy on Okinawa is 105 years,
while on mainland Japan it is 77 years. Early European explorers discovered
the secret and brought shiploads of the calcium rich rich coral sands
back to Europe. Today, in Madrid, Spain, there is the historic monument
of the world's first drugstore. In it are rows of shelves labeled "Coral
Calcium from Okinawa." Modern research has found that the Sango
Coral has a composition nearly identical to human bone, closer than
any other coral, so close in fact that surgeons use it for bone grafts.
The research scientist, Mr. Nobuo Someya, developed and patented a process
which results in an easily usable mineral complex in the proper ionic
form with the proper negative millivolt charge. Mr. Someya's company,
Marine Bio Co., Ltd., manufactures this product. No other coral calcium
produced by any other company comes even close in quality, bioavailability,
"Soils seriously deficient in minerals cannot produce
plant life competent to maintain our needs, and with the continuous
cropping and shipping away of those concentrates, the condition becomes
A famous nutrition authority recently said, "One
sure way to end the American people's susceptibility to infection is
to supply through food a balanced ration of iron, copper, and other
metals. An organism supplied with a diet adequate to, or preferably
in excess of, all mineral requirements may so utilize these elements
as to produce immunity from infection quite beyond anything we are able
to produce artificially by our present method of immunization. You can't
make up the deficiency by using patent medicine."
He's absolutely right. Prevention of disease is easier,
more practical, and more economical than cure, but not until foods are
standardized on a basis of what they contain instead of what they look
like can the dietitian prescribe them with intelligence and with effect.
There was a time when medical therapy had no standards
because the therapeutic elements in drugs had not been definitely determined
on a chemical basis. Pharmaceutical houses have changed all that. Food
chemistry, on the other hand, has depended almost entirely upon governmental
agencies for its research, and in our real knowledge of values we are
about where medicine was a century ago.
Disease preys most surely and most viciously on the undernourished
and unfit plants, animals, and human beings alike, and when the importance
of these obscure mineral elements is fully realized the chemistry of
life will have to be rewritten. No man knows his mental or bodily capacity,
how well he can feel or how long he can live, for we are all cripples
and weaklings. It is a disgrace to science. Happily, that chemistry
is being rewritten and we're on our way to better health by returning
to the soil the things we have stolen from it.
The public can help; it can hasten the change. How? By
demanding quality of food. By insisting that our doctors and our health
departments establish scientific standards of nutritional value. The
growers will quickly respond. They can put back those minerals almost
overnight and by doing so they can actually make money through bigger
and better crops. It is simpler to cure sick soils than sick people
- which shall we choose?"
[We chose chemotherapy, amputations, pacemakers, surgery,
and wheelchairs. One fourth of our Gross National Product (1.4 trillion
dollars) is now spent on medical care, affectionately referred to (by
doctors and drug reps) as "health care."]
Editorial notes by Steven Kessler, RT., MCPS
and Charles Martin Simon
Leaves S. Garnett