Abdu’l-Baha on Diet and Medicine

I remember reading the quote below from Abdu’l-Baha many years ago and wondering exactly how in the world it would be possible to cure serious diseases with diet.

It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.
‘Abdu’l-Bah?? in Some Answered Questions

Then I stumbled on this video from TED that illuminates one very real and practical path that is being taken by modern science. It is astonishing when we remind ourselves that Abdu’l-Baha’s words precede this research by more than 100 years:

Dr. William Li’s list of antiangiogenic foods

Can we eat to starve cancer?

The Angiogenesis Foundation

  • http://twitter.com/igneous1 Dan Jensen

    No. It's not astonishing. It's a very very old idea.

  • Baquia

    Dan, can you cite anyone else saying the same thing around the same time or before? Boyle's 17th century “wish list” is impressive but it doesn't include this.

  • Amanda

    The Neijing.

  • Baquia

    You mean the Huangdi Neijing? are you assuming it says something similar or can you show me where in that document it says it? Thank you

  • Amanda

    There are just a few approaches used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to apply therapeutic strategies and principles to correct “dis-ease” or patterns of disharmony. Food is one of them. Yes, “the Neijing” is the Huang Di Neijing. (It's usually just called “the Neijing” by practitioners unless they are referring to a specific part of it.) In The Su Wen (Basic Questions) Neijing, the first section of it, there is a long dialogue between the Emperor and Qibo where diet is mentioned quite a bit. This book is the foundation of all subsequent theory/methodology in TCM and diet has continued to hold a central place in Chinese Medicine. It's a vast area of TCM theory & practice. Qi, itself, which signifies the internal processes of transformation, warming, & stability in the body is symbolized by a character made from the radicals of grain and steam- meaning the transformation embodied in the life cycle of grain, and then grain being transformed by cooking into energy humans can use.

    'Abdu'l-Baha's comments about food (and temperature of liquids) actually reflect widespread regional beliefs about healing and food. I don't think he was being very radical in his assertion. Byron and Mary-Jo Good are good sources of information there.

    The relationship of food to medical systems is complicated. I am leery of people who undersell it OR oversell it. It can do what it can do, which is a lot- and in American culture we are completely ignorant and insane about food. (Like, we don't actually eat *food* we eat processed-food-like-substances.) But even an organic balanced diet can't cure/prevent MS or prevent Trisomy 18. It's not an all or nothing thing, and humanity will always have some medical suffering. Even when we're eating sustainably and well.

    But on the other hand, I made homemade ice cream the other day, and I'm convinced it can cure anything.

  • jameskeene

    Yes, here in lovely Dominica, many follow advice from “folk medicine” experts, based on knowledge passed down over generations. Here is an example.
    For the first time ever, I was getting painful kidney stones (actually precipitated particles in the bladder). I later deduced these were caused by a powder to flavor milk drinks from the grocery store; and stopped using that flavoring powder, eliminating the problem in the future.
    But what was the cure? A neighbor knew all the plants and what they did medicinally and instructed me to boil a particular little one, roots and all, to make a gallon of “tea” to drink over several days. This “tea” tasted terrible, but not that bad, and completely cured me dissolving the “stones”.
    The alternative in conventional medicine would have been an expensive plane flight to get treatment with surgury, ultra-sound or whatever.
    Next example: a little tea from three plants was “prescribed” for something — I forget what, something like a sore throat. It worked great. At a later time, I tried to prepare this tea again and almost killed myself. After recovering from my own tea, I showed the lady the three plants I used. Oh, she said, that one of the three is wrong; it is very poisonous. Moral of the story: do not make just any tea from any plant out there unless you really know what you are doing.

  • amadodedios

    About anti-angiogenesis, it's very appropriate for him to quote the discoverer of Vitamin C, because ascorbic acid will actually help contain tumors. It seems that the process (including cutting off new blood vessel creation) cordons the rogue cells in and keeps them from growing and causing problems.
    I see this as an allegory for what society will be like when “they give a war and nobody comes” – or a mugging, or a bank swindle, or an unfounded infallibility…
    If we can all hold hands, tight and united, around society's tumors, we can beat metastasis! Being truly good is the macro world's equivalent of getting our vegetables!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Love your comment…


  • azizi

    this is like the cnn news about the exhibition of islam in London

    just ridicolo anzi ridicolissimo

    come dire che il caffe e' una invenzione dell'islam

    ma andate a quel paese tutti voi con i musulmani mohammadici

  • fubar

    re: “in American culture we are completely ignorant and insane about food.”

    And this is a recent development. Oil/chemical industries were looking for ways to sell product after WWII, and convinced government to support farming of cheap carbs (corn) which required giant fertilizer inputs, which come from oil.

    Then, the cheap carbs became inputs into a vast mass marketing machine for “artificial”, processed foods.

    As people became sick from eating the junk, the medical establishment got rich. Ronald Regan made things even worse in the 80s when he forced greed into medicine.

    Obama's health care reforms are no where close to being radical enough to really solve the “health care” crisis in the USA.



  • DrFlinton

    The doctor is right, but if you look around you, you will easily see that natural food is something expensive and which people that are poor can't afford in some parts of the world. Fix that!!
    HCG weight loss Seattle

  • Jamie

    Maybe old , but i like it …

  • Joopvandale

    I think you share somewhat Baha’u’llah’s standpoint on using medicine and using food for treatment of disease… Good for you !

  • Joopvandale

    and this was directed at Amanda :)

  • Ferrisbuellar

    Hi Baquia, I’m trying to contact you privately but your “Contact” page form doesn’t seem to work. I have a question for you…


  • http://www.saquinaakanni.com Saquina

    “… treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.”
    â€?Abdu’l-Bah?? was making a statement that is the philosophy of all ancient medicines and most of today’s Alternative Medicines including Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is rooted in Taoism a 10K year old ancient philosophy and tradition. I agree with Amanda on Neijing and TCM diet, and with Fubar on American culture of eating chemicals thinking it is food… One only need read the labels. If you can pronounce it – it is probably not a food. Be assured if it is reconstituted or reconstructed, it definitely is no longer a food. The first step is to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. We can transform our health with foods and a shift in diet per Ted’s lecture… we can leave disease with the doctors.

  • Saquina

    oops, If you can NOT pronounce it – it probably is not a food.

  • chrisae

    This is great. What is awesome to me is that we are finally applying stronger scientific methods to understanding how this all works. Naturalpathic and Chinese medicine have been really great to bring a lot of these ideas into the main stream but in many cases they have also brought the stigma they carry with them.

    Having high quality scientific studies which include placebos, comparison to other treatments and most importantly and blinding is what will really pave the way to maturing the medical field.

  • Gbcc Teachers

    I had the same thought!!  After I saw this on TED Talks, I thought about ‘Abdu’l-Baha and I am sharing this talk and including what ‘Abdu’l-Baha stated about food and medicine with someone who disclosed she had cancer is now in remission..  Thank you for sharing.

  • Ben Weiner