Francis M. Pottenger, MD

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Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. was a physician who successfully applied the principles of Weston Price in his treatment of respiratory diseases such as TB, asthma, allergies and emphysema. At his sanitorium in Monrovia, California he served liberal amounts of liver, butter, cream and eggs to convalescing patients. He also gave supplements of adrenal cortex to treat exhaustion.

Like Price, Pottenger was also a researcher. He decided to perform adrenalectomy on cats and then fed them the adrenal cortex extract he prepared for his patients in order to test its effectiveness. Unfortunately most of the cats died during the operation. He conceived of an experiment in which one group of cats received only raw milk and raw meat, while other groups received part of the diet as pasteurized milk or cooked meat, summarized as follows:

The Meat Study:

1/3 RAW milk, cod liver oil and 2/3 RAW meat
1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 PASTEURIZED milk
1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 EVAPORATED milk
1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 SWEETENED CONDENSED milk
1. from cows on dry feed, or
2. from cows on green feed

Pottenger found that only those cats whose diet was totally raw survived the adrenalectomy and as his research progressed, he noticed that only the all-raw group continued in good health generation after generation—they had excellent bone structure, freedom from parasites and vermin, easy pregnancies and gentle dispositions. All of the groups whose diet was partially cooked developed “facial deformities” of the exact same kind that Price observed in human groups on the “displacing foods of modern commerce”—narrowed faces, crowded jaws, frail bones and weakened ligaments. They were plagued with parasites, developed all manner of diseases and had difficult pregnancies. Female cats became aggressive while the males became docile. After just three generations, young animals died before reaching adulthood and reproduction ceased.

The results of Pottenger’s cat experiments are often misinterpreted. They do not mean that humans should eat only raw foods-humans are not cats. Part of the diet was cooked in all the healthy groups Price studied and Pottenger fed a diet of both raw and cooked food to his patients. (Milk products, however, were almost always consumed raw among healthy primitives and Pottenger was a strong advocate for clean, certified raw milk.)

Pottenger’s findings must be seen in the context of the Price research and can be interpreted as follows: When the human diet produces “facial deformities”—the progressive narrowing of the face and crowding of the teeth—extinction will occur if that diet is followed for several generations. The implications for western civilization-obsessed as it is with refined, highly sweetened convenience foods and low-fat items—is profound.

Pottenger also pioneered the use of gelatin-rich meat bone broth for the treatment of disease and the maintenance of good health. His seminal article “Hydrophilic Colloid Diet,” stated the case for traditional stock, rich in minerals and hydrophilic gelatin, as an aid to digestion and a source of minerals in easily assimilated form. He often stated that the stock pot was the most important piece of kitchen equipment a family could own.

Pottenger was also one of the first to explore the differing effects of the two parts of the autonomic nervous system, observing that too much stress on the parasympathetic nervous system caused one set of symptoms while too much stress on the sympathetic nervous system caused another set of symptoms.

Pottenger’s most important articles are published in Pottenger’s Cats, available from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, (619) 574-7763.

Sally Fallon Morell is the founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and founder of A Campaign for Real Milk. She is the author of the best-selling cookbook, Nourishing Traditions (with Mary G. Enig, PhD) and the Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care (with Thomas S. Cowan, MD). She is also the author of Nourishing Broth (with Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN).

5 Responses to Francis M. Pottenger, MD

  1. Debra says:

    Does Pottenger’s work suggest that a cat on a raw foods diet would NOT benefit from also receiving homemade bone broth? Broth seems valuable because it offers gelatin, but if cooking is bad for cats, does this rule out the benefits of bone broth for our feline friends? If so, how does one get extra gelatin into their diet? (BTW, I am speaking of course, of absolutely simple homemade bone broth with NO salt, garlic, onion or other ingredients that would be dangerous to cats.)

    • Michael says:

      Carnivores do benefit from bone broth, although it is cooked, because it aids digestion. Bone broth helps spread digestive juices evenly throughout food while inside the digestive tract.

      In his book explains this and does an easy at home experiment.

      The real reason why cooked food is bad for our feline friends is because it is devoid of enzymes. Heat kills enzymes and enzymes help break down the food. It also destroy other heat sensitive nutrients. When enzymes are not present in foods our body has to work extra hard and spend additional resources just to digest a dead food. Which overtime takes a toll on the body.

      Dr. Edward Howell’s book Enzyme Nutrition goes into more detail about the important of enzymes and preparing raw foods correctly. 50% of our protein intake goes towards enzyme production. Enzymes are specialized proteins that spark chemical reactions. Enzymes break down our food and are also responsible for all the other millions of chemical reactions happening in our body every second.

      When we spend too much protein on digestive enzymes there isn’t enough for metabolic enzymes. Which is a slow vicious cycle of health decline. Read his book Enzyme Nutrition it goes into it in more detail!

  2. whisperingsage says:

    The book is still available on Amazon for a reasonable price. I have a few copies and buy more to prove a point to various interested people.
    Pottenger didn’t use bone broth on the cats. As we would deduct a healthy cat in “the wild” would not have any opportunity to cook a nice bone broth.
    He doesn’t say we shouldn’t cook ANY of our food, he says we as humans should have some of our foods raw. I think Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions shows us many recipes and cultural insights that help us humans, with our non grain alimentary canal, get the most out of hard to digest grains- soaking for days, fermenting, souring, and then cooking to break down the cellulose.

    The reality about cooking is that some essential vitamins and minerals are destroyed by cooking, B5 (pantothenic acid) is one of these, and early in vitamin research they found a diet devoid of B5 causes infertility, and reabsorbtion of the embryos, a B5 deficient mother can’t maintain the pregnancy. A B5 deficient adult will have; fatigue. depression. irritability. insomnia. stomach pains. vomiting. burning feet. upper respiratory infections, High Cholesterol/High Triglycerides, Rheumatoid Arthritis, slow wound healing, adrenal insufficiency, And poor growth in children.

    Sulfur is also easily vaporized by heat, and is important for a great number of processes including the vitamin D3 being made in the skin through sunlight (Look up the Mercola interview with Stephanie Seneff, fascinating stuff) here are a list of symptoms that could crop up from sulfur deficiency;
    Itchy skin or scalp
    Diaper rash
    Migraine headaches
    Painful and irregular menstruation
    Sore throat
    Joint pain
    Hay fever
    Fever (hot and cold sweats)
    Bed wetting
    Breastfeeding problems
    Vitamin C and folate are also damaged by heat, and both are responsible for many important cellular processes. Even raw meat has vitamin C in it- especially the adrenals. So even though cats and dogs technically “make” their own vitamin C, they aren’t efficient at it, ( even efficienct goats make 600 mg a day average, but still crave it in food, that’s why they love your roses),cats only make about 6 mg which is not enough for healthy functioning- so yes they would be dependent on raw meat for vitamin C. C is responsible for over 300 cellular processes, like zinc and magnesium (the latest for Mag is 3000! processes). Zinc is also important for 300+ processes.
    I would urge everyone to listen to Joel Wallach’s 1994 talk Dead Doctor’s Don’t Lie on Youtube, and then skip on to his later talk, there’s more. He’s often harassed by trolls, who are out to ruin his reputation, but he spent many years as a respectable zoo pathologist in some major zoos, and worked with Marlin Perkins, moved white rhinos and elephants in Africa, He’s no crackpot, and the animals taught him a LOT. He discovered cystic fibrosis and Muscular Dystrophy are selenium deficiencies and was blackballed in the human medical research world for daring to share that. So he went to the public with this info and adds to it regularly. He personally started out on college working with William Albrecht a contemporary of Weston Price and Frances Pottenger. So he grew up understanding the soil mineral stuff. You don’t have to buy his formulas, I don’t, I use kelp meal for my multiminerals, for my livestock too, but he has so much free info he puts out, he’s well worth adding him to your circle of smart and cool people to listen to who can help us make good change in our lives. Another is Neal Kinsey who wrote a great book on agronomy and Michael Astera who hosts soil minerals dot com, for those who want to garden optimally to bolster their plants ability to repell insects, disease, frost, etc.

  3. Roger B says:

    The most important lesson from this study is that physical degeneration from inadequate nutrition is reversible over successive generations with the return to the more natural diet.

  4. Gunt Niessen says:

    I have develloped a manner to eat, all natural, nothing heated, integrating as much of the findings of Pottenger and Price. It works. My health condition bettered a lot (I am now 77, and still 23 years ahead).

    Then I wrote a book over the matter
    ‘Gesundheit für (beinahe) jeden’
    Kurzbuch-Verlag / IQBuch-Verlag in NL.
    Language: German, waiting for translation. into English

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