Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery Religion

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Hallelujah! Dining “Biblically” cures everything!

In perusing my Folder of Woo, which is becoming every more crammed with potential targets begging for the tender mercies of Orac in their very own Your Friday Dose of Woo installments, I was wondering which one to pick. After all, it’s an embarrassment of riches (if you can call it “riches”) in there, with so much woo and so little time. I needed something different after last week’s installment, which, sadly, appeared to have grossed some people out. I don’t know why it might have grossed more people out than previous posts on colon cleanses and liver flushes, but for some reason it did. But I don’t apologize, though. Woo is often dirty business (literally!), and if you don’t have a strong enough stomach for delving into its depths, well, maybe YFDoW is not for you.

This week, being the holiest week of two major religions, Judaism with its Passover celebration and Christianity, with Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter, suggested that it might be an opportune time to check out some religious woo. It’s actually too bad that I didn’t restrain myself and save the Great Spirit Squid of Doom DIABETES for now; more bizarre religious woo I have yet to find. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your point of view), Orac is not known for his self-restraint when it comes to woo of such quality. And during Holy Week, he is even less so, which is why this week’s target is one that promises you that you can “eliminate sickness” if only you follow the precepts laid down in the Bible and eat “Biblically,” so to speak. Indeed, I’m referring to the Reverend George H. Malkmus and his Hallelujah Diet, described as God’s way to ultimate health.

Before looking at the Hallelujah diet in more detail, let’s hear the testimonial straight from the pen (or keyboard) of Rev. Malkmus:

The year was 1976. I was 42 years old and I was told I had colon cancer.

A tumor about the size of a baseball had been found underneath my left rib cage where the transverse and descending colon come together. I was devastated! I asked, “Why me Lord?” I didn’t understand!

It was because of this – what appeared to be a tragic event in my life, and the research and personal experiences that followed – that I was taught GOD’S WAY TO ULTIMATE HEALTH.

Note the all caps. If that’s not an indication that Rev. Malkmus’ diet must work, I don’t know what is.

…Just prior to all this, I had watched my mother die of colon cancer. Mom was a registered nurse, and she believed her doctors when they told her that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery were her only hope of surviving. Mom submitted to these treatments and died a horrible death! At the time of her death, I felt it was the treatments she received at the hands of the medical doctors that ultimately caused her death rather than the cancer itself.

What was I to do? Should I submit my body to the same medical treatments mom had? What I had seen my mother go through was so horrible! Also, as a pastor for 20 years, I had sat at the bed-side of so many people and watched the devastating effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery experienced by others in the treatment of their cancers, I had also conducted the funerals for many of them.

Of course, it never occurred to him that most of this devastation that he saw in all these people was due to–oh, let me think–the cancer, does it?

Another thing that bothered me was that in so many cases prayer didn’t seem to make any difference. I had seen some of the most dedicated Christians, even after great faith, personal prayer as well as collective prayer, get sicker and sicker and often die after going the medical route. What should I do?…

Gee. Imagine that. Prayer doesn’t heal people. At least he figured that one out. Unfortunately, as you will see, he jumped to the wrong conclusion as to why.

It was during this time of uncertainty that I turned to an Evangelist friend in Texas by the name of Lestor Roloff for help. Brother Roloff was one of those “health-nuts.” We often affectionately referred to him as “Carrot Juice Roloff.” I was really in a dilemma as to what I should do for my cancer when I called Brother Roloff. His advice to me sounded strange. He advised me not to go the medical route of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, as mom had gone… BUT TO SIMPLY CHANGE MY DIET TO RAW FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, AND DRINK LOTS OF FRESH CARROT JUICE!

Note the all caps again. He is obviously serious. As for the fresh carrot juice, don’t forget the Orange Man. That’s one likely result of using carrot juice as part of a cancer “cure.” But naturally, Rev. Malkmus soldiered on:

Wow! That sounded too simplistic! But it sure sounded better than the medical route which I had pretty well decided not to pursue. So, overnight I changed from a meat-centered, cooked and processed food diet with plenty of sugar desserts, to an all-raw diet with lots of carrot juice. I stayed on this total raw diet for approximately one year. I didn’t eat any cooked food during that year … just raw fruits, raw vegetables and one to two quarts a day of freshly extracted, raw carrot juice.

The results were spectacular! Almost immediately I started to get well! In less than one year, my tumor had totally disappeared. It simply got smaller and smaller until it was gone. But that was not all. In less than one year, every physical problem I had been experiencing also disappeared! Such physical problems as hemorrhoids, hypoglycemia, severe allergies and sinus problems, high blood pressure, fatigue, pimples, colds, flu … even body odor and dandruff were gone! Totally healed!

Wow, now this is something I could go for: Getting rid of body odor and dandruff, not to mention pimples! Forget the cancer! Is there anything that this diet can’t cure? Well, no, it seems, at least not if you listen to Rev. Malkmus. Is there any evidence that this diet actually cured him? Well, actually, no. I don’t recall seeing any X-ray reports, pathology reports, or any concrete evidence that Rev. Malkmus ever had colon cancer at all. Remember, this was 1976, and the diagnosis of a colon mass was often made by barium enema, after which the patient went straight to surgery without a tissue diagnosis, rather than by colonoscopy, because colonoscopy was rather primitive then. Who knows what Rev. Malkmus had? Unless he shows me a convincing tissue diagnosis, I ain’t buying. And, of course, his is just the first of many religion-steeped testimonials that came out of this whole Hallelujah Diet concept.

So, on what did he base his diet? Well, before I tell you that, let’s take a look at his attitude towards a movement that similarly attributes great healing powers to a “natural diet,” a system known as “Natural Hygeine,” which Rev. Malkus appears to have briefly followed after being “cured” of his cancer (and which, to me sounds uncomfortably close to the term “racial hygiene“:

One of the very disturbing things to me with the approach of the modern health reform movement as promoted by the American Natural Hygiene Society is the absence of God and the heavy emphasis on science.

The leadership of Natural Hygiene has used evolution and science (so-called) as the foundation of their teachings rather than the Bible and creation. Because of this removal of God, I cannot personally be a part of or promote a movement that teaches that the human race descended from a monkey (ape, gorilla, orangutan, etc.), and teaches us that because our digestive systems are similar to an ape we should eat a predominantly fruit diet. My conviction is that if their foundation is wrong, then there is nothing solid to build upon, and the movement established on such a godless foundation will eventually crumble and fall. And that is exactly what I see happening today within the Natural Hygiene movement. Many voices, going in different directions, and each claiming to be the ultimate authority. I consider science and evolution very shaky foundations because they are continually changing to conform with more current findings.

Victoria BidWell has tried to bring Christianity back into Natural Hygiene, and I sincerely appreciate her efforts, but she is like a voice crying in the wilderness because the bulk of the teachings of those who have been the most outspoken voices for Natural Hygiene in recent years have left God out. (T. C. Fry was very openly antagonistic to Christianity and forcefully taught evolution in his writings.) Because of this non-Christian foundation and even antagonistic attitude toward Christianity by leaders in Natural Hygiene, rather than joining them, I felt I could reach the general population and the Christian community much more effectively apart from the Natural Hygiene Society than by being affiliated with it…And our publication Back to the Garden in just a little over three years has reached a circulation of over 100,000 copies per issue…I am always open to new information and then I compare this new information with the Bible, which I consider to be absolute truth.

Oh, no! Fry taught evolution! No wonder Malkmus couldn’t have anything to do with him anymore! Of course, and this means that the very foundation of Malkmus’ Hallelujah Diet is the Bible itself! Now, my first thought when I first read that his diet was based on the Bible was to wonder whether he was actually arguing that a kosher diet could cure all diseases. After all, the primary focus of the Old Testament is Jews and the Israelites, and even in the New Testament Jesus is Jewish and His ministry is primarily among Jews. Presumably Jesus, His disciples, and all the luminaries of the Old Testament all ate kosher, given the Jewish dietary laws of the day. However, even Rev. Malkmus must have realized that, if keeping kosher is all that is necessary to cure all diseases and remain healthy, then there would never be such thing as an orthodox Jew dying of cancer or heart diease. Even he’s not that dense–I think. Besides, his apparent buddy Dr. Lorraine Day, who sells the BarleyGreen Premium™ recommended in the Hallelujah Diet would not like the thought of keeping kosher as being a cure for anything. Not at all.

No, instead, his particular woo was to decide that humans were meant by God to be strict vegans. Never mind that humans have always been omnivores, mixing plant-based food with a little scavenged or hunted meat now and then even way back in hominid history. (Oh, wait. Rev. Malkmus doesn’t accept evolution or that humans evolved from hominid ancestors. Never mind.) He also has a very clear idea of what things are horrible for you:

MEAT contains white fat! The average American meat eater puts over 50 pounds of fat (cholesterol) into their body per year! This fat clogs the arteries, ultimately causing the heart attacks and strokes that will kill approximately 50 percent of our population.

Meat is also the culprit in causing colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other forms of cancer. Cancer is responsible for 33 percent of American deaths.

And meat is the primary cause of adult-onset diabetes, which kills 9 percent of our population. Meat also causes gout and arthritis and a host of other physical problems.

We are told that we need meat for protein and strength, but we are not told that the cooking of meat changes the molecular structure of the protein and renders the protein in meat unusable by the body. If we look to nature, we will find that there is not a single animal in the wild that cooks the flesh it eats! Seventeen years of research has revealed meat as it is produced today to be the single most dangerous food that we put into our body. I have not eaten any meat in 17 years.

DAIRY is the second most dangerous substance we can put into our bodies for many of the same reasons. We are told milk is the perfect food, and needed for calcium. But we are not told that the pasteurizing of milk (heating it to temperatures of 160 degrees or higher) changes the calcium to an inorganic form, which cannot be assimilated by the body.


SALT is another white substance that creates untold physical problems and suffering. The body needs sodium, but it must be in an organic form in order to be usable by the body. Table salt, sodium chloride, is an inorganic sodium compound formed by the union of sodium and chlorine that is extremely toxic to the body, causing it to retain fluid in an effort to keep this protoplasmic poison in suspension and out of the cells.

SUGAR is the fourth white substance creating our physical problems. Sugar is so changed and concentrated from its original plant form… that it is actually a drug! Just 10 teaspoons (approximately the amount found in one soft drink) will immobilize the immune system by about 33 percent. Approximately 30 teaspoons of sugar will shut down the immune system for a whole day.

Wow. I had no idea that sugar can shut your immune system down. I’m sure that would be news to my immunology colleague. But how does he justify a raw vegan diet that eliminates all the above things? Easy. He found one passage in the Bible, just one passage, that told him that God had always intended for humans to eat only plants, and that passage was Genesis 1:29. So what does Genesis 1:29 say? This:

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

That’s it, every last bit of it. Malkmus based his entire diet on a single passage from Genesis. Oddly enough, though, he left out Genesis 1:28, which preceded his favorite passage:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

I don’t know about you, but what’s the point of ruling over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves on the ground, if you can’t eat some of them? But that’s just me. After all, in Genesis 9:3, God says to Noah:

Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Apparently God thinks the same way that I do about this issue. In any case, I won’t go into the details of the diet. You can find them here if you so desire. Suffice it to say that it’s pretty much a raw vegan diet, and Dr. Malkmus’ justification is this:

God handed down to us in Genesis 1:29 a diet composed of raw fruits and vegetables, gathered by hand, as found fresh and untainted in nature. This diet did not contain any animal products or even any grains. On this 100% uncooked vegetarian diet man lived an average of 912 years, without any recorded sickness for the first almost two thousand years of recorded history. I estimate this diet contained approximately 5% unsaturated fat, 90% complex carbohydrates, and 5% protein.

After the flood, as we learn in Genesis 9:3, God allowed animal flesh to be added to His original diet and the cooking of food began. Revealingly, with the addition of flesh and cooked food, physical problems began. Looking at Genesis 50:26, we see that the life-span of man dropped from an average of 912 years on God’s original diet to 110 years, in ten generations, on God’s permissive diet . . . . approximately 20% fat, 70% carbohydrates, and 10% protein [2].

Meat and cooking of food were only allowed after the fall, and that’s why lifespans dropped from 9– years to only 100? What more scientific evidence do you need for this diet? Our diet must be really bad, too, given that the average life expectancy in the U.S. these days is around 74 for men and 78 for women. Of course, far be it from me to ask Rev. Malkmus why God would give His Chosen People food that would harm them and drastically shorten their lifespans. But, then, God works in mysterious ways, I guess, particularly if He works through people like Malkmus.

Of course, Rev. Malkmus, as all good woos do, claims that his Hallelujah Diet is “scientifically validated.” But what, exactly, does that mean? After all, there’s lots of evidence out there that a vegan or vegetarian diet can lower the cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease, for instance. There’s lots of evidence that fat from meat can contribute to heart disease. There’s lots of evidence that increased fiber intake can decrease the risk of colon cancer. But there’s no evidence that I’m aware of that any dietary change can cure an established cancer. As for any research done by groups affiliated with Malkmus, the research is dubious in the extreme, as this description of one study by the Hallelujah Acres Foundation:

The first such study was a survey of followers of the diet who were asked to submit 1-week dietary records and fill out questionnaires about their health before and after their dietary change. A total of 870 surveys were mailed to households of potential subjects. There were 174 surveys returned, of which 114 came from people with contact information listed on the Hallelujah Acres Web site. However, only 141 were judged to have adequate data for dietary analysis and a few of the senders did not complete the health assessment questionnaires.

You can see the problems right from the start, I presume, and read the rest of the critique if you are so inclined. Moreover, the raw vegan diet espoused by Malkmus is not balanced and can result in deficiencies of key nutrients if not supplemented. In any case, it’s quite clear that Rev. Malkmus is serving up some amusing, but not so tasty woo. Vegetables and fruits are wonderful things, and there’s plenty of mainstream science to support the contention that eating more of them and less meat is probably good for you in general and can help decrease the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. But, as with most woo, Malkmus can’t resist taking claims for the health benefits of a vegan diet to a ridiculous extreme. Worse, he is telling cancer patients that his diet plus prayer can cure them of their cancer without surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, which is a sure sign that this is utter woo. There’s also more than a hint of vitalism in his diet, as raw vegetables are described as “live” food while meat and processessed foods are described as “dead.” Clue to Rev. Malkmus: If it’s not in the ground or attached to a plant whose roots are still in the ground, it’s now dead. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fruit, vegetable, or if it’s the grains you’re so suspicious of.

I’ll close with the most amusing aspect of this whole affair. There’s nothing like a good, knock-down, drag out argument over Biblical interpretation, especially if it’s Biblically-based woo that’s being argued about, and we have a doozy of one here. Rev. Malkmus cites Genesis 1:29 to claim that the original diet that God had intended for humans is a raw vegan one. In response, we have one Chet Day stepping out to make the argument that The Bible Supports Foods from Both the Plant and Animal Kingdoms, Part 1 and Part 2. Some of his arguments include:

  • Isaac lived till 180, 70 years more than Joseph. Yet the Bible tells us that he loved game meats.
  • Noah, his family and the animals spent about a year in the Ark. If they had only subsisted on fruits, nuts and vegetables, their food supply would have been exhausted after a short time, without refrigeration. Only dried beans and grains could have lasted for so long and managed to feed all those creatures in the Ark for a year. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that pre-Flood man had learnt to cultivate grains, legumes and other seed foods.
  • If the Jews were to follow your vegan diet, they would not have been to celebrate the Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles and many other appointed feasts of the LORD as these feasts required consumption of animal flesh and cooked bread. Are you suggesting that they should disobey God’s commandments (punishable by death) to follow your dietary guidelines?
  • Many of the heroes of faith, the Godly men of the Bible, were shepherds and herdsmen, e.g. Abel, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s twelve sons, David, etc, and had very many livestock. Jacob’s entire household were in the profession of animal husbandry. That is why they settled in Goshen for the Egyptians did not like keepers of animals. The chosen people of God must have eaten lots of dairy products and meat!
  • God said He would give the covenant people, Israel, the promised land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. If milk is so bad, why would God have used it as an illustration of the abundance and blessedness of the promised land?
  • Three of Jesus’ closest disciples were fishermen by profession. They must have eaten lots of fish!

Wow. It’s hard to argue with that logic. Isn’t it great what passes for a scientific argument between religious woos?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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