Interview with Dr. William Esser
sure do hope you all enjoy this. Dr. Esser has written various health
articles and essays (most published in Dr. Shelton's Hygienic Review)
and one book, The Dictionary Of Natural Foods.
50 years, Dr. Esser operated Esser's Hygienic Ranch. Before
he retired, Dr. Esser supervised an estimated 25-30,000 fasts.
Esser passed away in his sleep in 2002 at the age of 91. -- Daniel
from Dr. William Esser:
was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1911. I lived in Pittsburgh
until my teens. The environment, of course, was smoky in those days.
A lot of mill work and so on which continued up until 1945 but we
moved out to the country in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and so we weren't
quite as subject to the pollution. Had a nice place there, grew our
parents were, at that time, living hygienic lives according to the
writings of Bernarr McFadden and Father Kneipp, the
'water cure' and that sort of thing. So we were brought up (I had
two sisters), the three of us were brought up quite well in those
days without any type of medications, without any inoculations.
my entire life I have never had an inoculation, which in itself is
rather a miracle--society being the way it is. And it was early days
of course, diet wasn't quite as we would have it be today but we had
lots of fruits and vegetables of our own so that was very good.
original pursuits were not in this direction. But, at the time that
I had to make up my mind about studying something--from the professional
standpoint--those were the depression years so we had to consider
something that would earn us a living and still be wholesome and constructive.
So I studied Naturopathy. Got my degree and so on....
that point on, of course, it opened the way to the continuation of
natural living. I had my first practice in Pittsburgh. An office practice
which, of course, was difficult. Unless you are practicing using modalities,
using some form of treatments or adjustments--ie, Naturopathy treatments
cover a wide field of adjustments, manipulations, physiotherapy and
so on, but being a Natural Hygienist, and practicing according to
Dr. Shelton's principles, we didn't use any of those things.
after a patient would come in two or three times and we would just
talk and advise and instruct they felt they were not getting their
money's worth unless they had a treatment of some kind. So I was starving
in those days. [chuckles] Which was perhaps fitting in consideration
of my philosophy. [chuckles again]
was a school for Naturopathy at that time in New York City. Dr.
Benedict Lust was an M.D. but he came from Europe, from Germany
and introduced Naturopathy to the U.S. and had the first school of
Naturopathy. He was a good man and a good teacher and even though
I did not follow through with the total naturopathic practice, in
the sense of using all the different modalities, it was still a good
course. A good fundamental course in all the basic sciences and so
on plus the hygiene.
there I opened my practice in Pittsburgh and then following that I
realized that the only way to really have satisfaction with patients--because,
well, after 2 or 3 treatments, well, they wanted to go because nothing
was being done.[smiles] You know they were learning a great
deal if they listened...
I decided it was necessary to open an establishment where I could
have them stay, where they could fast, where they could be fed properly
and so on for a period of time until they overcame their illnesses
and so forth. So I temporarily had a place in Pittsburgh where I would
have them stay.
moved to Connecticut for a short period of time and then I changed
to South Carolina where I had a plantation which I leased. There I
really got down to business and had a good practice. After a number
of years, well, that was in '46 when I opened there and then in '49
I moved to Florida here. Where I've been the rest of the time.[ponders
am very satisfied.[that smile again]
turning point occurred even while I was going to school and I became
friends with Dr. Shelton and he had a great deal to do in forming
my philosophy and my opinions about fasting and the care of individuals
and recognizing that the healing is done by the body and nothing
else, no supplemental thing.
body did the healing.
of course, under a fasting program it did the healing more rapidly,
more efficiently, more effectively. And then following that, of course,
the natural diet of fruits and vegetables, the raw foods, of course,
were the important things.
the results that we had, they carried out the truth in that matter.
And, of course, we've had cases, as every doctor has, that haven't
neccasarily responded but not because of the form of care but because
of the disreputable conditions of the human body after it has
been abused and subjected to conventional life and living for many
years which is a destructive thing.
these cases which have gone too far or have developed chronic illnesses
that are not reversable as a result of the damage that is done to
the organs, to the liver, to the kidneys, to the vital organs, the
respiratory system, the heart and all--once it has gone too far on
a destructive course it frequently has not the where with all to restore
itself. So we do as well as we can, or rather the body does as well
as it can under these circumstances and hopefully can still bring
about a certain degree of restoration--if it hasn't gone to the end
it always has possibilities.
really hasn't changed here very much. Of course our philosophy and
principles haven't changed. Anyway, we've made improvements. We've
endeavored to update some of our accommodations and so on to a certain
degree. It still isn't what we would like to have because we do still
try to sustain rates that are bearable for people. In fact, we have
the most reasonable rates in the country.
of that we haven't been able to create lavish [chuckle] accommodations
and things that we might add if we were charging a lot of money. But
I've always felt there are so many people that need the program and
can't afford a great deal so we do the best we can in that regard.
far as our set up and so on, people who come back who have been here
30 years or so before say "It's like home. It looks the same
as it did when I was here before." And they appreciate that because
our grounds are the same. The only difference is the fact that our
surroundings outside the ranch are different and are more built up.
coming in these days need a lot of instruction, a lot of advice,
a lot of care and understanding. Because people do come in with neurological
problems and mental and emotional problems which are the normal, natural
result of the complexities of living today. In some directions we
see great possibilities for the future. We see organic culture, that
is gardening and so on, coming to the fore. These foods are more available
for people if they want them.
on the other hand, the complexities of modern living--with all the
drugs on the market and all the things like aspartame and that
sort of thing which is used obliviously. People are oblivious of the
dangers of these things and the effect that they have on the nervous
system, the emotions and so on. It's unbelievable!
it's the end result of conventional living as it is today. And the
lack of--well, the power of the so-called medical science and what
it has done to make these things all seem desirable. As well as the
programs of innoculation that are now becoming--unfortunatly to the
point that they are hoping to make all of them compulsory, that everyone
is cataloged and checked from childhood to the death bed and that
is frightening in my opinion.
if these things are taken over by the government and part of everybody's
life then it is a sad business. Individuals simply won't be able
to then live a normal healthy life. I find many many cases are
much more complicated these days. More people with immune deficiencies
that are manifested in various ways and actually a lot of young people
at the age of 25 or 30 are caught up in these situations and their
potentials are spent at a younger age.
very difficult for them to pick themselves up and bring themselves
around to a stage of healthy existence. Things like A.I.D.S. and many
other illnesses that are cataloged in a certain way--they are all
part of that immune deficiency situation which is a body that is
so totally depleted and with organic breakdowns and so on that
it's almost impossible to restore that health. But we still feel that
Natural Hygiene offers them more hope than any other procedure.
have lots of hobbies but very little time for them. Excepting when
I'm closed during the summer months and then, of course, I travel
a bit and do some of these hobbies; book collecting, photography,
and I have a lot of interest in collecting things that have nothing
to do with my profession.
I'm a bibliomaniac and I do a lot of book collecting and I have some
nice books, first editions and so on. I don't know how many books
I have. I do know it's more than I have room for. Probably 10-15,000
maybe. They're not all related to health, though. I have one of the
best collections available in so far as books from the 19th century
and so on and some earlier than that.
early writings of Sylvester Graham and Dr. Isaac Jennings
and Trall and all the way up to -- well, I haven't been doing
too much collecting in that regard of late because I had all the ones
deemed worthwhile for the most part. And the others, like writers
like Mark Twain, Chesterton, Tolstoy, Shaw and things of that sort.
I can show you some time.
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