For those of you who aren't acquainted with Natural Hygiene, it can be summed up in a few words: 'leave the body alone.'
Provided we live healthfully, we will remain healthy. When we don't live healthfully, there are consequences. All illness has a cause or causes. Natural Hygiene says that when illness occurs we should remove the causes of illness (unhealthful living), obtain sufficient rest and sleep to allow the body to muster sufficient energy to heal, and re-establish the conditions for health.
Natural Hygienists take a somewhat radical view of medicine. They do not put medicines (even herbal medicine) into the body, on the basis that medicine is toxic, only palliates symptoms, simply appearing to 'cure' by temporarily diverting the body from symptoms resulting from its attempt to clean itself of toxins.
Neither do they have 'treatments', as 'any alien substance introduced into the body interferes with body functions, thus destroying or pathologically modifying them.'
The Natural Hygienist who said this was T C Fry, responsible for a huge resurgence of interest in NH from the Eighties onwards, and at least partly responsible for my own interest. I thank him for my being able to study a treasury of instruction materials he put together some 30 years ago, featuring articles from various eminent Natural Hygienists, including the 'father' of Natural Hygiene - at least from the last century onwards - Herbert Shelton.
T C Fry stressed that Natural Hygiene was not just about diet. Amongst the other essential factors of life he lists in Part 1 of the 'Life Sciences' instruction materials are: emotional equilibrium, rest and sleep.
TC's message was clear. Keep the laws of Natural Hygiene and a long, healthy life will be ours.
Then he died.
In very poor health.
TC's death was a crushing blow to the movement, leaving many followers (as in so many things people do have a tendency to follow the man rather than the message...) disappointed, disillusioned, and confused. It also left Natural Hygiene a soft target for those who had always opposed its basic dietary precepts - a diet high in fruit (with vegetables, nuts and seeds) and free of supplementation.
All Natural Hygiene students come across this at some point in their research and...it's a bit of a 'spanner in the works'. We're reading material that we know makes sense, we see TC's the author of some of it, but...hmm...what happened there?
In an attempt to reconcile this myself, and to help the many who I've seen enquire about this over the years, I've been collecting data about 'TC' , or 'Terry' to his friends. (EDIT April 11 - Some people think that TC' actually stood for 'Thunder Cloud' named after his Cherokee Indian grandmother. However, I am very grateful to Vian, TC's daughter, for informing me that 'TC' came from his father's initials - 'Tony Carnell Fry', although TC's great-grandmother was indeed half Cherokee Indian.)
After reading Dr Virginia Vetrano's book 'Errors in Hygiene?!!?', I decided to summarise here what I've found out from various sources. Much of the information here is extracted from, or a paraphrase of, material in Dr Vetrano's book, but I've also included information from Chet Day's article 'Life and Times of T C Fry', Dr Doug Graham (author of '80/10/10 Diet') - many thanks to these three - and other published and internet sources, together with my own commentary.
Hopefully, this article will make things a little clearer to those who have wondered, and also provide information to supply to those who like to ignore the hundreds of thousands of people who have transformed their health with Natural Hygiene and are thriving in old age, instead swooping on the slightly-earlier-than-average death of one man, drawing conclusions on the basis of little data, and using them as ammunition to discredit an entire movement.
I do realise that there may be some reading who knew TC, so, if anything is factually incorrect, or you think I've drawn incorrect conclusions and/or made unfair inferences, just let me know privately, and I'll consider editing. (Edit! I've altered the article a little since original publication following information/comments from people who knew TC - thank you!)
TC came to Natural Hygiene at the age of 45.
He was: overweight, had gastric problems, a heart condition, may have had a lung condition (an X-ray at autopsy showed a previous collapse of a lung) and had very poor teeth (gum disease, multiple abscesses and bone degeneration).
Reports conflict as to whether he had been a smoker (autopsy showed lymph nodes containing carbon and scar tissue - common in those who have smoked at one time).
There are also isolated reports of his having been stabbed whilst working as a detective in New York and injured fighting in WWII. However, as he would have been only 15 when the war finished this seems unlikely.
Whatever the case, it's fair to say, that, health-wise, he was...in a state. Dr Doug describes him as 'at death's doorstep' and says of TC 'At the age of 45, with his health failing terribly due to an intensively abusive lifestyle characterized by its excessiveness, he turned his life around. The doctors had already told him that he didn't have much longer to live. A change in diet coupled with attention to many of the other necessities of healthful living gave Terry another twenty-five years.'
When we consider this, it does put TC's relatively early death into a new light. His very poor health led him to Natural Hygiene, and the effect of NH on his health was so dramatic that it provided the impetus to devote the rest of his life to promoting its principles.
However..., I'm going to suggest (and I'm not the only one to) that he could nevertheless have lived for longer, and suffered less, if he had been paying a bit more attention to those 'other necessities of healthful living', as will be explained.
THE NATURAL HYGIENE YEARS
Further damage to T C Fry's body
TC had a somewhat 'colourful' private and business life. Dr Vetrano's book describes many examples of this, but one notable is that of a business row with a former lover which resulted in her shooting him in the back of the head at close range.
This not only had an obvious immediate effect on his health, but took a long-term toll, in that he experienced black-outs for some time. Shortly after he was told it was safe to drive again, he had a serious car crash that crushed his chest, broke many ribs, and damaged his lungs. Peter Gregonis describes how TC (or as Gregonis describes him, 'Tough Cookie') discharged himself from hospital immediately and that 'for 14 days TC refused food in order to give his body a chance to concentrate all of its energy upon the healing process. The healing process took less than a month; it would have taken twice as long under hospital care.' However, I'd comment that the fact that TC was back working so quickly after such a serious accident may also, unfortunately, have given rise to a false sense of 'indestructibility' that could have adversely influenced his lifestyle in later years.
Poor diet previous to NH had resulted in damage to the teeth. TC did not have repair work done and over the years he was subjected to much pain and fever due to bacterial toxins from abcesses. This would have been enervating and would have resulted in much toxicity in the body (septicaemia).
So, we have a man who was already in a bad state healthwise before discovering Natural Hygiene then receive a bullet in the back of the head, followed by chest and lung injuries, and septicaemia. Any body would have had its work cut out attempting to heal itself from such a huge amount of abuse and damage.
Was TC following Natural Hygiene principles of healthful living?
Let's look at whether TC implemented the diet, and had the emotional equilibrium, rest and sleep necessary for his health to improve.
Firstly, we have to assume that at least initially he must have been following the Natural Hygienic lifestyle sufficiently to result in amazing improvements, as nothing else could account for his zeal and devotion in spreading the Natural Hygiene message.
But, ironically, in spreading the message, his lifestyle became one in which certain areas of healthful living were neglected.
Not many of us, whether all-raw or not, are perfect in our eating, and I understand the feelings of those who feel that its unfair to criticise TC for deviations from the ideal. However, as TC's death has been used by some to discredit the Natural Hygiene and the 'fruitarian' diet (however that is defined), and even to sell supplements, what he actually ate, and the way he ate, is of great relevance.
Early in his Natural Hygiene years, accounts suggest TC was fairly strict about his eating. And it sounds as if most of the time TC's diet was 'Natural Hygiene'. But the areas in which it was not are worth noting.
Chet Day and others cite reports saying that TC would frequently eat nothing in the day then 'binge-eat' in the evening, often continuing to eat late into the night, on very large meals that mixed all sorts of fruits, vegetables and nuts. An acquaintance of Day's said that 'the next day he [TC] would have gastric distress and blame it on the nuts.'
Natural Hygiene warns us to be careful not to combine foods that are 'digestively incompatible', and eating vast amounts late at night, especially if stressed, (and, as will be explained, TC was - a lot of the time), is a ticket for indigestion. Dr Herbert Shelton: 'The almost universal practice of overeating, of eating at all hours of the day and night, of eating improper food, and of eating wrongly-combined foods...is amongst the causes of chronic gastritis.'
This pattern of eating would surely have exacerbated rather than improved the pre-existing gastric problems TC had at the start of his Natural Hygiene career.
The typical Natural Hygiene diet is high on fruit (sweet and non-sweet) and vegetables, with a small amount of nuts and seeds. Did TC always follow a Natural Hygiene diet? No. For example, there were...transgressions. TC's diet included at times 'shop-bought coleslaw inundated with vinegar and mayonnaise', 'desserts such as ice cream', pie, cake, macaroni, cheese and canned food. It should be noted that TC switched from the standard American diet to 100% NH/raw overnight, rather than in gentle steps. That's a tough call, and his subsequent occasional slips will be understood by those on all sorts of raw food diets. Also, he had not come to NH via a cooked vegan diet, so, as a close friend comments, 'it is understandable that when he relapsed, he went back to what he knew.' However, sadly, his departures from the NH diet included exactly the sorts of foods that would exacerbate 'heart problems' (present when he embarked on NH) and may well have reversed to some extent the spectacular gains in health he had made when first discovering NH.
And it must be said that TC didn't actually teach or follow the traditional Natural Hygiene diet. TC advocated a diet of all, or almost all, sweet fruit, and had decided that nuts were not a part of a healthy diet, contrary to the teachings of his mentor Herbert Shelton (see article here).
Constant financial problems meant that TC was under considerable stress; there were frequent run-ins with the IRS. Several times all his business possessions were confiscated. Health writer Ric Lambert: 'Terry...was under unrelenting stress and never got out of one legal battle or confrontation before he was engaged in a new one...'
As has been explained, when TC came to Natural Hygiene, his health was in a very poor state. And the head injuries from the bullet, and the chest and lung injuries from the car crash after that necessitated an extended period of rest to allow the body to heal.
Unfortunately, TC was a workaholic who would not rest. All accounts suggest TC was working harder than ever following these traumas to the body rather than resting. So, sadly, whilst spreading the word about Natural Hygiene and improving the health of others, his own health deteriorated rather than improved.
Dr Vetrano records that TC slept very little, often getting up in the middle of the night to work. He would rise at 4 am feeling 'groggy' , and go for a run to wake himself up, that is, in Vetrano's view, 'he used exercise as a stimulant'. Of course the combination of chronic gastroenteritis with eating large amounts of food at night is not conducive to sleep. In short, TC Fry could not have obtained the recuperative sleep necessary for a body damaged by abuse pre-Natural Hygiene and further damaged by events post-Natural Hygiene to heal, let alone support a stressful lifestyle. He must have been seriously enervated.
Perhaps if, on discovering Natural Hygiene, TC had just lived quietly, following its principles, his body would have had a chance not just to recover a little, but to truly heal from the first 45 years of unhealthy living followed by the additional traumas to his body. Perhaps if he had been able to retire and live a simple life, he would still be with us now.
However, the health improvements he had experienced when first embarking on Natural Hygiene drove him very,very hard to communicate its principles to others. Unhelpful eating patterns, stress, lack of rest and sleep would have constantly depleted his energy, meaning that his body not only had none left to attempt to heal pre-existing conditions and the further injuries, but would of course struggle to eliminate any more toxins that came his way. I'm going to hazard a guess that the unhealthful foods TC is reported to have eaten at times would most likely have been turned to at times when he was most busy and/or stressed, and the problem there is that processed sugary foods deplete the body of vital B vitamins it needs for a healthy nervous system, and needs so very much when we are stressed.
At various times in the few years before his death TC appeared short of breath. Dr Vetrano says he had 'chronic lung problems' for at least five years before his death. Natural Hygienist Dr Ralph Cinque reported that TC had swollen ankles (oedema), with the suggestion that these could have been due to TC's pre-existing heart condition. And TC continued to suffer from digestive problems. Dr Vetrano reports he suffered from 'bloating and flatulence with practically every meal.'
THE YEAR PRECEDING TC'S DEATH
In the spring of 96, six months before his death, TC was so weak and sick that he could barely walk, and had difficulty breathing. His legs were swollen and he was pale. He frequently had a low-grade fever. According to Dr Ralph Cinque, he was too weak and emaciated to fast.
Natural Hygiene says that what TC should have done at this stage was to remove the conditions for ill-health, rest to allow the body to heal, and re-establish conditions for good health.
TC's 'mission' (and, most likely, financial considerations) persuaded him that he could not stop work, save for a short break at a retreat, which, despite the owner's requests for the sake of his health, he would not extend as he was determined to complete Herbert Shelton's dream of setting up a Natural Hygiene college. Natural Hygiene would also say that at this time, more than ever, a diet of raw fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds would be essential. However, in this period, TC was eating cooked food.
So, at a time when he needed to follow the principles of Natural Hygiene most, he did not.
Neither did he seek conventional medical treatment, which at this point in his life some would argue might have been justified from a 'crisis management' point of view.
He instead resorted to 'ozone therapy', an unnatural treatment which is in complete opposition to the principles of Natural Hygiene. He told Dr Vetrano that he felt 'very ill' after having ozone treatments, and that he had been 'talked into' having them.
We can all imagine how, if we are feeling weak, in pain, unable to breathe properly, scared...how we might consider anything anyone suggests might help. But it's such a pity that the more ill TC became through not following the principles of Natural Hygiene, the more he lost confidence and the more he departed from them - truly a vicious circle.
TC had 17 ozone treatments in the year before his death, and Dr Vetrano is convinced the 'debilitating' treatments hastened the progression of pre-existing degenerative conditions and resulted in much damage to his lungs from the free radicals generated by the ozone. Much of her book is devoted to explaining in detail why she feels that the exhausted T C might still have recovered were it not for these treatments. She describes them as the 'coup de grace that killed him.'
EVENTS AT DEATH
Shortly before death, TC had oedema, 'moderate to severe' atherosclerosis, emphysema, lesions in his lungs and difficulties breathing, bronchitis, pneumonia, gastritis, gingivitis, and no teeth.
The cause of death, as recorded on the death certificate, was 'Pulmonary embolus probably caused by deep venous thrombosis.' Vetrano is firmly of the opinion that the thrombus was actually in the lungs, and, again, believes the ozone treatments to be the underlying cause of this. She also blames the treatments for damage found to the heart at autopsy.
TC also had anaemia due to B12 deficiency. Now, there are differing views here as to what contribution this made to TC's demise and why the deficiency. Contrary to the hospital records 'cause of death' as reported by Dr Vetrano, and contrary to Vetrano's own views of the cause of death, Joel Fuhrmann MD believes B12 deficiency to have been the cause and that the deficiency was due to the fact that he did not supplement his diet with B12. (My problem with this is that we are told that TC did on occasions eat processed foods containing eggs and dairy, which would have contained B12.)
Dr Vetrano disagrees that raw vegans need supplementation (and, as noted, TC wasn't quite raw vegan anyway) and believes that the deficiency was due to TC's gastroenteritis. She takes the controversial view that we can obtain B12 for our (very) small needs from foods with B vitamins generally (the amount of B12 present so small that it cannot be measured) and also that B12 can be formed by bacteria in the small intestine (see Dr Gina Shaw's article here on this.) However, she says that TC's chronic gastritis would have prevented him from secreting sufficient 'intrinsic factor' to absorb it.
I will also mention Dr Vetrano's views on TC's diet, as this forms a significant part of the last section of her book, and it's only right to give space to her views here, as her book yielded so much material for this article.
Dr V believes that TC's problems were partly due to the lack of 'concentrated proteins' (nuts and seeds) in his diet. She believes that TC, due to his weakened constitution and stressful lifestyle, needed more protein than the average, and that a diet of fruit only did not supply the level of protein he needed for his body to carry out its functions, particularly repair. Consequently, Dr Vetrano believes TC was malnourished, and that this would have contributed to all his health problems. TC, as we have seen, had problems digesting nuts; it's Dr Vetrano's view that people who believe they cannot digest nuts can build up by eating them in small quantities, properly combined, for example, with leaves.
Whatever the cause of death as recorded on the death certificate, it can be seen that, whether one agrees with Dr Vetrano's views on diet or not, there was a multiplicity of underlying causes of death, firmly linked to TC's lifestyle.
DID T C FRY DIE AT 69 BECAUSE HE WAS FOLLOWING A NATURAL HYGIENE LIFESTYLE?
NO. HE DIED AT 69 BECAUSE OF A COMBINATION OF DAMAGE TO HIS BODY PRE AND POST DISCOVERING NATURAL HYGIENE AND NOT FOLLOWING A NATURAL HYGIENE LIFESTYLE.
Although it's a shame that TC isn't still spreading the Natural Hygiene message in his 80s, as did/do other well-known Natural Hygienists such as Herbert Shelton, Virginia Vetrano and Keki R Sidhwa, TC's life, and death, are an example of the laws of Natural Hygiene in action - a vindication of Natural Hygiene.
It could be argued that his life was a sacrifice - a splendid example of what happens when we ignore key factors necessary for health.
TC spread the teachings of Shelton and others, and directly and indirectly improved the health of so many. He was mentor to Dr Doug Graham and, I'm sure, many Natural Hygienists. And, for whatever part TC played in motivating Doug in his career, I am grateful.
Dr Doug: 'his intensity got the better of him. He simply worked himself to death in an effort to spread the health message to as many people as possible.'
Dr Vetrano: 'Unfortunately, people in great places, who do great things, seem to be the very first ones who are taken first, simply because they are programmed so strongly to achieve their goals that they forget 'self', and even the principles they espouse.'
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
The story of T C Fry reminds us just how important it is to attend to the non-diet factors that can affect our health. Those educating others in health (and, really, that includes all of you reading, unless you never talk to others about your lifestyle) have a responsibility to practise what we preach. We must work hard (as it were...) to reduce stress, and get sufficient rest and sleep. And, by that, I mean 'lying outside in the sun for 30 minutes doing nothing' should be on our 'to-do' lists - that's as much part of our jobs just as surely as finishing that article or preparing that demo!
And, if we do neglect certain factors necessary for optimum health, we should come clean on these. In that way, we can still make a great and positive difference to the world, and as long as we have made it clear in which ways we do not live healthfully, if we do then become ill, the risk of disappointment and confusion to those who have listened to our pronouncements will be minimised (BTW, just so you know, I spend far too long tapping away in this room, pig out sometimes on unwise combinations of food, then experience gastric 'disturbances', and often abuse my stomach by binge-eating vast quantities of banana-date smoothie until it hurts. But am trying to improve.)
If we live a healthy lifestyle most of the time, but fail sometimes, for example, by eating unhealthy foods, and lapse on non-diet factors necessary for health, we must be aware that there will likely be some sort of price to be paid. It's a mistake to think of ourselves as supermen/women just because we eat raw, run marathons, whatever, who can't possibly get ill no matter what we do, particularly if our bodies are a little weaker than average due to abuse in a 'previous life' of unhealthful living.
No matter how much we try to control various aspects of our lives, there will always be toxic elements in it beyond our control - for example, in the air we breathe! If we ensure that we score highly on non-diet health factors, such as sufficient sunshine, fresh air, rest and sleep, we should be able to maintain sufficient energy to eliminate these toxins as they come along without any serious symptoms. But if we are so driven in one aspect of our lives (for example - our careers, however world-serving they are) that we ignore those factors, and particularly if we become stressed, our energy will be so reduced that we may succumb to illness - however good our diets.
TC's life, and early death, is a vital chapter in the history of Natural Hygiene, and a salutary lesson to us all. If a little-known Natural Hygienist had lived as TC had, and died in the way TC did, we wouldn't have heard about it. I'm so grateful to TC for the work promoting Natural Hygiene that he did do in his short life. I've seen photo's of him - an intense-looking 'life of the party' sort of man with bushy eyebrows - I wish I'd met him! I'm also grateful that he was such a larger-than-life and high-profile character that we have the story of his life to remind us that no matter how brilliantly we communicate the principles of healthful living to others, we have to implement them in our own life if a) we want a long and healthy life and b) we wish to become a beacon of health.
We may not start a health school, or write a best-seller, but let's increase the chances of our being a living testimony to our lifestyle at 100 rather than checking out at 69 and giving our detractors a field day.