Catherine Kousmine (September 17, 1904 in Hvalynsky, Russia – August 24, 1992 in Lutry, Switzerland) was a Russian scientist who believed in nutritionally based medicine. Kousmine focused her research on the following diseases: Cancer, Multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and other auto-immune diseases.
Born in 1904 into a well-to-do family in Russia, Catherine Kousmine and her parents fled the country in 1918 during the Russian revolution. They settled in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva. The young Catherine went to the Ecole Supérieure of Lausanne where she graduated in sciences. She then went on to medical school. Upon graduation in 1928, she moved to Zurich, in professor Guido Fanconi‘s unit, to specialize in pediatrics, then worked in Vienna, Austria, where she got her degree in pediatrics.
Back in Switzerland, she had to resume her work as a general practitioner because her degree in pediatrics was not recognized by Swiss authorities. Dr. Catherine Kousmine spent most of her life in Switzerland. She set up a foundation in her name in Lutry, Switzerland, to promote her methods (Fondation Catherine Kousmine). This foundation has sister foundations in France, Germany and Italy. There is also a Kousmine Medical Center in Vevey, Switzerland.
She decided to conduct research in cancer, mostly because of the death from cancer of two children in her care while she was working as a general practitioner. For seventeen years, working in a makeshift laboratory in her kitchen, she studied a special breed of mice that develop mammalian cancer at four months of age. She believed she discovered a correlation between a healthy diet and a remission of their cancer and became convinced that the cure for diseases sometimes labeled „incurable” involves the return to a healthy feeding habit – one that provides all the nutrients that the organism needs to function properly. Consequently, she focused her attention on healthy diet. In 1949, she claimed to have treated with success her first of many cancer patients, this one suffering from reticulo-sarcoma, thanks in part to the use of a healthy diet.
Her work on cold pressed (virgin) oils
Catherine Kousmine took a particular interest in vegetable oils because their quality had been greatly altered during World War II. Producers used new methods of oil extraction with heat (320°F – 392°F), the only goal of which was to produce half the quantity of oil again. The extraction with hexane, a hydrocarbon solvent with carcinogenic properties, allowed the production of almost twice the amount of oil.
The major problem with these methods, compared to the cold pressed method that produces what is commonly called virgin oil, is that the quality is poor: many of the cis molecules are transformed into the infamous trans molecules.
Dr. Kousmine became a strong opponent of processed food, white sugar, refined flour and refined oil, margarine and butter, believing each of them being harmful to the body cells and providing only „empty calories”, as she called them.
Trans-fatty acids have been the object of several studies worldwide. These studies showed that, even at small doses, the trans molecules are a health hazard. These studies lead some countries (Canada, USA, France for example) to make health recommendations. In 2003, Denmark reduced the proportion of trans-fatty acids to 2 grams per 100 grams of cooking oil. Trans-fatty acids were forbidden in New York in 2006. In the Netherlands, following an advertising campaign in the eighties, the amount of trans-fatty acids in margarine went from 50% down to 2% today.
Theory about cancer
She sought to understand what would cause a tumor to form and invade healthy cells, and not how to destroy a tumor. After many extensive studies on mice, she came to the conclusion that cancer is a need of the organism to ward off a toxic aggression (1). Briefly put, Kousmine believed a tumor, first benign, then malignant, is just a particular form of a defense mechanism of the body. A tumor is not a freak and isolated accident, but a coherent reaction to a state of alarm. Her method focuses on how she believes a cancer can be disengaged from its source and made useless.
„The measures that I recommend start to be effective after about two months, and develop their full benefits only after two years,”² Dr. Kousmine said.
Dr. Kousmine believed that by consuming RAW virgin vegetable oil, such as cold pressed flaxseed and sunflower oil rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and in vitamin E, it is possible to reduce the permeability of the intestinal membrane and to prevent toxins from invading the blood and overloading the kidneys and the liver, thus preventing the formation of a tumor and reducing the severity of any degenerative disease, like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
She proclaimed the importance of organic sunflower oil and of whole grains. Her prescriptions for her patients included: Dr Johanna Budwig‘s Budwig Cream, a mixture of freshly ground cereals, flax and sunflower seeds, fruit, cold pressed sunflower or flaxseed oil and cottage cheese) along with essentials vitamins (C, E, F, etc.), alkalizing minerals to restore immunologic balance in ill patients, all of which she believed to be suffering from acidic blood, chamomile enemas for colon cleansing followed by an instillation of cold pressed sunflower oil, and in some cases vaccines she believed could be effective against rheumatoid arthritis.
„If the patient is too ill, it is better to prepare him for surgery over a few weeks or months with the described measures. We then observe that the tumor stops growing, that it even shrinks in size, and that the general state of the patient improves, sometimes dramatically. Then, the result of delayed surgery or radiotherapy can be excellent.””³
There is no evidence that diet can prevent the development of a cancer which has been already diagnosed, and for the best results orthodox medical treatment needs to occur as quickly as possible.
„It is important that the treatment that I recommend is a beneficial COMPLEMENT to current medical treatments.”(4)
Dr. Kousmine herself stated many times that eating Budwig Cream and taking vitamin pills weren’t the magic bullet to cure a disease like cancer. Contrary to what some critics have said, she always insisted that her method was a complement to, and not a substitute for mainstream treatments. Advocates of her method claim that it dramatically improves the results of chemotherapy and reduces its side-effects.
Some cancer specialists stated that their critically ill patients who followed her treatment and then went into complete remission, some of them for more than thirty years, had been simply „misdiagnosed”. Today, physicians who treat patients with her method are still not well viewed by the orthodox medical community. Dr. Kousmine repeatedly stated that the dramatic results (long – term remission, dramatic improvement of the quality of life for the most desperate patients) were not miraculous, but instead the result of a holistic approach to the disease, compared to the limited approach in orthodox medicine that focuses on the symptoms of the disease, providing the patients only with palliative treatments.
At the time of her death, criticism included that the benefits of raw, whole foods and cold pressed vegetable oils were not supported by scientific literature at all and that her theory has never been scientifically proven. Other critics say that her monitoring of patients with MS was not scientific. Her study rested on no control group nor did she ever test her diet on healthy people to determine any protective effect.
In 1985, the Société d’Encouragement au Progrès – whose headquarters are in Paris (France) – gave her the Médaille de Vermeil for her outstanding accomplishment with multiple sclerosis.
Her books contain anecdotal accounts of patients with severe pathologies, documented with complete clinical and anamnesis of the patients and their kin, the treatment provided and its results, successes as well as failures. These books also provide explanations about her beliefs about intestinal flora and processed food, with chapters about instinct and ancestral feeding habits and an hypothesis on the connection between cancer, toxins and stress.
Critics say that the explanations are too simplistic and complain that some rants against chemical products are caricatural and/or lack any solid data (for example aspartame and milk). Experts also complain that her books give the feeling that doctors don’t understand anything „except me”.
These books, that include a full description of her method, are available in French but have not yet been translated into English.
Soyez bien dans votre assiette jusqu’à 80 ans et plus (Be well till 80 and beyond), éditions Sand, 1980, ISBN 2-7107-0158-8
La sclérose en plaque est guérissable (Multiple sclerosis is curable), éditions Delachaux et Nestlé 1983, ISBN 2-603-00502-2
Sauvez votre corps (Save your body), éditions Robert Laffont, 1987, ISBN 2-290-33632-7, is a sequel to Soyez bien dans votre…, with more cases and in-depth explanations.