You Just Have to Support the Body

Reversing Cancer at the Hippocrates Health Institute
By Adam Swenson

In the early 1950s, Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian immigrant, and founder of Hippocrates Health Institute, healed herself from stage IV colon cancer with nothing but weeds and wheatgrass. She thought she might be onto something. Sixty years later, it seems she was right.

The HHI philosophy

Though the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) of West Palm Beach, Florida, focuses on the spiritual and mental components of healing, their most distinctive difference comes in their unwavering belief in a raw, vegan diet as the primary tool in healing. Per their website, “The Hippocrates Health Institute is founded on the belief that a vegan, living, enzyme-rich diet—complemented by exercise, positive thinking, and noninvasive therapies—is integral to optimum health. HHI believes that good health is everyone’s birthright, and that a life free of disease and pain is our human legacy.”

Most people who encounter HHI do so through their three-week Life Transformation Program. This consists of a strong focus on education with daily lectures on health and healing; a new raw, vegan diet that, for most people, would constitute a truly radical change; detoxification; exercise; saunas, whirlpools, hot tubs, and energy treatments; emotional counseling; stress evaluation and stress management classes; and deep connections with fellow guests and educators.

The mechanism for reversing cancer

HHI director Brian Clement, PhD, LNC, is quick to say that Hippocrates doesn’t heal anyone—they simply provide the body with the support it needs to heal itself. “When you think you heal people, it’s a little bit narcissistic. We don’t think we heal people here. As a matter of fact, we know we don’t. What we do is we support people. They heal themselves. We call this the new era of authentic medicine. We basically tell people that they’re self-healers, that we teach them and give them the tools to heal themselves, and we’re there to support them like any good family member.”

As to the mechanism, Clement says, “the science is overwhelming on it that in this food you have phytochemicals. It’s not magic, it’s phytochemicals that fight breast cancer. Isoflavones is the exact name of it. It targets and destroys the breast cancer. The studies are overwhelming and empirical on this.”

In addition to radically revamping the diet, there is a focus on exercise and what Clement calls “future medicine.” By his estimation, only five percent of Americans get adequate exercise. “When we teach them they’ve got to exercise, we can’t just go in like gangbusters and say, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ We have to slowly get them involved. When we say that you have to start to do some state-of-the-art therapies—electromagnetic, cold laser, and H-waves—we have to say that, ‘This is from medicine. It’s just from future medicine, this is what it’s like.’ We spoon-feed and respectfully, not talking down to them, recognize that they—like me 40 years ago—are coming into a new world. It’s a brave new world they’re coming into, and they’ve got to be brave.”

Jennifer Phyle’s story is a case in point. A fit mother of three and marathon runner in her late 30s, Jennifer had already had breast cancer and a double mastectomy. After she was pronounced cancer-free, it came back as a stage IV cancer. Her doctors recommended an extremely high dose of chemo because she was so healthy and strong. They were going to bring her to the brink of death to kill all the cancer cells. Jennifer gave up on the chemo and came to HHI where they eliminated all sugar, processed foods, meat, and dairy, replacing them with a plant-based diet of organically-grown, enzyme-rich raw foods. Over a year later, Jennifer is cancer-free and vibrant.

(For further survivor stories, check out our “Get Inspired” column in this issue. You can get additional content at—just type “breast cancer survivors” in the search bar.)

Diet, diet, diet

If a good diet is key to reversing cancer, the flip side is also true: A bad diet leads to increased cancer risk. “There are some communities within America, like the African-American community, where it’s now one out of five will have breast cancer,” Clement says. “That’s 20 percent. If you look at the diets of the people who have one out of five versus one out of eight or one out of seven, they’re increasingly worse. Diet is an essential factor … And the statistics are surprising. Today more than 50 percent of us alive will have some form of cancer. Our children, the second killer is cancer. Where does it end?”

A common question for vegans and raw foodists is where the protein comes from in their diet. Clement insists that there is ample protein, and that it comes from sprouts, vegetables, algae, and pollens. A cup of sprouts contains about 2.5 grams of protein. Similarly, spinach contains two to three grams of protein per cup—meaning you’ll be eating a lot of vegetables to satisfy your protein requirements.

Clement says they are trying to make the Hippocrates diet (“the most important emerging diet in the world today”) acceptable to the mainstream. He acknowledges that the transition will take a lot of work but says, “Have you ever succeeded in anything that didn’t take effort? I don’t think there’s anything more important than your life to focus in on. This was the hardest thing I ever did, because I never ate a healthy food in my life. I know it was a struggle for me, but at the end of the day I look back and thank God I endured that.”

Relationship with traditional medicine

In even a brief conversation with Clement, he’ll make some pretty “medical sounding” claims, though he insists that HHI’s relationship with medicine strives to be a both/and rather than an either/or. “If [a patient] changes their attitude and lifestyle and takes non-invasive treatments, they have a much higher percentage chance—not 100 percent, but much higher—of recovering,” Clement says. “One of my colleagues is bringing in medical doctors and I’m going to do one-on-ones with them. We’re going to speak to them, show them the institute, nurture them, and make them understand that we’re on their side, that we want to help to facilitate the recovery for their patient.”

That said, it is good to know where the lines are: “There are two kinds of women with breast cancer. There are those that feel they need to do the medical intervention and then others—and many more today—that had a mother that died of breast cancer and went through conventional … or a sister, or a friend, and so they choose not to. They choose to make this their first stop along the way …

“Eydie Mae [Hunsberger] had stage IV breast cancer, which even today medicine admits they have zero success rate with. They’ve never healed a person, in their opinion, globally, ever, with stage IV. She healed it by diet and all the other technologies we use here, and 65 percent coming to Hippocrates in most days came from her book, How I Conquered Cancer Naturally … [Now] we have an ever-growing group of courageous women who come here because they think this is the rational first step.”

Cancer and genetics

HHI is now involved in a research project with the University of California to show that cancer is not (as had been previously thought) a genetic disease, but rather a metabolic one. “If it were a genetic disease, why would we have tens of thousands of people who have reversed every form of cancer known to man?” Clement says. “Genetics means like I look like my father, that’s genetics. If my family eats bacon and I live in a polluted area, maybe that’s why everyone in the family got cancer.”

Three Factors

“If you’d ask me the three governing factors that cause breast cancer, it [starts with] emotional states and women take their breast as a punching bag,” Clement says. “When they feel emotional about themselves it goes to their breast, like men do with our prostate. The second is the intense amount of estrogens we have from pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, food that is filled with plastics, and heavy metals. All of these put higher estrogen levels in so the cells mutate. Number three is environmental factors and the cleaning products used in our homes and offices.”

What is the raw vegan diet?

While HHI staff consider all their therapies important, without question the cornerstone of the whole affair is the raw, vegan diet guests embark on as soon as they arrive. Nothing is more a signature part of the program than the emphasis on juicing wheatgrass. From their website: “Wheatgrass is considered by many people to be the most healing of all grasses. It contains more than 90 elements from the soil, and it is one of nature’s richest sources of vitamins A and C. When it is grown in fertile organic soil, it contains all of the known mineral elements and is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sulfur, sodium, cobalt, and zinc. Wheatgrass is also abundant in vitamin B17, a substance that can destroy cancer cells selectively.

“Scientists at the University of Texas concluded that wheatgrass juice is exceptional in its chlorophyll content. Known as ‘nature’s greatest healer,’ chlorophyll produces an environment that suppresses bacterial growth in the body and counteracts ingested toxins. It also helps to purify the liver, build the blood’s oxygen-carrying potential, and regulate digestion.”

Is this a big departure from the way most people eat? Without question. But the ladies who walked in with breast cancer and left without it will tell you it’s very much worthwhile.