Arnold Ehret

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Arnold Ehret
Freiburg, Germany, c. 1914/15
Born(1866-07-29)29 July 1866
Died10 October 1922(1922-10-10) (aged 56)
Los Angeles, California, US
Scientific career
FieldsNaturopathy, Vitalism

Arnold Ehret (July 29, 1866 –  October 10, 1922)[1][2] was a German naturopath and alternative health educator, best known for developing the Mucusless Diet Healing System.[1][3] Ehret authored books and articles on dieting, detoxification, fruitarianism, fasting, food combining, health, longevity, naturopathy, physical culture and vitalism.

In opposition to medical science that asserts white blood cells are important components of the immune system, Ehret believed that white blood cells are caused by consuming mucus-forming foods, and as waste materials, poison the blood.[4] His ideas about diet and disease have no scientific basis and have been criticized by medical experts as dangerous.[4][5]


Ehret was born in 1866, in St. Georgen (Black Forest), Schwarzwald, Baden, near Freiburg, southern Germany.[6]

Ehret's interests were physics, chemistry, drawing and painting.[6] In 1887 at age 21, he graduated as a Professor of Drawing[1] from a college in Baden. After studying in Frankfurt,[7] he then taught there at a technical school for 15 years.[8] Ehret was discharged from the army after nine months because of a heart condition. During the 1890s his health deteriorated and he took interest in naturopathy.[1] He visited Sebastian Kneipp's water cure sanatorium in Wörishofen. He embraced fasting and a diet that consisted primarily of fruit. He founded a Sanitarium in Switzerland and used his diet to treat people.[1] He moved to the United States in 1914 and attended the Panama–Pacific International Exposition of 1915. He opened an office in Los Angeles to promote his ideas.[1]

By age 31, he was diagnosed with Bright's disease which he claimed was cured by his mucusless diet (Bright's Disease is inflammation of the kidneys).[9]

On October 9, 1922, Ehret fell while walking down a street sustaining a fatal injury to his head.[1]

Ehret developed and marketed the Innerclean Intestinal Laxative. In the 1930s the product was investigated and found to be fraudulent (see criticism section).

Views on human health[edit]


Ehret claimed that pus and mucus-forming foods were the cause of human disease,[10] "schleimlose" (slime-free) foods were the key to human health,[11][12] and "fasting (simply eating less) is Nature's omnipotent method of cleansing the body from the effects of wrong and too much eating."[13][14]


In 1907, Ehret who was based in Freiburg, visited Monte Verità,[15] a nature life colony in Ascona,[16][17][18][19] near Lake Maggiore, whose visitors included Lenin and Trotsky.[20] After collaborating with Henri Oedenkoven who owned a sanitarium at Monte Verità,[21][22] Ehret opened one sanitarium in Ascona, Switzerland and another in nearby Lugano (Massagno), writing one of his books in Locarno.[23] Around 1909, Ehret engaged in a series of public lectures and fasts monitored by German and Swiss officials. In 1909, he claimed he fasted for 105 days in total.[24] In 1910, he wrote an article for a German vegetarian magazine about his 49-day fasting experience, which gained the public's interest, and which later appeared in his book Lebensfragen (Life Questions).[24][25]

For 65 years, Fred and Lucille Hirsch published Ehret's literature and the torch symbol found on Ehret's books became the logo of the Ehret Health Club. In 1979, the Ehret Literature Publishing Company Inc, in New York, inherited Ehret's publications and archive of unpublished German manuscripts.[citation needed]


Having denounced the nitrogenous-albumin metabolic theory in 1909, Ehret learned of a contemporary, Thomas Powell M.D., in 1912, who concurred with his belief that "grape sugar" (simple sugars in fruits and vegetables) was the optimum fuel source, body building material, and agent of vital energy for humans, not protein rich foods.[26] Powell had set out his beliefs in the book "Fundamentals and Requirements of Health and Disease," published in 1909.[27] Ehret claimed alkaline foods, which were also mucusless, formed the natural diet of humans.

Ehret asserted that the body is an air-gas engine, not dependent on food for energy, and that the body was not designed to utilize mucus-forming foods, offering the equation Vitality = Power − Obstruction (V = P − O) to demonstrate this.[28] Ehret also claimed the lungs were the pump in the body, while the heart acted as a valve, with the blood controlling the heart. Ehret further believed that white blood cells were the result of ingesting mucus-forming foods.[29][30]

Metabolism myth[edit]

Ehret maintained that new tissue was built primarily from simple sugars in fruits,[31] not metabolised from protein and fat-rich foods. Ehret favored only nuts and seeds during transition to the ideal fruit diet, and even then, only "sparingly," condemning high-protein and fat-rich foods, as "unnatural," writing further that "no animals eat fats" and "all fats are acid forming, even those of vegetable origin, and are not used by the body."[32] Later editions of his Mucusless Diet Healing System published by Fred S. Hirsch, claimed nuts were "mucus-free."[33] Ehret specifically renounced meat, eggs, milk, fats, cereals, legumes, potatoes, and rice, whilst recognizing the transitional value in some of these.[32] Ehret, citing Ragnar Berg, stated that fats and proteins were acid-forming and were to be consumed in moderation, as did Ehret's contemporary: Otto Carque.[34]

Religious views[edit]

Along with his sister,[35] Ehret was brought up as a Roman Catholic. He believed in God, but took issue with the Church because of its dietary requirements in a letter to the Pope, and subsequently quit the Church, though his faith in God remained. After his death, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who was aware of his writings on Jesus, wrote to Fred Hirsch to confirm he would ban Catholics from reading Ehret's religious writings, if published. Prior to this, Ehret was popular with the bishop and the Catholic fraternity.


None of Ehret's claims are recognized as valid by experts in the scientific, medical, and nutritional fields to the present day. They largely contradict well-understood biology and chemistry, and are unsupported by any evidence.

Mucusless diets were critiqued as unscientific in the book Diet and Die by health writer Carl Malmberg in 1935.[36] The "Special Committee on Aging" of the 88th US Congress published a report on "Frauds and Quackery effecting the Older Citizen" in 1963, in which it mentions Ehret as a quack whose "cultists earnestly believed that women who adhered to the diet program of 'Professor' Arnold Ehret could expect 'immaculate conception.'".[37]

In 1978, Ehret's mucusless diet was listed as a fad diet as "its claims are not substantiated scientifically."[5] Physician Terrence T. Kuske has written that Ehret's mucusless fruitarian diet "lack[s] high quality utilizable protein as well as adequate levels of many vitamins."[38] Kuske also commented that "there is no evidence that prolonged fasting provides any significant benefits."[38]

Nutritionist Kurt Butler and physician Lynn Rayner have noted:

Like macrobiotics, the mucusless diet system promotes a dangerous idea, that the more you suffer during starvation, the more you need to be starved to "cleanse the system". This leads unfortunate victims to cling fanatically to the system and dismiss all signs of malnutrition as signs that poisons are being expelled and the diet is working."[4]

Ehret held a number of non-scientific beliefs that were documented by Butler and Rayner, such as:[4]

  • White blood cells are decayed mucus in the blood that cause disease.
  • Lungs pump blood through the body; the heart is merely a valve.
  • Mental illness is the result of gas pressure on the brain from mucus decay.
  • Fasting can cure insanity.
  • Consuming rice causes leprosy.
  • Dandruff is dried mucus.
  • A mucus-free body never sweats.
  • Nocturnal emissions expel mucus, but cease on a mucusless diet.
  • Gonorrhoea is caused by eating mucus foods.
  • A clean-blooded body sends electromagnetic radiation through the hair, which is important in sexual attraction.
  • Hairless persons are sexually inferior.
  • The white race is unnatural. The white skin colour is the result of mucus-laden white blood corpuscles clogging the system.


Ehret's Innerclean Intestinal Laxative was produced by the Innerclean Manufacturing Company of Los Angeles and was sold through mail order. The Innerclean product was issued with a four-page leaflet advertising the Mucusless-Diet Healing System of Ehret.[39] The product was said to cleanse and rejuvenate the intestines by "remov[ing] from the intestines hardened feces, mucus, and other age-old uneliminated, imperfectly digested, fatty substances."[39] An examination by the American Medical Association's Chemical Laboratory revealed that the product was made from a mixture of chopped herbs such as Senna, an indigestible residue of agar, and sand. In 1926, the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that "the harm that a mixture of that sort might do to an inflamed mucous membrane or an inflamed intestinal mucous membrane can easily be realized by physicians and even intelligent laymen."[39]

In October 1931, 125 cartons of Innerclean were seized at Brooklyn, New York, because of misbranding in violation of the Pure Food and Drug Act.[40] The United States Secretary of Agriculture Arthur M. Hyde reported from sampling Innerclean that it was made from Senna leaves, anise seed, and sassafras bark. The product was misbranded with false and misleading health claims. The court released the product under a $4,000 bond, conditioned on agreement that the advisement on the packages was to be removed and destroyed under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.[40]

Later interest[edit]

In 1950, Swiss author Eduard Berthollet described Ehretism in Le Retour À La Santé Et A la Vie Saine Par Le Jeûne (The Return To The Health And The Wholesome Way By Fasting).[41]

In the 1960s, Ehret's writings gained popularity with the hippie and surf culture of San Francisco, Hawaii, and California.[42] In the 1970s, Paul Bragg rewrote The Mucusless Diet Healing System[43][44] and Rational Fasting [45][46] with Hirsch's permission. In 1973, Manuel Lezaeta integrated Ehret's ideas with his 'thermal doctrine' for the elimination of toxins in La Medicina Natural Al Alcance De Todos.[47]

Selected Bibliography[edit]

  • Ehret, Arnold (1935). Kranke Menschen (Fasting Teachings: The Cause & Cure of Human Illness). München: Carl Kuhn Verlag.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1971). Kranke Menschen. USA: Benedict Lust Publishers.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1924). Mucusless Diet Healing System (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, California: Ehret Literature Publishing Co.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1970). Mucusless Diet Healing System a Scientific Method of Eating Your Way to Health. New York: Benedict Lust Publishers.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1938). Physical Culture: Fasting and Dietetics (4th ed.). Beaumont, California: Ehret Literature Publishing Co.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2014). Prof. Arnold Ehret's Mucusless Diet Healing System Annotated, Revised, and Edited by Prof. Spira (2nd ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Breathair Publishing.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2017). Prof. Arnold Ehret's Physical Fitness Thru a Superior Diet Fasting, and Dietetics also a Religious Concept of Physical Spiritual, and Mental Dietetics (1st ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Breathair Publishing.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2014). Prof. Arnold Ehret's Rational Fasting for Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Rejuvenation (1st ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Breathair Publishing.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1938). Rational Fasting for Physical Mental & Spiritual Rejuvenation (6th ed.). Beuamont, California: Ehret Literature Publishing Co.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1971). Rational Fasting: a Scientific Method of Fasting Your Way to Health. USA: Benedict Lust Publishers.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2001). The Cause and Cure of Human Illness (2nd ed.). New York: Ehret Literature Publishing Co.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1975). The Definite Cure of Chronic Constipation. California: Ehret Literature Publishing Co. Inc.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2014). The Definite Cure of Chronic Constipation and Overcoming Constipation Naturally (2nd ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Breathair Publishing.
  • Ehret, Arnold (1923). Thus Speaketh the Stomach / the Tragedy of Nutrition. New York: Ehret Literature Publishing Co. Inc.
  • Ehret, Arnold (2014). Thus Speaketh the Stomach and the Tragedy of Nutrition (2nd ed.). Columbus, Ohio: Breathair Publishing.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Melton, Gordon J. (1990). New Age Encyclopedia. Gale Research. p. 159. ISBN 0-8103-7159-6
  2. ^ "Death Certificate". Arnold Ehret Italia.
  3. ^ Williams, William F. (2000). Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 1-57958-207-9
  4. ^ a b c d Butler, Kurt; Rayner, Lynn. (1985). The Best Medicine: The Complete Health and Preventive Medicine Handbook. Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco. pp. 133-135. ISBN 0-06-250123-2
  5. ^ a b Howard, Rosanne Beatrice; Herbold, Nancie Harvey. (1978). Nutrition in Clinical Care. McGraw-Hill. p. 276. ISBN 978-0070305458
  6. ^ a b Child, B. W. "Biographical Sketch of Prof. Arnold Ehret", in Mucusless Diet Healing System, New York: Ehret Literature Publishing Company, 1994.
  7. ^ Arnold Ehret's The Story of My Life as told to Anita Bauer, Beneficial Books, 1980, page 14
  8. ^ Arnold Ehret's The Story Of My Life as told to Anita Bauer, Beneficial Books, 1980, page 12, page 29
  9. ^ "Nature Cure Pioneer: Arnold Ehret". Naturopathic Doctor News and Review. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Dr. (Heinrich) Lahmann said "Every disease is caused by carbonic acid and gas." But he did not learn its source in decayed, uneliminated food substances - the mucus in a state of continuous fermentation.", Arnold Ehret, Mucusless Diet Healing System, ELPC Inc, 1994, page 91
  11. ^ Herbs for Improved Digestion, C. J. Puotinen, McGraw-Hill Professional, 1998, page 7, "Ehretists, disciples of Arnold Ehret, still follow his mucus-less diet and avoid mucus-causing foods."
  12. ^ "Only fruit, the sole mucus-free nourishment, is natural" The Cause & Cure Of Human Illness: The Common Root Cause Of All Disease, Aging & Death by Professor Arnold Ehret, Translated by Max Fischer, Ehret Publishing Literature Company Inc, 2002
  13. ^ Fred Hirsch in Mucusless Diet Healing System, New York: ELPC, 1994, page 9
  14. ^ "Transition diet and fasting are the real and only keys to a superior life - to the revelation of a superior world, and to the spiritual world.", Arnold Ehret in The Mucusless Diet Healing System, USA: ELPC Inc, 75th Anniversary Edition, 1994
  15. ^ Locarno et ses Environs. Fremdenblatt mit offizieller Fremdenliste. Visitors' Journal and Official List, 6. Jahrg., Nr. 6, 23. February 1907 bis Nr. 25, 18. May 1907.
  16. ^ Ascona: Monte Verità: Auf der Suche nach dem Paradies. Landmann & Roman von Werner Ackermann, Frauenfeld: Huber, 1990, ISBN 3-7193-1219-4.
  17. ^ Monte Verità: Ascona's Mountain of Truth. Mara Folini, Bern 2000.
  18. ^ * Monte Verità: Sanatorium der Sehnsucht. Andreas Schwab, Zürich: Orell Füssli, 2003. ISBN 3-280-06013-3
  19. ^ "Mountain Of Truth: The Counterculture Begins - Ascona 1900-1920. Martin Green, University Press Of New England, Hanover & London/Tufts, 1986.
  20. ^ Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 (Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine), Paul Weindling, page 79, "The physician, Raphael Friedeberg, underwent a metamorphosis from adviser to sickness insurance funds and SPD member in the 1890s to anarchism and Lebensreform in the 1900s. He replaced materialism by a creed of 'psychism,' and conventional medical therapy by nature therapy. His settlement at Monte Verita near Ascona pioneered the first 'air huts' or Lufthütten for fresh air and nature therapy. The colony's vegetarianism and anarchism attracted such visitors as Bakunin, Kropotkin, Lenin, and Trotsky."
  21. ^ Robert Landmann, Ascona: Monte Verità, Ullstein, 1979, ISBN 3-548-34013-X.
  22. ^ Schwab, Andreas. Monte Verità - Sanatorium der Sehnsucht, Zürich: Orell Füssli 2003. ISBN 3-280-06013-3
  23. ^ The Cause And Cure Of Human Illness, Arnold Ehret, New York: ELPC Inc, 2002
  24. ^ a b Lebesfragen, Arnold Ehret, Carl Kuhn Verlag, Munich, 1923
  25. ^ The Mucusless Diet Healing System, Arnold Ehret, ELPC Inc 1994, page 20 "It had a sensational and revolutionizing effect."
  26. ^ Dr. Guy Bogart, N.D.: "In 1909, Ehret wrote an article for the European health magazines denouncing the metabolic theory, and in 1912 learned that Thomas Powell, M.D., of Los Angeles had made the same discovery and was effecting wonderful cures by using foods containing what he called 'organized carbon' which is the same food ingredient that develops into grape-sugar during digestion."; "grape-sugar of carbohydrates was the source of vitality and vital energy, and not the proteids". Introduction to Kranke Menschen (Beneficial Books, 1971)
  27. ^ Fundamentals and Requirements of Health and Disease, Thomas Powell, M.D., Powell Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California, 1909, Introduction to Part One, page 15, "The New Vital Philosophy: Comprehending the Basic Principles of Biology, Physiology and Dietetics - unraveling the manifold Mysteries of Vegetation, Nutrition, Nerve Action and Locomotion, by showing how energy is stored in Food; how Nutrition is effected; how Food-Energy is transformed into the VITOMOTIVE POWER, or Muscular Energy; that this agent possesses, at its maximum efficiency, a Dynamic Equivalent of 600 lbs. to the square inch; what this Mighty Power is; from what element of the food it is developed; and how it sets the VITAL MACHINERY in motion."
  28. ^ Dr. Guy Bogart, N.D., Introduction to Kranke Menschen (Beneficial Books, 1971), "Man is working against too much friction in his human machine. Hidden away in every part of the human body are thousands of feet of small and almost invisible tubes through which the blood circulates like the water in a water motor. If the blood stream contains sticky mucus from wrong eating, the body machine has to work under continual friction, like a car slowed down by applying the brake."
  29. ^ Dr. Guy Bogart, N.D., Introduction to Kranke Menschen (Beneficial Books, 1971), "The excessive appearance of the white blood corpuscles, i.e., of the white dead mucus, as compared with the red sugar and iron substances is becoming dangerous to life. Red-colored and sweet is the visible token of life and love; white, pale, colorless, bitter, the token of disease and the overwhelming by mucus, the slow dying of the individual."
  30. ^ The Purple Seal: Breaking The Plague of Chronic Diseases and Syndromes, George Washington Singleton III, BRCA Incorporated, page 41, "Arnold Ehret who first identified the Caucasian Peoples' white skin color as physiopathogenicity in his 1922 classic nutritional herbology book Mucusless Diet Healing System; goes on and explains how he reversed his own white color back to its original brown color and everyone thought he was a Native American or Asian Indian via a "natural sun tan" regime. He achieved this by following his own Mucusless Diet Healing System, i.e. a Herbivore/Vegan diet using foods that remove the undigested animal residues he calls "mucus" that gives the white blood cells their characteristic white color from their phagocytosis of Animal/Dietary Cholestrol in their "house cleaning" sanitary body maintenance duties."
  31. ^ "These elements or ingredients are known as "organized carbon and "grape sugar". Their presence in sufficient quantities, refutes the now current idea that the organic, mineral or tissue salts, are the energy producing elements. They exist only in infinitesimal amounts in all foods, and part of them are drugs. Neither are the number of calories ("heat units" by calorimeter tests), reasonable basis for selecting a proper diet. My over forty years of observation, experiences and research have proven conclusively to me that fruits and vegetables have all the tissue salts needed, and that the presence of actually well known ingredients in sufficient quantity are the energy and life supporting ingredients which make them the superior of all other foods, when the debris (mucus) from the "mucus-rich" foods is eliminated.", Professor. B. W. Child, Introduction, "The Mucusless Diet Healing System", Arnold Ehret, New York: ELPC Inc, 1994, page 21
  32. ^ a b Mucusless Diet Healing System, Arnold Ehret, USA: ELPC Inc, 1994, chapter "The Destructive Diet Of Civilization"
  33. ^ Mucusless Diet Healing System, Arnold Ehret, USA: ELPC Inc, 1994, page 90
  34. ^ "Medical science is still suffering from Liebig's old theory that the human or animal muscle works on proteins, whereas as a matter of fact nearly all heat and energy are produced by fats and carbohydrates. It is now an established fact that the adult body cannot make use of more than about five per cent protein, of the total amount of solid food needed daily.", Rational Diet: An Advanced Treatise on the Food Question, Otto Carque, Health Research Books, 1996, page 355
  35. ^ Arnold Ehret's The Story Of My Life as told to Anita Bauer, Beneficial Books, 1980, page 21, 28
  36. ^ Malmberg, Carl. (1935). Mucusless Diets and the Back-to-Nature Cults. In Diet and Die. Hillman-Curl, Inc. pp. 91-95
  37. ^ Hearing before the Special Committee on Aging. United States Senate, 88th Congress. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC: 1963. pp. 133-134
  38. ^ a b Kuske, Terrence T. (1983). Quackery and Fad Diets. In Elaine B. Feldman. Nutrition in the Middle and Later Years. John Wright & Sons. pp. 291-303. ISBN 0-7236-7046-3
  39. ^ a b c Camp, Arthur J. (1936). Nostrums and Quackery and Pseudo-Medicine, Volume 3. Press of the American Medical Association. pp. 72-73
  40. ^ a b Misbranding of Innerclean. U. S. v. 125 cartons of Innerclean. Consent decree of condemnation and forfeiture. Product released under bond. Notices of Judgment Under the Food and Drugs Act. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1932.
  41. ^ Berthollet, Eduard. (1950). Le Retour À La Santé Et A la Vie Saine Par Le Jeûne (The Return To Health By Fasting), Editor: Pierre Gnenillard, Lausanne, Switzerland: Laurea de Luniversie De Lausanne, 1920s. "Le livre du Docteur Bertholet". Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  42. ^ "Ehret later migrated to southern California and helped to spawn a new sub-culture in America, based upon his natural philosophy and lifestyle.", "His "Rational Fasting" (1914) and "Mucus-less Diet"(1922) were literary standbys within hippie circles in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1960s.", Hippie Roots and the Perennial Sub-Culture, Gordon Kennedy, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ The Bragg Toxicless Diet Body Purification and Healing System Paul Bragg, Health Science Publishers, reprint, 1988
  44. ^ Bragg Healthy Lifestyle-Vital Living to 120! (Formerly Titled: Toxicless Diet, Body Purification & Healing System) by Patricia Bragg, N.D., Ph.D., Paul C. Bragg, Health Science Publishers, 2000
  45. ^ The miracle of fasting: proven through history for physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation, Dr. Paul C. Bragg, Dr. Patricia Bragg, Health Science Publications, Inc., 2004, "I feel that fasting has done a great deal to eliminate the mucus from my body. I faithfully live on a mucusless diet and always take my weekly 24 hour fast to help keep any mucus and toxins that I may have accumulated in my body flowing out. I want to keep my machinery clean."
  46. ^ The miracle of fasting: proven through history for physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation, Dr. Paul C. Bragg, Dr. Patricia Bragg, Health Science Publications, Inc., 2004, "I can tell you all the great health benefits that fasting, a mucusless and meatless diet will do for you. But it's best you simply try it yourself, then you be the judge."
  47. ^ Lezaeta Acharán, Manuel. La Medicina Natural Al Alcance De Todos, Buenos Aires: Editorial Kier, 1979.

External links[edit]