Robert O. Young

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Robert O. Young
Born (1952-03-06) March 6, 1952 (age 66)
Residence Alpine, Utah
Rancho Del Sol in Valley Center, California
Occupation Naturopath, author, entrepreneur
Known for PH Miracle book series
Spouse(s) Shelley Redford

Robert Oldham Young (born March 6, 1952) is an American naturopath and author of alternative medicine books promoting an alkaline diet.[1] His most popular works are the "pH Miracle" series of books, which outline his beliefs about holistic healing and an "alkalarian" lifestyle.[2][3][4] Young came to prominence after appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show featured his treatment of Kim Tinkham for breast cancer. Tinkham and Young both claimed that he had cured her, but she died of her disease shortly afterwards.[5] In general, Young's theories and treatments are considered quackery,[6][7] which has resulted in a history of legal issues for Young.[1] He was arrested in January 2014 and convicted in 2016 on two out of three charges of theft and practising medicine without a license.[8][9] He was sentenced to three years and eight months in jail in June 2017.[10]


Young's website states he attended the University of Utah on a tennis scholarship and studied biology and business in the early 1970s. He did not graduate.[11] He then performed missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years in London. Young received multiple degrees from Clayton College of Natural Health (formerly American College of Holistic Nutrition), which is not accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.[12][13] Young's degrees include a Master of Science in nutrition (1993), a D.Sc. with emphasis in chemistry and biology (1995), a Ph.D. (1997) and an N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy, 1999).[1] The prosecution at his 2016 trial said his doctorate was purchased from a "diploma mill",[14] and it was pointed out that he had gone from a bachelor's to a doctor's degree in eight months.[11]

Young has residences in Alpine, Utah and Rancho Del Sol, an avocado and grapefruit ranch in Valley Center, California, with his wife, Shelley Redford Young.[15]

Published books[edit]

Young has authored a series of books and videos titled The pH Miracle (2002), The pH Miracle for Diabetes (2004), The pH Miracle for Weight Loss (2005), and "The pH Miracle Revised" (2010). Other books he has authored include Herbal Nutritional Medications (1988), One Sickness, One Disease, One Treatment (1992), Sick and Tired (1995), Back to the House of Health (1999), and Back to the House of Health 2 (2003).


Young promotes an alkaline diet based on notions that are not compatible with the scientific understandings of nutrition and disease.[14] He claims that health depends primarily on proper balance between an alkaline and acid environment in the human body, and that an acid environment causes cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, yeast overgrowth, flu, skin disorders, and other diseases.[16] Young writes about pleomorphism, a school of thought which was prominent in late-19th-century microbiology but one that has been proven wrong since the development of germ theory.[14][17][18] Young's fundamental claim is that the human body is alkaline by design and acidic by function, and that there is only one disease (acidosis) and one treatment (an alkaline diet).[19][20]

Young's books recommend a low-stress lifestyle and a high-water-content, high-chlorophyll, plant-based diet.[21] He recommends moderate intake of high-carbohydrate vegetables, some grains, and fresh fish.[22] Young recommends abstaining from "acidic" foods—sugar, red meat, shellfish, eggs, dairy, processed and refined foods, stored grains, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and sodas—because he believes that such foods overload the body with acidity and cause disease.[22] Young claims that disorders such as weight gain, water retention, high cholesterol, kidney stones, and tumors are all life-saving mechanisms for dealing with excess acidity in the body.[22]

Research supporting alkaline diets, like that promoted by Young, is limited to in vitro and animal studies.[23] A number of recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the medical literature have concluded that there is no evidence that alkaline diets are beneficial to humans.[24][25][26]

According to a book review by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some aspects of his diet, such as the emphasis on eating green leafy vegetables and exercise, would likely be healthy; however, the diet overall "is not a healthy way to lose weight."[27] Quackwatch describes Young's claims to be a distinguished researcher as "preposterous", notes that his credentials come mainly from unaccredited schools, and characterizes his ideas as "fanciful".[6]

Nutritional microscopy[edit]

Young bases some of his theories, research, and written works on the alternative medical approach of live blood analysis. Young teaches microscopy courses in which he trains people to perform live blood analysis as well as dry blood analysis. Young has stated that he teaches live blood analysis solely for research and educational purposes, and not for use in diagnosing medical conditions, which the San Diego Union-Tribune characterizes as "a legal distinction that some might find elusive in practice".[28]

Live blood analysis is used by alternative medical practitioners, who claim it to be a valuable qualitative assessment of a person's state of health. Live blood analysis lacks scientific foundation, and has been described as a fraudulent means of convincing patients to buy dietary supplements and as a medically useless "money-making scheme".[28][29][30] Live blood analysis has been described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an "unestablished laboratory test", or test that is not generally accepted in laboratory medicine.[31]

Legal issues[edit]

In 1995, Young allegedly drew blood from two women, told them they were ill, and then sold them herbal products to treat these illnesses. He was charged with two third-degree felony counts of practicing medicine without a license, but pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge.[18][28] Young argued that he had never claimed to be a medical doctor, that the women had entrapped him by asking to be part of his research, and that he "looked at the women's blood and simply gave them some nutritional advice."[18]

In 2001, Young was again charged with a felony in Utah, after a cancer patient alleged that Young told her to stop chemotherapy and to substitute one of his products to treat her cancer. Subsequently, when an undercover agent visited Young, he allegedly analyzed her blood and prescribed a liquid diet. The case was taken to preliminary trial, but charges were dropped after the prosecutor stated that he could not find enough people who felt cheated by Young.[28] Young dismissed the arrests as "harassment" and stated that he moved to California because the legal climate there was more tolerant.[28] On May 12, 2011 Quackwatch published a critical analysis of Young's qualifications and practices.[6]

In 2014 Young was arrested in San Diego and received 18 felony charges relating to practising medicine without a license, and of theft.[32] According to the Medical Board of California's press release chronically ill patients were paying Young up to $50,000 for his treatments.[33] His trial started in Vista Superior Court in November 2015.[34] In February 2016, jurors found Young guilty of two counts of practicing medicine without a license.[35] As of January 2017 he was facing a three-year jail sentence and was also to be retried on six charges of fraud, after a jury deadlocked 8-4.[36] He was sentenced at the end of June 2017.[37]

Kim Tinkham[edit]

In 2007, Kim Tinkham, diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, adopted Young's protocols before appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She enthusiastically promoted them on her website "". A 2008 press release from Young contained her assertion that she was "cancer free by all medical terms" as diagnosed by her own doctors. Young was criticized following Tinkham's death from cancer on December 7, 2010.[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Figueroa, Teri (18 November 2015). "Trial starts for pH Miracle author". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  2. ^ Young, Robert (2001). Sick and Tired. pp. 9–11. ISBN 1-58054-030-9. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  3. ^ Young, Robert (2002). The pH Miracle. pp. 1–11. ISBN 0-446-52809-9. 
  4. ^ "pH Miracle Living, About Us". 2005-03-31. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  5. ^ Warner, Anthony. (2017). The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating, Oneworld Publications. ISBN 9781786072177
  6. ^ a b c Barrett, Stephen. "A Critical Look at "Dr." Robert Young's Theories and Credentials". Quackwatch. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Gorski, David (27 January 2014). "pH Miracle Living "Dr." Robert O. Young is finally arrested, but will it stop him? « Science-Based Medicine". Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  8. ^ 10 News Archived 2015-07-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Alternative health provider's jury trial set[permanent dead link] Valley Center, 11 March 2015
  10. ^ 'pH Miracle' Author Robert O. Young Sentenced, NBC San Diego]
  11. ^ a b Teri Figueroa (3 February 2016). "Split verdict in 'pH Miracle' case". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  12. ^ Jones, Adam (February 11, 2007). "State's diploma mills draw academic ire". Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved February 14, 2007.  | page=5
  13. ^ In 2008 Clayton's website stated that it was "A non-traditionally accredited school of naturopathy". "Educating the Leaders of Natural Health". Clayton College of Natural Health. 2008. Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c Giles Yeo; Tristan Quinn (19 January 2017). "The dying officer treated for cancer with baking soda". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Utah County Property Owners 2008". Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  16. ^ "The Alkalarian Approach to Optimal Health". 2003-03-02. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  17. ^ Young, Robert (2001). Sick and Tired. pp. 22,161–166. ISBN 1-58054-030-9. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  18. ^ a b c "Herbalist in Alpine pleads guilty to reduced charge". Deseret News. February 5, 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2008. 
  19. ^ Mandy Bourgeois and Joe Duty. "Holistic Healing part 2". Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. 
  20. ^ Young, Robert. Overacidity and Overgrowth of Yeast, Fungus and Moulds. Canada Consumer Health. May 1997.
  21. ^ Young, Robert (2002). The pH Miracle. pp. 37, 41, 50–80. ISBN 0-446-52809-9. [dead link]
  22. ^ a b c Young, Robert (2002). The pH Miracle. pp. 58, 81–91. ISBN 0-446-52809-9. [dead link]
  23. ^ Vangsness, Stephanie (May 3, 2006). "Alkaline Diets and Cancer: Fact or Fiction?". Intelihealth. Archived from the original on 2008-01-17. 
  24. ^ Fenton TR, Tough SC, Lyon AW, Eliasziw M, Hanley DA (2011). "Causal assessment of dietary acid load and bone disease: a systematic review & meta-analysis applying Hill's epidemiologic criteria for causality". Nutr J. 10: 41. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-41. PMC 3114717Freely accessible. PMID 21529374. 
  25. ^ Fenton TR, Lyon AW, Eliasziw M, Tough SC, Hanley DA (November 2009). "Meta-analysis of the effect of the acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis on calcium balance". J. Bone Miner. Res. 24 (11): 1835–40. doi:10.1359/jbmr.090515. PMID 19419322. 
  26. ^ Fenton TR, Lyon AW, Eliasziw M, Tough SC, Hanley DA (2009). "Phosphate decreases urine calcium and increases calcium balance: a meta-analysis of the osteoporosis acid-ash diet hypothesis". Nutr J. 8: 41. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-41. PMC 2761938Freely accessible. PMID 19754972. 
  27. ^ "The pH Miracle for Weight Loss Book Review". Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  28. ^ a b c d e Naturopathic technique stirring bad blood, by Logan Jenkins. Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on April 11, 2005; accessed July 20, 2008.
  29. ^ Ernst, Edzard (2005-07-12). "Intrigued by the spectacular claims made for Live Blood Analysis? Don't be. It doesn't work". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  30. ^ Freyer, Felice (2005-06-21). "Chiropractor ordered to halt blood tests". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on June 23, 2005. 
  31. ^ "CLIA regulation of unestablished laboratory tests" (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. July 2001. 
  32. ^ Richard Allyn (25 January 2014). "Controversial alternative health provider pleads not guilty to charges". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  33. ^ Miller, Frank (24 January 2014). "Medical Board investigation leads to arrest of a Valley Center Man for the unlicensed practice of medicine" (PDF). Medical Board of California. p. 1. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ Figueroa, Teri (3 February 2016). "Split verdict for 'pH Miracle' author". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  36. ^ "Convicted pH Miracle naturopath Robert Young faces additional charges and civil suit". Escondido Grapevine. March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ Gorski, David. "Death by "alternative" medicine: Who's to blame? (Revisited)". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  39. ^ Bockstaele, Van. "Kim Tinkham, the woman whom Oprah made famous, dead at 53". Digital Journal. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 

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