Walter L. Voegtlin

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Walter L. Voegtlin

Walter L. Voegtlin (1904 – 1975) was an American gastroenterologist and pioneer of the Paleolithic diet.


In the 1930s, Voegtlin and psychiatrist Frederick Lemere at the Shadel Sanatorium in Seattle promoted the use of aversion therapy to treat alcoholics.[1][2] Between 1936–1950 the facility treated over 5000 patients.[3] It has been described as the first successful treatment for alcoholism based on scientific principles.[4] In 1950, Voegtlin and Lemere reported that based on data from 4096 patients over 14 years there was a 60% abstinence at the 1-year point, 51% for two years, 38% for five years, and 23% for 10 years.[5][6]

Voegtlin was the first to publish a book The Stone Age Diet, based on the supposed principles of Paleolithic nutrition, in 1975.[7] He recommended a meat and plant based diet that eliminated dairy and grains.[8] It was an eccentric book, in which Voegtlin advocated the mass slaughter of dolphins and tigers.[7]

Food historian Adrienne Rose Johnson has commented that "Paleo leaders today have largely disavowed Voegtlin for his white supremacist, eugenicist, and generally unpalatable politics."[7]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Bellack, Alan S; Hersen, Michel; Kazdin, Alan E. (1985). International Handbook of Behavior Modification and Therapy. Plenum Press. pp. 20-21. ISBN 978-1-4615-7280-0
  2. ^ White, William L. (1998). Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America. Chestnut Health Systems. p. 106. ISBN 978-0938475071
  3. ^ Miller, Peter Michael. (1976). Behavioral Treatment of Alcoholism. Pergamon Press. p. 76.
  4. ^ Blum, Kenneth. (1991). Alcohol and the Addictive Brain. The Free Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-02-903701-8
  5. ^ Jones, Marshall R. (1968). Aversive Stimulation. University of Miami Press. p. 15
  6. ^ Reilly, Steve; Schachtman, Todd R. (2009). Conditioned Taste Aversion: Neural and Behavioral Processes. Oxford University Press. p. 452. ISBN 978-0-19-532658-1
  7. ^ a b c Johnson, Adrienne Rose. (2015). The Paleo Diet and the American Weight Loss Utopia, 1975–2014. Utopian Studies 26 (1): 101-124.
  8. ^ "Extreme Diets: Fads and Facts". Medscape. Retrieved March 30, 2019.