Ellen G. White's health reform—ahead of the times?

By Robert K. Sanders

Seventh-day Adventists are to be represented to the world by the advanced principles of health reform which God has given us. Ellen White: Health and Healing, page 4, paragraph 3.

One of the highest attainments in the Christian life is control of appetite and without this victory, all hope of heaven is lost. James White: Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p.206.


Adventist claim that Ellen G. White (EGW) was ahead of her time with her health reform messages. They also claim because what she proclaimed about health, science has proven her correct. Adventists believe she was a prophet and received her health messages from God. Why does the Seventh-day Adventist Church ignore their prophet? After you read Ellen G. White's statements you will understand why!

The Bible tells us to prove all things. Let us test her health messages and see if God gave them, and if science agrees with them.


Ellen G. White's health teachings

Small waists are not beautiful, but defective

EGW: By lacing, the internal organs of women are crowded out of their positions. There is scarcely a woman that is thoroughly healthy. The majority of women have numerous ailments. Many are troubled with weaknesses of most distressing nature. These fashionably dressed women cannot transmit good constitutions to their children. Some women have naturally small waists. But rather than regard such forms as beautiful, they should be viewed as defective. These wasp waists may have been transmitted to them from their mothers, as the result of their indulgence in the sinful practice of tight-lacing, and in consequence of imperfect breathing. Poor children born of these miserable slaves of fashion have diminished vitality, and are predisposed to take on disease. The impurities retained in the system in consequence of imperfect breathing are transmitted to their offspring. The Health Reformer, November 1, 1871, paragraph 23.

Note: Ellen says, not only are small waists not beautiful they are defective. There is no scientific evidence that supports this claim. It only came from the uneducated troubled mind of EGW. EGW claims that the wasp waist has been transmitted from mothers to their children because of tight lacing of corsets. When Chinese woman that have had their feet bound as babies, and have babies of their own, are their babies feet deformed? No. In fact the mothers of each generation have to bind the feet of their babies to accomplish the small feet. It is scientifically impossible to genetically transfer this kind of deformity to the offspring. Do the babies born to mothers with narrow waists cause their babies to have imperfect breathing problems? Science has never shown this to be true. This message did not come from God!

Ellen G. White borrowed this transfer of deformities to their offspring from Doctor Lamark, 1744-1829. Webster defines as: Lamarckism n. the Lamarckian theory that characteristics acquired by habit, use, or disuse may be passed on to future generations through inheritance.


It is immodest for woman to show her unclad ankle

EGW: We cannot, if we would, conceal the fact that women have feet and limbs that were made for use. But in regard to the exposure, this is on the other side of the question. We have traveled extensively the past twenty-five years, and have been eye-witnesses to many indecent exposures of the limbs. But the most common exposure is seen upon the streets in light snow, or wet and mud. Both hands are required to elevate the dress, that it may clear the wet and filth. It is a common thing to see the dress raised one-half of a yard, exposing an almost unclad ankle to the sight of gentlemen, but no one seems to blush at this immodest exposure. No one's sensitive modesty seems shocked for the reason that this is customary. It is fashion, and for this reason it is endured. No outcry of immodesty is heard, although it is so in the fullest sense. The Health Reformer, May 1, 1872, paragraph 18

Note: Adventist ladies, please note: If you truly believe Ellen G. White's messages came from God, why do you disgrace God and your church by showing your bare ankles for all to see? Doesn't the Bible declare immodesty a sin? Shouldn't the SDA ministers be making an outcry against this apostasy in the church? This message did not come from God; it came from the personal opinion of EGW and her Victorian period!


Tight lacing of corsets cause lung protrusion in the neck

EGW: "At the hotel 'dieu,' the great hospital at paris, a young girl of eighteen lately presented herself to breschet for his advice. On the right side of her throat, she had a tumor of variable size, but never larger than one's fist. It reached from the collar-bone as high as the thyroid cartilage. When pressed downward, it wholly disappeared; but as soon as the pressure was removed, it was indolent, soft, and elastic. It was observed to be largest when the chest was tightly laced with corsets. In short, by placing the ear on it, the murmur of respiration could be heard in the tumor , which proves that a protrusion of the lungs had taken place, or, in other words, that the poor girl had been laced so tightly that her lungs, having no longer sufficient space in their natural position, were squeezed out of it, and were forcing their way up along the neck." The Health Reformer, December 1, 1871, paragraph 17

Note: I know of no doctor that believes in lung protrusion—that lungs could be squeezed out of place and be pushed up into the neck. This quote by EGW was from Home And Health, which shows she was not the author. However she only used material that she was in agreement with. EGW and the author were not inspired to write this nonsense.


There are animal organs in your brain

EGW: Fashion loads the heads of women with artificial braids and pads, which do not add to their beauty, but give an unnatural shape to the head. The hair is strained and forced into unnatural positions, and it is not possible for the heads of these fashionable ladies to be comfortable. The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain, heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificials induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood upon the lower or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and heart is in danger of being corrupted. As the animal organs are excited and strengthened, the moral are enfeebled. The moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal. The Health Reformer, October 1, 1871, paragraph 9

Note: I would like some Adventist Doctor or SDA Health Institute to provide a sketch to identify human animal organs in the brain. If you can find them you may receive the Nobel Prize. God did not create mankind with animal organs, but he created man in his image. Does God have animal organs in his brain? If you cannot locate the animal organs in the brain then Ellen did not receive this message from God, nor is it scientifically possible.

EGW believed in Phrenology, which is a false science that was widely accepted in EGW's day. The brain was mapped out and the base of the brain was where the animal organs were located. This part of the brain was called the "amativeness." By heating the base of the brain it would cause the sexual passions to be stimulated. See Prophetess of Health by Ron Numbers, pp. 148,149. See the brain map on p. 68.


Artificial braids and pads cause unnatural heat and the blood that goes to the brain produces baldness

EGW: In consequence of the brain being congested its nerves lose their healthy action, and take on morbid conditions, making it almost impossible to arouse the moral sensibilities. Such lose their power to discern sacred things. The unnatural heat caused by these artificial deformities about the head, induces the blood to the brain, producing congestion, and causing the natural hair to fall off, producing baldness. Thus the natural is sacrificed to the artificial. The Health Reformer, October 1, 1871, paragraph 10

Note: Ellen claims that when a person puts artificial hair pieces on their head such as pads, and rolls it that it causes the head to get hot and that heats the blood and the result is the hair falls out creating baldness. There is no scientific evidence to show baldness is caused from wearing these artificial hairpieces.


People have become hopelessly insane because they wore hairpieces

EGW: Many have lost their reason, and become hopelessly insane, by following this deforming fashion. Yet the slaves to fashion will continue to thus dress their heads, and suffer horrible disease and premature death, rather than be out of fashion. The Health Reformer, October 1, 1871, paragraph 11

Note: Can anyone find scientific evidence that a person becomes hopelessly insane because they wear hairpieces and it causes premature death? This is not a message from God. If you are an EGW believer then you better remove your hairpieces and never put them on again. When have you heard a sermon on this vital life and death subject or read an article about it in the good old Review?


Women should not allow wet-nurses to suckle their babies or their babies will take on the temper and temperament of the nurse

EGW: "A stranger performs the duties of the mother and gives from her breast the food to sustain life. Nor is this all. She also imparts her temper and her temperament to the nursing child. The child's life is linked to hers. If the hireling is a coarse type of woman, passionate, and unreasonable; if she is not careful in her morals, the nursling will be, in all probability, of the same, or a similar type. The same coarse quality of blood, coursing in the veins of the hireling nurse, is in that of the child. The Health Reformer, September 1, 1871, paragraph 7

Note: Ellen claims that if the hireling is a course woman with low morals the baby will probably be of the same type. Really? This means when the milk is digested by the baby and turned into blood, the brain will recognize that the milk came from a woman of low morals and pass that nature to the baby. Let us ask this question if the milk the baby drinks comes from a cow, does the baby have the morals and nature of a cow? Please be concerned if the baby starts mooing. The low morals that babies have are not from the food they eat, but being born with a carnal nature.


Eating pork causes leprosy

EGW: The eating of pork has produced scrofula, leprosy, and cancerous humors. Pork eating is still causing the most intense suffering to the human race. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 393, paragraph 2.

Note: Pigs and animals do not ever carry leprosy, except the armadillo and sometimes rodents such as mice in their foot pads. Because pigs cannot carry leprosy they cannot transmit leprosy to humans. Have you ever heard of one case of leprosy caused by eating pork? The amount of pork eaten around the world there should be a plague of leprosy if this were true.

Scientific Support that swine are not carriers of leprosy. From a letter dated 18-Feb-93. "As per our phone conversation of 15-Feb-93, swine are not a known host for Mycobacterium leprae, the cause of leprosy." W.G. Van Alstine, DVM. PhD, Veterinary Pathologist, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

"Infectious agent—Mycobacterium leprae, the leprosy (Hansen's) bacillus. Other than in man it has multiplied in the footpads of mice, in the tissues of immunosuppressed rodents, and in the armadillo. Man is the only known reservoir." Control of Communicable Diseases in Man, A. S. Benenson, pp. 175,176.


X-ray is not the great blessing that some suppose it to be

EGW: I have been instructed that the X-ray is not the great blessing that some suppose it to be. If used unwisely it may do much harm. The results of some of the electrical treatments are similar to the results of using stimulants. There is a weakness that follows. Testimonies and Experiences Connected With The Loma Linda Sanitarium, page 19, paragraph 4.

Note: Was Ellen G. White correct that x-ray would not be a great blessing some would suppose? We ask the question, has x-ray been a blessing to man? We would have to give a resounding YES! Look at the millions of lives that have been saved by the use of x-ray and the proper treatments and surgeries preformed because of x-ray. It has been a tremendous blessing to mankind. Did God give this false report or was it Ellen? Ellen received great blessing from x-ray from her testimonial:

EGW: X-ray Treatment at Loma Linda—For several weeks I took treatment with the X-ray for the black spot that was on my forehead. In all I took twenty-three treatments, and these succeeded in entirely removing the mark. For this I am very grateful. Letter 30, 1911 (To her son J. E. White). Selected Messages, Book 2, page 303, paragraph 4.

A Letter From Elder W. C. White: When the doctor came, he said that it was either a bad sprain or a fracture, and advised an x-ray examination at the sanitarium. This examination showed an "intracapsular fracture of the left femur at the junction of the head and neck." Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 11, 1915, paragraph 6.


Applying to earthly physicians dishonors God

EGW: If any among us are sick, let us not dishonor God by applying to earthly physicians, but apply to the God of Israel. If we follow his directions (James 5:14, 15) the sick will be healed. God's promise cannot fail. Have faith in God, and trust wholly in him, that when Christ who is our life shall appear we may appear with him in glory. To Those who are receiving the seal of the living God, January 31, 1849, paragraph 13.

Note: Ellen back-slide on this inspired statement of hers as she applied to earthly physicians as well as taking her family to Jackson's Heath Institute for examinations. Do you follow Ellen's counsel and not go to the doctor, or do you dishonor God as did Ellen by going to the doctor for x-ray and other treatments? The Bible says: Matt 9:12 (NIV) "On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

Is it really an evil practice of men physicians treating women and women physicians treating men? It only would be evil if the doctors went beyond the treatment of medicine and involved themselves in sexual acts with their patients, which violates the law of God.

EGW: I have written to you the instruction that has been given me regarding the special work to be done by the lady physicians in our sanitariums. It is the Lord's plan that men shall be trained to treat men, and the women trained to treat women. In the confinement of women, midwives should take the responsibility of the case. In the Bible times was not considered a proper thing for men to act in this capacity; and it is not the will of God that men should do this work today. Very much evil has resulted from the practice of men treating women, and women treating men. It is a practice according to human devising, and not according to God's plan. Long has the evil been left to grow, but now we lift our voice in protest against that which is displeasing to God. Loma Linda Messages, page 574, paragraph 6. (Signed) Ellen G. White

Note: Has God declared that it was evil for men physicians to treat women and women physicians to treat men? No! Has the Seventh-day Adventist Medical Institutions and SDA doctors followed this inspired statement? No!


Female self-abuse (masturbation) causes the head to decay inwardly as well as a host of diseases

EGW: Females possess less vital force than the other sex, and are deprived very much of the bracing, invigorating air, by their in-doors life. The results of self-abuse in them is seen in various diseases, such as catarrh, dropsy, headache, loss of memory and sight, great weakness in the back and loins, affections of the spine, the head often decays inwardly. Cancerous humor, which would lay dormant in the system their life-time, is inflamed, and commences its eating, destructive work. The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity takes place. An Appeal to Mothers, page 27, paragraph 1.

Note: There is no scientific evidence for this sweeping statement that masturbation causes any disease, much less that the head decays as a result in females. Why did she not include males as their head decaying inwards? Ellen was parroting the false medical information of the day. There is no scientific evidence that people are born with vital force or that females have less vital force than men.


Parents, if you have wrong habits, then you have disqualified your child at their birth

EGW: "Many whom God would use as His instruments have been disqualified at their birth by the previous wrong habits of their parents." Good Health, Feb. 1, 1880, paragraph 2. SDA Bible Commentary, Vol 2, page 1005, paragraph 7.

Note: How can parent's wrong habits disqualify a baby from working for God when they grow up? Does this mean that God would not choose them as his preachers, doctors, nurses, and carpenters, to witness for him if their parents were alcoholics, gluttons or having any other wrong habits? There were many people in the Bible that God uses whose parents had wrong habits.


More deaths are caused by drugs or fashion? Which is it?

EGW: More deaths have been caused by drug-taking than from all other causes combined. If there was in the land one physician in the place of thousands, a vast amount of premature mortality would be prevented. Multitudes of physicians, and multitudes of drugs, have cursed the inhabitants of the earth, and have carried thousands and tens of thousands to untimely graves. Selected Messages Book 2, page 450, paragraph 2.

EGW: More die as the result of following fashion than from all other causes. Healthful Living p. 64 paragraph 275.

Note: Neither quote is inspired. There are there more deaths caused by diseases, wars, and acts of nature and accidents than drugs or following fashion.


Cosmetics can kill you!

EGW: Many are ignorantly injuring their health and endangering their life by using cosmetics. They are robbing the cheeks of the glow of health, and then to supply the deficiency use cosmetics. When they become heated in the dance the poison is absorbed by the pores of the skin, and is thrown into the blood. Many lives have been sacrificed by this means alone. Health Reformer. Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 17, 1871, paragraph 16.

Note: Do people really injure their health and endanger their life by wearing cosmetics? Has anyone seen a person die because they wore cosmetics and danced?


Tea and coffee drinking is a sin

EGW: "The indulgence of ... tea, coffee, tobacco, or liquor, is intemperance, and is at war with the laws of life and health. By using these forbidden articles a condition of things is created in the system which the Creator never designed. This indulgence in any of the members of the human family is sin!" Evangelism, p. 266, written in 1899.

EGW: "Tea and coffee drinking is a sin, an injurious indulgence, which like other evils, injures the soul." Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 425, written in 1896.

EGW: "When these tea and coffee users meet together for social entertainment, the effects of their pernicious habit are manifest. All partake freely of the favorite beverages, and as the stimulating influence is felt, their tongues are loosened, and they begin the wicked work of talking against others." Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 423, written in 1890.

Note: There is no debate whether or not drinking tea and coffee is a sin as Ellen White claimed. When we use the Bible as our guide, we will not find the drinking of tea or coffee mentioned anywhere in Scripture. Neither will we discover any proclamation in the Bible that drinking tea or coffee is a sin!

As ludicrous as it seems today, Ellen White specifically stated that tea and coffee, as a beverage, "loosens tongues" and contributes to gossip and it is "a sin". If it is a sin, you will need to repent from it so you will not be lost in EGW's non-biblical Investigative Judgment.


Faulty food advice

There is no scientific evidence that any of the following advice given by Ellen G. White is valid. If anyone finds a reliable source to prove differently, I would be happy to hear from you.

  • Irregularity in eating and drinking, and improper dressing, deprave the mind and corrupt the heart, and bring the noble attributes of the soul in slavery to the animal passions. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 62
  • The foods used should correspond to the climate. Some foods suitable for one country would not do at all in another place. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 94.
  • The less sugar introduced into the food in its preparation, the less difficulty will be experienced because of the heat of the climate. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 95.
  • Hot drinks are not required, except as a medicine. The stomach is greatly injured by a large quantity of hot food and hot drinks. Thus the throat and digestive organs, and through them the other organs of the body, are enfeebled. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 106.
  • Ice water or ice lemonade, taken with meals, will arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach to enable it to take up its work again. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 106.
  • It would be much better to eat only two or three different kinds of food at a meal than to load the stomach with many varieties. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 110.
  • It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 112.
  • Especially harmful are custards are the custards and puddings in which milk, egg, and sugar are the chief ingredients. The free use of milk and sugar taken together should be avoided. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 113.
  • Five hours at least should elapse between each meal, and always bear in mind that if you would give it a trial, you would find that two meals are better than three. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 173.
  • After the regular meal is eaten, the stomach should be allowed to rest for five hours. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 179.
  • The use of soda or baking powder in breadmaking is harmful and unnecessary. Soda causes inflammation of the stomach, and often poisons the entire system. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 316.
  • In this fast age, the less exciting the food, the better. Condiments are injurious in nature. Mustard, pepper, spices, pickles, and other things of a like character irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 345.
  • …avoid the use of pickles and spiced foods, eat an abundance of fruit, and the irritation that calls for so much drink at mealtime will largely disappear. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 344.
  • The salads are prepared with oil and vinegar, fermentation takes place in the stomach, and the food does not digest, but decays or putrefies; as a consequence, the blood is not nourished, but becomes filled with impurities, and liver and kidney difficulties appear. Counsels on Diet and Foods, page 345.

EGW: Let them take the living principle of health reform into the communities that to a large degree are ignorant of these principles. Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 118.

Note: Seventh-day Adventists, it is your duty to take all the above Ellen G. White health reform principles into the community, as your neighbors are ignorant of them. Who will enlighten them if you do not? You are the only ones that have this light, as science has not caught up with Ellen's inspired counsel.

Any honest seeker of truth should see that Ellen did not get her messages from God.


Health reform becomes part of the "Third Angel's Message" in 1865

EGW: "The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel's message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body." 1T, p.486.

Bible: (Rev 14:9 NIV) "A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand," (Rev 14:10 NIV) "he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb."

Note: God will add plagues to EGW for her sin of adding "health reform" to the Book of Rev 14:9.

Rev 22:18-19 (NIV) I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

By adding her health reform vision to third angels message, those that rebelled against health reform (meat eating) would be rebelling against God. These rebellious meat eaters would be included with those that would be the punishment for worshipping the beast and his image. This ought to scare the meat eaters to conform to EGW.

I challenge anyone to find in Revelation 14, a text dealing with "health reform" connected to the three angels messages. What amazes me is the fact many SDAs that read this are in denial and still supports their false prophetess.

Robert K. Sanders, Founder and Editor of Truth or Fables, 1997–2012
Life Assurance Ministries assumed ownership of Truth or Fables in 2012
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