About Helke Ferrie

Helke 2012

Helke Ferrie with her great-grandson
Omar Naeem 2012.
Photo by Miranda Brar-Naeem.

I was born on February 5, 1948 in Germany to parents who had been founding members of the resistance movement against Hitler. I was encouraged from an early age never to trust external authority, but always to think for myself first. I was taught that if “everybody” did something, there must be something wrong. To obey orders from anybody blindly was the abdication of one’s responsibility as a human being. Critical thinking does not come naturally, even with parental support; it requires constant practice, but in my experience, every disillusionment that comes from critical thinking is ultimately liberating and the source of inner peace.

From the age of three, I was raised in India where my father worked for the government shortly after Independence, spending his spare time researching Mahatma Gandhi and Shri Aurobindo on whom he published many books. I was educated in an American international school in the foothills of the Himalayas, Woodstock School in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. Upon graduating I studied at Zurich University in Switzerland and then Benares Hindu University in Varanasi, India.  There I met my husband, a Canadian visiting urologist, Robert K. Ferrie. We were married in December 1970. In addition to our three biological children we adopted children from Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, and Canada and now have 6 grandchildren and one great-grand son.

When all our children were in high school, I went to the University of Toronto and obtained degrees in ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and prehistoric archaeology and minored in Chinese history and philosophy. I earned my MA in physical anthropology in 1995. When I was about to enter a PhD program, I became ill with an autoimmune disease called Myasthenia gravis. To my astonishment standard medicine was not concerned with causation and the neurologist I consulted laughed in my face when I asked what would cure my condition!

My research into primary medical literature led me to Professor Boyd Haley, who was then also working for the World Health Organization, and I learned that one of the known causes for this and many other auto-immune diseases is mercury tooth amalgam and in my case also the many years of exposure to DDT in India. His information was grounded in sound, verifiable science and for me caused an epiphany: namely the insight that the concept of an “idiopathic” disease (i.e. of no known cause) for which no cure is known is the stuff of collective nightmares from which we must awake. It is vitally important to consider once again the view of Hippokrates expressed some 2,500 years ago: “Each disease has a natural cause and nothing happens without a natural cause.” (Airs, Waters, Places, chapter 22)

Standard medicine offered me symptom control with immuno-suppressant drugs, all of which are carcinogenic and/or accelerate osteoporosis. That left me with no meaningful choice between treatment and disease. Standard medicine’s 19th century search-and-destroy military invasion paradigm (viruses, bacteria, parasites) and the high-tech quick-fix drama of emergency surgery are not helpful in a world saturated with systemically-acting immune-destroying and carcinogenic toxins wholly responsible for the current burden of chronic disease. These toxins include antibiotics, once a gift to humanity, now their overuse having rendered them often ineffective or turned them into poisons as well. We now live in the world Rachel Carson feared.

My recovery also brought me first-hand experience of how embattled environmentally-oriented physicians are because they have the courage to question an economic paradigm that accepts poisoning the world and making people sick – and keeping them sick for the sake of profit  -  as being a viable business model. A doctor trained in toxicology and basic nutritional science can often cure chronic disease by detoxification protocols and by teaching patients what foods nourish properly, when water is fit to drink, how to avoid air that kills, how to clean up one’s home and office from toxic chemicals, and what medications to refuse. Such physicians are formidable enemies of an economy based on petrochemicals, war, pesticides, and agricultural practices that have a mere passing acquaintance with Nature’s imperatives. Such physicians are also formidable healers.

In 2002, I incorporated Kos Publishing Inc. as it was urgently necessary to raise money for the last lap of the defense process for Dr. Jozef Krop, the Canadian environmental medicine expert who was in year forteen of a trial initiated without patient complaint or harm to stop the practice of environmental medicine. The third printing of the first book published by Kos was by Dr. Krop,  Healing The Planet One Patient At A Time; it is available on this website also.

It was a shock to discover that doctors practicing environmental, nutritional and orthomolecular medicine were routinely attacked by their own regulatory authorities in Canada and the USA. I decided, these matters needed to be shouted from the rooftops and started to write about them. My first book, Dispatches from the War Zone of Environmental Health, Kos 2004, is available now for free downloading on this website.

To medicine, Gloria Steinem’s observation, “Today everything personal is political and everything political is personal” applies especially. To defend oneself against corporate toxic trespass from pesticides, EMF radiation, genetically engineered foods, and food producing animals loaded with human carcinogens, and from symptom-controlling drugs that are toxic in the long run as well as crippling surgery requires knowledge and persistence. It also imposes the duty to help protect those doctors who have the courage to help us despite the failure of regulatory authorities to do so.

I described how I began to write monthly articles on medical-political issues in a 2009 Vitality article when its editor, Julia Woodford, invited me to write about my first ten years with her magazine. Below is a portion of that article:

“In the beginning, I had no clue about the scams underpinning Big Medicine’s focus on symptom control and profit from disease and death, nor about Big Agriculture which is hell-bent on profits – never mind the health of soil, water, and essential bacteria. I knew nothing about the abysmal ignorance of our doctors who are super-educated in mostly what doesn’t matter to human survival. I knew hardly anything about nutrition and its primary roles of preventing and curing illness.

As for environmental toxins, I had to get sick myself before my eyes were opened. I groan when I remember allowing my own kids to have their fluoride treatments in school (never having worried about mercury amalgam fillings). And I trustingly followed medical advice I would now classify as bordering on the criminal: I was on the carcinogenic drug Premarin (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for 17 years, following an unnecessary total hysterectomy!

When somebody once mentioned to me at the Consumer Health Organization of Canada office that the cure for almost all cancers was known since about the Second World War, I smiled and said, ‘Oh, really…’ as one does with a nutcase from whom one wants to escape quickly. That same guy handed me a copy of Dr. Max Gerson’s 1958 book, A Cancer Therapy – Results of Fifty Cases. I read it, and everything I had once believed evaporated. (The book chronicled Max Gerson’s success in treating cancer with nutritional medicine – something I’d never heard of.)

Journalism works with the five W’s and one H: Who? Where? When? What? Why? and How? Investigative journalism adds a crucial seventh question: Is it true?

My work for Vitality started in the summer of 1999 with a call from Julia, asking me if it was really true what she had read in my article in Alive magazine about the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. She, who had already been working for more than a decade in the promotion of natural medicine, knew a thing or two about scams. Nevertheless, she was floored by my story about how the CPSO had, a decade earlier, deceived its own physician membership by side-stepping all discussion about scientific evidence for chelation therapy, and then asserted to the government that there was no scientific or clinical justification for it. This resulted in chelation therapy, without the CPSO membership’s knowledge, being outlawed in Ontario. Using chelation cost some doctors their licenses.

In 1999, the new Regulated Health Professions Act had just come into force and chelation was no longer illegal. The Ray government had cut that odd section. Julia wanted the documentation on which my Alive article had been based. I provided it to her, and she asked me to write for Vitality about chelation and the CPSO’s determination to silence doctors who then began to take Multiple Chemical Sensitivity seriously. Pesticides were still good for us, and doctors stating otherwise were in deep trouble.

It is only 10 years ago that doctors were routinely expected to refer people complaining about feeling sick from pesticide or perfume exposure to psychiatrists. Today, even the CPSO offices have a no-scent policy. Quebec, Ontario, and a few other provinces now have bans on the use of cosmetic pesticides. But dinosaurs are a hardy bunch whose tough brains resist anything new: now the CPSO is after doctors who are diagnosing and treating chronic Lyme disease which, in contrast to the rest of the world, is for them not a ‘proper diagnosis’.  See my new book, being launched at the Expo: Ending Denial – The Lyme Disease Epidemic – Canada’s Public Health Disaster.

In June of 1999, the CPSO, after an investigative process and trial that had begun in 1988, found environmental medicine physician Dr. Jozef Krop “guilty” of diagnosing and treating environmental illness. Ironically, that was the same day on which the international medical journals published the diagnostic criteria for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, developed jointly by Canadian doctors and researchers at Johns Hopkins medical school in the U.S. This issue needed publicity and the defense needed financial support, both of which Vitality contributed to consistently.

I was one of Dr. Krop’s patients, having been poisoned by pesticides, specifically Roundup and DDT, as well as mercury amalgam tooth fillings. As a result, I had become sick with a severe neurological disorder called Myasthenia gravis. I was unable to drive, vacuum my house, read or answer the phone. When my physician husband and I figured out, with the help of the then chief toxicologist for the World Health Organization, Dr. Boyd Haley, that a frequent cause of MG is heavy metal poisoning, we presented the scientific literature to my dentist and asked for my 17 mercury fillings to be removed. She said that she could not do so, because the College of Dentistry would go after her and she would probably lose her license. With the joint efforts of a dentist who defied that college, Dr. William Pressy, and Dr. Krop who defied the CPSO, I recovered – and have since then cultivated a cool, determined, and creative rage. Today, more than 52% of all North American dentists have mercury-free practices.

In 1999, Ontario’s Health Freedom Bill, called the Kwinter Bill after Liberal MPP Monte Kwinter, was unanimously passed by the Harris government. MPP Kwinter conceived the idea for this amendment to the Medicine Act when he met Dr. Jerry Green, who had lost his license following a CPSO investigation for merely supplementing standard toxic cancer therapy with helpful non-toxic nutrition.

Today, cancer societies around the world not only agree that cancer is caused by environmental carcinogens such as pesticides, but urges cancer patients to supplement with high doses of nutrients, especially vitamin D3. Indeed, on November 3, 2009, the University of Toronto hosts a conference on how vitamin D3 prevents cancer. Attending physicians get continuing education credits. Ten years ago, most of us did not even know what D3 actually is and does, and the idea that a vitamin prevents cancer was then heresy.

The Kwinter Bill became law in 2000, amending Ontario’s Medicine Act. Many provinces have since then made the same legislative change which, essentially, decriminalizes progress and change in medicine and protects the doctor-patient relationship from third party interference (i.e. from the interests of political and financial bottom lines).

That same year Dr. Shiv Chopra, then still with Health Canada, and his colleagues Drs. Gerard Lambert and Margaret Haydon, caused the federal Senate to hold hearings into the appalling practice by our federal government which allows carcinogens into our food and drug supply despite the ‘absolute safety’ requirement of the Food and Drugs Act.  These hearings caused bovine growth hormone and many other drugs to be stopped across the world …

In 1998, I met Dr. Abram Hoffer for the first time, and in 2005 was privileged to publish his scientific memoirs. He died in his 90s on May 27, 2009. All of my articles, one way or another over the past decade, reported on what he and Linus Pauling called “orthomolecular medicine,” meaning the “right molecule” (nutrient) which sets healing in motion. The conceptual basis applies to everything from farming, to disease, to mental health. Orthomolecular thinking is reality-based, not profit-based. That is the challenge of our time.

For me the most important development in the past 10 years regarding food and drugs, was the Human Genome Project. Big Business was certain that cracking the DNA code would lead to enormous wealth and control. Well, undoubtedly lots of people are trying, and in part succeeding, in making money out of this project. However, the big surprise was that most of the regulatory genes (which control entire systems) are exquisitely vulnerable to environmental toxins, and so those toxins will have to go if we want to keep those genes working. Not much profit there. Furthermore, the nice, neat fit hoped for between genes and specific diseases did not materialize either. Testing people for their potential genetically-anchored disease is likely a pipe dream, too.

Every disease, with or without such a mythic genetic anchor, needs a trigger to start it, and those triggers are environmental toxins and lack of the right molecules decreed by nature as essential, namely nutrients. Indeed, the genetic code cracked us. In June 2008, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that taking vitamins and minerals can actually ‘fix genetic defects’. Well, the ghosts of Linus Pauling and Abram Hoffer must be having a great belly laugh!

Looking back on the letters I received over the years from Vitality readers, I notice that they used to be requests for information on “good” doctors or dentists. While those are still in high demand, now the letters are far more often about specific nutrients, how they work, which alternative cancer therapy clinic I recommend – not whether ‘alternative’ is a good idea, that’s taken for granted in such inquiries. Collective attitudes have undoubtedly changed.

Blind faith in medical authority is diminishing rapidly. Back in 1998, when a University of Toronto and FDA research project investigated how many people were using alternative medicine, the answer was about 50%. Today, about 92% of Canadians find especially herbal medicine acceptable and two-thirds use it and other forms of ‘alternative’ therapies (to synthetic drugs). Indeed, within just a decade, Canadians understood the fraud involved with genetically engineered foods, and polls consistently show that close to 98% of us don’t want the stuff, and for all the right reasons, namely because they cause immune dysfunction and cancer….

Another astounding development over the past decade has been the phenomenal increase in medical fraud – and its relentless public exposure and determined pursuit by the courts. Big Pharma cannot make drugs that heal and must resort to pretense, fraud and glitzy propaganda. Dictatorships and tyrannical systems are always the most vulnerable in their propaganda departments. Public opinion shifts when the lies become obvious…. World-class researchers, who were once duped into cooperating with Big Pharma scams, spill the beans, blow the whistle, come out of their laboratory closets and raise hell. Corruption is as old as human institutions. I am sure Neanderthals cheated each other over choice mammoth steaks. Nothing new there. What is new today is the hunger for truth – no, not titillating scandal, but truth – facts, verifiable information.

In this context, I find one of the most helpful developments is the rise of the documentary film. Documentaries have become truly educational and provocative. I am thinking of the National Film Board’s 2001 The Genetic Takeover, which made a splash around the world. Another of the greatest ones is surely the 2004 film, The Corporation. I got to interview most of the scientists featured in it and report on their work in Vitality. Since then we have had fantastic revelations through Supersize Me, the various GMO and Monsanto films, and now Food Inc.

Ten years ago, the medical, dental, and regulatory Establishment was firmly in charge and – like most of us, myself included – often was unaware of the fact that they were in the most horrendous conflicts of interest between their duty to their patients and the industries that got rich on product lines which we now, without any irony, correctly call the Death Industry. When awakening strikes, everybody ceases to slumber, one way or another.

Two hundred years ago we lived in a world in which human beings were sold in open markets. Those who questioned such practices were harshly treated because slavery was perceived as indispensable to a thriving economy. When slavery was outlawed in 1832 in Britain, it still took the American Civil War to stop it in this hemisphere, and I was in high school when African-Americans finally got the vote. Yet, the change that began in 1832 is inexorably continuing. We are in the midst of a similar fundamental change of perception with food and medicine. The Sickness Industry will cease to be the basis of our economy. We have millions of years ahead of us because are getting smarter.”