As a young man, John R. Christopher told his mother he wanted to become a doctor. His mother laughed because of his squeamishness at watching her kill the farm’s chickens or even prepare them. He declared, “I want to be the kind of doctor that heals people without cutting them.”
A few years later, traditional doctors had given up hope that their medicines and practices would relieve his mother of her pain and suffering from diabetes. Bloated and with gangrene poisoning, her life was limited. A gentle and efficient man came to help, referring to himself as a Naturopathic doctor.
Before John’s mother could tell him what was wrong, he silently observed her and then began to give a litany of her ailments. He was right on. He then told her of changes she needed to make in her eating habits. Before leaving he gave her some herbs. The recovery was remarkable. John was deeply impressed.
John’s own early life was marked by great health frustrations. Shortly after his birth on November 25, 1909, John’s parents left him at an orphanage where Melissa and Leander Christopher discovered him when he crawled over and perched himself on Melissa’s lap. It was a match made by heaven.
As a baby John developed a type of croup that left him gasping for air and the parents praying for a solution. That night a stranger came to their door, said he understood their baby was sick and told them exactly what to do. After following the advice, John was healed. The stranger never returned.
John struggled with Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis, hardening of the arteries and other ailments that led doctors to declare he wouldn’t live to thirty.
A good student with a photographic memory, he was accepted to study law. Just days before starting, he was pronounced dead at the scene of a car crash. At the morgue, while his parents were identifying the body, his mother detected a glimmer of life. He was then hospitalized with little hope of recovery. John did regain consciousness from the coma, but after six weeks, he was still paralyzed. Against John’s wishes, his parents took John to a chiropractor. To his amazement, the next week he resumed his job at the lumber mill.
But the accident had ruined his photographic memory. He had frequent bouts of amnesia. Nothing seemed to help. In his studying he came across advise that told him he needed to eat meat sparingly, eat fruits, grains and nuts in their seasons. A proper diet.
The words rang true and by 1939 he’d developed a stringent diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. As he changed his diet, he noticed his rheumatism changed. With the full diet, he suffered little from the disease. When he used processed flour, he soon had to use a cane. If he ate refined sugars, he had to use a wheel chair. When he included red meats, he’d find himself confined to bed.
Soon he immersed himself in studies of plants and how they could be used by humans for medicinal purposes. In the meantime he married and began a family. Then came the war. At age 35 he was drafted into the Army. The Army sent him to a mid-west infirmary where he tried to help soldiers with his herbal formulas that he’d been creating, but was prohibited by the officer in charge.
One day the officer announced that a young soldier would be discharged because of a Impetigo, a severe skin condition. John volunteered to help the man. The major gave him a week. John treated the soldier with a tincture made from the bark of a black walnut tree. On the day the bandages were removed, the man’s previously scabbed covered head was clean as a baby’s scalp. The major made John Christopher the only practicing herbalist in the United States Army.
In those days no one sold wholesale herbs, so John had to find his herbs and create his own formulas. Over the years he created more than sixty-six formulas, combining herbs in proper proportions, but never extracting single ingredients. He understood the necessity of using herbs the way nature had intended them – in their whole state.
“Dr. Christopher,” as he was known to his friends, graduated from Iowa’s Institute of Drugless Therapy, and from the Los Angeles Herbal Institute.
“Dr. Christopher’s” fame grew rapidly. In 1953 he set up the School of Natural Healing that is still operating today. His five books sold well. Soon he was giving more than 120 lectures and seminars internationally and in the United States. Everyone wanted to hear from this famous man – one of the world’s leading authorities on herbs. Even the prestigious Cambridge University in England had him speak.
John was a pioneer – far ahead of his time. Years after John advocated the use of cruciferous vegetables, particularly cabbage and broccoli, for healing and prevention, the American Cancer Society issued a similar recommendation.
John was one of the first to stress a low fat, high fiber diet without processed flour, refined sugars and sparing use of red meat.
Today thousands of individuals practice the art of natural healing thanks to the directorship and education provided by John R. Christopher , M.H. and his son David Christopher M.H. Thousands have credited John R. Christopher’s diet and herbal advise for their health, although John refused credit. He’d say, “I’ve never cured anyone.”
In Evanston, Wyoming, people still talk about a polio victim who changed his diet and started to seriously use herbs and then walked around town for the first time in years, telling everyone of his “miraculous” change. Or the two mothers on opposite sides of town threatening miscarriage, who drank a half cup of false unicorn tea at regular half hour intervals. Both miscarriages ceased and both moms later gave birth to healthy babies. The stories, although anecdotal and not part of a scientific controlled study, are told by people who used herbs and learned proper diet.
“Dr.” Christopher is remembered by so many for his extraordinary happiness, even though he had such a rough childhood. He hid his physical suffering with good cheer, making countless journeys into the blackness of night on his famed “house calls.” Many wondered where he found the energy for the long journeys.
Many wondered where he found such true happiness. However, those very close to him knew it was from the people whose lives he touched. It was from the six-month-old blind baby whose sight was restored, and from the elderly asthmatic who was able to sleep in a bed for the first time in four decades.
At age 73 John R. Christopher passed away from complications of a traumatic head injury. His legacy continues in the lives he touched before his death and those his herbal formulas and teaching will aid through the generations to come.