Josef Issels, MD

(1907—1998)

Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame

Inducted 2005

“Dr. Issels is an intelligent and profound clinician, with principles and applications of medical treatment which 1 admire.”
— Professor J. Anderson, King’s College Hospital, London

Dr. Josef Issels’ roots were in the German tradition of ‘Naturheilverfahren’ (natural practice). Because of his well-known professional skills, his kindness, and relatively high rate of survivors, many cancer patients in the terminal stage came to consult him. In 1951, one wealthy and grateful patient funded his private clinic, the Ringbergklinik in Rottach-Egern (Bavaria) with 36 beds. Issels’ successful work continued until 1960, when he was arrested by the German ‘Kriminalpolizei’ on the instigation of his medical opponents. He had to close down his clinic for years, in spite of a report from an independent scientist who had concluded that, of 252 terminal cancer patients with histologically proved metastases, 42 had survived for at least five years (17%) with the Issels therapy. For terminal patients, such a score is disproportionately high.

Issels believed that cancer was the end stage, the ultimate symptom, of a lifetime of immune system damage which had created an environment for the tumor to grow. Issels argued that conventional therapy just looked at the tumor without recognizing this longtime preconditioning period. Just cutting out or irradiating the tumor “mit Stahl und Strahl” (“with scalpel and radiation”) was not eradicating cancer. Instead, Dr. Issels saw the body as having great potential to heal itself. Good nutrition and a clean environment were central to his therapy. Like Dr. Max Gerson, he recognized the importance of detoxification.

In the end, Issels was proven to be right. From 1967 to 1970, Professor J. Anderson of King’s College Hospital and member of the World Health Organization inspected Issels’ reopened clinic. He confirmed the highly significant survival rate of Issels’ terminal cancer patients. His legacy is continued by the work of his wife, Ilsa and his son Christian.

Submitted by Dr. Gert Schuitemaker, Former President, ISOM