The Bizarre Claims of Hulda Clark

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
October 23, 2009

Hulda Regehr Clark (1928-2009) claimed to cure cancer, AIDS, and many other serious diseases. She described herself as an “independent research scientist” with bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. degree in physiology from the University of Minnesota (1958). The Register of Ph.D. Degrees conferred by the University of Minnesota of Minnesota July 1956-June 1966, states that (a) Clark received her degree with a major in zoology and a minor in botany, (b) her thesis was titled, “A study of the ion balance of crayfish muscle; evidence for two compartments of cellular potassium,” and (c) her University of Saskatchewan degrees were bachelor of arts in 1949 and master of arts in 1950 [1].

Clark also listed a naturopathic (N.D.) degree from the Clayton College of Natural Health [2]. Clayton is a nonaccredited correspondence school founded in 1980 and located in Birmingham Alabama. In 1985, when this school was called Dr. Clayton’s School of Natural Healing, its “Doctor of Naturopathy” course was described in a magazine article as a “100-hour course” for which the tuition was $695 [3].

For several years, Clark’s treatment was administered at Century Nutrition, a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where the basic fee for two weeks of “treatment” was $4,500 (plus 10% tax). This figure did not include the cost of a motel room (approximately $210/week); meals ($250/week); blood tests ($70 each); standard diagnostic imaging tests ($40 to $400); dental x-rays (at least $206); “individually tailored” supplements ($400 to $1,500 for a month supply); equipment (about $350); tooth extractions ($80 each); and partial or full dentures ($450).

Bizarre Claims

Clark claimed that all cancers and many other diseases are caused by “parasites, toxins, and pollutants” and can be cured by killing the parasites and ridding the body of environmental chemicals. In a videotaped presentation, she said that all diseases were caused by a combination of a parasite and a pollutant [4]. Her book The Cure for All Cancers states:

All cancers are alike. They are all caused by a parasite. A single parasite! It is the human intestinal fluke. And if you kill this parasite, the cancer stops immediately. The tissue becomes normal again. In order to get cancer, you must have this parasite. . . .

This parasite typically lives in the intestine where it might do little harm, causing only colitis, Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, or perhaps nothing at all. But if it invades a different organ, like the uterus, kidneys or liver, it does a great deal of harm. If it establishes itself in the liver, it causes cancer! It only establishes itself in the liver of some people. These people have propyl alcohol in their body. All cancer patients (100%) have both propyl alcohol and the intestinal fluke in their livers. The solvent propyl alcohol is responsible for letting the fluke establish itself in the liver. In order to get cancer, you must have both the parasite and propyl alcohol in your body [5:1-2].

Clark further alleged:

  • The adult liver fluke—which she misspells as Faciolopsis buskii –– “stays stuck to our intestine, (or liver, causing cancer, or uterus, causing endometriosis, or thymus, causing AIDS, or kidney, causing Hodgkin’s disease).” [5:4] Or the pancreas, causing diabetes; the brain, causing Alzheimer’s disease; the prostate (causing prostatitis; or the skin if you have Kaposi’s sarcoma [5:35].
  • As soon as there are adults in the liver. . . . a growth factor, called ortho-phospho-tyrosine appears. Growth factors make cells divide. Now YOUR cells will begin to divide too! Now you have cancer. . . . Having propyl alcohol in your body allows the fluke to develop outside of the intestine [5:8].
  • When the fluke and all its stages have been killed, the ortho-phospho-tyrosine is gone! Your cancer is gone [5:9].
  • Clearly, you must do 3 things: (1) Kill the parasite and all its stages; (2) stop letting propyl alcohol into your body; and (3) flush out the metals and common toxins from your body so you can get well [5:10].
  • It is not unusual for someone to have a dozen (or more) of the parasites I have samples of. You can assume that you, too, have a dozen different parasites [5:10].
  • Three herbs, used together, can rid you of over 100 types of parasites: black walnut hulls, wormwood, and common cloves [5:11-12]. But the amino acids ornithine and arginine improve this recipe [5:15].
  • Use of these five products will kill the cancer-causing fluke in the first five days and the remaining parasites in another two weeks [5:19].
  • It takes 5 days to be cured of cancer regardless of the type you have. Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy can be canceled because, after Clark’s recipe cures the cancer, it cannot come back [5:introductory passage].
  • All metal (fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.) should be removed from the mouth, and all teeth with root canals should be extracted, because their presence damages the immune system [5:46-48].
  • To prevent recurrence, stay on a maintenance program of killing parasites and give yourself a high-dose program at least twice a year. Also treat all family members and household pets [5:23-26].
  • The method is 100% effective in stopping cancer regardless of the type of cancer or how terminal it may be. It follows that this method must work for you, too, if you are able to carry out the instructions. [5:120]
  • No matter what kind of cancer you have (or HIV or pains or weakness), a complete program of lifting the burdens on your immune system will miraculously clear it up. [5:372]

All of the above notions are absurd. In a 1999 talk that attacked widespread misbeliefs about parasites, the president of the American Society of Parasitologists noted that if Clark’s pseudoscientific claims were correct, “the medical establishment and . . . professional pathologists are guilty of a gigantic and cruel fraud on the public.” [6] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that Fasciolopsis buski is “found in Asia and the Indian subcontinent, especially in areas where humans raise pigs and consume freshwater plants.” It is not a problem in the United States or other developed countries.

Patients who “cleanse” their intestines with Clark’s recommended herbs may excrete what they think are parasites. However, in one instance I know of, a specimen of “parasites” turned out to be citrus fibers, presumably from grapefruit juice used for the “cleanse.” In another, reported in a medical journal, the “parasites” turned out to be ordinary fecal material [7].

Phony Devices

Clark used and promoted two medically worthless devices. She claimed that her Syncrometer could identify diseased organs and toxic substances by noting whether the device makes various sounds when “test substances” are placed on a plate [5:373-427]. The device is simply a galvanometer that measures skin resistance to a low-voltage current that passes from the device through a probe touched to the patient’s hand. Various models for home use can either be commercially purchased or made by the patient. Clark’s “Zapper” is a low-voltage device that supposedly kills parasites, bacteria, and viruses with electrical energy, but does not harm human tissue. Its use is based on Clark’s notion that all living things broadcast a characteristic range of radio frequencies and that the device can issue counter-frequencies that kill unwanted organisms [8]. Neither device has any genuine diagnostic or therapeutic value.

Clark’s books, herbal products, and “Zapper” devices said to be built to her specifications have been marketed through many Web sites, one of which was the Self Health Resource Center, administered by Clark’s son Geoff. The Self-Health Research Center’s “Testing Division” has offered “syncrometer classes” twice a week, “scheduled as needed,” for $175 [9]. Geoff also issued certificates for Zapper devices that are “within specifications found in Dr. Clark’s books.” The devices range in price from about $10 for a simple model to more than $200 for devices that also make colloidal silver. Her ideas are also advocated by the Dr. Clark Research Association, an entity founded in 1998 by David P. Amrein, a Scientologist who describes himself as a freelance consultant in finance and taxes. In 1999, membership in the association cost $40 per year and included a subscription to the Dr. Clark Research Association Bulletin, which Amrein edited. The November 1999 issue stated that the Bulletin had a circulation of 1,500. Amrein also markets products of the type Clark recommends.

In November 1999, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced that it had stopped an Australian company (Raylight Pty Ltd) from advertising that its “Parasite Zapper” passes an electric current through a person’s blood and is effective against the AIDS virus, parasites, hepatitis, herpes, obesity, and other serious conditions. The company also agreed to provide refunds to consumers who felt they had been mislead [10].

The picture to the right shows some of the paraphernalia purchased by a couple who reported wasting more than $30,000 in a desperate attempt to cure their child after Clark promised to “determine the true cause of the disease” and “clear this up completely.” The items include a book, a videotape, 2 syncrometers, 2 zappers, 5 boxes of microscope slides, and 24 vials of substances that Clark falsely claimed would treat various parts of the child’s body. The large box is a Radio Shack kit used to make a home-made syncrometer. Most of the other items were purchased from the Self Health Resource Center. The white box is labeled “SyncroZap Pulse Generator: For research only. Not approved for use on humans.”  

In 2004, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that a 52-year-old man with a cardiac pacemaker had experienced episodes of dizziness and near-fainting when he used a “Zapper” device. His doctors found that the device caused the pacemaker to malfunction and disturb the patient’s heart rhythm. The device had been sold with a warning about pacemakers, but the patient ignored the warning [11].

Case Histories

Pages 119-372 of The Cure for All Cancers contain “case histories” of 138 cancer patients, of whom 103 were “cured” and 35 who “did not carry out instructions or could not be followed.” The standard way to determine whether a treatment is effective is to carefully record the nature of the patient’s disease before treatment and to determine the patient’s condition indefinitely. Clark’s reports contain little information about the patient’s history and no indication that Clark performed any physical examinations. The only follow-up reports are for a few patients who returned for further treatment—usually a few weeks later. Cancer treatment results are normally expressed in terms of cancer-free status or survival over periods of years. Five-year survival rates are a common measure. Clark claims she can tell that patients are cured as soon as their ortho-phospho-tyrosine test is negative—within days or even a few hours after her treatment is begun. This claim is preposterous.

Thirty-eight of the 103 reports indicate that the patient had been medically diagnosed with cancer, and most of these 38 had received standard treatment. In 59 other cases, however, there was no indication that the patient had undergone any medical test or treatment that would indicate the presence of a cancer. (In 10 other cases, which Clark diagnosed as HIV infection, there was no history suggestive of AIDS. In the rest, it was not clear whether the patient had been medically diagnosed with cancer.)

Judging from the reports, Clark’s judgments were based entirely on the results of her own peculiar diagnostic tests. If “ortho-phospho-tyrosine” was found in the blood, the patient had cancer. If a “protein 24 antigen” was found in the blood, the patient had AIDS. And, anywhere from a few hours to several weeks later, if these tests became negative, Clark considered the patient cured. The book describes how some of the patients who had consulted Clark for other problems were startled to hear they had cancer or AIDS.

None of the reports provides any basis for concluding that Clark’s treatment has the slightest value. The majority of the people described in the 103 case reports did not have cancer. Of those that did, most had received standard medical treatment or their tumors were in their early stages. In these cases, Clark pronounced them cured but did not follow what happened after they left her clinic—so she could not possibly know how they did afterward. In some cases, she counted patients as cured even though she noted that they died within a few weeks after she treated them.

Two people who seem knowledgeable have informed me that Clark’s brother, Henry Regehr, died of cancer despite treatment by her.

Legal Trouble

In September 1999, Clark was arrested in San Diego, California, based on a fugitive warrant from Indiana, where she faced charges of practicing medicine without a license. In November, a former patient filed suit accusing her of negligence and fraud.

The criminal case originated when Clark lived and practiced in Indiana [12,13]. In 1993, after a former patient complained to the Indiana attorney general, a health department official visited accompanied by a deputy attorney general visited her office and was diagnosed with AIDS and sent to a laboratory for a blood test [14]. Clark—apparently tipped off by the lab—found out she was being investigated and left Indiana a few days later. In 1999, Clark was apprehended in California and returned to Indiana to stand trial. However, in April 2000, an Indiana judge dismissed the charges on grounds that too much time had elapsed between the filing of the charges and Clark’s arrest. The judge’s verdict did not address the merits of the charges but only the issue of whether the delay had compromised Clark’s ability to mount a defense and her right to a speedy trial [15].

The civil case was filed by Esther and Jose Figueroa of New York City against Clark, the Dr. Clark Research Association, Century Nutrition, and several associated individuals. Mrs. Figueroa, who had been medically diagnosed with breast cancer, sought treatment in September 1998. The court papers state that she was told:

  • Dust from her apartment was responsible for her breast cancer.
  • Returning to her apartment would place her at special risk to develop leukemia because of her blood type.
  • She had asbestos, lead, and a lot of copper in her system.
  • The Syncrometer detected a parasite called “rabbit fluke” inside her breast.
  • She also had E. coli, asbestos, and salmonella due to improper food sterilization.
  • Several teeth should be removed and “cavitations” in her lower jaw should be scraped out.

The suit also charged that:

  • Clark subsequently arranged for all of Mrs. Figueroa’s front and molar teeth to be removed, prescribed more than 30 dietary and herbal supplements to be taken during a 12-week period, and badly burned her breast while administering treatment with a “Zapper” device.
  • During the 3-month period of treatment, the tumor increased from 1.5 cm to 14 cm.
  • Despite this fact, Mrs. Figueroa was falsely told that she was getting better, that tests for “cancer markers” were negative, and that pain she was experiencing did not reflect persistence of her cancer.

In 2001, the Figueroa family indicated to their attorney (Christopher Grell) that undergoing a deposition would be too stressful for Mrs. Figueroa. Mr. Grell therefore petitioned the court to withdraw from the case, and the case ended shortly afterward. One of the defendants (Self Health Resource Center, operated by Clark’s son Geoffrey) then sued Grell and two associates for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Grell responded with a motion to dismiss, which was granted and upheld on appeal, with an award of costs and attorneys fees to Grell. The Court of Appeal concluded:

The evidence amply supports a reasonable belief on the part of these defendants [Grell and associates] that plaintiff [the Self Health Resource Center] was part of a network of persons and entities who acted recklessly, at best, luring Mrs. Figueroa into a bizarre, grotesque, and extremely expensive regimen of “alternative” cancer treatments which has no effect other than to exhaust the Figueroa’s life savings and divert Mrs. Figueroa from conventional treatments, thereby reducing her prospects for recovery and survival [16].

Libel Campaign

Various Internet postings indicate that in September 1999, Geoffrey Clark hired Tim Bolen to assist her after she was arrested. Bolen and his wife Jan do business as JuriMed, an entity whose stated purpose is to assist “alternative” health practitioners faced with regulatory action, criminal prosecution, or other matters that threaten their financial well-being and/or license to practice. Bolen refers to JuriMed as a “public relations and research group.” In November 1999, the Bolens began distributing false and defamatory statements to the effect that:

  • I am arrogant, bizarre, closed-minded, emotionally disturbed, professionally incompetent, intellectually dishonest, a dishonest journalist, sleazy, unethical, a quack, a thug, a bully, a Nazi, a hired gun for vested interests, the leader of a subversive organization, and engaged in criminal activity (conspiracy, extortion, filing a false police report, and other unspecified acts).
  • Terry Polevoy, M.D. (a Canadian pediatrician who operates anti-quackery Web sites) is dishonest, closed-minded, emotionally disturbed, professionally incompetent, unethical, a quack, a fanatic, a Nazi, a hired gun for vested interests, and engaged in criminal activity (conspiracy, stalking of females, and other unspecified acts) and has made anti-Semitic remarks.
  • Attorney Grell is professionally incompetent and has filed a false report with the FBI.

Many of the messages were republished (sometimes with embellishment) on Web sites, in news group postings, and in other e-mail messages by other Clark allies and supporters.

After Clark’s arrest, Geoffrey Clark set up a defense fund to pay for expenses associated with defending her against “legal attacks.” A description of the fund states that the covered expenses would include attorney fees, publicists, expert witnesses, court costs, and appeals and that Goeffrey would administer the money without compensation. The report also stated that by May 31, 2000, the fund had raised $113,943.76, earned interest of $665.96, and spent $27,900.51 for legal expense, $327.65 for “Acct/Copies,” $56,408.43 for public relations, and $714.30 for Hulda Clark’s travel. It did not indicate how much of the public relations payment went to the Bolens. This information was published on the Web site of New Century Press, which Clark owned and used to publish her books until a few months before her death.

To defend against the libel campaign, I and three others have filed several libel suits against Bolen and various others who have spread his false messages [17].

More Legal Trouble

In February 2001, Mexican authorities inspected Century Nutrition and ordered it to shut down. According to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, the clinic had never registered and was operating without a license [18]. In June, the authorities announced that the clinic would be permitted to reopen but could offer only conventional care. The clinic was also fined 160,000 pesos (about $18,000). Both the order and the fine were appealed through the Mexican courts [19]. Clark’s attorney told me that the fine was rescinded. However, I was unable to locate any documents to this effect.

The FTC has taken action against Marvin and Miguelina Beckwith, of Blaine, Washington, who had been selling Zappers and herbs through their “” Web site [20]. Court documents state that the Beckwiths, doing business as Western Dietary Products, Inc., had claimed that their “Zapper Electrical Unit” is effective against Alzheimer’s and HIV/AIDS and that various herbal products—including Black Walnut Tincture, Wormwood Tincture, and Cloves Tincture—can treat and cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and HIV/AIDS and would make surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary for persons with cancer [21].

The FTC’s case was supported by three lengthy affidavits that dissected and thoroughly debunked Hulda Clark’s theories and treatments. Among other things:

  • Aron Primack, M.D., a cancer specialist who is Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, stated that, Hulda Clark’s books “do not provide competent and reliable evidence” to support her claims [22].
  • Peter W. Pappas, Ph.D., a prominent parasitologist and Professor Emeritis at the Ohio State University, stated (a) although cancer and AIDS are found worldwide, the parasite Clark blames for them is limited to South East Asia; (b) “Clark’s ‘case histories’ represent an egregious example of a highly biased experimental protocol, and her theories are based on bad science”; and (c) “She clearly does not have a basic understanding of the most fundamental parasitological principles.” [23]
  • Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., the nation’s top naturopath, stated that, “No research is presented demonstrating that the Zapper has any physiological effects, let alone ability to kill parasites or cure cancer. The claim that mild electrical shocks to the skin can eliminate intestinal parasites is, frankly, preposterous.” [24]

In December 2001, the case was settled with a consent agreement that prohibited the defendants from making any unsubstantiated claims that their products are effective in treating or alleviating any disease or condition or that use of their products in the treatment of cancer makes surgery or chemotherapy unnecessary [25]. Although Clark and her family were not parties to this action, it might discourage others from marketing what she recommends.

In January 2003, the FTC charged the Dr. Clark Association, Behandlungzentrum GMbH (a Swiss company), and David Amrein (the sole director of both) with falsely advertising devices and herbal products related to Clark’s theories [26]. The complaint, filed in an Ohio federal court, alleged that the defendants made unsubstantiated representations that:

  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe device is effective to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the human body, and is effective against chronic infections, cancer, and AIDS.
  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe, used with the Complete Herbal Parasite Program, is effective to cure all forms of cancer in humans and to cure AIDS.
  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe, used with the Complete Herbal Parasite Program and avoidance of pollutants, is effective to cure diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, endometriosis, asthma, and many other diseases.
  • Dr. Clark’s New 21 Day Program for Advanced Cancers is effective to cure all forms of cancer in humans; has cured many people diagnosed with advanced cancer; and when used with the Super-Zapper Deluxe, make surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary.
  • The Syncrometer device is more accurate than the best testing methods at diagnosing all forms of disease; and can detect the presence of any substance at specific points in the human body.

In November 2004, the case was settled with a stipulated judgment under which customers could request refunds and the defendants are prohibited from making ten types of unsubstantiated claims:

  • Use of the Super-Zapper Deluxe is effective to kill bacteria, viruses and parasites in the human body;
  • Use of the Super-Zapper Deluxe is effective against chronic infections, cancer and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS);
  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe and the Complete Herbal Parasite Program are effective to cure all forms of cancer in humans;
  • Dr. Clark’s New 21 Day Program for Advanced Cancers is effective to cure all forms of cancer in humans;
  • Dr. Clark’s New 21 Day Program for Advanced Cancers has cured numerous people with advanced cases of cancer;
  • The Syncrometer device is more accurate than the best testing methods at diagnosing all forms of disease;
  • The Syncrometer device can detect the presence of any substance at specific points in the human body; I
  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe, used together with the Complete Herbal Parasite Program, is effective to cure AIDS;
  • The Super-Zapper Deluxe, used together with the complete Herbal Parasite Program and avoidance of pollutants, is effective to cure diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, endometriosis, asthma, and many other diseases;
  • Dr. Clark’s New 21 Day Program for Advanced Cancers and Super-Zapper Deluxe, when used by persons with cancer, make surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary; unless, at the time of making the representation, Defendants possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

Clark Dies of Cancer

On September 3, 2009, Clark died of complications of multiple myeloma, a form of lymphoma in which plasma cells become overabundant in the bone marrow. As their volume increases, they destroy the surrounding bone, which releases large amounts of calcium into the blood stream. They also suppress the formation of other blood cells, which leads to severe anemia [26]. The diagnosis is usually easy to make because the affected areas appear on x-ray images as “holes” in the affected bones. The disease eventually kills by producing hypercalcemia, anemia, decreased resistance to infection, and/or several other problems. No cure is available, but most people benefit from treatment, and recently developed drugs have significantly increased survival times.

Immediately after Clark’s death, her supporters claimed that she had died of “complications from a spinal cord injury.” But a few weeks later, the Dr. Clark Information Center Web site revealed that she had multiple myeloma. The site states:

  • Clark’s symptoms began with arm pain due to deterioration of a neck vertebra, but she was “unable to use her Syncrometer techniques to investigate, because her hands and arms did not work well enough.
  • The blood tests showed that Clark was anemic, and she “saw that she had reduced kidney function,” “but her health deterioration was a mystery.”
  • After “living with severe hip pain for several months, she underwent hip replacement surgery but continued to have pain for more than six months before finding a medication that could control the pain.
  • Later she was scheduled for neck surgery, but preoperative blood tests found hypercalcemia and further evaluation led to the diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

The site further comments that Clark “suffered more than she should have because she wanted to solve her problems herself, even in the face of her severe physical limitations” and that, “Perhaps if she had known what to look for earlier she could have better helped herself. But it was too late. In her last few months, Dr. Clark was physically unable to function well.” [28]

Although details are lacking, the above information suggests to me that Clark’s life was shortened because she failed to seek timely and appropriate medical care.

For Additional Information