A GREAT MAN IS GONE
Dr. Randolph was a founding member of NOHA’s Professional Advisory Board. He educated thousands of his patients on the environmental impingements on their health and pioneered an ecological orientation in medicine. In the early 1950’s he discovered that a number of his patients were being make ill by environmental exposures to everyday chemicals such as pesticides in foods, auto exhaust, and gas cooking stoves. They would recover from what had often been chronic symptoms when the exposures were removed. If they were re-exposed acute symptoms often flared up. In 1962 based on his previous articles and clinical observations he summarized his findings in his medical monograph, Human Ecology and Susceptibility to the Chemical Environment. His physician colleagues and followers honored him for originating and developing the comprehensive environmental control unit, which is used as a technique for demonstrating cause and effect relationships from exposure to common foods and environmental chemicals. Also, he played a crucial role in founding and encouraging the development of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
Following is a personal tribute written by NOHA Member Lynn Lawson and reprinted from Canary News, October 1995, with her permission.
I first met Dr. Theron Randolph in 1986, the year he turned eighty and the year I became his patient. Having filled out his multipage questionnaire, I sat in an office in his clinic on the sixty-fifth flour of Chicago’s Lake Point Tower watching one of his nurses, Vida Galenas, roll a sheet of paper into a typewriter. "I’ve never met Dr. Randolph," I said. "What is he like?" With a little smile, Vida made a mock salaam, bowing low over her desk. Three hours and seven single-spaced typewritten pages later, I was sitting in Dr. Randolph’s spacious office, with its spectacular view of north Lake Shore Drive, while he decided what I should be tested for. I had been sick for forty years with increasingly severe and frequent headaches.
Tall, dignified, and soft-spoken, with a Victorian vocabulary and manner, Dr. Randolph projected an air of quiet authority. After the testing was complete, he typed his recommendations and warned me, "Your health is deteriorating and will continue to deteriorate until you find out what is causing this and do something about it." No quick fix there. A few weeks later, my husband and I were in his office while he told us fascinating stories of his practice. Finally I had to say, "I’m sorry, I have to leave. I’m so sick." I needed to be home with an ice bag on my head. In the kindest voice imaginable, Dr. Randolph said, "I know." and I believe he really did know.
What I learned in his clinic and read in his books turned my health—and my life—around. Desperate, my husband and I did everything we could to make our house, car, and diet less toxic. All at once, I went on the rotation, food-elimination, and candida diets. After several terrible days, I began feeling better than I had in years. After a year, I was about 80 percent better; now I am 90 percent better. If Dr. Randolph did not save my life, he certainly saved me years and years of unrelenting suffering. I now lead a fairly "normal" life, if any life in our modern contaminated world can be considered normal.
Is it any wonder that I am grateful to this courageous, indomitable, single-minded clinician? If he had not followed his convictions in the 1950s and 1960s, at great personal cost, I would probably still be sick. Undiplomatic and blunt, a man of unwavering integrity, he made many enemies in the traditional medical world (and no doubt in the industrial world). Revered by many, those whom he helped, he was reviled by some, those who through ignorance or denial chose to ignore his profound and brilliant discovery of what he called "the chemical problem." With food allergies, others came before him, and he always credited them with their discoveries; but with petrochemicals and their effect on human health, he was the true pioneer, the creative, inventive synthesizer. Had he not been open-minded and visionary, he would not have seen the chemical connection (as he did with his historic 1951 patient) or realized its implications. Would that others had been equally open-minded—then and now!
Dr. Randolph persisted in his attempts to help people. While I was writing my book, Staying Well in a Toxic World (he dictated notes for its foreword), my husband and I had lunch with him and his wife, Tudy, several times at the Holmstad, the retirement home where they lived. From its elaborate menu, he usually ordered very simple foods, such as eggs and toast, for both of them. After one such meal, he excused himself to complain to the manager of the facility. "The residents here," he told us, by way of explanation, "are mostly of Northern European descent, and they like plain, simple cooking, not these fancy recipes with all kinds of foods mixed together." Somehow I doubt that he got very far with the manager, but I also doubt that he ever gave up trying.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXI, No. 1, Winter 1996, pages 1-2.