Life Extension Magazine May 2003
Practice What You Preach
Patients at the Baron Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio usually leave the doctor's office with something more than sound medical advice. Certainly, Dr. John Baron knows his way around a broken bone and a Caesarian section. He can also perform a hair analysis to determine mineral levels, as well as toxic metals such as mercury and recommends raw honey as a first step toward good nutrition. But rather than just provide a full range of services from the holistic to traditional, he offers proof that his approach works. After all, who can doubt a 92 year-old physician who has missed only 10 days of work in 63 years of medical practice?
"I definitely practice what I preach," says the doctor. "I take a lot of vitamins and I make a point of taking them right in front of my patients so they can make the connection."
Baron, an osteopathic physician and surgeon, opened his practice in the small steel town of Weirton, West Virginia in 1939. After building a base in general medicine, he began investigating holistic offshoots, branching out into newer fields, including molecular medicine, preventative medicine, neuropsychology, chelation, oxidation, homeopathy and more. But even in these progressive and more all-encompassing areas, he found that the role of nutrition was missing. Growing up with a father who suffered from emphysema made Baron particularly sensitive to the link between what we put into our bodies and how they perform. His father often ventured out west to spas where he ate healthy foods, fasted, had various cleansings to return home completely healed.
Around 1955 Baron began serious research into nutrition during a stint in sports medicine in which he took care of high school, college, semi-pro and professional athletes. Baron immediately banished the ritual pre-game carbo-loading, replacing heavy spaghetti dinners with fresh organic fruit and protein drinks. "They were pretty successful," he now says of those sports teams. "They didn't seem to burn out as much."
As Baron's knowledge of nutrition grew, so did his patients' need for his services. That's probably because today's typical diet is nearly devoid of nutrients. Baron grew up eating fresh fruits and vegetables, along with breads and grains that hadn't had the fiber leached out of them and beef that wasn't riddled with chemicals and hormones. "Food actually had nutrients back then and basic nutrition was part of life," he says. "Today addiction to sugar is a predominant problem, which creates all sorts of diseases, in addition to obesity. People live on foods that are full of chemicals and toxins."
Baron sees the results of a national love affair with fast food every day in his clinic. To combat this scourge, he cleaves to one overriding principle: Treat the patient-not the disease. So, when someone comes in with a migraine, Baron doesn't prescribe a painkiller, he searches for the cause. Sometimes the pain is due to a food allergy and sometimes it is the result of a neck injury, which can be treated with manipulation. Baron will order a full battery of tests, both traditional, such as liver and kidney function and urine analysis, as well as alternative tests such as high-resolution blood morphology (microscopic peripheral blood screening) to determine toxic digestive disorders and free radical evaluation. "Ninety-five percent of my patients have tried traditional medicine and it hasn't worked," he says.
Baron also has great success treating people in the 55-to-60-year range, who are just beginning to feel they're losing the battle with aging. Baron starts by determining their genetic profiles, which indicate the areas that are susceptible to certain kinds of disease. Then he prescribes a full treatment that includes nutrition, increased activity and an attitude overhaul to enhance the mind-body relationship. "If I treat the wife, the husband is bound to follow," he says. "I see people overcome all sorts of illnesses and become completely rejuvenated."
Baron himself is in a perpetual state of juvenescence thanks to many years on his own program. He's been an avid golfer since he was 48 and supplements his time on the links with stretching exercises, such as yoga, and aerobic workouts on the treadmill. He doesn't try to build muscle-just to hold on to the tone that he already has. Vitamins are also an important component of his anti-aging program. He takes a Life Extension multivitamin, along with brain enhancers, such as Cognitex, green tea and gingko biloba. Only in the last decade did he begin his own anti-aging regimen, which includes human growth hormone, basic vitamins and minerals, DHEA, lots of vitamin E, and CoQ10. "I'm a great credit to antiaging," he says. "I don't have a wrinkle on my face." He attributes his lack of lines to Rejuvenex®, Life Extension's anti-aging cream. "I think I'd rather forget to shower than forget my Rejuvenex®."
But vitamins only work well if there is a good nutritional base on which to build, he cautions. To that end, he is very particular about what he eats. Breakfast is usually organic cereal, but not the kind you keep on the shelf. If it isn't refrigerated, he says, it isn't worth eating. Shelf-stable cereals remove most of the germ and fiber, which are the main nutritional components but also the ingredients most apt to go stale. Organic, free-range eggs are also a must as these help lower cholesterol, despite a reputation to the contrary. For lunch and dinner, he turns to protein, either rice or range-fed organic chicken or turkey, along with plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. His most prized food is raw honey, which not only contains essential minerals, but is also absorbed almost immediately into the stomach and then into the brain. Quick assimilation means it doesn't interfere with insulin production, the culprit behind those steep peaks and troughs that leave most people running for the nearest candy bar and that can eventually cause diabetes.
Baron never eats between meals and drinks plenty of water-about six ounces every hour or two-but not just any water. It is treated by an ionic unit, which breaks down the chemical and inorganic elements in the water so that they can be accepted into the body. "Most of our water is acidic," Baron explains. "And so our bodies, which are alkaline, reject it. It passes right through us and actually leaves us dehydrated." He sometimes drinks organic wine, which does not have sulfites.
It all seems to be working. In addition to his near flawless work-attendance record, Baron says he has never had a cold or an upset stomach. In fact, his only physical derailment in 92 years has been surgery for a hernia, which kept him off the job for just two days.
"In addition to being so knowledgeable about the power of nutrition, he is a strong role model for everything that he teaches and prescribes," says Carol Stanley, a writer/recorder at the clinic. "His patients refer to him as their lifesaver."
Baron keeps current by logging onto his computer "day and night" to peruse medical sites, including Life Extension's, for the latest research information. In the hours when he isn't improving on his body of medical knowledge, he likes to listen to music, particularly the fiddle-Willie Nelson is a favorite. "I don't play anymore because every time I pick it up, the first note is so sour that I put it right down again," says the doctor, who studied classical violin in high school.
But his greatest joy is clearly seeing someone recover from an illness. Not long ago, Baron treated the director of a local vitamin distribution company whom he had known for about 50 years. This man took his vitamins religiously-but he also ate candy and pasta, and shunned fresh fruits and vegetables. Exercise was anathema. "He came in to see me in a wheelchair with cancer of the bladder and we changed his program immediately, getting him right onto juices," Baron says. "He was out of his wheelchair in five days. There are stories like that every day and I have to say they are the most satisfying and wonderful thing that God has put on this earth."