Arnold Ehret was born July 25, 1866, near Freiburg, in Baden, Germany. His father was a gifted farmer who was so technologically advanced that he crafted all of his own farming equipment. Like his father, Ehret would have endowed with a passion for studying the cause and effect of phenomena. His courses of interest were physics, chemistry, drawing, and painting. He also had an affinity for linguistics and could speak German, French, Italian, and English.
At the age of 21 he graduated as a professor of drawing and was drafted into the military only to be discharged because of heart trouble. At the age of 31 he was diagnosed with Bright's disease (inflammation of the kidneys), and pronounced incurable by 24 of Europe's most respected doctors. He then explored natural healing and visited sanitariums to learn holistic methods and philosophies. In a desperate attempt to quench his misery Ehret decided to stop eating. To his amazement he did not die but gained in strength and vitality.
In 1899 he traveled to Berlin to study vegetarianism, followed by a trip to Algiers in northern Africa where he experimented with fasting and fruit dieting. Due to his new lifestyle, Ehret completely cured himself of all of his illnesses and could now perform great feats of physiological strength, including an 800 mile bicycle trip from Algiers to Tunis. His discovery caused him to posit that pus and mucus forming foods are the fundamental cause for all human illness and that fasting (simply eating less) is Nature's primary method of cleansing the body from the effects of unnatural eating. (Hirsch, 1994, 9)
In the early 1900's Ehret opened a hugely popular sanitarium in Ascona, Switzerland where he treated and cured thousands of patients considered incurable by the so-called “medical authorities.” During the latter part of the decade Ehret engaged in a series of fasts monitored by German and Swiss officials. Within a period of 14 months Ehret completed a fast of 21 days, one of 24 days, one of 32 days, and one of 49 days, which stands as a world record for many years. Ultimately, Ehret became one of the most in-demand health lecturers, journalist, and educators in Europe saving the lives of thousands of people.
On June 27, 1914, just before World War I, Ehret left from Bremen for the United States to see the Panama Exposition and sample the fruits of the continent. He found his way to California, which was of special interest to him. This was because the region was undergoing a horticultural renaissance due to botanists like Luther Burbank, who later paid tribute to Ehret. At the time the University of California also owned the world's largest collection of rare fruits. The war pretended him from returning to Germany and he settled in Mount Washington where he prepared his manuscripts and diplomas in his cultured eating gardens. He, and other “Back to Naturists,” began to influence local populations of young people to investigate plant-based, natural living.
Benedict Lust, as student of Ehret's and early proponent of naturopathy, initially distributed the English language books of Ehret, Kneipp, Kuhne, Just, and Engelhardt in the United States. This included Ehret's “Kranke Menschen” (lit. Sick Human-animals) which became a best-seller. Ehret worked at Lust's Yungborn Sanitarium for 5 years. Then, Ehret opened his own sanitarium in Alhambra, California, before a lecture tour. His course on the Mucusless Diet Healing System became a book of 25 lessons for his students. The book, along with Rational Fasting, became his most important and popular publications. Ehret also developed and marketed his popular Innerclean Herbal Laxative.
On October 9, 1922, just two weeks after he completed the Mucusless Diet Healing System , he finished a series of four lectures on regaining health through fasting and the “Grape Cure” (grape and grape juice fasting) at the Assembly Room of the Angeles Hotel on 5th and Spring Street, where it was reported that over a hundred persons were unable to find seats. After leaving the building, between 11:00 pm and 11:30 pm, Ehret, aged 56, fell, sustaining a fatal blow to his skull. According to Ehret's business partner and publisher, Fred S. Hirsch DNS, he was walking briskly on a wet, oil-soaked street during foggy conditions when he slipped on the curve and fell back onto his head. Hirsch did not actually witness the fall but found Ehret lying on the street. Carl Kuhn, Ehret's German publisher during the 1920s, even questioned whether Ehret's fall was really an accident. Benedict Lust maintained that Ehret was wearing his first pair of new dress shoes and slipped as a result of his unfamiliarity with the footwear.
To this day the true nature of Ehret's death raises speculation among Ehretists. Ehret's powerful healing successes along with his influential and revolutionary new lifestyle dramatically enriched the medical, meat, and dairy industries. Due to these factors many believe that foul play was involved in Ehret's untimely death. His powerful healing successes, along with his important and radical new lifestyle, challenged the medical and agricultural industries. His writings on religion and family were also considered quite controversial. In the decades following Ehret's death, Fred Hirsch had many legal battles with the medical authorities, over the word 'mucus', and the Innerclean laxative.
Arnold Ehret is a cultural icon and was an important protagonist of the emerging back-to-nature renaissance in Germany and Switzerland during the late part of the 19th century. (Kennedy 1998, 9-10) The influence of this renaissance spread to America and affected many of the counter-cultural movements including the beat generation, the vegetarian driven “hippie” movement, veganism, and fruitarianism. Through the 20th century the teachings of Ehret have thrived and developed through the sincere efforts of a small group of dedicated Ehretists. Today Ehret's teachings are gaining wider acceptance through the world as more people seek to investigate plant-based, vegan healing and detoxification.
Child, BW, “Biographical Sketch of Prof. Arnold Ehret,” in Arnold Ehret's Mucusless-Diet Healing System: A Complete Course for Those Who Desire to Learn How to Control Their Health . Dobbs Ferry, NY: Ehret Literature, 1994, (13-22).
Ehet, Arnold, Arnold Ehret's Mucusless-Diet Healing System: A Complete Course for Those Who Desire to Learn How to Control Their Health. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Ehret Literature, 1994.
Ehret, Arnold. Rational Fasting for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Rejuvenation. Los Angeles: Ehret literature Pub, 1926.
Hirsch, Fred, “Introduction,” in Arnold Ehret's Mucusless-Diet Healing System: A Complete Course for Those Who Desire to Learn How to Control Their Health. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Ehret Literature, 1994, (9-12).
Kennedy, Gordon. “Arnold Ehret,” in Children of the Sun: A Pictorial Anthology, from Germany to California 1883-1949. Ojai, Calif: Nivaria Press, 1998, (144-153).