Going Global: Stimulating a Worldwide Epidemic of Health

By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.

“How in the world do you stimulate an epidemic of health?”

Twenty-four years ago, I entered the gates on Hillside and drove up, wide-eyed, to the unique domes and pyramid, then known as “The Olive W. Garvey Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning, Inc.” Two evenings earlier, I had bumped into Dr. Hugh Riordan while attending an organic gardening lecture being held at a small college in Salina, Kansas where I was practicing as a Family Physician. I was introduced to him as a doctor who had been instrumental in starting a successful practice-based wellness program in Salina. Dr. Riordan told me that he also was deeply interested in wellness…but on a much bigger scale. Little did I know just how BIG that scale actually was!

Our discussion led Dr. Riordan to invite me to the Riordan Clinic in Wichita to discuss over lunch our mutual interests in health, nutrition, and optimal wellness. I was intrigued and would not have missed that luncheon for anything! As I walked out from that hour- long meeting, I suddenly realized that my old global vision of “health care” had just been shattered. In its place was a comprehensive picture of a more evolved health care system where patients functioned as “co-learners;” where quality of life “results” took precedence over standard of care “process;” and where the correction of real, underlying causes of sustained illness would replace the mere pharmaceutical palliation of symptoms.

In short, I had just had my first serious lesson in “stimulating an epidemic of health” via the “Riordan Approach!” Dr. Riordan expressed that he was ready to take on the world.

Dr. Riordan’s global perspective was developed while sponsoring a series of international conferences that focused on innovative ways of improving how human beings function. Holistic in his perspective, he knew that many of the problems of mankind had their genesis in what he viewed as “complacency with mediocrity.” He believed that with “extra effort” and a “focus on results,” the human condition could be improved. He often quoted, “if we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, there would be little hope of advance.” Orville Wright said that … probably when naysayers told him man was not meant to fly.

Speakers were invited from all over the world to these conferences. Although many countries were represented, many visitors traveled from Japan, Britain, Australia, Switzerland, China, and Russia. At the conferences, they shared their knowledge while commingling their ideas and becoming friends. Once they returned to their home countries, they were fully equipped to spread the good news of better ways to improve health. Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. Because of their experiences, they sent their friends and family members back to Dr. Riordan’s clinic for treatment (within this new paradigm of care). Co-learners from over 50 countries have journeyed to Wichita for more than 35 years to be tested and treated using methodologies gleaned from this wonderful series of international conferences.

In 1990, Dr. Riordan took on the challenge of cancer and named this effort RECNAC because the word is cancer spelled backwards. The name represents his research efforts to reverse the awful worldwide trends in cancer-related deaths, the only modern disease that has shown little response to modern treatment methods. Building on the work of Drs. Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron, the RECNAC research team was able to demonstrate that intravenous vitamin C (IVC) has selective cytotoxicity to cancer cells, inhibits growth of new blood vessels into existing tumors (anti angiogenesis), and is biologically effective at improving the cancer patient’s quality of life (more energy, better appetite, less pain, enhanced sense of well-being).

As research efforts of Riordan Clinic scientists and National Institutes of Health researchers continued to churn out dozens of peer-reviewed publications that supported and advanced RECNAC’s findings on IVC, we wondered who would present these findings to medical professionals and the general public. By becoming the Chief Medical Officer of the Riordan Clinic, I graciously accepted that task.

My first presentation was at the Canadian conference, Orthomolecular Medicine Today, held in Vancouver. It was entitled, “Monitoring IVC Effectiveness in Cancer Patients.” In the audience was a Japanese cardiologist -turned -nutritionist, Dr. Atsuo Yanagisawa. Upon his request, I presented a more general discussion of the role of IVC in the care and prevention of cancer at an upcoming Tokyo conference that he sponsored. Our meeting and that presentation led to a total of three additional trips to Tokyo with multiple presentations on the value of IVC and the founding of the International College of IV Nutrition, on which I serve as a board member. Continuing this tradition, I will be speaking on IVC and Cancer in the Netherlands later this year.

THE RIORDAN IVC AND CANCER SYMPOSIUM The growing worldwide interest in the Riordan IVC Protocol, published under the title, “Intravenous Ascorbate (IVC) as a Chemotherapeutic and Biological Response Modifier” led us to the decision to sponsor a symposium on this topic at the Riordan Clinic in 2009. With over 100 attendees representing eight countries, the first Riordan IVC and Cancer Symposium was a huge success, spawning a second such symposium in 2010. Streaming videos of each year’s speakers can be viewed at www.riordanclinic.org under the “Education” heading. Because of this symposium, and the many efforts of like-minded, nutritionally oriented doctors all over the globe, documented estimates of IVC usage run around one million infusions a year in the U.S. and over a half a million annually in Japan.

In past years, doctors from Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and many other countries have ventured to the Riordan Clinic for week-long educational experiences. They have been interested not only in IVC therapy but in the use of the laboratory to discern underlying nutritional and functional causes of chronic illness. Our on-site doctors have served as educational mentors to many aspiring nutritional doctors in the field of laboratory science as it applies to nutrition.

I personally serve on three international boards that are dedicated to the scientific advancement of nutritional therapies that mirror the values of the Riordan Approach: 1. International Schizophrenia Foundation in Toronto, Canada (founded by Dr. Abram Hoffer, a pioneer in Orthomolecular Psychiatry)
2. Pure North S’energy Foundation in Calgary, Canada (founded by Mr. Allan Markin, in an effort to provide quality nutrition-based wellness care to over 2200 of his employees, and eventually to all citizens of Canada)
3. International Society of Integrative Medicine in Tokyo, Japan

Dr. Riordan’s frequently voiced insight, “We do not have a health care system, we have a sickness care system,” implicitly predicted the advent of a new paradigm of true health care.

Healthy Medicine is a kind of medical care that focuses on health. One would think that this insight should be ridiculously obvious. But the history of medicine in modern times has proven this not to be true. Sickness care in the form of pharmaceuticals and acute care interventions has dominated the profession of medicine for over a century.

In the U.S., the huge inflationary costs of sickness care medicine, and its failure to stem the tide of obesity, cancer, and other degenerative illnesses, have caused the general public to take a more serious look at nutritionally-oriented medical care systems such as the system offered by the Riordan Clinic.

Call it what you will, “Lifestyle Medicine,” “Healthy Medicine,” “Integrative Medicine,”—these are all terms that describe a fundamental and global shift in thinking about how we promote better health in human beings. 

Although history may not adequately reflect the “extra efforts” of Dr. Hugh Riordan and all the Riordan Clinic staff members for more than 35 years, those of us who have committed to and participated in its growth will forever know in our hearts that we helped to seed a powerful new idea whose time had come: “Focus on creating an epidemic of Health!”