Essy's Discovery

In 1985, the Chief of Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic was faced with numerous patients suffering severe coronary artery disease (CAD) and failing multiple drug treatments (such as Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor, and Fenofibrate). Cleveland Clinic granted Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn an unusual request and referred to him 18 patients with severe and unmanageable heart disease.

Esselstyn's goal was to turn them away from their drugs and to employ a whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet with emphasis on the healthiest vegetables. He would target a serum cholesterol level of 150 mg, consistent with cultures (Okinawa, Sardinia, Nicoya, etc.) where CAD is essentially non-existent.

Reversal of Coronary Disease

After five years the patients’ cholesterol levels had diminished by 50% – halting and even reversing disease in eight of the patients (see before and after arteriogram above). All 18 patients survived and returned to active, engaged lives. None of the patients required interventions such as stents to reopen coronary arteries.

For these difficult-to-manage patients who were facing imminent heart attacks, Essy’s rescue diet focused on six servings daily of steamed green and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower topped off with balsamic vinegar and black pepper… no smoothies and no oil (small serving chopped avocado OK). Whole grains and legumes (no meats) were recommended to ensure adequate protein. Essy instructed the patients to chew (for activation of salivary enzymes) the steamed vegetables, still somewhat crunchy, and not overcooked.

While Essy has gone on to publish many scientific articles, collaborating with other great preventive health physicians including Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. John McDougal, his dramatic discoveries are still generally ignored by our profession. There is just no money in it for the large corporations. In fact, Big Pharma with its drugs and their common adverse effects (e.g. headache, feeling tired, and muscle pain) continues to dominate treatments by today’s physicians.

While in Park City, Essy made a comment that surprised the 400 health-seekers in the audience. He said “I particularly welcome failed heart patients (including physicians), especially those who have been suffering from angina (chest pain from inadequate blood circulation to heart muscle). They’re scared. They’re serious about change!” He would then assure these patients that if they followed his diet carefully for six weeks (and maintained WFPB) he would “guarantee” that they would not experience a heart attack in the future!

How many leading physicians can offer such a promise of restored health?

I should emphasize two added points:

  1. Arterial disease related to the Standard American Diet (SAD) begins very early in life, often for people in their 20’s.
  2. All arteries and capillaries are involved, including those that when diseased, can lead to mood and cognitive impairment, reduced breathing and exercise capacity, poor bone health, sexual dysfunction, kidney failure, and others.

As a tribute to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and to your own preventive health is it time to take advantage of more Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) power? Please check out for outlines, graphics and guides to his life-changing discoveries for your own health. Thank you Essy. We truly enjoyed your visit to Park City.

Gratefully yours,
Dr. Tom Rosenberg

Addendum: When I called Essy and Ann last week he told me that his seminars at the Cleveland Clinic continue to attract 30-40 patients every month. His "guarantee" still stands, mentioning that his program consistently relieves angina pectoris (chest pain) within a week. At age 90, Essy remains our foremost expert and scientist of endothelial health and continues to work tirelessly to cure his patients and lecture on WFPB eating.

On the personal level, Essy’s passion, memory and intellect are astounding. He recalled his delight at the Utah Symphony 5 years ago, remembering the “rainbow colored, short sleeve dress” of the featured pianist… and her “rippling” arm muscles. I was amazed!

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