Back to the Future: Infections Cured by Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (UBI)
Developed in Seattle in the 1920s ; used safely and successfully nationwide
UBI “replaced” by antibiotics in the 1950s
Harvard University and Guangxi Medical University researchers report that UBI may be an alternative approach to treating infection
If there’s fungus growing on a cloth, you know what happens to that fungus when it is left all day in bright sunshine: you can watch it fade and die. What part of sunshine does this? Chances are you know it’s the ultraviolet frequencies—that very same ultraviolet light that’s supposed to give us all skin cancer if we don’t bathe our bodies in sunscreen.
Yes, the May issue of Green Medicine reported that it’s poor diet—not lack of sunscreen—that’s responsible for the large majority of skin cancer, so we’ll leave that alone and go back to that extremely valuable but (since approximately 1950) almost completely ignored aspect of ultraviolet light: it kills germs! Not just fungi, but bacteria and viruses too!
Of course, shining ultraviolet light on the outside of the body won’t kill any germs on the inside of the body. The ultraviolet frequencies must get to where the germs are, and that’s where ultraviolet blood irradiation really—and literally—shines!
Ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI) began right in Seattle in the 1920s. Scientist Emmett Knott knew that sunlight and UV light was being used to successfully treat infectious diseases. The 1903 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Dr. Niels Finsen for his discovery that artificial UV radiation of the skin cured tuberculosis of the skin. Dr. Knott reasoned that if skin infections could be treated by irradiating the skin, blood infections might be cured by irradiating the blood! Knott built and patented[i] equipment that would remove a small amount of blood volume, anti-coagulate it, expose it to UVB and UVC radiation, and then pump the irradiated blood back into the body. His first report[ii] on the success of this treatment was published in 1934.
How is UBI done? Approximately 300 cc of blood—5% to 7% of the total for adults—is removed while being irradiated by ultraviolet light, and re-infused into the body. This may be done just once, or repeated several times depending on the severity of the problem. The blood is then returned to the patient and the process is repeated a number of times, depending on the seriousness of the condition being treated.
How successful is UBI treatment? In 1942, Professor George Miley at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia reported[iii] using UBI (which he named the “Knott Technic”) on 103 patients with life-threatening infections. At that time, antibiotic treatment was barely getting started. The only antibiotics available were sulfa drugs, so the large majority of these patients usually died.
Dr. Miley classified the patients into early, moderately advanced, and moribund (close to death) groups. The diagnoses included sepsis (infection throughout the body), septic (badly infected) abortion, peritonitis, pneumonia, abscess in the appendix, pelvic abscess, wound infection, and similar conditions. He treated all of them with ultraviolet blood irradiation and reported that all 20 of the early patients, 46 of 47 of the moderately advanced patients, and 17 of 36 moribund patients fully recovered.
In 1943, Professor Miley reported[iv] on 40 patients with generalized peritonitis (a usually fatal infection of the abdominal cavity). All 23 moderately advanced patients and 9 of 17 moribund patients recovered after blood irradiation.
In 1947, Professor Miley (yes, he published more research about UBI than anyone else) reported[v] what might be the largest case series involving UBI: 445 patients with a variety of life-threatening infections treated during six years. All of the “early” infection patients, 98% of the “moderately advanced,” and 45% of moribund (remember, nearly dead) patients recovered after treatment with Knott’s UBI—results that would rival those obtained today. The only side effect noted was skin flushing, which occurred in most treated patients and lasted up to 30 days. They also noted that treatment of staph aureus septicemia with sulfa drugs actually reduced the effectiveness of UBI.
In 1948, Dr. Miley reported[vi] excellent results with UBI treatment of viral pneumonia. Within a few days of one treatment, fever disappeared and symptoms abated. There are dozens of other research reports about effective treatments of non-infectious disease problems with UBI, but they would fill more space than this newsletter allows.
For all this information and more, please see the book Into the Light[vii] by Dr. William Campbell Douglass, Sr., who reports effective treatment of thrombophlebitis, bronchial asthma, polio, and HIV with UBI, as well as descriptions of UBI use in Russia and Africa, and much more. The chapter on HIV includes a report on his own case written by a physician whose own HIV was treated successfully with UBI.
Dozens of reports documenting the effectiveness of UBI against a very wide variety of infections were published before 1950, but many, many fewer after that. What happened? Adverse effects weren’t an issue. Dr. George Rebbeck of Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh reported, “There have been no signs of harmful effects in approximately 4,000 blood irradiation treatments under my direct supervision at Shadyside Hospital in the past five years.”[viii]
Two things happened to bring the use of UBI to a nearly dead halt. The first was the development of numerous antibiotics by patent medicine companies. With apparently no thought at all given to the very significant disruption of the normal intestinal (and other) bacteria by antibiotics (similar to “collateral damage” in wartime), or to the possibility of microorganisms not at all liking being killed and fighting back by developing “antibiotic resistance,” antibiotics were pushed by patent medicine company representatives to physicians at their offices and at conventions. One big selling point was the “ease of administration,” since no intravenous treatment was needed at all.
Secondly, the American Medical Association went to war against UBI with an article published[ix] in 1952. They focused on their finding that blood irradiation didn’t sterilize the blood, which to them meant it couldn’t be effective in killing germs, even though there had been hundreds of reports from universities and hospitals reporting effective treatment—including life-saving treatment—with UBI! These researchers also gave UBI to 68 patients with a wide range of diseases and found it safe, but claimed it was ineffective—although apparently it was effective enough to keep all of their patients from dying of those diseases.
Why did the American Medical Association oppose a treatment which had been found so effective? For insight, let’s look at the Fitzgerald Report to the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, published on August 3, 1953, in the Congressional Record.[x] Here’s a verbatim excerpt: “There is reason to believe that the AMA has been hasty, capricious, arbitrary, and outright dishonest. . . . The alleged machinations of Dr. J.J. Moore (for the past 10 years the treasurer of the AMA) could involve the AMA and others in an interstate conspiracy of alarming proportions.”
Cooperation among the AMA, “Big Pharma,” and los federales to eliminate competition with “approved” therapies was known in 1953 and—unfortunately—has continued until now. As that’s not the main topic here, let’s return to UBI.
Reports about research and treatment with UBI has continued outside these United States, in Africa, Germany, and particularly Russia. In 2006, Dr. John Cannell wrote a report[xi] listing sixteen reports published from 1982 to 2002 in Russia; he notes that hundreds more were published there.
Back to the Future!
In April 2016, researchers from Harvard University and Guangxi Medical University published a research review[xii] titled “Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: Is It Time to Remember ‘The Cure that Time Forgot’?” They wrote:
Ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI) was extensively used in the 1940s and 1950s to treat many diseases including septicemia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, arthritis, asthma, and even poliomyelitis. . . . However, with the development of antibiotics, the use of UBI declined and it has now been called “the cure that time forgot”. . . the modern view in Western countries is that UBI remains highly controversial. . . .
This review discusses the potential of UBI as an alternative approach to current methods used to treat infections, as an immune-modulating therapy and as a method for normalizing blood parameters. Low and mild doses of UV kill microorganisms by damaging the DNA, while any DNA damage in host cells can be rapidly repaired by DNA repair enzymes. . . .
However, the use of UBI to treat septicemia cannot be solely due to UV-mediated killing of bacteria in the bloodstream, as only 5–7% of blood volume needs to be treated with UV to produce the optimum benefit. . . .
With the recent emergence of bacteria that are resistant to all known antibiotics, UBI should be more investigated as an alternative approach to infections, and as an immune-modulating therapy.
How Does UBI Kill Infections?
As the Harvard and Guangxi reviewers report, UBI can directly kill bacteria by damaging their DNA, but there must be one or more other ways that UBI can effectively clear infections, as “only 5–7% of blood volume needs to be treated with UV to produce the optimum benefit.”
Dr. John Cannell has had another theory for years. He writes:
In 2007, I teamed up with an alternative health practitioner in Canada who still uses the Knott technique. He obtained 25(OH)D levels before and after treating three of his patients with the Knott Technique and found that each irradiation delivered between about 50,000 to 100,000 IU of vitamin D to the systemic circulation.
The Harvard [and Guangxi] authors did not include vitamin D as a possible mechanism of action of the Knott Technique in their paper. However, after I emailed the lead author with my 2006 newsletter, he admitted vitamin D may explain some of the remarkable treatment effect of this . . . treatment.[xiii]
But does it matter if we know in detail all the ways UBI kills germs (its “mechanism of action” for the scientifically inclined) and does whatever else it does for noninfectious illnesses? What really, really matters is that UBI can eliminate infectious disease without adverse effects (except perhaps that temporary “flush” mentioned by one of the researchers reviewed above).
Even better, UBI does not devastate beneficial microflora in the intestines or elsewhere in our bodies, and also does not promote the evolution of treatment-resistant “superbugs” such as MRSA.
Where Is UBI Treatment Available?
If you have a serious or stubborn infection, UBI may be worth considering. Yes, it’s done here at Tahoma Clinic, and you can find practitioners who use UBI in most areas of these United States. Check online at the websites of the American College of Advancement in Medicine and the International College of Integrative Medicine; details for both are on page 8.
[i] Patent no. 1,683,877 (1928): “Means for Treating Bloodstream Infections.” Patent no. 2,308,516 (1943) was an update.
[ii] Knott EK, Hancock VK. “Irradiated blood transfusion in treatment of infections.” Northwest Med. 1934; 33:200-204.
[iii] Miley GP. “The Knott Technic of Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation in Acute Pyogenic Infections.” New York State Journal of Medicine 1942;42(1):38-46.
[iv] Miley GP, Rebbeck EW. “The Knott Technic of Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation as a Control of Infection in Peritonitis. Review of Gastroenterology 1943;10:1
[v] Miley GP, Christensen JA. “Ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy: further studies in acute infections.” American Journal of Surgery 1947; 73: 486-493.
[vi] Miley GP, Chritiansen JA. “Ultraviolet blood Irradiation therapy in acute viral infections.” Review of Gastroenterology 1948; 15:271-277.
[vii] William Campbell Douglas Sr., MD. Into the Light. Second Opinion Publishing, 1973, 133–136.
[viii] George Rebbeck, MD, in William Campbell Douglas Sr., MD. Into the Light. Second Opinion Publishing, 1973, 89.
[ix] Schwartz S. et al. “Ultraviolet irradiation of blood in man; studies of sixty-eight patients.” JAMA 1952;149(13):1180-3.
[x] To download your own PDF copy of this report: http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/Fitzgerald%20Report%201953.pdf /.
[xi] https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/newsletter-is-vitamin-d-an-antibiotic/ .
[xii] Wu X, Hu X, Hamblin MR. “Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: Is It Time to Remember ‘The Cure That Time Forgot’?” J Photochem Photobiol B. 2016 Apr;157:89-96.