BOARD MEMBER INTROSPECTIVE – GREG KUNIN
By Scott C. Tips and Katherine A. Carroll
If a 16th-century popular nursery rhyme is to be believed, then babies born on a Sunday, the Sabbath Day, are particularly favored. “Bonnie and blithe,” as they said back then. Now, we might say that Sunday-born babies will be amiable, bright, creative, and bold. If anyone’s life supports such qualities, NHF Board of Governors member and Vice President Greg Kunin would be that man. Born on a humid and hot Sunday in San Francisco, California, Greg is the epitome of creativity and bold action and thought.
An Early Convert to Good Nutrition
But it wasn’t always that way. In 1970, at a young age, Greg faced some serious, debilitating health issues. His nervous system seemed to be out of control. He was the “wild-child,” loud, unfocused, and even had a difficult time reading. Making matters worse, he suffered from terrible headaches. All of these conditions severely impacted Greg’s early schooling. His father, Dr. Richard Kunin, a nutrition-oriented medical doctor, diagnosed Greg’s condition as indicative of lead poisoning and food sensitivities, especially to excess refined carbohydrates. Testing confirmed the diagnosis.
Fortunately, Dr. Kunin was the right doctor for the job. Having started the first Keto dietary program in the 1950s, he immediately placed his son on a strict dietary program, which was tough for a rambunctious pre-teen like Greg. His diet was established through “titration,” that is, remove all carbohydrates on Day One and then add them slowly back in, day by day, for seven to ten days and observe how Greg responds. With proper record keeping, the right balance point can be determined where the person will feel their best, and that is what happened to Greg. He was feeling and behaving better on fats and proteins instead of all of the carbohydrates he had been consuming. Thanks to his father’s research and time spent teaching him how to eat better, Greg’s deteriorating health and ill-behavior were solved naturally without drugs.
Greg continued to improve and by the time he was eleven years old, he fully followed the program and experienced first-hand the impact that proper nutrition can have. He understood in a very personal way the direct relationship among food, heavy metal, and illness. Greg entered his destiny early in life and has been committed to sharing this life-changing knowledge all these years later.
Greg himself tells it best, “As a child I learned firsthand how important diet and supplementation can be in order to be happy and healthy. From a young age I had suffered from headaches, and consequently had a tough time in school. Fortunately, my father and hero Richard Kunin, M.D., had started his lifelong work in nutrition-oriented medicine. Through testing, he discovered that I had sensitivities to sugar – especially soft drinks – and that I had lead poisoning. My father prescribed vitamins and changes to my diet. Soon, the headaches disappeared and my life dramatically improved! This experience taught me the true health benefits of proper vitamin supplementation; and I developed a desire to share my father’s groundbreaking knowledge with the rest of the World.”
Thanks to His Father
How can one not have his own father as a hero when he is such a pioneer? In 1967, Dr. Kunin was a leader in the psychiatric profession when he started testing patients’ nutritional status and documenting that they were malnourished, in many cases badly malnourished. These patients were not crazy, they just needed better nutrition and targeted nutritional supplementation. With a better diet and supplements, and without medication, patients who had been completely psychotic made dramatic transformations right before young Greg’s eyes since Dr. Kunin’s medical office was located in their family home.
In 1968, Dr. Kunin started testing patients’ hair for abnormal levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and fluoride. In 1972, these novel, alternative practices for a medical doctor prompted Dr. Kunin’s appearance on the cover of Prevention magazine, in which they ran a story titled “He Cures Psychiatric Disorders with Nutrition” about his successful treatment of psychiatric patients with nutrition, vitamin, and other “unconventional” therapies. Greg had a front row seat to observing greatness and it is no wonder he views his father as his hero to this day. You can learn more about Dr. Kunin’s remarkable discoveries and achievements at this link: https://thenhf.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Dr.-Richard-Kunin-M.D.-Bio-.pdf.
Greg also witnessed a parade of orthomolecular medical luminaries pass through his home on a regular basis: Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Abram Hoffer, Dr. Richard Huemer, Dr. Irwin Stone, and many others. Greg’s mother even threw an 80th birthday party for Linus Pauling. By the age of ten, Greg was thoroughly immersed in and interacting with the elite of the orthomolecular-medicine movement. Unfortunately, it was just about then that his father was attacked. Greg was about to experience firsthand what happens when doctors truly teach and heal.
The Medical Mafia Attacks
In June 1972, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a front-page story attacking Dr. Kunin and his practice of orthomolecular medicine. In the early 1970s, major newspapers such as the Chronicle were one of the public’s main sources of information. Of course, as soon as the article appeared, the San Francisco Medical Society launched its own assault against Dr. Kunin for using megavitamin therapy and nutrition in his practice, calling it “unscientific.” Dr. Kunin was shocked – his own colleagues whom he had trusted were attacking him. Greg saw his father, his hero, who had been restoring and saving broken lives right and left, being condemned for his success. Diverted from his vital work and with his professional integrity and scientific approach threatened, Dr. Kunin was thrust into the fight of his life.
Eschewing legal representation to the astonishment of many, Dr. Kunin represented himself at the Medical Board hearing. One trumped-up charge was that he had advertised his professional practice with the Prevention-magazine article, something that was illegal at the time. But, as Dr. Kunin argued, he had done no such thing. Rather, it was an interview and there was no professional prohibition against a medical doctor being interviewed. The Board, impressed with his self-representation and his arguments, ruled unanimously in his favor and he was completely vindicated. Still, Dr. Kunin had to endure four more Medical-Board investigations, all of which he won without legal representation and with the Board having expressed admiration for his medical records as “the best they had ever seen.” These were truly landmark wins for orthomolecular treatment. Throughout these ordeals, Greg had lived and breathed each case alongside his father. Thus, came Life’s second huge lesson for young Greg: you cannot have true health without having health freedom.
Health Freedom Is Indispensable
His father had helped found the Orthomolecular Health Medicine Society (OHM) and was its first president. Dr. Kunin named Dr. Abram Hoffer’s group The International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine (ISOM), which publishes the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine; and he was also the founder of the later Society For Orthomolecular Medicine. These were, and still are, organizations dedicated to the proposition, as Dr. Kunin put it, that “You cannot have good medicine without an understanding of orthomolecular treatment.”
In 1968, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as “the restoration and maintenance of health through the administration of adequate amounts of substances that are normally present in the body.” Or, in other words, physiology and biochemistry in medicine are really the key to Orthomolecular Medicine, which supports normal function versus pharmacology, which generally modifies or blocks normal function via toxic means (“Toxi-Molecular”). Orthomolecular medical doctors were helping patients get well in a natural and effective way.
Yet, Greg saw many of the Society’s members being persecuted simply because they were treating their patients outside orthodox medicine’s “standard of care” by using orthomolecular medicine. It didn’t seem right to Greg that these good men and women should have to risk their lives and careers to provide good-quality medicine for their patients. Most people, he thinks, do not realize the terrible risks that these doctors must take simply to help cure their patients, then and now.
The National Health Federation was created in the mid-1950s to fill a need to protect doctors and patients alike from a growing monoculture of tyrannical medicine that could not compete in the marketplace of real science and fresh ideas. Instead, this cancer spread by using government-mandated monopolies and guild restrictions to block and eliminate all of its competition. The Federation opposes all such monopolies and restrictions, which easily made the Kunins and the Federation a natural fit.
So, Dr. Kunin started speaking at the Federation’s conferences and meetings and became an immediate hit. Greg was often present there as well with his father; and he met many of the Federation’s leaders, such as former president Maureen Kennedy Salaman. That connection lasted for decades, with first Dr. Kunin joining the NHF Board of Governors in the Spring of 2002 and then Greg joining his father on the Board of Governors in 2015. After having helped serve and even save the Federation during many a battle, Dr. Kunin recently resigned his position on the Board, leaving his son, Greg Kunin, to carry on the family tradition of fighting for health freedom.
Aloha to Ola Loa
As Greg got older his father’s work in blood coagulation and methylation also had a major impact on him. Once again he began to suffer from toxicity issues, this time in high school when exposed to pesticide-laden dormitories and golf courses, while he was at Robert Louis Stevenson High School in Pebble Beach, surrounded by golf courses that were continually sprayed with chemicals. Due to inherited genes, Greg’s own homocysteine levels tend to run high; and combined with the toxic overload he was receiving, he suffered seizures. His father’s work on reducing blood levels of homocysteine levels led to a solution for Greg as well as a possible business model for helping people with their methylation issues.
Ultimately, these experiences led to the creation in 1999 of a company called Ola Loa (“Long Life” in Hawaiian) with products uniquely designed by the Kunins to support methylation from start to finish. As Greg explained, “We originally designed a line of capsules that would require taking a handful of pills. On one fateful day I looked over at my then 2-year-old son Blake, and the “light bulb” came on – I had found the solution! I realized there had to be a better way for people to get their nutrients, and we decided to develop a nutrient-rich drink that was also delicious. Ultimately, the formula and taste had to be good enough for my son.”
“We started with two simple goals: First, to offer scientifically advanced formulas based on the most current clinical research and studies; and Second, to make taking your vitamins easy and pleasurable. I think Ola Loa offers the most comprehensive and strategic nutritional support available in a powdered drink form and drinking one packet daily actually makes taking your vitamins enjoyable and convenient.”
Greg is also adamant about loving what he does. “I can’t imagine not doing what I am doing. I could make a lot of money wearing a suit and tie and working for Goldman Sachs. But to have someone say, “thank you for saving my life,” well, that’s it!” Greg sees miracles happening to people through the use of Ola Loa just as his father did in his medical practice.
Thoughts for the Present and the Future
Greg has been an active NHF Board member for five years now, and is currently NHF Vice-President, a position he has held for several years. He is passionate about helping people be healthier. But to do that, he knows all too well from a lifetime of experience that patients and customers need to have healthcare practitioners and health-food stores and companies that will provide the services and goods that they need.
“We are going through a major crisis,” Greg said, “where Mom-and-Pop stores are barely hanging on. They are mostly gone. These were the very advanced people. In the 1980s, you knew when talking to staff at health-food stores that they were nutritionally literate and had substantial knowledge. Yet, the number of stores closed in the last five years is horrifying. Natural supermarkets don’t exist anymore and of those that remain no one seems to know anything much at these stores. And many vitamin companies are now owned by drug companies, except fortunately for old stalwart, family-owned companies such as NOW and Barlean’s. We are living through scary times that have just become even scarier with the COVID-19 pandemic recently providing many States with the flimsy excuse to shut down health-food stores as ‘non-essential!’”
And with doctors and “modern” medical practice, Greg is just as adamant, “The institutional type of physicians are common and the old family doctors are gone, you know, the ones who knew you up and down, in and out. It’s tragic and makes for more medical errors too.”
Greg continued, “Doctors must have freedom to practice real medicine. It’s actually Orwellian where the patient gets well and the doctor is persecuted for having been successful. Orthomolecular physicians have literally risked their lives to do what they need for their patients. Many have lost sight of this. Yet, this is how science really evolves: by experimentation. If society becomes too prosecutorial, then society as a whole is going to lose.”
“People must realize that they are in jeopardy. Access to true health and medicine is not guaranteed. In fact, very powerful forces exist that do not want you to have access to such health and instead want you under the control of their disease-care medical establishment. These forces have many people lobbying on their side to make supplements disappear altogether. Our medical establishments are very threatened by supplements and true healers, and they don’t want you to see or use their competition. They want control – it all comes down to money and power. Opposing that is a very important organization protecting and overseeing you as a watchdog. The National Health Federation is that organization for you and your voice – to get the message out there, educating not only individuals but also representatives. They need to know there is a huge mass of people behind NHF. Someone has to be the Watchdog and NHF is it.”
Greg has stepped into his father’s esteemed shoes to carry on the fight through his work with the Federation. He travels extensively with his lovely and knowledgeable wife Nena committed to his destiny of educating and providing real answers and real healing outside the confines of a medical office. Dr. Kunin’s original mission and vision has expanded and been preserved through the fine work of his son, both in healing and in fighting to protect health freedom. It is going to take a lot more than the usual opposition to bring these two fighting heroes down! The NHF counts itself fortunate to have them as an integral part of its organization.