The story of Hippocrates Health Institute began in 1908, when Ann Wigmore was born in Lithuania. (To learn more about the factors of her youth that shaped her future, read her compelling biography, “Why Suffer?”) At the age of 13, she sailed to the United States to reunite with her parents, who were already living in Massachusetts. She eventually married, had a daughter and lived a simple, humble life in Stoughton, a town about 10 miles south of Boston.
While Ann was raising her family, a Danish doctor by the name of Kristine Nolfi was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1940. She refused established medical protocol and successfully treated herself with an exclusively raw food diet. When she regained her health, she opened a health center called Humlegaarden where she treated many patients with cancer and other diseases.
A decade or so after Dr. Nolfi had reversed her cancer, Ann, in poor health and suffering from colon cancer, began to incorporate the lessons she recalled learning as a child in Lithuania from her grandmother, the village doctor, who treated wounded soldiers with herbs during World War I. Using weeds and wheatgrass, she also healed her body and reversed the cancer. Witnessing the powerful healing properties of wheatgrass juice and other vitamin and enzyme-rich foods first-hand inspired her to spend the next 35 years of her life studying and educating others about natural healing and optimum nutrition.
Her first foray into helping others was through the “Red Schoolhouse,” which she founded at her farm in Stoneham in 1956. Dr. Paul Dudley White, a Harvard University-educated physician, member of the Harvard faculty, President Eisenhower’s personal physician and a founder of the American Heart Association, was one of Ann’s biggest supporters. He ran an “Underground Railroad” of sorts by sending patients who could not be cured using modern medicine to Ann’s farm. A fellow Lithuanian by the name of Viktoras Kluvinskas also became aware of Ann’s work through a Boston Globe article on the world-famous model Twiggy and the cleansing detox program she went through at Red Schoolhouse. The top computer consultant in the U.S. at the time, Viktoras’ services were coveted by institutions including Harvard, Smithsonian, MIT and The Apollo Project; he was also sick and dying from an autoimmune collapse when he came to the Red Schoolhouse to recover. After three weeks, he experienced a personal revelation and so when Ann offered him the opportunity to stay, he gave up his high-profile career and joined her to become the science and the brains behind the operation which, together, they renamed and co-founded as Hippocrates Health Institute.
Initially, the diet at the Institute was vegetarian, which transitioned into vegan. But after noticing the positive changes that occurred from eating only living foods, the permanent diet of raw, life-giving foods was incorporated. Viktoras spent hours at the Harvard Medical Library, seeking to create a bridge between what they had been experiencing in regards to health and healing and what was known in the medical and research community.
One of the people they helped was a friend of Boston Brahmin Margaret Drumheller. After seeing her friend’s Multiple Sclerosis reversed with Ann’s guidance, Margaret invited her to move her healing center from Stoneham to her brownstone in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and, in 1961, Ann and Viktoras officially opened the doors to the Hippocrates Health Institute at 25 Exeter Street in Boston.
For the next 25 years, Hippocrates was literally the face of the alternative health care movement in the U.S. At their weekly Sunday Open Houses, hundreds of visitors came to learn more about health and healing. One such visitor was Brian Clement, a young raw vegan who had plans to eventually open a center in Oregon, but was living in Maine in the interim. Curious about Hippocrates, he made the trip in 1975 and never left.
Together, Brian and Ann traveled throughout Europe, hoping to seed the idea of raw foods as a cure-all for a disease-free lifestyle back where it had originated in the 1940s with Dr. Nolfi’s work. In the late 1970s, Brian spent a year as Director of Humlegaarden and, upon his return to Boston, Ann and Viktoras asked him to take over the directorship of Hippocrates. He agreed, upon three conditions:
1. HHI would begin to support its results with empirical data, adding blood profiles and physicians to the staff, leaving a legacy of healing beyond anecdotal stories;
2. Clarity on HHI’s mission statement: Helping people help themselves. At HHI, guests are never told that they can be ‘healed’, it’s about giving people the tools they need to help themselves achieve their goals;
3. We only speak from experience. Today, hundreds of thousands of people have been through HHI, offering mountains of substantive data and empirical evidence that allows HHI staff to truly teach from experience.
Brian took over as Director of Hippocrates in 1980. In 1983, Anna-Maria Gahns, who had been the Director at Sweden’s Brandals Health Center, moved to Boston to work and learn from Brian. The couple married and, in 1987, moved the Institute from Boston to West Palm Beach, Florida.
Today, Drs. Brian and Anna Maria Clement, Ph. D., L.N.C. carry on Ann Wigmore’s mission to help people radically change their health by trading nutrient-deficient, “dead” foods for a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based proteins. In addition to expanding and fine-tuning the Institute’s curriculum over the years to include seminars on such topics as meditation, colonics and homeopathy, they have also expanded its offerings by adding a chef’s kitchen for raw cooking lessons, cutting-edge spa and therapy treatments, exercise equipment and classes, ozonated pools, nature-trail walks and behavioral health practitioner services.
Ann Wigmore’s use of wheatgrass as a key dietary component began a revolution in the world of nutrition. Hippocrates Health Institute has welcomed people from all walks of life to benefit from her teachings – from people looking to improve their general health to those with terminal disease. To date, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have visited the Institute and now share stories of recovery, healthy lifestyles, and a rejuvenated outlook on life.