By Timothy Daiss Reprinted by permission of the author, this article first appeared in Connect Savannah magazine, Copyright Timothy Daiss
Burgstiner didn't know why he felt this way: sore joints, fatigue and
flu-like symptoms. But it became suddenly, painfully clear something
was wrong. He had a hunch, and it proved true. He had Hepatitis B, a
highly contagious and life-threatening disease contracted in an
operation with an infected patient. To compound matters, this could
spell the end of his medical career, a career that had spanned nearly
He could continue examining
patients, but was prohibited from performing surgery or helping bring
new life into the world, both a source of joy and personal
satisfaction. It appeared that Savannah had lost a gifted physician in
Seven years elapsed, and Dr. Burgstiner was still a carrier of the
hepatitis virus, but, as often is the case with great men, he would
turn tragedy into triumph. He went back to the basics, consulted his
medical school books, and searched for answers.
Finally, a principle, long forgotten, sprang to life. Dr. Burgstiner
reflected upon that time, "I recalled that I was taught in medical
school that the thymus gland controls the immune system. It is large in
children and decreases as we age". He reasoned, if the thymus gland
could be reactivated, it may be able to boost the immune system and
deal with the hepatitis that plagued him.
Armed with this knowledge, Dr. Burgstiner visited a health food store
and bought a preparation made of calf thymus. To the thymus he added a
vitamin-mineral complex, digestive enzymes, and several herbs known for
liver and immune support. He began to ingest the formula daily. Simply
put, it worked. In six weeks his hepatitis had converted to what is
described as a non-carrier state .
Elated with his personal breakthrough, as well as the ramifications for
the medical world, Burgstiner contacted the Center for Disease Control
(CDC) in Atlanta and reported his findings. Blood samples were sent to
Massachusetts General at Harvard as well as Scripps Institute in
California. Countless studies were performed on the samples, including
DNA testing and liver enzyme levels. The test results were encouraging,
his hypothesis confirmed.
Dr. Burgstiner took the next step. He consulted with other physicians
and researchers, most of whom responded with great interest and
enthusiasm. Dr. Julian Whitaker, America's foremost physician advocate of natural healing, talk show host, and author of
the nationally circulated newsletter Health and Healing remarked, "The
ability to maintain high levels of thymus hormone activity has enormous
potential for alleviating suffering from age-related diseases."
Dr. Burgstiner stated, "With this confirmation from my colleagues and
with the knowledge that the government would not support studies on
these products because they are food supplements, I began to recommend
the thymus, vitamin-mineral supplements to my patients."
Body of Research
In a short period, many of his patients reported marked improvements.
In a span of only three years, Dr. Burgstiner had arrested 84 cases of
hepatitis B, 34 cases of hepatitis C, and 28 cases of rheumatoid
arthritis, as well as 12 cases of lupus, 10 cases of multiple
sclerosis, 7 cases of squamous cell cancer of the skin, and several
cases of atopic dermatitis.
No small feat, for a simple yet overlooked fact-reactivation of the
thymus gland boosts the body s immune system. The next step in Dr.
Burgstiner's journey was a report in the January 1991 Journal of the
Medical Association of Georgia which published his findings. Soon
physicians across the country took note. Burgstiner stated, "The
results of this article [were] overwhelming. We received thousands of
letters and calls from MDs throughout the country."
This simple yet amazing breakthrough continued to gain momentum, in
spite of naysayers and disregard by the established medical community.
An Atlanta television station, hearing about a small town doctor and
some sort of perceived medical breakthrough, sent their medical
correspondent, Dr. Michael Rosen, MD to Savannah to investigate what
Dr. Rosen presumed to be quackery.
Instead, Dr. Rosen filmed a multi-part report praising Dr. Burgstiner s
findings. This time news spread quickly, and the Atlanta station was
inundated with calls from across the globe. Once more the determination
of this medical pioneer was changing history. Yet, formal double
blind studies needed to be conducted before the FDA or the medical
community would give credence.
Though highly respected as a surgeon and OBGYN, many of his colleagues
thought that Dr. Burgstiner had crossed the line of medical orthodoxy
and entered into alternative medicine. In fact, the medical
establishment cautions that herbal remedies pose unknown dangers due to
lower regulation as well as lack of patient supervision and direction.
Many also disagree with Dr. Burgstiner's thymus hypothesis. Thomas
Boyer, MD, professor of immunology at Emory University stated, "My
guess is that the thymus gland shrinks for a good reason-it is no
Yet, Dr. Burgstiner saw his breakthrough as anything but alternative.
Instead, he believed that sound nutritional support was integral to
wellness and sound health.
Dr. Burgstiner continued using thymic formulations in his practice.
Eventually he developed a comprehensive wellness formula that bears his
name. Thousands began to benefit from the use of his formula and
anecdotal evidence continued to mount. Reports of the hepatitis virus
being arrested were cited as were positive reports in the treatment of
rheumatoid arthritis, allergy problems and chronic fatigue syndrome.
This was big news, and people took notice. Several celebrities tried
and benefited from Dr. Burgstiner s formula.
Country singer Naomi Judd, diagnosed with hepatitis, consulted with the
doctor about his thymic research during her recovery. Former baseball
star, Brett Butler, diagnosed with throat cancer in 1995, also used his
formula and discusses in his book, Field of Hope, its role in his
It was Dr. Burgstiner's desire that double blind studies be conducted
to prove his theories, to confirm the anecdotal evidence.
Unfortunately, he died in 1997, partly due to liver damage suffered
during the seven years before re-activation of his thymus gland. He did
not see his wish of double blind studies come to fruition.
The torch was passed to his son, John Burgstiner, who took the helm of
the nutrition company that Dr. Burgstiner founded. Hoping to validate
his father's claims, John began pursuing the evidence so long hoped
for. "I thank God every day for using my father in such a powerful way,
and it is my passion to fulfill his legacy", John said.
FDA PROTOCOL APPROVED
Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., recently approved
an FDA protocol for a double blind/placebo controlled study on chronic
fatigue syndrome using Dr. Burgstiner's formula. The study will begin
with the enrolling of patients next summer.
In addition, another double blind study using Dr. Burgstiner's formula
is being prepared by the Anti-Aging and Life Enhancement Institute, an
affiliate of Savannah Plastic Surgery Associates at Memorial Medical
Dr. Arcie Mizell, a naturopathic practitioner and medical research
director at the institute, is hopeful. He stated, Dr. Burgstiner s
formula appears to be just as beneficial as homeopathic growth hormone
which is used to stimulate the body s production of growth hormones and
slows the aging process.
He continued, "As we age, growth hormones are depleted, and our
physical functions are diminished. Ailments such as heart diseases,
thyroid diseases, and joint disease become prevalent".
If the study proves Dr. Burgstiner's hypothesis, Mizell stated, it
would potentially save billions of dollars by delaying the length of
time that new populations of elderly would enter long-term care
Dr. Eric Scheinbart, a board certified physician in anti-aging medicine
affiliated with Memorial Health University Medical Center, validates
the importance of the thymus gland in maintaining good health and delaying the aging process. He said, "Reactivation of the thymus
gland increases cell longevity, thereby diminishing the decline of
Dr. Burgstiner's Legacy to Patients and as a Mentor
Yet, according to Barry Schlafstein,MD, a young physician and surgeon
that worked closely with Dr. Burgstiner in the last years of his practice,
Dr. Burgstiner's legacy was not limited to his medical research.
Schlafstein said, "Every young physician should have the opportunity to
work one-on-one with a physician like Bucky Burgstiner. Not only did he
have outstanding gynecological and surgical skills, he related to
patients in a unique way; he genuinely cared about each and every
When asked what kind of legacy Dr. Burgstiner left, Schlafstein
remarked, "He was a medical genius. It was his superior knowledge and
grasp of human physiology and anatomy that allowed him to be more
aggressive, to move into new areas of research".
While waiting for the results of the double blind studies, Dr.
Burgstiner s research continues to help, continues to heal, and
increasing numbers of physicians validate his claims.
With the increasing awareness in alternative medicine, it is inevitable
that the established medical community will take note, adhere, and join
In this regard, a medical maverick like Dr. Burgstiner, years ahead of
his time, becomes a pioneer, a founder and an innovator whose work far
exceeds his life.