Who is Clara Felix?
Clara Felix (B.S., Nutrition Science) was a passionate believer in the value of good nutrition, natural healing, traditional foods, the wisdom of ancient cultures, and our hunter/gatherer (paleo) heritage. From the time she first read Adelle Davis, as a young mother attempting to cope with youngsters sharing all the normal ailments, and discovered that nutritional methods really worked, she became a devoted, ardent convert.
"Felix stumbled across a copy of Adelle Davis' Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit. Davis' nutritional theories, conscientiously tested and retested, had a ring of truth to them—and, to Felix, the ring of a miracle.
"She started her children on Davis' food-and-vitamin regimen, and ... it worked. ... 'I discovered that I had weapons, nutritional weapons, a handle for bucking the system' of doctors, prescriptions, tonsillectomies, more pills, Felix says.
"'It sounds like such old hat,' ...but you can't imagine how exciting those possibilities were: what it meant to actually question and challenge the pediatricians. I mean, this is 1955 we're talking about.' Before reading Davis, 'it never would have occurred to me to go to the store and pick out my own vitamins'" (Rufus). 1
For a long time, Felix studied nutrition on her own: Davis, Linus Pauling, Weston Price, Beatrice Trum Hunter, and many, many others. After raising her four children, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and enrolled in UC Berkeley, a life-long dream. Four years later, at age 55, she graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nutrition Science.
She began The Felix Letter — A Commentary on Nutrition in 1981, and for 23 years and 125 issues she turned out some of the most deeply felt, most assiduously researched, and best written commentaries on unheralded nutritional research ever produced.
"We always expected you to go fishing in the sea [of nutrition] and come up with the perfect fish," a colleague, Robert Crayhon, told her -- an acknowledgement of her ability to discern, find, and delve into the crucial issues, something made very clear by the volumes and volumes of research journals and files in her living room, bedroom, kitchen, garage. "Not only was she a nutritional Sherlock Holmes, she was also a nutritional Ponce de Leon. And people were listening" (Rufus). Crayhon also told her, "There are a lot of great brains in nutrition like yours, but you also have the love and the heart." 2
The Felix Letter catalyzed many wonderful contacts in the nutritional field for Felix, enabling her work to extend even further. As she began in 1983 to uncover the wonders of Omega 3 fatty acids (The Felix Letter No. 14), she learned about the work of a Harvard-educated physician, Dr. Donald Rudin, who had conducted research into links between the need for Omega 3 fatty acids and all kinds of afflictions, ranging from high blood pressure to chronic skin conditions to schizophrenia. He had encountered wonderfully positive results in his patients simply by putting them on a regimen of flax seed oil. Felix and Dr. Rudin ultimately co-wrote a book in 1987: The Omega-3 Phenomenon, followed by a second book in 1996, Omega 3 Oils: To Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases, and Extend Your Life.
Integral to Felix's philosophy was an unfaltering integrity: she never compromised her findings commercially or in any other way, never bending to a "higher power" of profit or outside interests. Her work steadfastly remained motivated by a passion for people's welfare by acquainting the public with uncommon yet compelling nutritional insights. And, into her 80s, ever curious and fearless to assess her nutritional findings, Felix's best test subject was herself!1 Rufus, Anneli S. "East Side Story." East Bay Express. Berkeley, CA, 1991. 2 From personal telephone communication, Robert Crayhon and Clara Felix, Berkeley, CA, 2004.
Who is Elliot Wagner?
Elliot Wagner was awarded his Certificate in Acupuncture in 1985 from American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he was class valedictorian. He then went on to earn his Oriental Medicine Doctorate from South Baylo University in 2007. After working in both public and private clinics, Elliot ran his own private practice from 2003 until shortly before his death from cancer in 2011.
But Dr. Wagner was much more than a private health practitioner. He was deeply involved in bringing services and education to the communities around him, establishing and practicing in a number of volunteer programs.
Between 1991 and 2006, Elliot was the Executive Director and Senior Acupuncturist of California Acupuncture Resources (CAR), a non-profit group that brought acupuncture and Chinese medicine into drug treatment and public health. Here are some of the programs CAR developed and ran:
- At the Tom Waddell Health Center, the flagship medical clinic for the San Francisco Department of Homeless Programs, Elliot ran the acupuncture clinic for almost eight years. There, he and his colleagues saw hundreds of the city’s homeless, mentally ill, and disenfranchised;
- Elliot instituted the San Quentin Prison Acupuncture Project – the first ever acupuncture program within a California prison;
- At the Center for AIDS Services in Oakland, CAR created a clinic for people with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, assisting them with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutritional supplements. Other patients treated at the Center included those with depression, COPD, addiction to methamphetamines, low back pain, muscle weakness and atrophy, peripheral neuropathy, RSD, insomnia, tinnitus, hypertension, and several with AIDS who, otherwise healthy, had come for supplements and emotional support.
- As head of the Walden House acupuncture clinic, Elliot participated in creating one of the first nationally funded alternative medicine clinics in the United States targeting people with AIDS. Over the twelve years he ran the Walden House Acupuncture Clinic, Elliot and his volunteer staff saw more than 2,000 clients in 18,000 visits, all of them substance abusers, and most of them with AIDS.
- Elliot established the Clara Felix Sickle Cell Clinic, providing acupuncture and natural medicine for people with Sickle Cell Anemia.
In addition to being a leader in these community health initiatives, Elliot was also an educator, delivering courses at American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, presentations at conferences from Los Angeles to New York, and lectures to numerous public associations. In addition to being published in periodicals such as Oriental Medicine Journal and Radiance Magazine, Elliot was a contributing editor to Health World Magazine. He also contributed a regular column on acupuncture in two local monthlies (Lafayette Today and Alamo Today). These articles comprise the bulk of the material published here on felixletter.com.
One of the signature courses Elliot developed and delivered was entitled The Heart of Healing: The Art of Listening in Medicine, which addressed the complexities of the doctor-patient relationship. Elliot was concerned not only with the technicalities of healing, but with the whole healing realm. The Heart of Healing leads health practitioners though the process of creating a safe healing space for patients. This was a reflection of his practice, which was decidedly patient-centered and based on love and compassion for each patient.
Elliot was practicing during an important convergence of Western medical science -- physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology -- with traditional Chinese medicine. He understood that the effectiveness of Chinese medicine was rooted in as much in physiology as on the traditional energy-flow model. He argued before the California State Acupuncture Board in 2010 that medical training for practitioners of Chinese medicine in California be required to include a systematic scientific foundation, including basic anatomy and physiology. “I deeply believe and have found that the application of physiological principles does not deter in the least from my enthusiasm or ability to practice the ancient art of acupuncture. Then we will truly be able to have a place at the primary care table, and be able to show others what a marvelous medicine we have been freely given,” he stated in his letter to the Board.
Elliot was a deep thinker and a deeply caring human. He didn’t merely practice Chinese medicine; he made a difference in the community of acupuncture practitioners and in the lives of thousands of patients. He contributed to the body of knowledge in his field, and, through his tireless efforts, elevated the craft of Chinese medicine in California.
About The Felix Letter Website
This website is a project by close relatives of both Clara and Elliot. It was built, since their passing, as a tribute to their work and their lives, and so their research may be accessible to the world. We believe there is much value in all the works presented, and that our efforts in building this site and compiling all its content are more than worth it. We encourage you to share this site and/or any relevant articles with friends, family, colleagues or anyone who might find it useful.
Each issue of the Felix Letter was scanned individually and converted to text/html format as displayed on this site, as well as PDF, available for download. The Acupuncture Articles by Elliot were obtainable from Lafayette Today's web archive, and formatted to display on this site as well.
We are aware that nutrition and medicine are advancing rapidly, and that some of the content on this site from our late family members dates back more than three decades. We do not intend to present this material as undeniable truth, nor do we ourselves claim professional knowledge on these subjects. More than anything, this site is a tribute to the work that Elliot and Clara had dedicated their lives to. We created this website in hopes that you may find some value in what we have worked so hard to present — useful knowledge, historical records, and the rich personalities and enthusiasm of Clara Felix and Elliot Wagner.
To get in touch for any reason, contact Soren Wagner — SorenWagner@gmail.com.