The History of Foresight
This is the story of how and why in 1978 Foresight first began. It has been included in the web site, partly because people often ask how Foresight came about and also to give an insight into the motivation and genuine feeling behind all of the hard work that goes on. At times, Foresight has been accused of operating solely to spread scare stories and to sell expensive food supplements! However if you read the story below, you will see that it was started and continues out of a passionate desire to improve the health of the unborn child, in order to give every new baby the best possible start in life.
None of the activities of Foresight are for the purposes of making a profit. It started as a voluntary organisation, and Nim Barnes and Julia Martin still give their time for nothing.
1960 - 1970
In the early 1960's, Nim Barnes and her husband lived in London. She had three children of her own, but later had several miscarriages. Her first child was a son who was hyperactive. She found that a gluten-free diet solved some of his problems. Then she had a daughter who, was found to have two tumours growing on her spinal cord. This took a lot of resolving, with much surgery and radio therapy. Finally her third child was so allergic that, at eight months old, he could not take any food other than breast milk without suffering asthma, eczema and diarrhoea. This led to a long learning curve about allergies and digestive problems.
In 1965 she and her husband moved to Surrey, and by chance ended up living near two women, who were the wife and the sister of Professor Humphrey Osmond which seemed like a direct answer to her prayers. Humphrey was a psychiatrist-with-vision at that time working in Canada with Abram Hoffer. He was pioneering the use of nutrients - at that time just supplements of nicotinamide (vitamin B3), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and vitamin C - with the mentally ill. On his suggestion, Nim started to give her hyperactive son a daily nicotinamide supplement and found the change was miraculous. This was one of the turning points in her life and sparked her interest in diet and nutrition.
1970 - 1977
One day in 1973, Nim read an article by the playwright Roger MacDougal, who was living in California and who suffered from MS. He had greatly improved his condition by eating a gluten-free, milk-free diet and taking a multivitamin that he had formulated for himself. At that time, Nim and her family were living next door to a Cheshire Home (a residential care centre for people suffering from illnesses such as Muscular Dystrophy, Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis) and used to take round surplus vegetables from their garden. She showed them the article and for some time ten long-term MS sufferers were greatly helped by special diets and nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, the 'Powers-That-Were' at the time did not approve and did their best to stop it, in spite of the fact that all of the sufferers made very significant improvements and some went into complete remission. Interestingly, a few years later the idea was taken up again and the approach is now quite widely used by a number of doctors in England.
At the same time a local Roman Catholic priest was trying to help people suffering from alcoholism. Nim acted as an intermediary and passed on advice from Humphrey Osmond and his colleague Abe Hoffer, and between them they found that abstention from alcohol could be made much easier with detection of allergy and dietary adjustment and supplements. This endeavour flourished, and a number of those involved later went on to found the Westminster Advisory Centre on Alcoholism.
These three incidents had fully convinced everyone concerned of the relevance of food allergies, and also of vitamin and mineral status, to mental health. Nim continued to write to Humphrey Osmond and Abe Hoffer quite regularly. She joined Sanity, the Schizophrenia Association of Great Britain and the McCarrison Society, to glean all the information she could, and also to pass on the American work to them. Through these organisations she met some doctors in the UK who were into diet, allergies, and so on and was able to introduce them to Humphrey Osmond and another like-minded specialist, Unabelle Blackwood, from Ohio.
Nim's next turning point came when she read an article in the American Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry, by Dr Elizabeth Lodge-Rees, a paediatrician from California. The article was about allergy, dyslexia and hyperactivity and described in detail families with the same problems as her own. Nim wrote to her and invited her over to England for a working holiday. Elizabeth brought three books with her by authors: Weston Price, Frank Pottinger and Roger Williams (please see references). The night she arrived, Nim sat up all night reading then they spent the rest of the visit discussing what they had learned.
Out in California, Dr Lodge-Rees was into a new enterprise. She had heard that a small sample of hair was taken from the animals in the slaughterhouse and analysed for mineral content to give an indication of whether or not the animal was in good condition. She felt that this technique could easily be applied to humans, and as it was completely non-invasive, it might be particularly suitable to children. The following year, she and her colleague, Dr Gary Gordon, started their laboratory, "Mineralab". In 1976 she invited Nim to a nine-day symposium in the States to hear what they had learned about mineral metabolism and the reading of mineral analyses. Linus Pauling and Virginia Livingstone-Wheeler and many other eminent names in their field were also present.
Meanwhile, in the UK, probably partly because she had been a Nursery Nurse, and partly because people noticed the change in her hyperactive son, a lot of people began to ask Nim for help with their children for problems such as eczema, asthma, dyslexia, diarrhoea, growth retardation, learning difficulties and so on. She started sending hair samples out to Dr Lodge-Rees' laboratory for analysis, and from the information gained, was able to suggest supplements for the children in England.
This unpaid work soon snowballed. Nim began to feel strongly, as she still does today, that preconception care was of paramount importance. She recognised that if both parents were in good health before a child was conceived, the chances of that child being very healthy were much increased, and the child’s health problems months or years down the line would be greatly reduced or even removed altogether.
1978 - Foresight Officially Formed
In 1978, Nim officially formed Foresight with five friends, with the specific intention of promoting Preconceptual Care. Her friends were Humphrey Osmond's sister, Dorothy Gale, a midwife, and his wife Jane Osmond, a nurse, Gill Gibbons who worked at the Cheshire Home (and had been involved in all the efforts with MS there), Ruth Jervis, a nutritionist, whose parents founded the health farm Enton Hall, and Eve Mervyn-Smith, then a Community Health Council Secretary. Their scientific advisors were Professor John Dickerson, Professor of Human Nutrition at University of Surrey, and Professor Derek Bryce-Smith from the University of Reading, who at that time was carrying out pioneering work against lead pollution.
Their first intention was modest. It was to gather all the work and research together, work out a plan of campaign for preconception, and to write articles. They hoped to interest the media, the medical profession and the Government. However, after one article on preconceptual care in the popular press, they were inundated by the general public wanting to get more information. They had to write their first booklets and leaflets very quickly and found themselves organising hair analysis in the States for a growing army of people.
John Dickerson, the Professor of Nutrition from Surrey University, formulated some basic supplements which were manufactured for them by the Cantassium Company, who had made up the supplements for Roger MacDougall (the Californian playwright and MS sufferer).
This is how the original Foresight programme was brought into being. They gave advice on optimising nutrition, used the results from the hair analyses to optimise mineral status, and they helped people with food allergies to find organisations or practitioners who could help them to adjust their lifestyle.
Foresight started with the two scientific advisors, plus seven doctors who were known to them and who had similar views. In the early days, several more American researchers came over and gave lectures, including Carl Pfeiffer, Donald Oberleas, Theron Randolph and David Horrabin, as well as Humphrey Osmond and Elizabeth Lodge-Rees. Later, Foresight also started working with nutritionists and other alternative practitioners.
1980 – First Contact with Infertility Problems
About 2 years into Foresight's existence Nim was approached by a couple who had been trying to have a baby for seven years, to see if the Foresight system could offer any help with infertility. Nim was felt that any improvement to parental health could only be good thing and was happy to give it a try. After some months they did become pregnant, and later gave birth to boy-girl twins.