Dr. Jack—the 'Black Plaque' Quack

Carol Ballantine

"It's 11 past 9," says the radio announcer, "and for those of you who have just joined our show and may not know some of the background of Dr. Jack Kulp, who is a regular guest on this show, Dr. Kulp practices out of Buffalo, N.Y. He is a chiropractor . . . and he's a nutritional expert. He specializes in holistic health. Is that a good way of putting it, Jack?"

Unequivocally no, said the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Postal Service, who brought Kulp before a magistrate on a charge of misbranding a drug under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Jacob William Kulp advertised himself as an expert nutritionist and espoused his nutritional theories in lectures and on the radio. He was a regular guest for four years on a talk show hosted by Canadian broadcaster John Michael on a radio station in Niagara Falls, Ontario, that was heard throughout western New York and southern Ontario.

Kulp practiced his "nutritional therapy" in his office in Cheektowaga, N.Y., near Buffalo. He charged patients $25 to take a "Nutrient Deficiency Test" and then sold them nutritional supplements he said they needed, to the tune of $100 or more. He also designed a treatment for one patient that he said would get rid of her "black intestinal plaque." Unfortunately for Kulp, that patient turned out to be U.S. Postal Service employee Esther Kocieniewski.

The Postal Service had been asked to check out Kulp's credentials by a local registered dietitian. Accordingly, Kocieniewski and postal inspector R.B. Harding attended one of Kulp's lectures. Handouts at the lecture included Kulp's resume, brochures on chiropractic care and nutrition, and a brochure on the Nutrient Deficiency Test.

The first thing that proved fraudulent was the resume. Kulp said he had received his degree from Donsbach University in California and had done postgraduate study at and been certified by two colleges and the Kyoto Pain Institute in Japan. Investigation by the FBI found that the pain institute apparently didn't exist and the two colleges in Japan had never heard of Kulp. Donsbach University does exist but it is not accredited and offers "mail-order" degrees.

As part of the investigation, Kocieniewski arranged to take the Nutrient Deficiency Test, which was done through the mail. She then received a four-page computerized report of her nutrient status, which said that she needed extra amounts of zinc and extracts of pituitary, thyroid and pancreas. When she called Kulp's office, she was told that she could buy the necessary supplements from his secretary, which she did for $30.

The Postal Service sought out some true nutrition experts. One was Dr. Victor Herbert, Chief of the Hematology and Nutrition Laboratory with Bronx Veteran's Administration Center. The other was Dr. Victor Frattali, deputy director of the division of nutrition in FDA's Bureau of Foods (now the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition). Both agreed, in affidavits, that the Nutrient Deficiency Test was essentially worthless for diagnosing nutrient, digestive or glandular deficiencies.

Kocieniewski met with Kulp, who sold her another $102.50 worth of food supplements and suggested she take the Nutrient Deficiency Test again. She did and met with Kulp to discuss the results. Her conversation with Kulp was electronically monitored and recorded by postal inspectors outside the building.

Kulp told her that her nutrient deficiencies were caused by malabsorption of nutrients from her intestinal tract due to buildup of "black intestinal plaque." He explained that she needed to "wash the inside of the body" with fiber and sold her $40 worth of wheat bran tables to do the job.

According to Dr. Herbert's affidavit, this is nonsense, and there is no such thing as "black intestinal plaque."

This was enough for the Postal Service, which obtained a search warrant and seized a variety of materials from Kulp's office, including the computer software and the computer used in the Nutrient Deficiency Test. The Postal Service asked FDA's Buffalo district office to assist in the case. A chemist with the Buffalo laboratory ran the Nutrient Deficiency Test repeatedly, with different hypothetical data, and found that every single printout contained the statement, "It appears you have several nutrient deficiencies..." along with a list of vitamins and minerals. The suggested amount of each supplement was always the same whenever it appeared on the list.

The district office then made transcripts of Kulp's radio broadcasts on the Canadian talk show. On the show, Kulp promoted the Nutrient Deficiency Test and offered nutritional advice that was mostly nonsense and frequently dangerous. He suggested, for instance, the use of megavitamins and coffee enemas to treat cancer. When one caller said that the doctors at one cancer clinic didn't go along with a lot of vitamins, Kelp responded, "Oh they don't go along with any vitamins, dear, and of course if we don't go along with self-help, then everybody doesn't go to the cancer clinic if we help ourself [sic], and then what kind of jobs have we got left for those people? They'd be in the unemployment lines. . . . The American Cancer Society is one of the most redundant organizations in the world, the way they've blown your millions of dollars in so-called research."

Faced with the prospect of a felony indictment for mail fraud, Kulp entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney's office, Kulp pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, specifically for selling wheat bran tables lacking adequate directions for use as a drug in removing "black intestinal plaque." Of course, no such directions could be written without scientific evidence that "black intestinal plaque" exists and can be removed by wheat bran tablets.

While awaiting sentencing, Kelp went back on the air promoting bee pollen and royal jelly (a substance produced by bees) for sexual impotence, and seawater for psoriasis. He also claimed that a product called Banfi could cure baldness and that he had the product for sale and was using it in clinical tests. (No treatment for baldness have been approved by FDA.)

In addition, Kulp claimed on the radio that he had been "set up" by the government because he was "anti-establishment," and that he had been "railroaded" into pleading guilty. He said that government agents had terrorized his family with drawn pistols at the time his office was searched.

Buffalo district staff concluded that Kelp would continue to violate the FDC Act unless restrained legally. The U.S. attorney concurred and sought special terms of probation.

On Dec. 19, 1983, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Kulp was placed on probation for six months. Under terms of his probation, Kulp was prohibited from posing as a nutritionist or as an expert in nutrition, or from giving nutritional advice through broadcast media, unless and until he obtained a graduate degree in nutrition from an accredited college or university. He was also prohibited from promoting or offering for sale any food or drug product for any therapeutic uses except those appearing on the labeling of the product.

In addition, the magistrate lectured Kulp for saying on the radio that his family had been terrorized by government officials. Kulp was forced to admit in court that those statements were false.

Canadian officials have barred Kulp from entering the country.

A Master of Misinformation

"Dr." Kulp was a master of misinformation. The following excerpts from a radio broadcast in May 1982 are typical of the sort of nutritional nonsense he spouted.

Kulp: Beer, if it's natural carbonated beer, you'd probably tolerate it much better rather than one that has been charged with, you know, the gases they use. The hydrogen gases. Because that forms and, ah, and grabs up a free chlorine radical which forms hydrochloric acid in your system.

. . . We're seeing the diseases because of chlorination in our water, the arteriosclerosis, the stroking, the heart attacks, ah, the cardiovascular disease, and I told you around about 1910 there was no such thing, ah, as cardiovascular disease. . . . Around 1890 is when they started to chlorinate the water and we talked about the fact that it takes maybe 20 to 30 years before the onset of that disease where it affects these arterioles and it starts to plaque them up. . . . You know they've always pinned cholesterol as the poor culprit which it is not. Cholesterol is the last thing to come on the scene. You can eat three, five, six, eight eggs a day, I don't think it's ever gonna bother ya. I just think we're pointing the finger at the wrong thing! I think it's sugar, as we told you. But the chlorine is the baby that really triggers it all. . . .

Listener: I always thought milk was good for you.

Kulp: Hah! Hah! You know who tells you that? The milk people, only the dairy associations! You never heard a cow say that.

The cow feeds it, its young ones. A cow has milk, O.K.? and it has five teats, and it feeds its calves. Now my mother only ever had two, but I know when I was an age, her milk dried up, her breasts dried up, when I was at an age where I could be moved into solid foods. Now if I was to drink milk and milk was good for me, then my mother's breasts would have had milk all their life in them. So that I could have had milk. . . .

Listener: When you're pregnant, they say you're supposed to drink a quart of milk a day

Kulp: Well they say a lot of things. You don't get enough calcium from milk, first of all, because most people cannot manage the calcium that's in milk, they can't break it down, it solidifies out and the next thing we know we start seeing people with a lot of kidney stones and gallbladder problems. . . .

I said you take the tuna from the ocean and you take it from its ecological state and put it into the processing of the plant, and it now has 40,000 times the amount of lead than when it left the ocean. And if continued, if we continue to eat these types of foods. . . the average person consuming this food would be in a market to be able to be classified as fully disabled because of lead poisoning and put on a pension!. . . And how much lead poisoning is there out there? Well this is why we do the Nutrient Deficiency Test that we talked about.

Listener: Now what about natural foods like, ah, we buy an ice cream with no preservatives in it.

Kulp: Good, good, because ice cream has formaldehyde in it, it has lacquer thinners in it, it has, my God, if I told you some of the constituents, gum tars, you wouldn't believe what's in ice cream!. . . And my God, why is cancer at such epidemic proportions in the North American continent today? Because of all the chemistries! You're not living better through chemistry, angel, don't let anybody kid ya.

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This article was originally published in the November 1985 issue of FDA Consumer. Ms. Galantine was a member of FDA's public affairs staff. Kulp died in 1997.

This article was posted on January 24. 2005.

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